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I thought my fellow widows and widowers might be able to relate to my latest home project. I hate cockroaches. I can handle spiders, crickets, worms, ect.. but roaches put me over the edge. Last night I opened the medicine cabinet to get my face wash out. I reached behind my makeup bag and felt something run across my hand. I screamed and a huge 3" long sewer roach fell to the floor and scurried away. I couldn't tell if it had come from the drain or not, but I looked into the floor cabinet and noticed that around the pipes there was a large hole with a rag stuffed into it. This morning I took everything out of the medicine cabinet and the floor cabinet. I threw almost everything away, wiped it all down and thought that the roach might have come in from the hole in the wall with the rag in it. Once I took the rag out I was pretty disgusted and knew that it had to be patched. I remember my husband using spray foam insulation to fill smaller holes and cracks and I took off to Ace Hardware.

It was a mistake the minute a pulled up to the store. They were grilling hot dogs and giving out sodas and I suddenly flashed back to all the previous Labor day projects. Everyone at Ace knew my husband and Labor day was always his favorite project weekend because of the free food at the store. I ran in grabbed my spray foam and passed the adirondack chair kits that they bring in every labor day. Years before Mark had bought me two chair kits and I had spent the whole weekend sanding down each piece of wood, painting each piece and putting the chairs together. Mark had shown me step by step what to do and reinforced how sanding and painting first would make a nicer chair. I just stood there frozen in front of the chairs. Lately I think I'm suffering from PTSD and find myself with constant flash backs. Not only of past memories but of the entire day of his death. Rewinding the police coming to the door, the trip to the hospital, hyperventilating in the small empty waiting room. The look on the doctors faces and hearing the words that there was nothing they could do. He was crushed on impact. Then the long walk to the room where he lay dead. A breathing tube in his throat. Crawling up onto the gurney and wrapping myself around him one last time. Over and over I replay that day. How could hotdogs and adirondack chairs have triggered all the horror again.

Once I got home I quickly attached the spray nozzle, shook the can vigoursly for 30 seconds and began to spray foam into the hole. I should have known the hole was going to be hard to fill. It was a large hole. Probably 8" by 6". The foam started to fall out into the cabinet so I scooped up the foam and tried to stuff it into the hole. The foam began to expand and the hole was filling but my hands were now covered with foam also. I ran to the kitchen and tried to quickly wash off the foam. It was very sticky and as I lathered my hands with soap I quickly realised that the cold water was causing the foam to harden on my hands. I tried the 409 then the laundry soap. Nothing would get this stuff off. The wash rags and the hand towels were now covered in foam as well. Plus the can and nozzle were coated in the stuff and I had left drips on the floor that had foamed into hardened clumps. I coated my reading glasses trying read the back of the can. In big letters it said use gloves and if contact is made with the skin use acetone to remove. Scraping away when possible. May take time to wear off. Now the spray foam was under my nails and expanding. It was no longer sticky it was like a layer of plastic all over my hands and arms.

I have used the acetone and the kitchen scrubby. Plus the steel wool. I am still covered in the stuff and now my skin is raw and dry. I have a huge mess in both my bathroom and the kitchen. The towels and wash cloths will have to be destoyed and I'm wondering if the stuff is in the drains since I had tried to wash it off in the beginning!

I started the project thinking that it was inexpensive, easy and a no brainer. I thought I would feel good about accomplishing a small task that I normaly would have asked my husband to do. I thought having a clean cabinet would make me feel better. Who would have thought something so simple could cascade into flashbacks, tears and frustration.

I've thought about going down to the nail salon and asking them to help me. But I don't know how to explain the mess to the vietnamese women who work there. I'm sure we would lose something in the translation.

But I know you all understand how it feels to be so helpless and alone. I have always been fairly self sufficient but I miss having a man take care of me and I miss the roles we both held in our home. I'm tired of doing everything myself, I'm worn out from being both mom and dad, lawn guy, plumber, bug killer, pool fixer and grill master. I don't like the charcoal mess or the tools and guy stuff. I'm lonely and sad and I just want my old life back. The one that is over, gone unrepairable. This can't be fixed and I will always have this whole in my heart.

My husband would get a kick out of this and probably laugh really hard but all I can do is sit here and cry. I miss him so damn much.

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Dear Cheryl,

I do understand. I have so many chores that need done and Bill would have done them perfectly in a flash. What a day you had...including the trauma with the chairs and food at the hardware store, the crap under your nails and on your glasses and everywhere else. I would have sat down and cried too. If it was not so sad and painful it would be funny and i bet if your husband was there the two of you would have laughed as you cleaned up the mess...but it is not funny now. I am so sorry.

I do believe that traumatic grief is mine to deal with and it sounds like it might be yours also....you were traumatized when he died and so much is traumatic in the grieving process with flashbacks and ambushes like today. Marty has been posting some articles on trauma and grief and caregiving. I will see if I can find them and post them for you.

I came across this quote recently and it opened my eyes to the trauma I went through with Bill. It read: TRAUMA – One day themedical profession will understand Family Caregiver trauma. ManyCaregivers under constant stress are unaware they suffer from trauma. I opted to stay put today....not sure yet if that was a good decision.

I know your situation was different but trauma was clearly a part of it. You are in my thoughts. I can't get the yellow to go away. So sorry.

Mary

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Cheryl, I'm really proud of you for attempting the tackle the problem! I try really hard to fix things on my own. I can picture that spray foam (I used it myself) covering everything in its path. Luckily I didn't get it on my hands, that would be miserable! I know the littlest things bring back memories. The day of Larry's death will always haunt me, everything spun out of control so fast and he was gone. I know it hurts to relive it all. Take care of yourself, Deborah

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Cheryl: I'm so sorry to hear of your hard time with this. I have to tell you that when you talk about having your very special man take care of these things for you, it's just about as bad for a man to have to endure this grief without his best friend too. Everything I do in the house, I know very well that I'm not even coming close to what my wonderful partner would do. I've had some of our kids and grandkids here for two weekends in a row, doing things that needed to be done outdoors, including constructing a nice memorial area around my flagpole, with some very good mementos of my Wife and the Son we lost in 2009. Naturally, I've needed to feed them all (17 a week ago Sunday, then 12 yesterday and 10 today), and while it would have been very easy for Wanda and I to prepare food that would make them all happy, I've had to resort to cooking some of their favorites Wanda would fix for them, and them bringing in some items, and yesterday instead of cooking out, I bought some BBQ. It's just so much different without my best friend, everything is crazy, and it's only been 3 months yesterday. Together we were dynamite at hosting, without her I may just implode. The kids try so hard to be here and help fill the void in my life, but it is so much different. I can iron, I can cook, I can clean, but knowing all the specifics of what works best, how to put it all together, they all came from her, and I miss her so much that not a person in the world would be able to understand except for you that are going through the same misery. I talk to her all through the day. I've now been through a Father's day, my 78th birthday, and now Labor Day. Her birthday on 11/2 is going to be pure torture, let alone Thanksgiving and Christmas. I feel so sorry when I read about you having such a hard time, and I truly wish there was something I could do to make you feel better about your constant plight, but I realize each of us has to go through our own burden. It is nice, though, to know that there are others out there pulling for us to get through this...and I'm pulling for you with all my might!!

Hugs to all, Earl C

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Cheryl,

You deserve a big hug for trying so hard, I'm sure your husband is so proud of you, keep moving ahead it's what we must do to heal....we all have our "triggers" that smack us in the face when we expect it the least, that's a part of this journey that I dislike the most as it's an aspect I can not control, but knowing they happen keeps me prepared and I know they will be with me forever so I'm learning to cope and deal with them...

from a male aspect there are many things I am having to learn as well, all the laundry, ironing, and cleaning are a chore to keep up with for me but Ruth made them seem so simple, I can't tell you the number of times I've had meltdowns folding the laundry because when I do I hear Ruth telling me to be sure and put the clothes away in the dresser not just leave them in the basket, :rolleyes: ...

I do indeed understand the hole in your heart I have one as well but I have decided to let someone in that hole and to use that hole as a reminder of how short life is and how little we really cherish the love, closeness, friendship, companionship and simple things that are just "normal" for the everyday couple, a couple we all used to be...

I now take life more serious ensuring that I do not miss a day of telling God Thank You for all I've been blessed with, and I never let a day go by that I do not tell Brenda how thankful I am for God bringing us together whatever the reason I do not question...

keep moving forward my friend in grief as you are on a positive path seeking to do what is needed to endure this challenge we have been given....if I can ever be of help in advise or input please ask, I believe we all need to share our knowledge...

God Bless

NATS

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Cheryl.....Did get a kick out of your project...at the same time...through tears at just the mention of Ace Hardware...I'm right there with you...Ace was Bill's favorite haunt...To this day I have been unable to go there. Whenever I have needed anything from there I send my son or grandson to pick it up for me. My son said everytime he goes in..the cashier still has to give him a hug and tell him how they miss his Dad. That would take me to my knees so have another "first" I will have to face one day. Thank you for helping me release some of the tears I have been fighting all weekend...funny how the mention of a place like Ace brings on the pain of our loss...and at the same time to know someone else feels the same pain...we are not alone after all. Even though it made me cry...thanks for your post....thinking of you and your hurting heart...I feel the same pain....Love.....Carol

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Thanks for all your kind replies! It is comforting to know that I am not alone in this new beginning. I feel much better today. Thank goodness I ran out of toilet paper yesterday. It made me take a shower and head to the store again. Good friends came by in the evening and brought shrimp cocktails, I grilled a few hot dogs and it helped distract me from my woes. My neighbor got a kick out of the spray foam story and at first thought I was trying to fix a pipe leak with the stuff, he was very releived that it was a hole in the wall around the pipe!

I was surprised how fragile I felt yesterday and realize now that moving my daughter into the dorms and all that goes with the process was very stressful. Flights to book and cars to rent, maps to print out and then navigate, shopping and organizing. Orientation meetings, president's welcome to campus, family picnic. Then a new bank account to open, so many decisions to make and money evaporating out of my wallet. Her tears and uncertainty about the decision to move so far away. Then I had to say goodbye to her on her birthday and all I could think about was Mark and I welcoming our first born child into the world on the very same day that I was having to leave her hundreds of miles from home. We were so eager to be parents and had such great plans, which included this very day and yet I was all alone sending her off. I'm surprised I didn't melt down in the airport. At least it waited until I got back home!

But I feel better today and know that I will continue to adjust to all the changes in my life one day at a time. thanks! Cheryl

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Cheryl, I am glad you are feeling better. The foam story will become a good one for you to tell for years, although it was not at all funny at the time. I just identified so with it, I am always doing something like that, that gets out of control!! I know it was not funny to you, but to be honest I did get a little chuckle out of it, while at the same time feeling your frustration. Hang in there girl.......hard to see our kids move into another phase of their lives....another new phase for us too, right? Sucks doesn't it!

Mary (Queeniemary) in Arkansas

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Cheryl,

You and I have been going through some of the same things. I was stressed to the teeth a couple of a weeks ago when I drove across the country (8 hours there, 8 hours back) to install our youngest son in his dorm. I wish - and I know he wished - that both his parents could have been there to help him settle in.

I have three sons in different universities in Norway and England, and one about to leave the nest - again - for a university in Australia. There are so many things to figure out and I can almost see my money flying out the window - in flocks.

I've been feeling so miserable this last month, thinking about how exciting things would have been if only my husband, their father, had been here to help them on their way. And he and I could have been living it up in the empty nest - doing all the things we'd planned.

Now fall has set in and winter is on the way - here in Norway. I've got to think about heating again and have ordered wood from the local farmer. I've got to seal some of the windows - not sure how to do that yet. I've been trying to get the house painted - at least one wall outside - but it keeps raining. There are rotting boards on the outside of the house and I know that a carpenter will take gobs of money to replace them. I don't want to move into an apartment though. Not yet.

I'm just so tired!!!!

All the same - I'm glad you're feeling a little better. Life is hard when you're on your own.

Melina

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Dear Cheryl,

I am sorry you had to go through that experience with spray foam. Yes it is messy to work with. The apartment Pauline and I move into 21 years ago had the same problems. Over a 100 year old house and big openings around the pipes. I had to use the spray foam also. A word of advice when you tackle a new job, like that, even though it seems easy enough, always do a practice run with stuff like that. I find that always helps. Over the years I had to learn both roles of the home, but I had Pauline there to guide my way. I understand how hard it is for you. If you ever need any help, just ask and I will try my best to walk you through it. I commend you on your effort you went through with the spray foam. It can get out of control very fast. That caused a chain reaction with your emotions and brought you down so fast. Like a giant wave crashing on a rocky shore. I am glad to hear you are doing better. Life will, go on, just not the same life as before. Have the courage to keep moving forward.

God Bless

Dwayne

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Cheryl, Kudos to you for taking the inititave on your repair project. I believe that we all have discovered that we must take positive action in tackling all the mundane issues that confront us, even if that positive action may include a few mistakes along the way. FYI, for you, and anyone else who may be interested, I am a plumbing and heating contractor. I may be able to provide some technical assisstance in these areas if you ever find the need. Actually it would bring me great pleasure to be able to help in a tangible way. Marc

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Marc, how caring and generous to offer input in your areas of expertise. I imagine many of us will be making note of that. Thank you, Mary

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Cheryl, Kudos to you for taking the inititave on your repair project. I believe that we all have discovered that we must take positive action in tackling all the mundane issues that confront us, even if that positive action may include a few mistakes along the way. FYI, for you, and anyone else who may be interested, I am a plumbing and heating contractor. I may be able to provide some technical assisstance in these areas if you ever find the need. Actually it would bring me great pleasure to be able to help in a tangible way. Marc

Marc,

Can you fly to Norway? ;)

Melina

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It sounds like all of us are struggling with our added responsibilities! Perseverence!

Marc, I'll take you up on your offer for plumbing assistance. Hopefully since you are from Vegas you are familiar somewhat with sprinklers.

I have three manual sprinkler valves in the front yard. I manually crank them on and off. I've noticed in the last few months that when the heads pop up on the second station they no longer rotate. At first I thought it was dirt in the heads. But recently when I twist the valve shut they no longer shut all the way off and the sprinkler heads leak a small amount of water for 30 minutes or so. The valve caps have come off all three stations and I thought dirt or a rock might have gotten down into the valve. I've sprayed water into the valve and taken the ring off and screwed it back on. No changes in the leakage at the heads. After the valve is closed for a while the leaking at the heads eventually stops but through out that time frame there is a loud knocking noise coming from the main water line to the house. I know that when there is air in the line that pipes will vibrate creating a noise. But now we have an added problem. When we flush the toilet or take a shower the noise starts again and is very loud and continues after the water flow stops for about 30 seconds to a minute. I think the problem is the sprinkler system rather than the main house plumbing. My husbands motto was always, "Keep it simple stupid". So I know to always start with the simple things first and work up. He also always told me that you have to always look at the whole picture not just one part. I am certain that the whole thing is tied together but I don't know what to check first. I have a feeling I need to do some digging around the valves and the main line? Any ideas? I am very handy but I need some direction.

I went back to the nail shop and got another manicure and I was told that I should always wear gloves when working around the house. I had to laugh because if I had only read the can I could have saved myself the headache and the lecture from the manicurist. LOL

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Cheryl, Thanks for your inquiry. It sounds like you may have some debris in your sprinkler system lines. If you can, remove the three problem heads. Make sure no dirt or gravel falls into the pipe openings when the heads are off. You may want to attach a small piece of rubber hose that it slightly larger than the pipe diameter comming out of the ground, be sure that this piece of hose extends at least 12" above ground level, this will prevent unwanted contaminates from entering the system during the flushing process. After you have done this, turn water on full pressure to the system. You should see a small geyser at each opening. Turn the water off and replace the heads. This should flush the system clean. You may have to repeat the process at least once. Small bits of gravel and sand may push up against the heads when the water is on, and when the water is off, these bits of debris fall away from the opening in the heads and the water remaining in the lines may take a while to completely evacuate. This may account for the noise and vibration resonating through the sprinkler lines and into the distribution lines within your house. There should be a vacuum breaker array at the control point of your sprinkler system, this should prevent irrigated water from reentering your domestic water source. I hope this helps, Marc (PS, the Vegas I live in is located in New Mexico, not Nevada)

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Cheryl, I just read your first post, but I will go back and read the others. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry! It sounded like something out of Erma Bombeck! I could so relate to it all except I'm not sure I'd have had the gumption to try to start with...but maybe if I didn't know better...

Anyway, I hope it's wearing off and I'm sure it'd be a great time to go in for a manicure. (((hugs)))

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