Friday, July 22, 2016

Let There Be Light!

We had a power outage last week. I was watching Dr. Phil on Wednesday afternoon when the local meteorologist interrupted the show to report on stormy weather moving through the area. The storm was predicted to hit the town where I live 20 minutes later at 3:30 PM, and sure enough, it did. My mom was in the middle of getting me back to bed to start my afternoon routine when all of this was going on. It got very dark and stormy, and the wind was really blowing and whipping the trees around. All of a sudden the power flickered and then went out. My special air bed promptly went flat. (I must say that it doesn't take long for this to get mighty uncomfortable, since it basically means lying on the bed frame and the tubes that are inside of the mattress.)

My mom and I did my afternoon care routine the best we could, considering the circumstances, as we waited to see if the power would come back on. After about two hours the power was still off, and by this time I was really starting to hurt from lying on the flat bed. Mom called our friend/helper, Linda, who lives up the street to see if she could come over and help Mom get me out of bed and into my recliner. Linda was out running errands, but said that she would shortly be on her way home. I'm so glad she was able to stop by and help get me up! My mom always plugs my overhead lift in to charge it after I get back in bed each day. I'm also glad that she is in the habit of doing this, because the liftwhich only takes about 10 minutes to chargehad enough time to fully charge before the power went out.

We do have a generator, which my mom bought about five or six years ago, but we've never used it in a power outage. Our power used to go out on a fairly regular basis (a handful of times a year), but in the last many years, we've been very blessed not to experience any power outages that lasted more than a few minutes. Mom did go out to the garage to try and start up the generator before I got out of bed, but she couldn't get it to come on. Mom called a couple of our friends, Steve and Daniel, to see if they could help her get our generator running. They both came over that evening and worked for hours on it, working until the last traces of light were gone, and then into the night, using headlamps and flashlights to illuminate the generator. They took it apart, inspected and cleaned all the parts, and then put everything back together again. In the end, although they could get the generator to turn on, they couldn't keep it running for more than a minute. Steve and Daniel were determined to see the job through on a matter of principle, and they worked on the generator until close to 11:30 PM, but they were ultimately defeated. I was glad when they left for the night, because I was worried that our neighbors, who likely had their windows open to get some sort of ventilation without the use of AC, were going to hate us for making so much racket, because the generator (which is extremely noisy) kept going on and then off.

Mom and I went to bed about midnight. Mom slept downstairs on the futon, so that she could hear me, since our monitor obviously needs electricity to work. We had the windows open, and it got nice and cool, and there was a breeze blowing, which made for very pleasant sleeping conditions. The other great thing was that everything was very still and quiet, since nothing electrical was running in the house or anywhere in the neighborhood. I fell asleep to the sounds of insects buzzing and frogs croaking, and woke up to the sounds of birds chirping. It was nice to hear nature's soundtrack, since I don't usually have any windows open when I sleep. I was hoping that the power would come back on sometime in the middle of the night, but  it didn't. I slept well, despite the fact that I couldn't sleep in my bed. I'm very grateful my recliner is so comfortable! I definitely wouldn't have wanted to sleep in my wheelchair.

My mom didn't open the refrigerator/freezer at all when the power went off, except on Wednesday evening, when our friend Jenni (wife to Steve, who helped with the generator) came down with a big bag of ice. Mom got one of our coolers, filled it with the ice, and quickly got into the fridge and removed a few things for us to use the next day.

I did get pretty bored during the power outage with nothing to do. While my mom and our friends were working on the generator on Wednesday night, I did get on my computer for a few hours and I just worked off of the battery. I didn't have Internet since the gateway didn't have power, but there were still some other things I was able to work on. On Thursday morning my mom and I started reading a new book together. That kept us occupied for a while. We also took a nap. My sister Chandra called on Thursday morning to see if our power was back on. Hers had come back on about 1 AM, after being off for 10 hours. Mom and I weren't that lucky. She came over and took some of our meat and other frozen foods and took them home with her to put in her freezer, so that all of our frozen food didn't go to waste. Chandra also took my portable suction machine home with her, so she could charge it.

Earlier in the week my mom had discovered that the battery in my portable suction machine (which we only use when we go out somewhere and leave the house) wasn't holding much of a charge. Mom hadn't had a chance to call about it yet, so this was one thing that made our power outage a bit stressful. As fate would have it, I needed my airway suctioned a bunch of times on Thursday throughout the day. The motor in the machine usually purrs away when it's turned on, but it slooowly chugged along each time we needed to use it. Not long after Chandra took the machine to her house to charge, I could tell that more secretions were collecting in my airway (which makes me cough and makes it difficult to breathe). I tried to suppress my need for suction as long as possible, but a few hours later I knew I couldn't wait much longer, so Mom called Chandra and she brought the suction machine back to us. I felt badly because she had only gotten a few hours of sleep the previous night (she got to bed late and had to get up at 5 AM to drive her boyfriend to the airport). She had just gotten her baby to sleep and had just lain down to get some sleep when Mom called her saying that I would need suction soon. Chandra said she had a feeling we would call her as soon as she lay down, and she was right! She got back up, got her baby up, got the suction machine and drove the 15 minutes back to my house. Chan is SO good to me! By some miracle, the suction machine was able to get the job done each time it was called into service, even though the suction was quite weak.

On Thursday afternoon, the power finally came back on after nearly 24 hours. Things could have been so much worse for us, so even though the power outage was inconvenient, I really can't complain. There were other people in our area who were without power for 48 hours, so I'm just glad ours came back on when it did. We didn't have any damage to our house or property in the storm, and we didn't lose any trees, either, like other people we know. (We later found out that fallen tree limbs on power lines were what caused the power outage.) I'm grateful for good friends and neighbors who were very kind and willing to help us. I'm especially thankful for my sister Chandra, and for her continued help to my mom and me. I heard on the news that there were around 200,000 homes and businesses without power, so I'm very appreciative to the Ameren employees who worked through the night to restore power.

The take away from this experience is that we have a bit of work to do to make sure that we are prepared for emergency-type events in the future. We need to take our generator in to find out why it's not working, get the battery in my portable suction machine replaced (which is already in the works) and things like that. I'm grateful that my mom has always tried to be prepared for things like this, by having plenty of food storage and water, flashlights and batteries, candles, etc. I'd rather be prepared with things and not need them, than to be in a true emergency and not have what we need to survive. I'm so grateful that we have electricity and don't have to live in the "dark ages." :)


Julie said...

What a scary experience for you all, especially you Heather.

I'm so glad you had people who were able to help your Mum & that you were finally able to get the power back on.

I'm curious about being uncomfortable on your bed when the mattress wasn't inflated. Can you feel things in your back etc or was it mainly your neck?

I hope you don't mind me asking you that, I'm just curious.

Most houses in the UK don't have air con, so sleeping with windows open at night is the norm here. We're going through a heatwave at the moment & I hate it - it's so hot.

Did you see the pix of Prince George that were released for his 3rd birthday last week? Can't believe he's 3 already.

Take care & I hope you don't have another power cut again for quite a while.

Electricity truly is a blessing.

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