This post is part of a series where I share my recovery journey from a spontaneous bilateral patellar tendon rupture. Both my knees were broken, and I was bed bound for almost a year, with the first 6 weeks spent trying to keep my legs as flat I could so as not to incur further injury.
If you’re in a similar situation as I was, then you know that spending that much time in bed can be boring, frustrating and depressing. Here is a list of fun things to do while recovering from surgery. This part of the series in particular focuses on hobbies, crafts and games that you can engage in whilst in bed. (You can view the full list of tips and resources at the end of the post!)
Pin to Your Knee Surgery, Hobby & Pain Distraction Boards:
Disclaimer: Knee injuries and surgeries, or any surgery for that matter, varies widely from person to person. Your age, lifestyle, weight, circumstances, medications, comorbidities, allergies and other issues can impact your recovery timeline, as well as the tools and methods required. They should be adapted for YOU.
This article, and the resources or suggestions provided within, are based on MY own personal experiences with a spontaneous bilateral patellar tendon rupture, as a person with many chronic illnesses. They are meant for educational purposes and not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your own medical provider before trying anything out.
This post also contains affiliate links. It will cost you nothing to click on them. I will get a small referral fee from purchases you make, which helps with the maintenance of this blog (approx. $100/month). Thank you!
Items with a star ⭐ next to them are resources I’ve personally tried and would recommend!
Table of Contents
1. Work on Personal Hobbies – It Can be Fulfilling
If there are hobbies that you like doing and that can be done from bed, now’s the time to obsess over them! Knitting, jewellery making and sketching are some common ones I see on my social media feeds, from people with chronic illness and disabilities who need to spend a lot of time on bed rest. Some of them also sell their creations for a bit of income – so support them if you spot them around!
I had planned to start a podcast before my knee injury, and decided that I could still do that whilst bed bound. So I finished setting up the website, because I actually find that process fun. I started interviewing people from bed, with pillows as an enticing backdrop.
The podcast is still ongoing by the way, if you ever want to be interviewed too! It’s called Sick Lessons, where people share life lessons they’ve learned from being chronically ill or disabled.
Apart from that, I signed up for online vocal lessons, and restarted my French classes on iTalki. What I like about these platforms is the wide selection of tutors, and the freedom to pick someone who’s teaching style suits me. These activities kept my calendar more or less filled up, so that time seemed to go by a little faster.“The #podcast is still ongoing by the way, if you ever want to be interviewed too! It’s called @SickLessons, where people share #LifeLessons they’ve learned from being #ChronicallyIll or #disabled.” #spoonies Click To Tweet
2. Gamers – Game On Without Guilt!
If you’re into gaming, now’s your opportunity to game all day with zero guilt. Games are truly one of the most immersive activities. They while away hours quickly, and are one of the best distractions from pain. They often even make you forget the need to eat and drink – so remember to take care of yourself whilst playing!
I’ve heard a lot of good reviews about Animal Crossing, so you might want to check that out. Or simple mobile phone games work too, such as Candy Crush and Wordle. I’ve started playing Plants vs Zombies and Sudoku on my phone again.
I used to spend hours on end playing a text-based MMORPG called CarrionFields from dialup. It may not be the most popular thing around these days, what with much faster internet speeds. But the allowance and possibility for strategy, player-killing and roleplaying are endless, which was what I loved about it. Games are definitely at the top of the list of fun things to do while recovering from surgery, in my humble opinion!
Piece Together a Jigsaw Puzzle or Two, or 10
My sister loves putting together 1000-piece puzzles and up. The end result can be rather gratifying I suppose, as you start out with one tiny piece, and watch a beautiful picture emerge. I have gifted her with many puzzles over the years, and she’s even framed them up at home. Whilst I don’t enjoy doing puzzles, I do enjoy the time spent sitting, chatting and bonding with her, as we figure it out together.
I like the vintage nature ones by Cavallini in particular, which are like art works or infographics. They also have puzzles related to travel, animals, birds, ocean life, constellations and even colour charts.
⭐️ Buy Cavallini Papers & Co., 1000-Piece Puzzles:
⭐️ Buy New York Puzzle Company Puzzles:
More Colourful & Stylish Puzzles:
Other Sorts of Puzzles You Can Take Your Time to Solve
There are also other sorts of puzzles you can solve and play with, such as crossword puzzles or Sudoku (which I love!). My favourite Sudoku interface is the one by Optime. It’s addictive, mindless and fun, as my eyes try to hunt down that next hidden clue asap. I’ve solved every series twice, so now I’m using the next best Sudoku game app I found – Sudoku Master Edition, which highlights number groups, making it a little easier to find.
I’m not sure if you had “Where’s Wally” books as a kid, but finding Wally in a complicated illustration kept my sisters and me occupied when we were young. It extends beyond Wally these days, and there are other books where you can go on a visual treasure hunt.
Types of Puzzle Books:
3. Engage Yourself with Arts & Crafts
There are many fun things to do while recovering from knee surgery in bed that are arts and craft related. They range from easy to complex, and levelling up is always a good feeling. Working with your hands is a mindful process, which can help to still your mind and relax. The tangible results can also give you a motivational boost, and inspire a sense of achievement.
Pin to Your Arts & Crafts & Disability Boards:
I personally don’t enjoy it, but colouring can help to relax our brains by refocusing our attention. I know many people with chronic pain who colour as a form of distraction, whilst they’re stuck in bed, or having a bad day. There are many styles of colouring books to choose from, from hippie to cute or even profane.
Colouring Book Styles:
Paint By Numbers
For some people, colouring can feel tedious and less fun, due to pain and stiffness in their wrists and fingers. Paint by Numbers is another alternative to colour pencils, as brushes are lighter. You’re presented with a set of acrylic paints and brushes, and paint them into designated spots on the canvas. The end results can be delightful, and you can frame them up after as well. It’s a creative and fun activity, with no painting or artistic experience required either.
Examples of Paint by Numbers:
Diamond Painting / Crystal Art
Diamond painting is something of a mix between cross-stitching and paint by numbers. Instead of paint, you glue rhinestones onto a pre-designed canvas. It can be easier than Paint by Numbers, as you don’t have to blend paint colours and such. The final piece is a sparkly mosaic, with a more 3-dimensional look. You can learn more about it on the official Paint with Diamonds website here.
Examples of Diamond Painting / Crystal Art:
Build a Lego Set
Legos aren’t just for kids. They have sets catered for adults that can be de-stressing, fun to build, and make for nice display pieces after. If you want something challenging, Toy Hunters has a list of “10 Hardest Lego Sets to Build”. I’m sure they’ll engage you in hours of concentrated fun.
Check out how intricate and gorgeous these Lego sets look, or browse all their building sets for adults here:
Types of Lego Sets for Adults:
Origami – The Traditional Art of Paper Folding
Origami is most associated with the Japanese. And if you think that folding paper sounds useless, origami has inspired architecture and design. There’s even computational origami, and origami space engineering for potential NASA solutions. So don’t underestimate the art and science of paper folding! MIT Open Courseware has a course on “Geometric Folding Algorithms: Linkages, Origami, Polyhedra”, should you be interested.
So, what can you fold with some paper? From cute boxes to plants, insects, patterns, animals and more. And not just a generic looking bird or fish; they can look pretty specific such as a peacock vs a penguin, a panther vs a leopard, and even mixed floral bouquets!
The wonderful thing about origami is that it’s suitable for all levels, as they range from easy to complex. The papers also come in a myriad of fun colours, which are sure to brighten your day.
Some Books to Get You Started with Origami:
Types of Origami Papers (Bursting with Colours & Patterns!):
Mechanical Paper Models That Move
Oh, and this popped up in my newsfeed today, which got me quite excited. If you want to take your origami models to the next level, you can also make them walk, spin, jump and move!
Types of Animals Paper Model Books:
3D Wooden Puzzles & DIY Miniature Houses
I stumbled upon these gorgeous, intricate 3D wooden puzzles and was blown away. Some of them play music, too! I adore the ROKR Magic Cello Mechanical Music Box 3D Wooden Puzzle. The melody it plays when assembled is “Nocturne, Op.9, No.2 in E-flat” by Chopin.
No batteries are required either, as it runs on gears, and use mortise and tenon joint structure, and precise laser cutting. The Retro Gramophone 3D Wooden Puzzle is a little more technical, but plays three different tunes. It can also play other 7-inch and 10-inch records.
If you want something more practical, you can piece together a clock. Or if you want to invoke some childhood memories or have a display piece to talk about, the DIY miniature scene kits are gorgeous, too. If you’re old-school, appreciate the intricacy of gears, and/or love handcrafted things – then this is truly right up your alley for fun things to do while recovering from surgery!
Types of 3D Wooden Puzzles:
Types of DIY Miniature Dollhouses:
Conclusion to Fun Things to Do While Recovering from Surgery: Hobbies, Crafts & Games
I hope that this list gave you some ideas, or got you excited for a new project or hobby to pick up, whilst recovering from surgery in bed. You will need a good adjustable bedside table for some of these crafts, which you can check out in another parallel series, “Must Haves After Knee Surgery to Stay Comfortable in Bed”.
Wishing you a speedy recovery, and I sincerely hope that you will be able to get back up on your feet again soon with minimal pain. But do take it nice and slow, and try to stay distracted in the meantime. Check out the links below for more boredom busters, and ideas on things to do while recovering from surgery!
Pin to Your Surgery, Recovery & Pain Management Boards: