What the hell was that!?!

October has felt like a slap in the face. Oy, what a month! I may actually celebrate Halloween this year just to say goodbye to the most challenging month we’ve seen all year!

Here’s the run down:

Sweetie and I returned to Tofino on September 30th. We were both struck at how uncomfortable we felt to be back. The beautiful and isolated west coast of Vancouver Island has been our sanctuary from the world for over five years — why, suddenly, were we less than thrilled to be back? Why did we feel like we should be closer to the *other* side of the island, where airports and utilities like *internet* are more readily accessible?

I felt uneasy that first week. My mother had her second brain surgery and remained hospitalized for much of the first week in October. Knock on wood, count our blessings, she’s recovered incredibly well – miracle #2 since her diagnosis in January. I was back working at the hospital and planning a working trip out to the even more isolated Bamfield Outpost, and I was also frantically trying to sign up for continuing education courses.

And then I threw my back out.

I haven’t done that in years. In fact, I have a daily yoga routine to keep my back strong and healthy. Since I started biking 15 km a day, a ropy column of muscle has formed on either side of my spine. I honestly feel like I’m in the best shape of my life (even if I really should lose some weight.)

So when I felt the fiery pain shoot up to my ear and down through my foot, I thought “No, I haven’t hurt it that bad, I’ll just sit down.”

I’d never had to go to the ER for back pain before. If I strained it, I’d rest it and take Robaxecet. It’s been years since I even bought that stuff.

I was really grateful that I hadn’t booked any sessions for the weekend after my Bamfield trip, so I didn’t inconvenience any of my clients. The real crumble on the cupcake was that because I was scheduled to be at the outpost, the hospital had already scheduled staff to cover for me.

Literally the only person I hurt was myself.

I lost 48 hours straight due to the medication, and clawed my way back to functionality over the next 7 days. I’m feeling much better now, but I’ll be seeing our town chiropractor shortly.

Then Sweetie gets a phone call – her Dad is not doing so well. They’re keeping him sedated for 48 hours at a time, and when he regains consciousness he’s “very agitated”. It’s so upsetting for family to see this, imagining their loved one’s consciousness is stuck in this body that is suffering.

That night, Sweetie had a dream. She was hanging out with her Dad, but he was 8 years old. He was in the backyard of his childhood home, examining insects, trying to figure out how they fly. His mother was with him, watching over him.

Sweetie’s father died two days later. She was doing a great job of keeping calm and carrying on, until she got the date of his service and realized she had to leave *right now* if she was going to make it.

It was 10 am on Friday and she had to be on a 1:30 pm flight out of Tofino, to catch the red-eye from Vancouver to North Bay. This might seem straight-forward, but it’s not. Tofino is so small you can’t just “book a flight” on a whim. The tiny 8-seater airplanes book up weeks in advance.


Providence intervened, as it does, and a single seat was available to Sweetie when she called them – just one seat for the next three days. She got it.

Then there’s the matter of getting to the airport. I’m not even sure how she pulled that one off. The airport doesn’t have a shuttle service and the *single* taxi cab in Tofino isn’t always available. She made it to Vancouver. Once you’re off the Island, travel gets easier.

Fortunately, she has a special friend we’ll call “Awesome Josh” who is giving her extra hugs and support, and who kept her company during the viewing. There are no friends quite like old friends.

Meanwhile, there’s me. I’m by myself in Tofino, I hadn’t even known when I said my goodbyes Friday morning that I wouldn’t be seeing Sweetie for a week! I came home to an empty house on Friday and really, REALLY saw just how filthy it actually was.

Now, I’m going to share the details here, try not to laugh.

The floors were swimming with sand and dust bunnies. It was so dirty, you kind of didn’t want to take off your shoes when you came inside.

The couch had two vague circular stains on a cushion, possibly from cat puke that may have happened while we were in Ontario and the pet-sitters were looking after our creatures.

There were circles on the book case – little impressions in the thick layer of dust left by objects I’d moved and not put back in exactly the right place.

You know your place is filthy when you try and replace objects in their proper dust crop-circle so you can ignore your own squalor for just one more day.

The bathroom had dead moths stuck to the walls. The poor creatures had flown in during a shower and gotten plastered to the walls by the steam.

And finally, a green mold was blooming over all of the windows in the house. Not just in the corners, across the ENTIRE PLANE of glass. They looked like snowflakes.

The bathtub had a pink circle of… something… around the drain. My back ached after my first week back at work and I desperately wanted to take an Epsom salt bath… but I couldn’t clean the freaking bath tub!

I just couldn’t stand the thought of living in an appalling flop-house, ALONE, being too injured to clean it and unable to care for my injury.

So I hired a cleaner. I hired a cleaner!

This lovely domestic goddess, this cleaning ANGEL floated into my home and freaking fixed everything. She washed the floors. She vacuumed the couch. She squeegeed the mold off the windows (and bedroom dresser, boot rack, cutting board). She tactfully suggested we get a dehumidifier. She wiped the dead insects off of our bathroom wall. She sanitized the whole bathroom!

It was like a miracle. This overwhelming, oppressive atmosphere of our home was cleaned up and sparkling, and I didn’t have to lift a finger. I spent most of last night just reveling in the fact that there was not a single domestic chore screaming my name.

What’s more, when I observed the small ways in which I re-dirty my own house, I realized I was not getting stressed out about “keeping” the house clean. Usually, when the house was this clean, it’s because I’d busted my butt to get it there. Afterwards, I’m on edge trying to KEEP it that way! But not this time; you know why? The Cleaning Angel is coming again NEXT WEEK! It doesn’t matter if I drop a hair on the floor in the bathroom, SOMEONE ELSE WILL PICK IT UP! I can just LEAVE IT THERE!

I am blown away by the joy and release I feel at being liberated from my own daily drudgery. It is such a weight off my shoulders. I won’t have to bug Sweetie to do things around the house either. What a relief to say goodbye to that dynamic in our relationship.

Guess what? My back feels better today.

7 thoughts on “What the hell was that!?!

    • Yeah, I put it off for a long time too because it seems like a lot of money. But it suddenly became a priority and if something is a high enough priority, you tend to find the money.

      I say this being fully aware of what it’s like to live barely being able to afford the essentials. I’m just unlocking my brain from that survival way of thinking, and realizing that hey, if I pay someone to do 4 hours of cleaning, that’s four freaking hours I have to do more readings, or something else that will pay for that cleaning and THEN some.

      And guess what? My cleaning angel is a great person and she can really use the money right now. So it’s like Biggie says, you’re feeding a green ecosystem of money by paying good people.


  1. Oh, Kate! I’m so sorry things have been rough, but if it makes you feel any better, you’re totally not alone. We haven’t been dealing with anything quite so severe as you and Kat, but this month has definitely been a giant mess — from trips to the ER to plumbing disasters to lost invoices, it’s just been one headache after another. It’s ALMOST been comical, but only on the days I’ve achieved a near-delirious level of fatigue. Something is definitely up with the universe!!! Hope it stops, SOON.


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