I have always loved the sound of nothing. The audible noiselessness of an empty room.
Living in a house with three other adults and a crazy dog, I don’t experience it often. Ever, actually. So you can imagine my excitement when I offered to spend last week housesitting for my sister. A whole week of just me, a quiet house, and yes, a dog, albeit a perfectly sane and mostly silent dog. At home, I don’t leave my bedroom without wearing a bra and pants. So, I was especially looking forward to doing the no-pants dance while the boobies swang free. Ladies, I know you feel me.
My sister offered to purchase my plane ticket, and in exchange I would spend time daily with my mom, work from my sister’s house, and trade my snuggle time with this guy:
for snuggle time with this guy:
I haven’t been alone for more than one night in almost a decade, and have never lived alone with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), so I didn’t know what to expect with a whole week on my own.
From the beginning, it was clear it was going to be a difficult week. I was in the desert and temperatures were approaching (and reached by the end of the week) the triple digit mark. I tend to be sensitive to tap water, even from cities with the cleanest water. My digestive system just isn’t familiar with it, and I quickly discovered the tap water in the desert was no exception. After a night or two of getting sick, I became pretty dehydrated. People with POTS have low blood volume and have to drink lots of fluids. Trying to replenish from dehydration is a non-stop game of catch-up.
I had to double, and some days triple the amount of beta blocker I took to make it through the day on two feet. My sister’s house is gorgeous and is only a couple years old, and thank god it is because I had to sit on the floor of the shower. And not just on the short shower bench to shave my legs, like I do at home, but full on “ten minutes of bare ass on floor” kind of shower. Bleeding out on a shower floor when no one could come to my rescue for over a week isn’t how I want to go out.
I want to go out surrounded by cute dogs and lots of beer.
My week long experiment helped me appreciate everything the BF does for me. Because when you live alone, and you’re symptomatic and sick, you still have to pick up bottled water from the store to combat your dehydration. You still have to cook dinner, and wash the dishes, and take the dog out, and run errands for your mom. It doesn’t matter if you’re lightheaded, weak, or nauseous. And when you wake up in the middle of the night with chest pain and a racing heart, or wake up vomiting the night before your flight home, only you can reassure yourself it will all be okay.
Suddenly the palpitations you get that you don’t think twice about when you’re home sitting next to a loved one in bed become terrifying. It’s ridiculous, but there’s something comforting about knowing someone is there.
And when you’re alone, every palpitation and dizzied step and shooting pain makes you realize that there’s no one there if you fall and there’s no one there if you can’t get up and there’s no one there if you need to go to the hospital and
Friends, if you have someone in your life that IS there, whose presence means you don’t have to do everything on your own, who you appreciate in more ways than you can express, tell them. Hug them. Blow them.
Just kidding, any relatives that are reading this.
Overall, I’m glad I went. It was an insanely busy trip, and I did enjoy not wearing any pants, drinking straight from the bottle, watching a sappy chick flick, and peeing with the door open. I was able to see friends, and spend memorable time with my mom. That time with her is worth any hardship it took to get there.
There was a time when living alone was liberating. When it was invigorating and challenging and the only time I felt truly relaxed. Now it’s scary, and not just because I wasn’t wearing any pants. Chronically ill friends that live alone, I have so much respect for you. It’s hard. It’s really hard.
So, friends in southern California, here’s the deal: If you have a chronic illness (I don’t care which one) and you live alone (or live with someone that doesn’t understand), send me an email at Lindsay@dysautonomiac.com. Let me give you my #, so that you always have someone you can call /text when you need help. I can’t guarantee that I will always be available, but if I am, I can bring you water, or play with your dog, or take you to the hospital, or play with your dog, or sit in the other room in case you fall during your shower. Or play with your dog. You don’t even have to put on a bra.
No one should feel scared to be alone.
“Having someone help you doesn’t mean you failed. It just means you’re not in it alone.” – Unknown
Smell ya later.