A week of staying home from work, absolved of all household duties, waited on hand and foot by your significant other — it’s not a dream. It’s what happens when you have surgery on your foot and can’t walk on it.

And it’s not all sunshine and unicorns, either.

I’d been having some issues with my right foot that had worsened to the point that surgery was the only solution. This was welcome news, in a way. I wanted a solution to my problem.

Since I’d had carpal tunnel corrections done on both wrists (not at the same time), I figured a foot operation was something I could handle. They’re both appendages, right? I was glad to hear I would be put under light anesthesia — what I think of as “The Twilight Zone.” The alternative, a “block” that would keep me awake but numb, would just send my anxiety shooting into the stratosphere.

The last thing I remember about the surgery is an oxygen mask going over my mouth and nose. Then I woke up with a huge bandage on my foot.

Before I could leave, I had to have crutch lessons. Since I am notoriously clumsy, it was simply a miracle that I didn’t catapult myself down the stairs. The good news is that my nurse wheeled me out of the hospital in a wheelchair.

I immediately realized that foot surgery is not all that akin to wrist surgery. I could use my “good” hand freely while the other was bandaged up, but hopping around on one leg isn’t a practical alternative to walking. We use our hands with more intention than we do our feet. There was no way I’d reach for a cup of coffee with a hand encased in white gauze, but my bad foot was going to hit the floor now and then before I could stop it. Using crutches was exhausting.

The song “Stand,” by R.E.M., kept floating through my mind. “Your feet are going to be on the ground/Your head is there to move you around.” Well, brain/foot coordination has never been my strong suit, and it looked like crutch walking involved a lot of it.

Once home, I had another flash of brilliance. I was basically helpless. I couldn’t even get myself a glass of water. Meanwhile, I was starving.

British cooking diva Nigella Lawson has acknowledged she lost weight while recovering from foot surgery. Why? She was too embarrassed to ask anybody to fetch her a second piece of cake.

I don’t eat cake. But I definitely needed lunch.

My husband, Paul, was my caregiver. Paul is retired, and he is used to taking care of our dogs, cats and chickens; he does the laundry and vacuums as well. But he doesn’t cook, not even on the grill. Once home from the hospital, I hesitantly asked him to prepare me something simple: a few slices of deli turkey, a little Dijon mustard for dipping and a cheese stick. It wasn’t a gourmet meal, or even a well-balanced one, but it was going to have to do. So why did I feel so guilty about asking him to make it for me?

I guess I find it hard to request help from others, even the person who vowed to stay with me “through sickness and health.”

Though I tried not to be too demanding, there were periods when I had a string of requests for Paul. Please put the kettle on so I can have some coffee. I’d like some yogurt in a bowl. Then I’ll need my pain pill and some water. And before you sit down, can you get me the ice pack?

Paul should be proud, though. Not only has he weathered my recovery graciously (with only a few snarky remarks), he has learned how to make coffee in a French press. Since he doesn’t “do” java, this was a skill he had no use for. Until now.

I’ve sat at the kitchen island and talked Paul through making a casserole. We have thoroughly reviewed every grocery shopping list, so he doesn’t end up wandering aimlessly around the store. He takes his duties seriously. Paul actually got upset when he saw me making a snack for myself four days after surgery.

I don’t know why. He’ll have even more opportunities to take care of me in six months or so, when my left foot gets fixed.

Liz Soares welcomes email at [email protected]

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