The Phoenix Guards, and helpful things to do for invalids

Wow, I really really enjoyed The Phoenix Guards – so perfect! So gloriously pompous and silly and Dumas-y! Homage and parody… must have ben awfully fun to write. Three Musketeers, but satisfyingly with women in it, and not just plot-device women but actually integrated-into-the-story-women. By page 10 Tazendra was playing poker and duelling with a cardsharp on Main Street. The unlikely friends met, had a coach ride full of intrigue, joined the Musketeers, more duels & intrigues, even more satisfying descriptions of outfits and swords. I loved the funny dithering conversations. A party of adventurers, easily a role-playing game in episodes! Did… they weren’t human, right? The humans were the Easterners and the various characters were sort of dragony? That’s what I gathered. Anyway, there were women everywhere, at all levels of power and plot and narrative importance, even their housekeeper was awesome because she slacked off and had a personality, no one was made rapeable in the vile way that I hate in books, no one simpered or was perky or plucky…

A particularly good sentence:

Lord Adron, in between eating and thinking, which activities he was, in any case, accustomed to perform together, told the host and anyone who would listen of the recent exploits of his travelling companions, which caused Aerich to shrug, Pel to smile, Khaavren to blush, Kathana to consider more closely her food, Uttrik to look nervous, Tazendra to look haughty, and Mica to positively glow.

Nice because of the wordy pomposity but also the way the characters’ reactions are neatly, tersely laid out; they’re differentiated from each other and their personalities further illustrated and cemented.

It was nice to read this as a palate-clearing antidote after this grotesque, pretentious, dull book.

Yeah I’m cranky from pain, so sue me.

Need more Brust books… need to read Immortals series which I’ve been saving for next episode of being stuck in bed, which would be now.

Helpful things to do for a person sick or in pain in bed:

– dinner on a tray with perks, condiments, salt, all the things one might get up to get one’s self if one could get up without thinking about it
– just be around, and check in every half hour to offer fetching/carrying assistance, a few minutes every half hour or even every hour is very reassuring
– water refills, juice etc
– remove old dishes, trash, straighten bedside clutter, create easy to reach space for what’s needed
– pick things up off the floor
– straighten blankets, fix pillows, difficult to do for yourself with mobility problems or weakness from being sick
– gentle petting, sympathy, shoulder to cry on
– small self-care things, qtips, fingernail clippers, lotion, lip balm, hair clips, face wipes, icy hot. Heating pad!
– is the room smelly or stuffy… if so fix this… air it out, scoop catbox, offer nice smelling lotion
– for fever, bowl of ice water plus a facecloth. pain/heat relief, passes the time, gives control to the patient
– luxury things, small pleasure to outweigh pain;
– for extreme difficulty a child’s sippy cup is great. otherwise, straws.
– listen to complaining; articulating the pain or difficulty might give the complainer a bit of control or a handle on it
– offer distractions, light conversation, books, frivolity
– offer change of clothes or sweater or remove the 4 extra sweaters that have piled up in the bed
– offer inclusion in socialness or quiet, be aware of offering choice. If you come in my room talking loudly and chewing with your mouth open, I am trapped, miserable, and can’t escape, and am reluctant to boot you out because probably I need your help and can’t afford to piss you off. I can’t take chaos or jostling, but don’t like to feel isolated or excluded either, I like to know what’s happening. (Very young children are cheering in like, 2 minute doses, but difficult, because they don’t have any boundaries, and I can’t enforce my boundaries easily while lying in bed. )
– flowers are cheering, you might think not, but they are
– for me, with the back problem, I need help with socks/shoes sometimes
– make snoring-ass husband sleep in other room please 😎 (sparked by current events taking place to me, sounds like a convention of asthmatic walruses going uphill)
– an office chair with wheels makes a good makeshift room-to-room wheelchair
– ultimate luxury, someone to set up a fainting platform outside in the sun, with blanket and pillows and water and the necessities of civilized bedridden life, and then checkin and offer to move back after a while.
– Damn I wish I had some grab bars in the bathroom, you have no idea how hard it is to get in the tub especially when i need it most.

Those are mine, but I would guess they are nearly universal. The person is trapped, or has to make a hard decision of where to put very limited getting-up resources, where getting to the toilet independently is a high priority. So, think about how many times you have a small need, and can act swiftly and unthinkingly to satisfy it. Project that desire (frustrated) into days in bed.

When I feel a bit better, like this morning, the uncluttering and food things are my first priority. So, as soon as I can, I tend to do these things for myself, because then they help later when I fall over again.

No one is going to get all those things, all the time! I tried to put them in order of importance. It really sucks to have to ask for every tiny thing. So, this is a guide if you want to be extra thoughtful for someone.

When I visit someone in the hospital I do the bedside declutter, dish removal, drink refresh, and reorg. You basically have to do it a few times a day.

That’s my guide of ways to help people who are stuck and help them feel less helpless and beholden. Read Cherry Ames and Pollyanna for further instruction in the ways of nursing. It would be amusing if one’s bedside nurse would solve a mystery with their 6 attractive nursing school roommates while dating a handsome though surly doctor AND a devil-may-care airline pilot, and would tell one all about it. Calves’-foot-jelly plays a mysterious role in these proceedings (see Pollyanna). Also, I hear that alps and goats, or cute baby animals off the moors brought by wholesome peasant boys with strong Yorkshire accents, are useful. Perhaps someone would bring me some goats or robins or a mysterious key, or at least show up in lederhosen to infuse me with Heidiological and Secret Garden healing rays.

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4 Responses to “The Phoenix Guards, and helpful things to do for invalids”

  1. Heidi



    Alas, I am lederhosenless, but I, Heidi, infuse you with Secret Garden healing rays as per your request. And offer the suggestions of deep, cleansing belly breaths and that you be gentle with thineself.

  2. Mary Tsao



    I seem to remember Cherry Ames… Was she the candy striper sleuthing gal or was that someone else?
    Sorry you’re not yourself. I like this list and will print it out to remember it when I need it. If I ever have another child, I will pin it to the wall. One thing I hate is when people ask what they can do. It’s well meaning, but the better thing to do is… do. Don’t ask, do.

  3. Heather



    I was reading a book once about a woman whose son was in a wheelchair. She spent a huge paragraph talking about how difficult it was to have multiple caregivers because of the differences in how they would spoon feed you. I thought I understood but she made so many deeper levels clear to me.
    I would add to your list ‘taking my kiddo out to play’. When I was pretty much bed bound with a bad case of bronchitis the most helpful thing to me was when family would take my kiddo out for fun. Then I felt less guilty during my few awake moments about the kiddo watching me sleep my life away.
    There are bath bars that can be temporarily placed as they have some sort of super duper scientific suction cup thingy. I thought they might be useful particularly if your back issues are in multiple parts of your back and different bar placements would make sense at different times. Right now in the tub I have to roll to the side and get up from my knees to get out.

  4. badgerbag



    Yeah, I was thinking last night of ordering one of those clamp-on bathtub handrails. Right now I’m managing by holding onto the metal/glass doors, which works reasonably well. A bar that clamps onto the side of the tub will work better, but will prevent the door from sliding shut, so we also need a shower curtain. A moment to say that when I was disabled before there was no online shopping, really. Or only just barely. How much easier it is now — I have online shopping AND money to use for it. Before I had neither, and would just drool over the ads in “Independent Living” magazine.

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