Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Memiors of a Cleaning Lady: Learning to Accept Help

I'm fiercely independent--kind of funny for a woman who would never describe herself as a feminist. If I need something moved, I'll move it. If something needs to be fixed, I'll fix it. Even if I'm hurt, I'll always keep on going, and I try not to complain. It's my stubborn streak. It's my oldest-child streak. I like the satisfaction of knowing that I did something myself.

That's kind of the reason I'm lying on my stomach with ice on my back right now.

It started two months ago when I brought a bunch of hardcover books that I used as research for my Elysian Chronicles series to the speech I gave at the Naples Press Club Writer's Conference. I hauled those puppies in with two very large beach bags. (Two huge beach bags full of books are not light.) My friend, Felicia, saw me and said, "Let me help you."

"I got it," was my reply.

My back gave me a very different reply. I must have strained it then.

Since that day, I've been working out religiously, jogging, and helping my husband with the commercial cleaning business on Wednesday nights and Fridays, meaning I've had to bend over constantly to scrub umpteen toilets and hundreds of pool-side lawn chairs during those days. I've been surviving only with the aid of a Tiger Balm Pain Patch.

Unfortunately, two things happened this weekend:

  • Friday's work turned into Friday and Saturday's work, which might have been okay, except...
  • On Friday, I was cleaning spider-infested hand rails at one of the condos we clean, and I saw a little old lady with two suitcases standing by the steps. I realized that she was too frail to carry the suitcases up the steps, so I offered to help. And instead of carrying one at a time, I grabbed them both. Now, in my defense, I thought carrying two suitcases would help me balance the weight. Of course, I carried the heavy one on my left side, which is my weaker side and also the way the scoliosis twists. A bad mistake. I felt something tweak as I hauled those suitcases up the stairs.

By Saturday, I had to do "squats" every time I wanted to clean the over fifty lawn chairs and ten toilets we had left. (My quads still hate me.) My husband finally took me home because he realized I couldn't do anymore.

Since then, I can't lift anything big without pain. Opening doors hurts. Twisting hurts. Putting on a pair of pants hurts. When I visited Canterbury School today, I had to let the teachers move the tables for me instead of doing it myself. I had to let them open doors and put my box of books back in the car for me. (I did get my box of books out of the car myself...he he he.) I've been forbidden from doing the laundry, and I've been informed that if things don't improve by tomorrow, I will be seeing a chiropractor. (It's the Battle of the Wills in the Weston household.)

Anyway, I really don't like this. It's so hard for me to accept help, but I have to admit that part of that is probably a pride thing. I think part of me is often thinking "Look at me, I did that." And I think that another part of me thinks that I'm not good enough if I can't do something myself. Crazy isn't it? I mean, who cares?

So I think part of this whole thing is about me learning that it's okay to let others help me and getting rid of the pride. Hopefully, that will make me better able to help others. (Except that the next time my back is hurting, the little old lady can carry her own bags up the stairs.)

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