Sunday, April 10, 2016

When The Shit Hits The Fan, Remember Your Cancer Battle

There will always come a time when it seems like shit just falls on you like rain. That's how my spring began.

It  actually started out really good the first Monday of April.  At our weekly sales meeting, I was honored with an award for getting  most new business sales. What's more, as all sales managers famously do, my boss crunched the numbers every which way and revealed that I have a 70 percent closing ratio whenever I go on my first new-business appointment. In other words, if I manage to get an appointment with a new prospect, it's a pretty good bet I will convert them into a new customer the moment I introduce myself and shake their hand.

Quite honestly, all these impressive stats came as a surprise to me. But hell, I'll take the crystal trophy, the bonus check and do a little pound on my chest. The only thing that rained on my parade was that I wasn't feeling so great. Since the previous Saturday night, I  had caught a fever that I just couldn't shake. My throat felt raw and when I lost my voice that afternoon, I told my boss I was heading to the doctor's office.

The verdict? Strep throat. I was prescribed antibiotics immediately and ordered to stay home--in quarantine so to speak--for 48 hours since that's how long I would be contagious until the meds kicked-in. By Tuesday, I was starting to get pissed off. The fever continually spiked up and down. I felt dizzy and weak. As a cancer survivor, I have been vigilant about taking care of my health, I  get check-ups religiously. I pop vitamins, I go to the gym, I take flu shots.

On Tuesday night I mindlessly loaded up the dishwasher, turned it on, when a blast of water came shooting out from under the sink. Within minutes, my kitchen was flooded and water was flowing fast into the dining room. I called 911 and they said the fire department was on their way. By the time they arrived, The water had filled the dining room.That's when I started to hear what sounded like a waterfall downstairs. My master bedroom is right below the dining room.When I got down to my bedroom, it was like Niagra Falls took over the space.

The firemen turned off all the water immediately but it took a good 30 minutes before the flood to finally subside. That's when they broke the bad news. For safety purposes, they had to keep the water shut down, then turn off the electric and heat, too. I had to leave my home and spend the night in a hotel. No, no, I thought. There was no way I was leaving. I suddently remembered what happened to  my neighbor down the street last February. A pipe burst from the unit above her.  Since they couldn't fix anything without turning off the heat, water and electricity, she was condemended from living in her property. In fact, she was still living at The Marriott Residence Inn.

My neighbor who lived above me, had been darting in and out of my house the whole time during this crisis ordering me around. I pretty much ignored her--especially when she remarked sarcastically that: " I wasn't handling this flood very well" while I stared blankly at my waterlogged dining room furniture and area rug. Thankfully, she walked out after that. Then a troop of EMS guys marched into my home, I asked them in so many words: Who invited you? Apparently my neighbor called them and said I was sick.

They asked me if I had called a hotel yet. I reiterated that I was staying in my home because luckily, my guest bedroom was totally dry and that's where I would stay. That's when the EMS ring leader took matters into his own hands. "Well ma'am, you have two options here. You can either go to a hotel, Or we're taking you to the hospital," he announced in no uncertain terms.  He started making calls to all the local hotels. Turns out there was some sort of convention in the area and the nearest hotel was a Comfort Inn 17 miles away.

When it finally dawned on me I was outnumbered,  I reluctantly grabbed my handbag, down vest and headed outside. I noted the firemen and EMS guys formed a sort of human chain link at the front of my doorstep as I jumped into my car. The youngest fireman waved and called out meagerly: "Just remember: It's only stuff! No one got hurt!:

I glared at him and muttered to myself, Yeah, but it's MY stuff and most of it is ruined. When I got checked into my room at the hotel, the gravity of the situation hit me and I started to cry. I called my mother in Florida. All I could do is repeatedly cry out her name into my cellphone: Mom! Mom! Mom! I just wanted her to be there with me.

"Get a hold of yourself! my mom hollered back. She ordered me to call the condo association manager pronto to inform him of the disaster and deal with all the rest of the shit in the morning. I must say it felt good to be in a pristine room. There was nothing more to do but fall into bed.

I was back at my house the next morning at 8 am. True to his promise, the condo manager knocked on my door at 9 am sharp with his crew of an electrician, plumber and foreman standing behind him.They filed in and with timely precision fixed the plumbing under the sink,  removed the ceiling lighting in my bedroom and turned everything back on. The hardwood floors began buckling from the water.  A contractor walked through and noted the damage. The ceiling downstairs, the floors, and the recessed lighting are all destroyed. I need a new mattress.

I was told my townhouse wouldn't be completely repaired and renovated for at least eight weeks. In the meantime, me and my cat are living in my tiny guestroom and bathroom. Looking at the grand scheme of things, that newbie fireman was right. I'm okay, my cat is okay. Eight years ago--during the spring of 2008--I was not okay. I was going through chemotherapy, I was sick, I was bald, I could barely get through each day. I often feared I was walking on a path towards death. Shit happens. Shit will always happen. Just remember how you dealt with all that shit called cancer, count your blessings, and move on.


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