Monday, March 2, 2009

Snowstorms and Illness

Today we had a good old fashioned blizzard - yep a full on 14 inches of heavy, wet snow! When I was a kid I couldn't wait for such storms, it meant a day off from school. As an adult it isn't such a joyful event.

I realize that what I am about to say can apply to healthy people to a degree as well when you are talking about such large amounts of snow, but allow me to rant anyway:

  • On a good day I can barely lift groceries to bring them in from the car, so you can imagine that shoveling heavy snow isn't possible for me.
  • Of course the blizzard had to hit on the day I have an appointment with my pain management specialist, and I am having trouble with my medication so I needed to see him today.
  • This being New York, nothing but school closes for snow, so the doctor's office wasn't exactly thrilled that I cancelled my appointment, despite the fact I couldn't get out my door, no less my driveway.
  • My landlord is supposed to have snow removal service as part of the price of our rent, however the service is spotty at best. Sometimes they arrive the day AFTER a storm ends sometimes they don't arrive at all.
  • My mother and I are stuck in the house until we can find someone to shovel us out, or the snow removal people make their appearance.
I understand this isn't the end of the world, but it another frustration of being ill and not being able to do things others can. Because the illnesses I have aren't obvious to others (thus the term "invisible illnesses") my neighbors assume that I am a young, healthy person and don't offer to help with the snow. I don't blame them for this, and if I knew them better, I would probably ask for help, but I don't know them and feel awkward going up to a stranger to explain my personal medical history and ask for help. Frankly , with as much snow as we've gotten I would feel guilty asking anyone without a snow blower, because it is really exhausting work. It is just another thing I can't do and it means that I will have to wait another week in pain to see my doctor.

On the flip side, I am grateful that we have a warm roof over our heads. Because we had advance warning the storm was coming we have food to eat and will be alright if we are stuck indoors for a few days. I know that many people aren't so blessed, they are cold or hungry or worse. So I am going to try to look at the part of my glass that is half full and not the empty part. Harder to do when I am in pain, but good practice for me, especially in this season of Lent. So for the moment, thank you God for supplying me with another lesson in humility and thankfulness, please help me to use it to learn how deeply you love me and care for me, even when I think I am forgotten - You never forget me!


Debra said...

Oh Maureen, I cannot imagine what it would be like to have to live in a snowy, cold weather climate while dealing with a chronic illness. My husband and I were raised back east and went to college in Syracuse, so I am all too familiar with the cold. I think that living in CA, I take it for granted that I can just get to where I need to go on any given day. You aren't complaining. You are stating the absolute truth and one of the many hardships of living with a chronic illness. I totally understand what you mean when you talk about your neighbors thinking that you are young, healthy and strong. Like you, I tend to be more private about my illness and so people often don't understand how hard it can be for me to do the simplest of tasks.

I think that you should mention your difficulties to your neighbors when you speak to them. I'm not saying that you have to get into all of the details, but just let them know that you are ill and that you have trouble doings certain things. People LOVE to help. I have one friend who has CFS and finds that when it snows, her driveway mysteriously gets shoveled! She isn't sure who is doing it, but she goes around and leaves her neighbors pumpkin bread, just in case. Good begets good.

I am glad to hear that you have enough food to sustain yourself and your Mom for the next few days. I am also glad to know that you are safe and warm! Hopefully, the rest will take care of itself soon enough!

Warm hugs,

Daisy said...

Gosh, it seems hard to live where it snows! If it's any consolation, the bad thing about living in a tropical climate is hurricanes: it takes hours to put up hurricane shutters!

I'll bet your neighbors would be happy to help if they knew you needed it.

Stay warm and safe!

Renee said...

It is difficult to manage such things as snow removal when you are alone and ill and it is really too bad your landlord is not showing any integrity in following thorugh with his committment. he would not like it if your rent check was late or he did not know when or if it would come! it annoys me I am afraid ;) but of course that does not change your situation.
I remember once Joel was gone out of state and we had an ice storm and both our doors froze shut. I had to get the dog out and have an exit in an emergency so I had to call a neighbor to come over on an icy street to break the ice off my door so I could get the dog out. I felt so helpless then and frustrated at how little I could or can do. I think you do an amazing job of staying positive and managing your illness and your mom's needs.

Leslie said...

I don't envy you on this. I absolutely hate the snow and can't imagine getting so much that I couldn't leave the house! Hope the situation clears soon.

Anonymous said...

Maureen, How frustrating and difficult to be snowbound due to not having help to shovel the snow. Wouldn't it be grand if there was a service that disabled people could call to have someone come out with a snow removal machine (I forget what they are called)?

I understand how hard it is to ask for help, especially with invisible illness, that so many don't understand.

Glad you are warm and cozy in your home and have plenty of food. I enjoy how you always find a silverlining Maureen!