“I’m Awesome” posted one of my friends on Facebook. Had she cured cancer? No. Saved the world through micro-loans? No. Become as rich and famous as Oprah? No. The rest of her message read: “I’ve picked up the living room and put a load of wash in the machine.”
To those blessed not to have health issues, doing the laundry may not seem like a big deal. But to someone with a chronic health issue like lupus that causes pain and exhaustion, simple household chores can be as daunting as climbing a mountain.
Every since I was diagnosed with lupus, I have had a hate-hate relationship with chores. When I was a teenager, it took me forever to wash the dishes because I would wash a couple, go sit down, wash a few more, then sit down again. My room often looked like “hot mess” because I would take things out of my closet to organize them and then be too tired to put them back. If my parents weren’t very patient with me, I would have been grounded forever. Instead, they encouraged me to do chores when I could and then left me alone when I wasn’t able. The most important thing they taught me was to ask for help. Over the years, I have followed their advice and hired people to do all sorts of chores when I was out of energy— everything from shoveling snow to grocery shopping and laundry service.
Flashing forward to fall 2010, I found myself with stacks of dirty laundry in my apartment and zero energy to do anything about them. My mom came by one day, saw the situation and not-so-gently asked: “Katina – do you plan on ever washing those clothes?”
I can’t remember what I actually said, but it probably sounded something like: “No, I plan to keep buying new clothes so that I don’t have to carry the laundry basket up two flights of stairs. Do I look like I have enough energy or arm strength to do laundry? The pain! The pain! Don’t you remember why I am in physical therapy! If only I had a laundry service like I did in New York, everything would be so much better . . . .”
A few days later, she made a suggestion that I couldn’t argue with. If I simply couldn’t do the laundry, then I needed to hire someone else to do them for me. So I did. For the last few months, I have paid to have my laundry washed once per week. I am blogging about it because I am not at all embarrassed. Having laundry service is awesome!
To put this in perspective, think about what it might feel like if someone hit your arm with a bat. Then think of picking up a heavy laundry basket. Then consider how much better your arm would feel if someone else was picking up the heavy laundry basket instead of you. That’s right, it would feel awesome!
When I told another relative that I planned to do try to do a load of laundry last night, she laughed at me because she had heard the bat analogy. She asked me whether or not I planned to take my laundry to the machine one piece at a time. I laughed back, because she wasn’t very far from the truth. When I got off the phone, I loaded a very tiny load of clothes into a basket and made my way to the machine. My mission was successful and I now have a clean load of clothes that I felt well enough to wash for myself. So I am proud to say, “I did my laundry and I am awesome!”
The Butterfly Lesson? Get help when you need it. Rejoice when you don’t need the help.
Katina R. Stapleton