Sinkhole

Late Monday afternoon, just after I’d finished work for the day, the water main on our street broke. Water started bubbling out of cracks right in front of our next-door neighbor’s house. By the time I went to investigate, maybe a half-hour later, it was gushing down the street, into the gutters.  A couple of DPW trucks drove by, then drove by again. All the neighbors came out to comment and gawk at the river in the middle of the road. By the time the water was shut off for the whole street, a chunk of asphalt had formed a sinkhole.

Now, as I write, around 8 o’clock in the evening,  a work crew is milling about outside. We’ve been told it may be 8 to 10 hours before the water main is fixed. It’s going to be a long, dry night.

My first thought, when I realized that we had no water, was how am I going to wash my hands tonight? Fortunately, we have some distilled water in the house. I also just received a shipment of saline wound wash. So I should be able to take care of my ulcers, thank goodness.

This follows a day in which I learned that, contrary to what I’d been led to believe about procuring the high end wound dressing I’ve been seeking, that I did not need a prior authorization, given that this dressing is considered to be a durable medical supply. I just needed to have my rheumatologist fax the prescription to the supplier. (This, after I learned from several phone calls to various sources, is possible because I can get said durable medical supplies out-of-network without penalty from my insurance company.) All of this would be great news, except for the fact that I have lost weeks in a wild goose chase for prior authorization, when I probably could have had the dressing by now, saving much pain and frustration.

All of this is compounded by the fact that we are leaving for vacation soon. I’m still hoping for a miracle that somehow all the approvals will go through and I can get the dressing before we go. But each day makes that less likely. So I’ll just need to do the best I can with what I have.

The one thing I have control over is how I respond to the situation I find myself in. I started doing some guided meditations about pain management. It’s really quite fascinating, because the focus is not on trying to avoid the pain, but rather on changing how I understand and respond to it. It’s very easy to fall into the hole of fear and anxiety about what is happening to my fingers, given that the healing process is so excruciatingly slow. The pain triggers those fears. I look at the deep wounds when I change my dressings and don’t know how to interpret what I see and feel.

What I have learned is that the more tense and stressed I am, the worse the pain becomes. The more I’m able to relax and sit with the pain, the less overwhelmed I am, and the pain itself becomes more manageable.

Not easy to remember when my fingers start going crazy as my medication wears off by the end of the day. But I’m trying. What other choice do I have?

Now the DPW work crew is banging and rattling about. By morning, I hope the sinkhole will be repaired and that we will have running water again. Thank goodness these men are willing to work through the night to take care of our street. Every day brings the unexpected. How we deal with it is up to each and every one of us.

I’ll be taking a break from my blog for the next few weeks, back at the end of August. I hope, Dear Reader, that the rest of your summer is free of sinkholes and full of good health and pleasant journeys.

Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com.

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