In A Health Crisis?

In A Health Crisis?

Six hints about asking for help.

Coming from a long line of stoic farm people, I’m not an expert on asking for help. In fact, I’m a bit of an expert in not asking. I remember one hot summer day when I insisted on going down a friend’s steep concrete staircase alone, despite having a fresh thigh length cast on my leg. I ended up falling and crashing down onto the sidewalk below.

As I dusted myself off while what seemed like all of Brooklyn watched, I asked my friend “what did I trip over?”

Without even a split second pause, she replied “Your big huge butch ego.”

Yeah it’s like that.

But I’ve had partners who were seriously ill. And recently I dealt  with an event I’m calling Kneepacalypse 2014 (a knee replacement coupled with an infection and emergency surgery plus three months of IV antibiotics) and I’m slowly learning: if you’re not asking for help, you’re asking for trouble.

Some ways to get started:

1. Remember that no dyke is an island.

The illusion of complete self-sufficiency is just that, an illusion. Did you weave those cargo shorts you’re wearing from scratch? Grow and dry the coffee beans yourself for that cup of java in your hand? Did you create the wireless signal that you’re using to read this article? No? Then you’re not completely self sufficient. Be an adult and ask for help. I’m not saying it’s easy, just necessary. Which brings me to the next point.

2. Ask directly for help.

Don’t assume that people know what you need, even people really close to you. Assuming your friends can read your mind and then getting mad when they don’t is a one way ticket to Resentment-ville. Don’t drop hints. People are often too busy and too harried to pick them up. Or they get mixed up with all the trash on the ground.

3.  Don’t wait until it’s an emergency.

If you know you are going to be having, let’s say, an ACL repair (the most lesbian of all surgeries) don’t want until you’ve had the operation and you’re home to consider “hey, how am I going to do my laundry?”

It’s a favor to the people who love you to set up help in advance. And what happens if your knee mends so quickly you don’t need the laundry help? Great! Your scheduled pal people can watch movies with you. Pro tip: If you’re still on pain medication, my advice is to avoid the sad ones.

4. The corrolary of #3 is Have A Plan.

You can use organizational websites like or CaringBridge or you can use an online spreadsheet and a reply-all email list. This lets people sign up for shifts when it’s convenient for them without undue pressure or trouble.

6. Realize that sometimes your friends will fail you, or not be able to help when you need help.

It’s a hard part of the asking for help process. Decrease the chances of this happening by not including your flakiest friends in your inner caregiving circle.

Hint: if your friend has ever no-showed on a hang out with you because they “needed to do self care” they might be in this category.

Especially if this is your first time asking for care, it pays to be realistic about expectations. Refrain from building an entire care circle out of exes.