By Rebecca Sheriff: For Complete Post, Click Here…
Everyday problems turn into disasters when you’re chronically ill and have no support system.
Living in the Northeast, you expect significant snowfall at times during the winter. Having grown up in that part of the county, I was accustomed to this seasonal annoyance. It was only after becoming ill I realized how I had taken for granted my ability to handle the requirements of functioning throughout a snowy winter. After one particular snowfall, I realized just how challenging living alone with a chronic illness had become.
As my illness had progressed, figuring out how to accomplish daily living activities, such as taking out the garbage, became a weekly project. When the weather turned cold, the projects became more daunting. I’d watch the weather forecast with dread, knowing if it snowed enough, I’d be trapped inside my house for days, unable to shovel myself out. Perhaps I could swing one expensive grocery delivery, but my mental health would struggle, being trapped in my small apartment and eventually, I would have to leave the house. I had a long hilly walk up a driveway to get to where my vehicle was parked. I’d buy ice melt in small quantities that I could carry and sprinkle down the driveway as I held the side of the house with my other hand for balance. After one snowfall, I made it up the driveway to my car only to see it was covered in more snow than my wipers or my body could handle removing.
Occasionally, I had asked an acquaintance for help shoveling enough snow so I could pull my car out. However, I was becoming extremely uncomfortable asking for help from virtual strangers. Especially when what I needed help with wasn’t that much. The snow on my car this time was not overwhelming, not much more than a five-minute job for someone in good health. However, it felt so hard having someone come all the way over for five minutes, while I stood there and watched, looking like an able-bodied person on the outside, but my body unable to handle simple tasks on the inside.
With little family or friends, I felt truly helpless. It was the ultimate frustration — being only 40 years old, of sharp mind, but unable to leave the house because of some snow on my car. I spent a day calling around to every local social agency, but there were no services to help the disabled with snow removal, unless maybe, you were a senior. I didn’t have any neighbors to ask for help as well-meaning people who didn’t have a chronic illness suggested I do. No one could really understand just how it felt to be stuck.