All I can say is I consider myself very lucky to still be alive to write this.
It all began unexpectedly about two weeks ago. I’d gone for my daily two-mile walk with my dogs, came home and fixed dinner, and then after eating, decided to take a nice hot bath.
The water was so relaxing, I dozed off in the tub. When I woke up, my head was tilted all the way back at an awkward angle and I couldn’t straighten my neck. Finally, after about five minutes, I managed to move everything back into position, but my neck was really sore. I thought I was fine until I got out of the tub. The room started to spin and I felt queasy. I made it as far as the bed and flopped down on it.
I spent the next two days in bed, mainly because every time I stood up and tried to walk, I felt as if I were on the tilt-a-whirl ride at the amusement park.
“You want to go to the doctor’s?” my husband asked me on the third day.
“Are you going to carry me there?” I answered.
“No, I can’t even carry myself,” he said.
“Well, I can’t take two steps without crashing into walls,” I said. “How am I supposed to make it out to the car? I sure wish doctors still made house calls!”
I soon learned just how much my dogs and husband depended on me. I also learned that the worst time to be bedridden was right before grocery-shopping day, when the cupboards and fridge were bare.
“Did you eat today?” I asked my husband when he came into the bedroom to check on me.
“Yeah, I had a corn muffin, beef jerky and potato chips.”
“That’s not a meal!”
“Well, the jerky is meat and the chips are potatoes...and the corn muffin is corn, a vegetable. So I covered all three food groups.”
“Did you feed the dogs?”
“We’re out of dog food. I gave them canned potatoes and some tuna I found in the cabinet.”
That did it. We had to get some food in the house. “If I give you a list,” I asked him, “can you go shopping?”
He looked as if I’d just asked him to climb the Empire State Building using only a rope and a hook.
“You know I can’t walk more than 10 feet without having to sit down!” he said. “How would I ever make it through a supermarket?”
“Use one of those scooters all the stores have.”
Again, he gave me the deer-in-headlights look. “I’ve never used one of those things before! What if I crashed into a big display of canned goods or something? And how could I reach stuff while sitting?”
I rolled my eyes. I was beginning to think I’d have more luck tying my grocery list around one of my dogs’ collars and sending her to the store. The problem with living way out in the woods is that we’re way beyond the mileage limits for the stores and restaurants that deliver.
By the fifth day, I was able to make it to the sofa, where I plopped down and remained all day. Unfortunately, my husband had to pick the world's worst TV shows to watch while I was fighting nausea - food-eating contests, guys in the wilderness eating earthworms and beetles, and another show about amusement-park rides.
I also felt really tired, mainly because the combined growling sounds of my husband’s and my dogs’ stomachs were keeping me awake at night. In fact, I could have sworn I saw the dogs staring at me and drooling.
There was food in the freezer – food my husband had no clue how to cook, like a whole chicken or pork chops – food I couldn’t stand on my feet long enough to cook. We needed easy-to-prepare stuff – microwavable stuff, sandwich stuff...and dog food.
I’d been hoping we wouldn’t have to bother anyone, but the situation was becoming desperate. I picked up the phone and called my aunt.
“I’m laid up and we need food!” I whined to her. “The dogs need food! I’m afraid they’re going to eat us!”
She handed the phone to my uncle, who asked me to list what we needed. I rambled on and on, trying to think of everything from milk to dog food, and all of the food groups in between.
He showed up an hour later, carrying a bunch of plastic grocery bags and a 15-lb. bag of dog food. I never was so happy to see anyone.
“I could kiss you!” I said to him.
“No thanks,” he said, “you might be contagious!”
Just when I thought things finally might start getting better, my husband said something the next day that ended up causing a lot of excitement...a whole lot of excitement.
“I don’t feel so good,” he said. “I feel woozy and really, really tired, like I could sleep for days.”
I still was feeling pretty woozy, too. Not as bad as I had been, but I still couldn’t walk a straight line, to the point where I probably would have been arrested for public intoxication if I’d tried to leave the house.
That’s when I started to get a strong feeling something may be wrong with the house...something like a carbon monoxide leak. My husband, I reasoned, was twice my size, so that’s why he’d taken longer to feel the effects. And even the dogs had been sleeping hours longer than usual.
When I mentioned my suspicions to my husband, he reminded me that we had a working carbon monoxide detector.
“But it’s down in the basement!” I said. “What if there’s a leak up here...like from our gas range? Would the detector in the basement pick that up?”
He shrugged. “I have no clue.”
So I put it into my head we had a leak, a slow leak that little by little was going to do us in. I was afraid to sleep at night, because I’d read that nighttime was when most people succumbed to carbon monoxide. I even turned off the heat for an entire afternoon, just to see if it made us feel any better. All I succeeded in doing was nearly giving us hypothermia.
Finally, while my husband was taking an afternoon nap and I, still feeling weak and dizzy, was stretched out on the sofa, I impulsively picked up the phone and called the local fire station. I explained to the firefighter who answered that I was worried we might have a carbon monoxide leak, and my husband and I were feeling as if we’d just downed a case of wine.
He said they’d be right over.
I’ll tell you the rest of the story next week.