I’ve been feeling a bit down in the mouth lately. Partly because the summer is winding down and I’ll be returning to work. I find this to be a melancholy time of the year with shorter days, falling acorns, and leaves that are already beginning to fall off the trees. Time to look at last year’s autumn wardrobe and see what’s needed for both me and Hillary. One year closer to Hillary graduating from school and transitioning to most likely a medical day program, and in a couple weeks her 19th birthday. Another year she’s survived in spite of her life expectancy (according to medical literature I read when she was an infant) being 3 years. Those reasons are just my baseline for end of the summer blues. This year, though, things are different somehow. The “broken” toe incident, (it’s still sore, but I think now only badly bruised), the tooth extraction, hurricane Irene and the 30 hours without power, (thank God that’s all that happened to us here!), and reminders of all the things I was going to get done in the 50 or so days I had off that just never got put on the “do today!” list. For the first time in 18 years we don’t have to get Anna ready to go to school, so it feels as if something is missing.
Last Saturday, which was the day before Irene was predicted to slam into our area, I finally had the tooth pulled that my dentist of 37 years told me needed to come out 2 years ago. He uses only novocain, no gas for dental work. The good thing about that is that I can drive myself to and from, making it easier to arrange things so that someone is with Hillary. If I needed someone to drive me, it would be more complicated, finding a ride as well as needing someone to stay with the princess. Anyway, by the time the procedure was over, I just felt like I wanted to sit in the car and cry. It just felt somehow so invasive and traumatic. I never cried that day; I turned on the radio and drove the 20 miles home, distracting myself with things I needed to pick up from the store on the way home. Bruce and Anna both offered to drive me that day, but I preferred to be alone simply because I didn’t want to feel the need to talk. I should have taken one of them up on the offer, it might have been better for my state of mind; sometimes you realize after the fact what you need.
For the rest of that day we relaxed, watched TV, did some laundry and stuff that any normal Saturday would include. We woke up the next morning to heavy rain and wind, and no power. We lit candles, placed flashlights in strategic places around the house (such as bathrooms!), tuned the radio to a local station, and spent the day playing cards and keeping track of things. Not a terrible day, but always in the back of my mind the worry about when we would get power back. We need power to charge the back up battery in Hillary’s feeding pump and for charging the motor for the patient lift without which we cannot get her from the bed to chair and back to the bed. The pump, in a pinch, we can do without since gravity and the valve on the feeding bag can control the flow of formula. The lift, however, is necessary. She’s too heavy to lift, and with the rods in her back for her fused spine, one must be a bit extra careful with her. I am not sure how many lifts we get from the battery before it needs to be recharged since we always plug it in at night. According the radio power could be expected to be out for days, although we were hopeful that our area would not be out much longer.
Monday morning arrived with the hum of people’s generators polluting the quiet telling me before opening my eyes that we were still without power. We had always meant to buy a generator, but somehow it was never a priority. So it was that in the dim light over my first cup of tea (thank goodness we have a propane stove and not electric!) that I listened to the local radio for an idea of when we might expect to have power restored. Estimates were for at least 2 more days, no more than 7. I began contacting people in other areas around to see if anyone had power. My brother Dave got back to me first, they were still without power in Franklin, which is about a 40 minute drive over country roads away. An hour later he texted me letting me know their power was on. By that time I’d had offers from 2 friends who lived closer to charge things at their houses, but I chose to go to my brother’s.
Hillary and I spent the afternoon there with my brother, sister-in-law and tweenaged niece, playing games, talking, eating canned ravioli and mozzarella quesadillas, laughing, and doing a load of laundry as Hillary had leaked during the night and I didn’t want those sheets sitting around for who knew how long before I could wash them. From the time I arrived there and their neighbor came over to help lift Hillary up the stairs into their house until the time they helped me load everything back into the van for my return home, I felt cared for. Our power was back on by the time I got home, Bruce and Anna were home from work before me. As I threw out spoiled food and we got our house back to normal I reflected on the past few days. I felt better and more prepared for the transition which lies directly ahead as the summer ends and the school year begins. Even though I could have had a shorter ride and felt cared for by friends, sometimes you just need family.