April 13, 2024

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!)

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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!


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
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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.

I also like the vintage Vogue magazine cover puzzles by the New York Puzzle Company. They have an old world glamour feel to them. Their ‘The New Yorker’ magazine cover puzzles are nice, too!

⭐️ Buy Cavallini Papers & Co., 1000-Piece Puzzles:

Cavallini Papers & Co. Herbarium 1,000 Piece Puzzle, Multi

Cavallini & Co. 1000 Piece Vintage Puzzle, Mushrooms (PZL/MUSH)

Cavallini 1000 Piece Puzzle, Vintage Travel (PZL/TRV)

⭐️ Buy New York Puzzle Company Puzzles:

New York Puzzle Company - Vogue How The Wind Blows - 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle

New York Puzzle Company - Vogue Lady on a Zebra - 500 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle

New York Puzzle Company - Penguin Random House Sherlock Holmes - 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle

New York Puzzle Company - New Yorker Cat's Eye View - 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle

More Colourful & Stylish Puzzles:

Elena Essex 1000 Piece Puzzle for Adults - Tiger Lounge | Jigsaws Size 28 x 20 inches

Galison - Florette Puzzle, 500 Pieces, 20” x 20”

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:

The Hardest Hidden Pictures Book Ever: 1500+ tough objects to find

Where's Wally? (Waldo) The Super Six! by Martin Handford 6 Classic Books, Poster & Jigsaw Puzzle Collection Box Set

Variety Puzzle Book For Adults: 90+ Large-Print Puzzles Word Search, Sudoku, Word Scramble, Number Search, Trivia, Mazes

>The Everything Mindful Word Search Book, Volume 1: 75 Uplifting Puzzles to Reduce Stress, Improve Focus, and Sharpen Your Mind (1) (Everything® Series)

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.

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Crafts to do while stuck in bed

“Working with your hands is a #mindful process, which can help to still your mind and help you to #relax. The tangible results can also give you a motivational boost, and inspire a sense of #achievement.” #ArtsAndCrafts #ChronicPain
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Colouring Books

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:

RYVE Adult Coloring Book for Women - Mindfulness Coloring Book with Personal Growth Prompts - Coloring Book for Adults Relaxation, Coloring Book Adult, Mindfulness Gifts, Relaxation Gifts for Women

>You're a Mother F*cking Badass: Motivational & Inspirational Swear Word Coloring Book for Adults

Cats Around the World: A Coloring Book

Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined (Adult Coloring Books, City Coloring Books, Coloring Books for Adults)

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.

I would highly recommend Winnie’s Picks – they generously sponsored two of our Christmas giveaways, as they wanted to bring cheer to those who live with chronic pain.

Examples of Paint by Numbers:

VeGuude Paint by Numbers for Adults and Kids Beginner, 4 Pack Painting by Number Kits On Canvas, Without Frame DIY Flower Girl Butterfly Oil Painting Acrylic Paints, Home Wall Decor Gift 12x16inch

cupmod Paint by Number for Adults, 4 Pieces Paint by Numbers for Adults Beginner Drawing Paintwork with Paintbrushes Cityscape Paint Canvas Oil Painting 12X16inch

DoMyArt Acrylic Paint by Number Kit for Adults - World Famous Painting16X20 Inch (Music)

LWZAYS DIY Oil Painting by Number for Adults Beginner, Painting by Numbers Kits for Adults Kids Moon Mushroom, Paint Kits Canvas Gifts Arts Crafts for Home Decor Flower Skeleton16x20 Inch

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:

pigpigboss Peacock Bookmarks, Diamond Painting Kits, 2 Pieces, 5D DIY Diamond Painting by Numbers, Crystal Rhinestones, Peacock Bookmarks (21 x 6 cm)

Finphoon Diamond Coasters Kits with Holder, 8 Pcs Diamond Art Coasters Kit, DIY Diamond Kits for Kids Adults Beginners (Dog)

FORLAND Inspirational Quote, Diamond Painting Kits for Adults Beginners - 5D DIY Flowers Art Full Drill Diamond Kits Painting Crafts for Home Wall Decor, Diamond Art Kits,12x16inch

Hibah Diamond Painting DIY 5D Special Shape Rhinestone, Owl, Partial Diamond Crystal Diamond Painting Set (Mandala)

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:

LEGO Icons PAC-Man Arcade Building Kit, Build a Replica Model of a Classic Video Game, Nostalgic Gift Idea for Fans of Retro Video Games and Retro Décor, Includes PAC-Man, Blinky and Clyde, 10323

LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Millennium Falcon 75192 - Expert Building Set and Starship Model Kit, Movie Collectible, Featuring Classic Figures and Han Solo's Iconic Ship, Best Gift for Adults

Lego Icons Succulents 10309 Artificial Plants Set for Adults, Home Decor, Birthday, Creative Housewarming Gifts, Botanical Collection, Flower Bouquet Kit

LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle and Grounds 76419 Building Set, Gift Idea for Adults, Buildable Display Model, Collectible Harry Potter Playset, Recreate Iconic Scenes from The Wizarding World

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:

Akira Yoshizawa, Japan's Greatest Origami Master: Featuring over 60 Models and 1000 Diagrams by the Master

Naomiki Sato's Origami Roses: Create Lifelike Roses and Other Blossoms

Amazing Origami Boxes

The Art & Science of Geometric Origami: Create Spectacular Paper Polyhedra, Waves, Spirals, Fractals and More! (More than 60 Models!)

Types of Origami Papers (Bursting with Colours & Patterns!):

Japanese Washi Origami Paper 500 Sheets, 10 Vivid Colors, Colors Make Colorful and Easy Origami,6 Inch Square Sheet, for Kids & Adults, Papers, Arts and Crafts Projects (E-Book Included)

150 Sheets Double Sided Origami Paper Kit 6 x 6 Inch Beautiful Sky Scrapbook Paper Galaxy Outer Space Star Pattern Paper Easy Folding for Arts Crafts School Kids Teachers, 36 Designs (Vivid Style)

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:

Karakuri: How to Make Mechanical Paper Models That Move

Japanese Paper Toys Kit: Origami Paper Toys that Walk, Jump, Spin, Tumble and Amaze!

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:

ROKR 3D Puzzles for Adults 1:5 Scale Cello Model Kit with Base 199pcs Wooden Music Box Building Kit Desk Gift for Men Women Hobby for Adults

ROKR 3D Wooden Puzzles Automatic Record Player Gramophone Craft Model Kits for Adult to Build DIY Mechanical Birthday Gift for Friends or Family (Also Supports Manual Mode)

ROKR 3D Wooden Puzzles for Adults Mechanical Clock Kits-Romantic Notes Clock, DIY Clock Model Kits Brain Teaser Puzzles, DIY Crafts/Hobbies/Gifts Desk Decor for Teens (Romantic Notes Clock)

ROKR 3D Puzzle for Adults Wooden Marble Run 420PCS Model Building Kit STEM Toys Hobbies for Adults for Boys/Girls/Men/Women (Chocolate Factory)

Types of DIY Miniature Dollhouses:

Rolife 1:20 Tiny House DIY Kits for Adults-LED Miniature House Kit-DIY Miniature Dollhouse Kit-Model Building Craft Kits Hobbies for Women and Men

Rolife DIY Miniature Doll House Kit, Build Becka's Bakery Diorama House Building Set with LED Room Hobby Craft for Aduls Uniue Gifts for Teens

Rolife DIY Miniature House Kit Flower Shop, Tiny House Kit for Adults to Build, Mini House Making Kit with Furniture, Halloween/Christmas Decorations/Gifts for Family and Friends(Emily's Flower Shop)

ROBOTIME Book Nook Kit DIY Miniature House with LED Light Booknook Bookshelf Insert Decor Wooden Bookend Craft Hobby Diorama Kit Unique Gifts (Garden House)

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:

Fun Things To Do While Recovering From Surgery: Hobbies, Crafts & Games
Hobbies, crafts and games you can do from bed while recovering from knee surgery.
    Read More Posts in This Series:

  1. Depression After Knee Surgery & How to Cope
  2. Fun & Productive Things to Do on Digital Devices After Knee Surgery
  3. Fun Things To Do While Recovering From Surgery: Hobbies, Crafts & Games (this post)
  4. Uplifting Activities to Do While Recovering in Bed
  5. Useful Things to Do While on Bed Rest After Surgery: Education, Advocacy & Volunteering

The post Fun Things To Do While Recovering From Surgery: Hobbies, Crafts & Games (Part 3/5) appeared first on A Chronic Voice.

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