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Breathing Ash

I sat in the house for a week, leaving a couple of times to run to the store, but running right back home into the relative safety of recycled air. I coped with Cabin Fever by obsessively watching HGTV and thinking I needed to create a shrine of Disney memorabilia in two of our 8 foot bookcases. To complete my bizarre Disney project, I had to do 395 preliminary projects that are still strewn around my living room. Thank goodness you can't see it. It doesn't help that the vacuum cleaner is acting stupid and, instead of sucking the (black) dog hair up, it's spreading it around like so much frosting on a wedding cake. Yum. Oh, and we have white carpeting like all crazy Californians who still have carpeting.

I looked outside Saturday and wow! the air looked better, the day was cooler and I considered opening the house, but thought I should look up the air quality on-line first. Oops! Unhealthy. No go.

I have a new client and was meeting them Sunday at the office, so was excited to get out. The off-shore flow certainly swept some of the crap air away by then, right? It didn't look so bad out. I hopped in the car and zoomed up to the office where I had not been all week.

I am the cleaning lady at the office. I hadn't been there all week. Not a good thing. I needed to clean before the childbirth class started and clean up after the clients that had come once we re-opened on Wednesday. I empty the garbage, the linens, fill the paper towel holders, make sure TP is where it is supposed to be, blah blah... you know the office routine.

So, I get to the office at 9:20am and am blown away by the difference in air quality - 30 miles makes a world of difference! You know how when you swim underwater with your eyes open in an over-chlorinated pool for several hours and when you get out everything is hazy and grey and you can hardly see because your eyes are burning? THAT is what it was like at my office.

I got out of the car and stepped into the city's fireplace. Ashes were everywhere. Ash was smooshed up against the curbs, in the flower beds, all over the sidewalks, swirled everywhere in the parking lot. Everywhere.

I got into the office quickly, did the cleaning fast (cursory) and within 15 minutes, my lungs felt like I had razor blades inside them. I started to cry.

I had to take the trash out, skating through the ashes and knew I had to get out of the area.

Where the office is experienced mandatory evacuations. The fires were so close, my clients that live in the area are still out of state.

Besides going to clean, I was meeting new clients, giving them their paperwork and doing a first prenatal, despite their nearly being done. I had to think fast about what to do, where to go. I just couldn't see them there, now. I thought it best to meet them down south more and do the prenatal later in the week when I/we could all breathe better. They were coming for the childbirth class, so when they got there, I asked if we could meet at a local restaurant 30 miles south, they were very gracious and said, "Sure!"

I hightailed it outta there. My voice was scratchy, my lungs tight.

Once home, I sucked on my oxygen for awhile and that helped some, but I had to go out again to the restaurant, which was a hoot and a great time with my apprentice Donna and my new clients. I went back home again, breathed the O2 several times through the evening, considered going to the hospital, visualizing open lungs, clear lungs, easy breaths... and I slept upright that night, awakening to open and clear lungs and easy breaths. I was so, so relieved.

I look outside now and see some light haze. It's barely anything, but the air quality is "moderate" and there are particles floating everywhere. I'm scared to open the windows. I don't know if that is paranoia or self-protection. Because of the cocci, my lungs look like lace from the scar tissue, so it is probably protection, right? I almost feel agoraphobic from being so scared about the dust and crap floating around outside. It sounds so crazy when I say it outloud, but knowing my history, it really isn't.

I went to the movies last night. It was as surreal as going to the restaurant the other day. Getting out is odd.

When I was really sick with the DVT 2 years ago and stayed in the house for several weeks at a time, I would get dizzy going outside. It was strange. There were so many people, just living their lives, not thinking about my little tiny world and how hard it was for me to be outside. What an accomplishment it was. That's kind of how it feels right now. That I am so nervous about inhaling something I shouldn't lest I get sick again, I ration my outside visits.

They have to get more frequent. I have a lot to do!

So, the front of my house is clean as can be. I have nearly finished three blog posts. I've not done nearly enough work work that I was supposed to be doing. I've figured out my decorating styles are eclectic, bohemian and organic. I've laughed my head off watching Romie & Michelle again (that is the FUNNIEST movie!). I've marveled at the styles of the 80's in "Back to the Future." I decided I like "Dirty Dancing" a whole lot more on cable than on regular tv. I decided I want David Bromstad (Color Splash), Candice Olson (Divine Design) or Vern Yip (Deserving Design) to redo all of my house.

You'd be proud. I hardly watched the news at all.

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Reader Comments (4)

I *heart* Candace Olsen. If I thought I could afford her (and fly her out from Toronto!), I'd hand over the keys to my house in a heartbeat, and I'm PICKY.

Sorry to hear it's still so icky out there. My DH just flew out of LAX (to Japan) yesterday, and he said the air quality in the view Southward was incredibly bad. Blech.

October 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAlli

I have to tell you that if those 3 designers were in my house, I'd be in hog heaven!! :-) Hope you're still feeling great.

October 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSDCulinarian

Mmmm...HGTV. How I love thee...

Glad things are clearing up your way. I'm wishing you happy, healthy lungs.

October 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

Another thing you can do while stuck inside. Awhile back you posted that you felt you needed practice, and some time before that you posted about feeling a call to serve,..

Have you read this woman's blog? She is assisting in the labor and delivery ward of a clinic in africa...

October 30, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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