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DigitalBlue's avatar

Does having no one to help you when you're unwell say more about you or the people around you?

Asked by DigitalBlue (6679 points ) May 19th, 2014

I had surgery two and a half weeks ago and I have some pretty rigid restrictions on what I’m allowed to do. No bending or stooping or squatting, no lifting more than 10lbs, among others. This makes day to day life pretty challenging, since I am not able to do a lot of “normal” things with restrictions like that.
However, no one at all has come by to offer a hand with things that might need done. My husband, who works 6 days a week and often 10+ hours per day, has been trying to keep up with the house and the pets and the yard work, and it’s simply too much for one person to do with as much as he works.
A garbage can was knocked over in my kitchen like 5 days ago and although I picked it up, my kitchen floor hasn’t been washed in two weeks, and it is very dirty. I have asked three people if they might come by and just give it a quick wash or run the sweeper for me (or both would be amazing) but even though they all said they would, no one has actually come. I think the last time someone was “supposed” to come was 4 days ago.

I have hesitated to even ask for help since immediately after surgery because I feel this overwhelming sense that no one actually wants to, plus it feels weird to depend on people to do mundane crap for me. Maybe that’s normal? It happened the last time I had surgery, no one offered to help me, in fact both of these recent surgeries have left me feeling extremely rushed to heal. This has lead to me doing way more than I am supposed to be doing, long before I am “allowed.”

Does that say more about me or the people around me? Do I just have unhelpful friends and family or I am crazy to think that people might help with that sort of thing and in reality when someone has a health concern they just accept having garbage ooze on the kitchen floor? Has anyone had a similar experience? I am so stressed out about this.

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34 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Stop and take a break. We all need a hand from time to time. That no one is helping says a lot about them. And not in a good way. People can be really self centered if they’re selfish. Let the house go for a bit. Get better and then work on it.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @Adirondackwannabe People can be really self absorbed and not want to go out of their way for others.
A heart to heart talk with your friends/family, letting them know exactly what you need might be in order. You can’t blame someone for not doing something if you don’t directly ask them in a specific manner. It would seem that someone wouldn’t let trash ooze onto the floor, but…. sooo, it says something about everyone.

YOU need to relax your standards and the others need to step up to the plate.

Khajuria9's avatar

I think this has to do with both.
Different people have different mind-frames. We can’t help it.

GloPro's avatar

It says more about your friendships than it does about individuals. Maybe you aren’t making it clear that you want specific help? As in “Could you come by Monday at 4 to help me with a few things I struggle with since my surgery?” Instead of “Do you think you could swing by in the next few days?” People may not realize that you need specific help and are asking for it directly.

I would not have survived my injury a few years back without 5 specific girlfriends that had different roles and rotated helping me. Living alone, each would spend a couple of nights for literally 6 weeks. One in particular was designated my shower pal, and she assisted me naked in an out of the shower. One cleaned my house several times for me. A couple took me to my PT and follow-up doctor visits. To the grocery store, etc. When I was able to return to a desk job I still wasn’t allowed to drive and a girlfriend picked me up at 6am and dropped me off at work 5 days a week for another 3 weeks. She or her mom would collect me from work, too. All of them listened to me battle depression and self-reflection.

That experience made me a much more aware and considerate friend. It was really amazing that my girlfriends, from different social circles, even, were there for me in such an essential way.

Good luck finding the help you need. Don’t be afraid to ask.

DigitalBlue's avatar

Thank you.
I definitely have asked, directly and specifically, and no one has declined to help, but no one has actually shown up, either. I’m taking it very personally, but my gut says that it’s really not about me. I just don’t know.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That really sucks. :( It’s them, not you. (Get a dog. They’ll keep your floor clean!)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@DigitalBlue You also come across as very independent. Maybe you haven’t asked for help clearly and precisely?

Coloma's avatar

@DigitalBlue Well…sadly, sometimes in our hour of need we find out others true colors. This may or may not be true for some or all of the people you are speaking of.
I dumped a friend of 8 years a few years ago after I realized she was manipulative and prone to using me. The few occasions I needed help from her, she blew me off in a passive aggressive manner.

After connecting the dots on a lot of things, I came to the realization she was passive aggressive, manipulative and prone to lots of little “white” lies. Goodbye, “friend.”
I did give her a chance to hear me, she couldn’t handle it. You might have to accept that these relationships are going to be forever changed, if not lost, due to your present experiences. No loss really, if it comes to that, who the hell wants to keep around uncaring and insincere “friends” anyway?

GloPro's avatar

Sometimes new friends who are more compassionate will show themselves in these situations. I know that I offer help instinctively when I see a friend in medical need. Because I’ve been there and know how much it helped me. I recently went to a casual acquaintance’s house to pick up pine cones and rake needles because she had to go be with her very ill father for about a month. It was something small I knew she would be doing hersel if she could.

janbb's avatar

I have several friends whom I think would rally around me in a medical emergency. I have felt their active presence more since the divorce; I wonder if your friends think your husband can pick up the slack?

I don’t think you are wrong to ask and I empathize with your feelings.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Sounds like most of your pals are fair-weather friends. Don’t feel blue, it is a condition of our entire society.
Perhaps you need to hire a maid/cook while you are recuperating. You only need a few hours a day.

Do you live near a high school or University? There’s always kids in need of a few extra bucks.

DigitalBlue's avatar

@GloPro I’m so glad you mention that, because I think that is part of why it is eating at me. I know that all of these people know (either from experience, or simply by reputation) that I would absolutely take care if them if they needed it. It’s just a given, for me, to help loved ones in need. I worked as a caregiver for years, but I also know it’s simply in my nature. And although I don’t expect people to assume that I need a hand, I have had a hard time dealing with feeling like no one cares. Which is probably dramatic, but it is kind of how I feel.

After posting this, I went outside of my immediate circle and called two of my old guy friends. Both were happy to help, one is stopping by later today to do a little bit of heavy work for me, and the other is coming tomorrow to wash the floor. Guess it was easier than I thought, but I am really disappointed that my closest social circle (including my family and my husband’s family) haven’t even considered. Helps to gain some perspective from others, though, sometimes I doubt myself. I have a hard time gauging if I’m being too needy.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I wish I was there. I’d bring my dogs over to clean up your floor.

DigitalBlue's avatar

Haha, I have two dogs, their contributions to the floors have mostly been fur and slobber. ;)

Dutchess_III's avatar

When the twins come over I put the dogs outside. When the twins leave, I bring the dogs in. The twins ALWAYS leave a trail of finger foods all over the floor. Dogs be lovin’ it!

stanleybmanly's avatar

3 people in whom you have confidence promised you help, yet never showed up? THAT is an alarming and statistically grim omen regarding either your gauge of their character, or (more likely) their regard for you. But wait a second. I just went back and read all the commentary. Apparently, no one promised anything. The fact that you got a committed and nearly immediate response from your secondary round of choices leaves me feeling all but certain that you did a better job of relating your difficulties to the second group. You’re just too polite and unimposing and probably have a reputation for robust self sufficiency. The first round of “volunteers” missed the hints because they’re so out of character with what is expected from you. When you explained to the 2nd group your disappointment with group 1, THEY could have no doubt as to the seriousness of your situation nor the disappointment to be engendered were they to let you down. They reacted accordingly! Therefore, I think you should look back carefully on the conversations with group 1. The fact that NONE of your top 3 choices responded appropriately to your situation is almost certainly a failure in communication.

DigitalBlue's avatar

The first person who agreed to come had a valid reason for not coming, as she ended up in the ER very sick, and was still unwell on the day that we had arranged for her to come. Perfectly understandable.
The second person did not commit to a date, but said that she would call me back. She didn’t, so I asked again, and she said if no one had done it by Sunday that she would. She didn’t answer my message when no one came on Sunday, so I gave up. If I’m honest, she definitely sounded like she didn’t want to do it in the first place.
The third fell asleep when she had said she would be coming over, and then said she would call me back, it has been three days.

Yes, two other friends have said they would help, but so did the first three. That doesn’t make it any different from what has happened so far, unfortunately, though I’m hopeful that it will work out. I mean, how many times do you have to ask? I don’t like to be pushy about asking for favors. I feel like people tend to be very forgetful when they don’t really want to do something. Whereas, I also assume that to some degree, when a loved one has had an injury or a medical emergency or sickness or some comparable set of circumstances, most people (at least some people?) would offer out of common decency. It is my first reaction to ask “what can I do for you?”

Am I wrong in thinking that I shouldn’t have to nag people to give me a hand? I feel bad asking for anything in the first place, I admit that. If I have to ask you three times, I am not very likely to do so, but maybe I am wrong about that. Which is why I’ve asked you all.

Thanks for the input.

GloPro's avatar

You aren’t wrong. The second lady is avoiding you. The ‘if no one else does it first’ line is such bullshit. So is falling asleep. I would wait until you no longer need help from anyone and then call them out face-to-face. Just let her know she disappointed you when you genuinely needed a friend. She let you down. But someone else stepped up. If your friendship is strong she’ll accept the critique. If it isn’t my guess is you will drift apart. Her loss.

Coloma's avatar

@DigitalBlue The 2nd two are, clearly, unreliable, flakey and have horrible communication skills.
I would not go out of my way to stay in touch with them at all. Infact, I’d probably seriously distance, if not, flat out tell them I did not appreciate their flimsy excuses for not calling or showing up as discussed. Seriously, who the hell uses ” falling asleep” as an excuse, are these people adults?

Unbelievable!

I can understand not being cut out to be a caregiver, I’m not, I worked briefly in assisted living once and while I enjoyed the healthy patients, and socializing and making them nice meals I absolutely have zero patience for dementia patients and all their lunacy. No shame in that, but helping a friend or loved one with physical help, no problem.
I’d be more than happy to cook and clean and visit.

I would be FURIOUS at the two friends that have blown you off with such pathetic excuses for not following through!

ibstubro's avatar

Are you broke? Can you just call the “Maid for a Day” service and have them come put everything right? Think of it as a full body massage for you and the house.

I’m thinking you are probably a very independent, ‘own bootstaps’ kind of person and your friends a guessing that you’re getting yourself by.

DigitalBlue's avatar

I don’t know if I come off that way. I asked my husband, but he thinks it is that I am surrounded by selfish people, not that it’s my personality.

For example, I am definitely the kind of person that believes if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. I’d rather take on a task and have it done to my standards than have someone else do it for me 10 times out of 10. But, on the flip side, I don’t drive a car. I have to ask for rides to go places from time to time (not including the fact that my husband does most of the driving in our household).

Dutchess_III's avatar

It just sucks @DigitalBlue. I’m sorry this is happening.

Coloma's avatar

@DigitalBlue Well..it depends on the task I think. There really is no right/wrong way to do something as long as the end result is satisfactory. If it’s something like keeping to a schedule for feeding your pets that’s one thing, but if it is something like doing the laundry, that’s another.
One person might put the laundry soap in the machine while it’s filling before putting in the clothes, and another adds it after the wash has started with the clothes already in it.

Relaxing your standards in these circumstances might help your stress level.

rojo's avatar

My daughter-in-law was in an accident a few years back and received a spinal injury that put her in a wheel chair. She went from someone who was totally independent and would never ask for help with anything to someone who needed assistance with almost everything at first. It was an extremely difficult and traumatic transition to go from one extreme to the other. People willingly helped at first, even without being asked, but that tapered off and she had to learn to ask. This was one of the most difficult things she had to learn to do. She is very specific in her requests, outlining exactly what it is that she needs and will utilize FB for general tasks and direct phone calls if necessary. She has found that folks are very willing to lend a hand to do what is needed if they know what it is and have a window to work with. If you ask for a specific task and that it be done at a specific time period people have trouble juggling their schedule but if they know what needs to be done and can call and say when they can be there, it usually gets done. Note that I did say “usually”, things do come up and people do forget.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Okay, so contestant #1 gets a complete pass. I’m still thinking about this question because the failure of all 3 participants really took me aback. Then I thought it over, and asked myself, “now what would I do if an injured friend needed a hand in cleaning his or her house?” There are all sorts of speculations possible regarding the other 2 “flakes”, but the bottom line is as the song says : “When you get on your feet again, everybody’s gonna be your friend”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRq04RW9jaI

Coloma's avatar

I’ll tell you what, the quickest way to sort out a true friend is exactly as @GloPro mentioned above.
Calling out someone for their shitty behavior is like slicing through butter ( bullshit ) with a hot knife. You’re gonna know instantly whether they are going to melt into an apology or splatter hot oil all over you.
If the persons reaction is defensive, if they play dumb, if they attempt to turn things around on you, done.

Strike, you’re out!

Crazydawg's avatar

I don’t know you or your friends so this will be more of a general observation based on my own experiences. I find that people who in the past are there to help out with their friends in need are often surrounded by like people who will reciprocate if and when and often at the drop of a hat. Also a lot of this is due to surrounding yourself with people who are good at being there when you need them. But the important distinction is the people who do help do so because they want to not because of some past favored that is now owed.

I will say this though that getting a neighbor or friend was much easier in days past. Somehow people just seem too damn busy for their own good and it affects situations like yours where you are now a tremendous inconvenience and I think this mindset totally sucks.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Crazydawg makes a good point. We used to really need each other. Now there are so many other resources that people don’t remember how to do it or don’t recognize the need when they see it.

canidmajor's avatar

I wonder if you have stressed your distress to your friends with the same force as you have stressed it here? I doubt these people are fair-weather friends or selfish or thoughtless or lazy or flaky or unreliable or any of the things mentioned above, or you would not have asked them to help in the first place.
Everybody has their own stuff going on, and maybe the one who kept making excuses just hates the idea of doing the floor, but sort of offered to try to be helpful.

I don’t think you have awful friends, and I don’t think you are awful because none of your friends has stepped up to do this thing. Sometimes everyone assumes that someone else will do it, so the job just doesn’t happen. You are tired and recovering and overwhelmed right now, so it’s almost impossible not to be brought to tears by something like this. (Been there, done that!)

Do let someone know that THIS is the thing that is making you the most upset, and I think there’s a good chance that someone will help out.

Again let me say that I doubt that you are someone no one wants to help, or that you pick bad friends, sometimes stuff like this just happens. Take heart!

I’m so sorry you have to go through this, but I hope that the surgery fixed what needed to be fixed and you are all better, soon.

GloPro's avatar

@canidmajor So the friend that “fell asleep” and is now avoiding her an the friend that offered to be a last resort (and also now avoiding her) are the kind of friends you would keep?

canidmajor's avatar

Yes, @GloPro, I probably would, as I don’t feel that my friends exist to serve me. Some of my friends would (and have) gone above and beyond to help when I’ve needed it, and others are funny and sweet and lovely to spend an afternoon with. The latter are not bad people or not “true friends” as I don’t feel that they are obligated to do things for me.
From @DigitalBlue‘s post, I got the impression that she doesn’t usually ask or like to ask for help, so maybe she doesn’t do it in a fashion that really imparts a sense of urgency. And maybe she’s the kind of person IRL who declines help in her home when she’s feeling well, as she likes thing done a certain way and/or doesn’t want to impose. I don’t know her, maybe you do, but mostly the impression I get from her posts here is that she probably doesn’t realize that she’s maybe not getting across to folks that this really upsets her.

And mostly, I was trying to reassure her, while she’s tired and recovering from surgery, and maybe still in some pain, that she probably doesn’t make poor choices in the people she cares about, and is not the kind of person that people don’t care about, because, for me, that is the real take-away of this question.

Coloma's avatar

@canidmajor You offer up some very good food for thought. To have a friend we must be a friend first, and, it is true, accepting what people have to offer, appreciating individual gifts, but….falling asleep is a poor excuse for not having the guts and self awareness to simply say ” Ya know, I am really not into doing what you ask but hey, if I can help in another way, let me know.”

ibstubro's avatar

Now, here’s the kind of friend I would probably be: I’d probably call all your other friends and strong arm them into buying you a ‘Maid for the Day’ gift certificate. Honestly, they don’t cost that much. When I moved out of my old house, I hired them to do a once-over before putting it on the market. I don’t remember the cost, but I could have spent the better part of a week cleaning, and it wouldn’t have looked as good. They know what to look for, what needs done, and they have a system to take care of it.

Coloma's avatar

@ibstubro Yep, great minds think alike. The system is called ” Merry Maids” a team of girls that kick ass , leave little gold seals on your rolls of TP, and do your floors on their hands and knees. I loved my Merry Maid girls. :-)

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