While We Wait

Still waiting for exercise test results.

Still waiting for recovery from exercise tests.

Still waiting for the brain power to research and write some in depth blog posts I’ve been planning.

But life doesn’t give us many breaks, so cue complaint!

At 7am Sunday morning, we discovered that our hot water heater was leaking. A lot. Apparently, it sprung a leak overnight and proceeded to discharge gallons of hot water onto the basement floor. I won’t even go into the Basement Saga we have endured for the last 18 months or so, but suffice to say that this was not the first time my husband has cleaned up water from the basement floor. And that’s how he proceeded to spend his Sunday: cleaning up the spill, emptying the water heater out, discarding waterlogged stuff. We couldn’t get a new water heater installed until mid-day Monday, so we went about 36 hours without hot water.

If you have CFS, you know that stress is very very bad. I managed enough detachment to observe the cascade effect of this stress in my body. The adrenalin rush after we found the leak hit my gut first, with spasms and pain, and triggered orthostatic intolerance symptoms of dizziness and weakness. Nausea and fatigue came next, and then anxiety about how we would find a way to deal with this mess. Deep breathing and emotional support helped calm the anxiety, but fatigue and post-exertional malaise swept in. I was flat on my back and out of commission.

I had a criminal law professor who liked to say, “If you believe that, you’ll never own your own home.” Sometimes I wonder if people with CFS should not try to own their homes. It’s nice to have control over your space, until something breaks and you have to be in control of that too. This kind of day-to-day stress is just unmanageable for me when I am in a crash. I am not capable of mopping the basement floor or carrying wet trash up the stairs. When I’m sick like I am in the wake of the exercise tests, I’m not capable of dealing with a contractor to get a new water heater installed. I’m really not in any kind of shape to make a cup of tea, let alone deal with the perfectly normal problem of a busted water heater.

End complaint. Cue gratitude.

I am so fortunate to have a home, when many CFS patients do not. We can afford to have the water heater replaced. I have a husband who is able to clean up the mess and work from home to deal with the contractor. My mom was staying with us to help with cooking, errands, etc. and she found the leak Sunday morning, hours before my husband would have himself. She helped him with the clean up. Nothing valuable was damaged. And compared to the water situation in most of the world, 36 hours without hot water is really not a big deal.

This episode was an annoyance, in the grand scheme of things, and we dealt with it. No lasting harm was done. What is most upsetting to me about the whole thing is that I could not have coped with it alone. Even on a good day, I am too disabled to manage this kind of homeowner responsibility by myself. This incident throws a spotlight on the fact that I could not live by myself, not without a great deal of assistance. It’s not fair, and both pisses me off and makes me sad. And it fills me with compassion for those of you with CFS who DO live alone, and find ways to cope.

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4 Responses to While We Wait

  1. Claudia G says:

    This is a great post! Your detailed description of the symptoms is informative to those without this illness, and insightful to those of us who still need to be reminded to pay attention to those cues when they come, or pay the price. We are in the early stages of remodeling the lower level of our house, and the past 2 days involved tile removal throughout. This meant moving out furniture, packing most of our belongings in boxes and moving them upstairs, (most of which my husband did), and enduring noise and dust for 2 days. I contemplated staying elsewhere, but at least I can sleep in my own bed. I entered into this with what Toni Bernhard reminds us of in her book, “How to be Sick”, that nothing is permanent, and that clinging to ideas and/or things only leads to suffering. I am doing surprising well through this so far. I have travel coming at the end of this week, and that alone will usually send me into relapse after returning, so I am hopeful that added stress won’t push me over the edge. You are right though, we are fortunate to have our own homes with running hot water on demand, and family and husbands who can and will step up to help when we need them. Thanks for the reminder and I hope your relapse wanes soon!

  2. LJ says:

    I am here for you — just call me and I can make plans to help!!

  3. Such a beautiful post. I share so many of your thoughts — that maybe we shouldn’t own our own home because I can’t cope with a crisis and Tony might be out of town; but how fortunate we are to have a home and to have each other when so many with CFS are living alone. It’s a cruel illness, that’s for sure. But you and I have many blessings to count and I join you in feeling compassion for those who must go through this alone.

  4. Lois Ruth says:

    A beautifully expressed post. I am always astonished at your eloquence when under the influence of CFS. We who are not afflicted salute your ability to inform and help others. Your ability to be in touch with your body and articulate that to others is a rare gift. I am thankful for what I have and pray for those who suffer everyday.

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