“What can I do?”

This past week, from my unwanted home on my couch, I was overwhelmed by tremendous support far and wide. I’ve written before about the importance of asking for help when in need and how lucky I feel to have so many great people in my life when the going gets tough.

People often ask someone who is sick, “What can I do to help?” I’ve learned that my job, if I need the help, is to answer. The answer will differ depending on what I need at the time. This past week, I’ve needed help with dog walks (walking the dog is hard from the couch), with my household duties, and with driving (darn that standard car!) I’ve also craved some company, and have been lucky enough to have a few friends drop in to pass the time. (There are only so many Food Network reruns even I can watch.) And it’s all been here, thanks to J. and our wonderful support team.

Sometimes I don’t even wait for the question, I just ask. And sometimes I don’t have to ask. Some of our friends have been through these ups and downs with us enough to anticipate these needs and offer spontaneously. I’m not sure I actually asked for help with the dog; it was just given, daily, sometimes in duplicate. People visited and called and emailed and and even brought sorbet. I only cried on the phone with one (her fault for calling first thing in the morning).

Sarah Jessica Parker with multiple items in her hands and arms and caption: "I don't know how she does it."And J. has been a saint. Her role is a bit more complicated at times like this because she’s trying to stay upbeat with depressed me while she’s flying by the seat of her pants, caring for me and the household in addition to working full time. I’m almost glad she has work to escape to, even though she’s run off her feet there too, since being home is no break at all lately.

I hope my friends know that by supporting me in these ways, they are supporting J. too. If others tend to the dog’s needs, J. doesn’t come home to puppy mania at the end of a long day. If I have people to talk to, I don’t talk her ear off as soon as she gets in the door. (Okay, I still do, but for just a few hours instead of all evening.) If I’m less stressed because I’ve got help, J. can only benefit from that.

Really, J. has to bear the consequences of my incapacity in so many ways. But she has had to learn to ask for help during my hospitalizations, and she’s better at asking than I am. And she needs to talk to people who understand the trials and tribulations of being my partner. As charming as I may be, I know that living with a sick person is not a party sometimes.

May has been devoured by doctors and symptoms and reminders that I’m sick. As June approaches, it’s time to move the sick me to the back burner where she belongs. J. and I both need an illness vacation, so off to Vancouver we go. I’m going to try my first real ramen. Shhh! Don’t tell the low-sodium police where I am.

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