Friday, September 23, 2011
The Woman Who Lived
(Not that I have much in common with Harry Potter, but we've both survived some interesting things.) I've heard that certain adventures come in threes. In our neck of the woods, this is not always a good thing. ;) But in this particular instance, perhaps it is. In less than 3 months, I've survived 3 separate adventures that could have been life-threatening. Last night was the third such incident.
I won't bore you with many details of the first two brushes with death. The first one involved a 4-wheeler roll-over, if that gives you any idea. ;) I was truly watched over that day: my worst injury was a severely bruised hip that was also knocked out of place. Once it was prodded back into alignment, life was much better, although it still lets me know from time to time that getting wedged between a tree and a rolling 4-wheeler is not a very cool thing to do.
The second incident took place after a busy day of running about. I had experienced 4-5 insulin reactions in a row (I'm a type 1 diabetic) and evidently my body was once again not amused. I can usually push through to accomplish what I need to do, even on days when I feel less than wonderful. On this day, my body pushed back . . . and scared me into realizing I need to slow down . . . a lot.
Then last night happened . . . and the fact that I'm sitting here typing this blog is evidence that we don't leave this mortal sphere until it's our time to go. Just sayin' . . .
So there I was, minding my business, watching the nine o'clock news. Suddenly it dawned on me that I needed to unhook the hose from a faucet in the front yard. Earlier, my husband (who was working a midnight shift that night) and I had agreed to take some safety measures to keep the faucets from being ruined by frost, since the temperature was supposed to reach around 27 degrees that night. When the news was over, I walked into the utility room to slip on some shoes to take care of this task.
I thought about going out through the garage, which would have saved me from what happened next, but decided it would be simpler to return to the living room and exit out the front door. I reasoned that all of our pets were safely tucked into bed in the garage and I would just disturb them if I took that route. Opening the front door, I quickly shut it behind me to prevent the moths from zooming inside. The porch light was still on, and they were doing their nightly frantic dance of trying to perish in the fire.
It wasn't until after the door was shut that it dawned on me that I had just locked myself out of the house. Our door handle is the type that allows you to exit, even when it's locked. Shrugging this off as a minor inconvenience, I figured I could find another way back in, and I unhooked the hose from the faucet. Then I jiggled the front door, and found that it was indeed locked. I tried the front walk-in door to the garage next, and it was locked, too. I fiddled with both garage doors, but they were both sealed tight.
Walking around to the back yard, I was still refusing to panic. Surely I could enter from the back door to the garage, and if it was already locked, I could access the extra key we keep outside. Au contraire. The back door was indeed locked tight, and the key that was supposed to be in its usual place outside, was hanging inside the house. I had used it two days earlier to enter the house and had forgotten to replace it. Strike two.
My next thought was that I could open the French doors that lead into the dining room, but when I tried that option, I discovered I had been quite adept at locking things up for the night. All of the windows were shut, and all of the doors were locked, and this is when it dawned on me how serious my situation was.
Now, normally, we keep our camper locked, but luckily for me, as it turned out, it (unlike everything else) was unlocked. We had been unloading stuff from it all week from our recent camping adventure in Yellowstone Park, and hadn't bothered to lock it up. I climbed inside the camper and found a handy flashlight. Taking it with me, I retried all of the doors to the house. By then it was about 10:20 p.m. I glanced hopefully at our next door neighbors' abode, but couldn't tell if there were any lights on. I walked over, silently praying that someone would be up still, but when I arrived, I could see that all of the lights were out inside the house. Most uncool. I knew they had already gone to bed, since my neighbor's husband had to be up around 4:30 a.m to go to work. I glanced down the street and saw that another neighbor's house was also cloaked in darkness, and wondered what was up with everyone going to bed on time for once.
Here was my dilemma: not only was it cold and I was not wearing a jacket or coat since my little chore was only supposed to take a couple of minutes, but I had also given myself a hefty bolus of insulin around 9:30 p.m. For some reason my blood sugar level had been rather high the last time I had checked, and so I had given about 4 units of insulin to bring it down into the normal range. I had figured that I would eat a snack before bed and all would be well. Now all of the circumstances had changed and I knew I was in trouble. The only thing I had access to eat outside were the sour apples from our tree in the front yard (and they are really sour this year) and I wasn't sure they would provide enough carbs if my blood sugar plummeted. Some of my worst reactions take place in the middle of the night--so you can understand my concern, especially after what I'd endured about 3 weeks ago.
I weighed my options and decided I would continue trying to break into my house, since everything I needed was inside. I knew if I had to, I could sleep inside the camper--it had a furnace and I knew how to turn it on and set it to a comfortable range. The bedding we had used while in Yellowstone was all still in place, but the camper had been stripped of all food sources, and that was the major concern.
I spent a good 40 minutes or so trying to get in through the French doors. I figured that was my best bet, since it would be easy to enter the house from that location. Reluctant to break the glass, I tried to jimmy the door handle. I knew we could easily replace it, but I was unable to find our crowbar. It would amuse you to see the assortment of tools I dragged out of the shed to try damaging the door handle--everything from a wrench, to a large set of pruning sheers, to a heavy maul, which was my last resort if I couldn't open the door through breaking the handle. I knew it was heavy enough to break the glass if needed.
The stupid handle wouldn't budge. I discovered that my house is much like a fortress when everything is locked up tight. This means I'm much safer than I ever assumed when here alone at night, but I digress. ;) I moved down to the room we're turning into a kid's guest room and saw that a piece of the curtain was caught in the window. This gave me false hope, as I assumed that I could somehow open the window and climb inside. I quickly removed the screen from this window, then had to retreat to the camper to find a butter knife---the window wouldn't budge. It was locked up as tight as Fort Knox, and even with the butter knife . . . which busted in half I might mention, I wasn't able to get that window to move at all.
I tried one of the side windows to the front room bay window, but after removing its screen, I saw that it was locked up tight, too, and wouldn't budge. I had thought if I could open it, I could slip at least a hand inside and try to unlock the front door. It didn't dawn on me until this morning that my arms weren't long enough, nor are they made of rubber. It would've taken a talented contortionist to reach that door handle.
Many prayers had been offered silently throughout this adventure, and I'm sorry to say that I began losing hope. It was growing colder; by then it was almost midnight and I was still unable to remedy my situation. I knew that any of my neighbors would've been happy to help, but I was reluctant to bother them, unless I had no choice. So I walked around my house, praying once again for guidance and help. Then I saw it--the kitchen window wasn't latched like all of the other windows.
I am not a tall person. In stocking feet I stand at 5'2". I had been using a decrepit sawhorse to reach the other windows to our house, and I had already fallen off once already, scraping up one leg. I was hesitant to climb on the sawhorse again, but there was no other choice; all of our ladders were nestled in the safety of the garage.
So I dragged the saw horse over by the smaller kitchen window (naturally it was smaller than all of our other windows) and climbed carefully onto the crumbling wood, hoping it would sustain me. I was quite aware that if I fell and broke something, it would only make matters worse. Once again, I popped a screen out of the window. Then I used a second butter knife retrieved from the camper to pry the window open. I was so elated when it finally pushed open, I nearly cheered for joy. Then I realized that while I had been able to reach up enough to open the window, I was not high enough to even think about trying to climb in through that window, nor was I certain that I would fit through that small opening.
As I stood on top of the sawhorse, filled with dismay, it was like someone whispered inside my head: "Think. Now you can access something you need." I looked again through the open window and saw that a partial loaf of freshly made banana bread was lying on a nearby counter, wrapped in a plastic bag. I carefully removed the curtains that were hanging in the window, and used the curtain rod to drag the banana bread to where I could reach it. I felt an immediate sense of peace and knew that my prayers had indeed been heard. Now I had something I could use if my blood sugar dropped.
I made two more trips to that window to retrieve water (a small pitcher was still located in the camper. This proved to be very useful, since we had already drained all of the water out of the camper) and some medication that I needed that happened to be sitting on the window sill.
I spent what remained of the night in the camper. I made use of most of the bedding to stay warm, and turned on the camper furnace, hoping the propane wouldn't run out before morning arrived.
It wasn't the most restful night I've ever had, but I stayed warm, I had access to something that would help if my blood sugar tanked, and I was safe. I had survived a perilous situation that in my case, could've been life-threatening. If I had fallen off that sawhorse and broken something, no one would've known I was in trouble. My cell phone was inside the house, resting on the comfortable couch, along with my glucose monitor.
I learned a lot from last night's adventure: always check the door handle before exiting the house; keep the spare key outside where it belongs; listen to promptings; & trust in God. Prayers are indeed answered, but not often in the way we envision. I had believed all along that I would find a way inside my house last night. It was with great reluctance that I gave in to the plan that actually saved my life. A way was provided, and that prayer for help was answered, proof once again that during our most critical moments, we are never alone.
Before I went to sleep, huddled inside the camper, I wondered if any of my pioneer ancestors had been watching my attempts at survival. I smiled, certain that some of them were blaming each other for my obvious lack of intelligence, since what happened was once again my fault. ;) But there was also a sense that just maybe, some of them were proud of my efforts to survive, a trait I'm sure they passed down through the generations. I am certain that some of their determination exists in many of their posterity, and that is what will get us all through these crazy latter days, when we don't know from one day to the next what challenges life will bring our way.