Cabin Fever

Fresh snow fills my patio chairs from seat to arm rest.  My dogwood blooms fluffy white blossoms of snow.  Winter storms and elected officials shut down Western Washington.  In Greater Seattle, 3.5 million people have cabin fever.  We have nearly two feet of snow in our front yard with another six inches due tonight.  Cabin fever won’t be breaking any time soon.

Unlike my neighbors, I’ve had cabin fever for most of the past year.  Last February, I got a super-duper fancy pacemaker to address the return of severe heart failure and began a long recovery process.  No driving, no lifting, and only supervised exercise for months. Big time cabin fever.

By the end of July, I’d begun blowing out the cobwebs and opening the windows.  I gardened.  Volunteered.  Started to meet people.  I wasn’t free of the cabin, but I began to dream again.

0803180913a_resizedOn August 1, we welcomed a new granddaughter, Cora, into the world and celebrated that her delivery was smooth.  That same afternoon, my cardiologist gave me great news.  I dared to hope.

Filled with excitement at all the good news in my life, I threw open the door and jumped into life with both feet.  I tripled my volunteer hours in that first week of joy, resumed gardening, did some cooking…..and forget to rest.  How did that work?  Poorly.

I was so distracted by joy and exhausted within a few days, that I forgot to watch my footing.  I fell off a step at home.  I broke my foot so badly I couldn’t set it on the ground.  More surgery.  The surgeon said I absolutely could not put a moment’s weight on that foot for five months if I wanted to regain a normal gait.  So much for hopes, dream, and happy dances.

From August – October, I lay on my bed or sofa with my foot on pillows.  No walking or driving. (It was my right foot.)  No gardening or traveling.  I moved around on a knee scooter and used crutches on stairs.  Every Monday morning, my husband (who deserves sainthood) dropped me off at a Senior Center where I’m a volunteer receptionist.  A friend picked me up at noon, took me to run errands, and brought me home. Otherwise, I stayed home.  I had cabin fever no matter what the weather was like.

I read until I was tired of reading.  I streamed videos until I was tired of TV.  I got bored and went nutty.  After a few weeks, I got over enough of my embarrassment at having another broken foot that I was almost ready to call friends and fess up.

Seahawks castThat is, until I fell off my knee scooter in the dining room and broke my ankle.  I couldn’t even stay safe on a knee scooter going to the kitchen for a coffee refill.  At least the broken ankle was on the same side as the broken foot.  The ankle lengthened and complicated my recovery.  I was so upset, depressed, and embarrassed that I didn’t want anyone to know what had happened.  I buried all thoughts of calling friends for company and pushed through the solitude.

I learned a lot in those months.  I took on-line classes on sewing and knitting. I drafted doll clothes patterns as gifts for my granddaughters.  I read histories of Seattle and Washington State.

I learned that riding my scooter too fast over sidewalk cracks results in a face plant.  I learned that turning a corner too sharply one-handed can cause a broken ankle, even with my foot and lower leg encased in a walking boot. I learned that I need to be even more careful and attentive than I thought I did.

I re-learned that I hate to reach out for companionship and help when I feel I have nothing to bring to the table.  I’m afraid I’ll sound depressing or be suffocated with sympathy.

People tell me I inspire them with my hopeful, positive attitude and perseverance but I don’t feel inspiring.  I just try to keep doing what I know how to do: to not give up, to get up again, push forward, look for beauty and goodness, and hope that one day I can hope and dream again.  On the other hand, people who live with this attitude, inspire me to do the same.

These days, I can walk, drive and climb stairs again.  I volunteer, do a fitness class and physical therapy each week.  I’m meeting people and maybe beginning to find a place for myself here.  That pesky thing called hope was raising its head again.

Then it snowed and the city shut down.  And it snowed some more.  Yes, it is stunningly beautiful.  Yes, my dogs love to play in it.  I’ve taken them for walks and watched them Dogwood in snow (2)wrestle in snowdrifts.

In Seattle, even a little snow closes down the city.  Last week, we couldn’t get off our street for two days.  Nearly every day brings more snow, with another six inches predicted for tonight on top of the almost two feet already on the ground.  The city is in shutdown for at least two more days.  Cabin fever is rampant.

It’s ironic that the snow makes me feel better about my own cabin fever.  I’m no longer the odd one out.  All around me, 3.5 million people in Greater Seattle.  We’re in it together.

With so much in common, I’m finally willing to share my own experience of year-long cabin fever.  I dream of groaning and laughing together when we’re finally free.  I hope there’s another happy dance just around the corner.

Until then, I’ll stay cozy by the fire, snuggle with my new puppy, eat my husband’s wonderful cooking, knit a shawl and give thanks for the beauty outside my window.

10 thoughts on “Cabin Fever

  1. Anonymous

    : I Barbara do not know what year it is on your blog. I am responding on Feb. 22, 2022. I always identify with your sharing. This year I will be 87 and I am going to give up driving before I kill myself. It is my eyes, or at least one that is 20/100 with scar tissue. It is Lift or Uber for me starting the end of this month. I am a little afraid. Karen Kiser

  2. Sue Oertel

    Hi Barb….good to hear from you but keep you in our prayers 🙏🏻when we learned about your cabin fever. I also experience my own cabin fever with my advancing MS. My dear Dave is such a big help and supports me every way possible physically and emotionally! Take good care on two feet😊

  3. Marie & Ken

    Barbara, Great picture. Great post. Cora is beautiful just like her grandmother! Love … Marie and Ken

  4. Judy

    I’ve been in an on-again, off-again state of depression myself for about the last 3 years, so I can feel your emotional pain, I keep trying to remember to remind myself each day of one of our Presbyterian hymns, Live into Hope. Sometimes it helps, and sometimes not. But I love it, nonetheless. Had so much hope for this new year, but it’s turning out to be just as crummy so far. Hopefully, things will improve. I’m so glad you wrote this, as it does give me hope. So, stay well, stay safe, and stay warm. Love, Judy

  5. Frances Nicholson

    I was beginning to wonder about the quiet from your end, and now I know why. I resonate with the frustration of inaction, and send my love and (cliche though it may have become) my prayers your way. Do the happy dance… just carefully… when the drifts diminish.


  6. Anonymous

    Hi Barbara,
    Once again, you celebrate whatever life brings with beautiful, descriptive and thoughtful word pictures. You have been much in my heart. Wonderful news about Cora, my grandmother’s name.I will be coming to Mackensie’s Graduation in May in Ballard. Would love to see you and Mark. Will be in touch
    Much love,

  7. K H Altaner

    Almost had a good cry! But beginning to be hopeful for you. You are a wonder ! My oldest grand is now married & expecting # 2 great. Much love & many prayers. Katharine Altaner still @ W G

  8. Carol Kaufman

    You’ve been on my mind a lot lately. Now I know why. Lovely post. So good to see you still full of Hope in spite of ‘cabin fever’. Keep persevering.

  9. gillhouse

    Wrote a note to you this afternoon and didn’t have address. Then this post in my mailbox. Call me ,I used to listen pretty well. 518 4615609

  10. Kent Higgins

    Hi Barb, good to hear your news, such as it is. If you’d like some angora rabbit wool form knitting, Jenny might have some to send. I ran into Marcy Orr last summer in Virginia, and Jim Stewart in Cambridge in August. Joel Martin is becoming a college president soon. Marcy likes the idea of creating a reunion at her house in Chincoteague. Give our regards to Mark, and Cora, and everyone in between. They say spring is coming soon here. We’ll see. Take care, Kent


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