Wednesday, December 6, 2017

What a Morning!

It takes me a while to get moving in the mornings due to muscle stiffness.  Stewie helps me do my stretches by moving just out of my reach each time I try to cuddle with him.  That's his way of forcing me to get up to feed him.  This morning I took longer than usual to get out of bed, and I could hear the horses screaming for their breakfasts.  As I was preparing the dogs' food, I heard a chirping noise and thought the dogs had bumped up against the leg of a chair while wrestling.  They stopped and looked at me.  I said, "What was that?''

A while later I heard another chirp and thought, "There must be a really loud bird outside on the porch."

Some time after that, I heard another chirp and wondered if a bird had gotten inside the house, but something happened to distract me before I could reason that one out further.  It was just too early in the morning for me to be thinking.

By the fourth chirp, it hit me.  Somewhere in our house, a smoke detector's battery was dying.  Holy hell!

The last time this happened, I ended up standing on the arm of a couch beating the smoke detector with a broom handle, and then falling off the couch and injuring myself while Midge my Corgi ran around the house destroying everything in sight.  Thank God she's going deaf now.

I looked at Midge, and she seemed oblivious.  I looked at Stewie and saw that he was disturbed by the noise and trying to hide from it.  At least now I knew the problem was that the battery needed changing.  Previously, I just knew that there was this annoying noise coming from the smoke detector that was driving me and my dogs nuts.  So, I was one step ahead in tackling this latest problem presented to me first thing in the morning.

I went on a hunt following the chirps until I found which smoke detector was the culprit.  It was the one in the hallway.  Of course, the smoke detector had to be way up by the ceiling -- too far for me to reach with the help of a chair or step stool.  This meant having to get a ladder.  Choosing which ladder is compact enough to carry through the house, but tall enough to help me reach the ceiling was half the battle.  My husband has different types of ladders all over the property, but most are way too big and heavy for me to carry, especially long distances.  I decided to try the smallest one closest to the house, which just happened to also be the heaviest ladder, because it actually had several layers folded together.  I hauled it from room to room, popping a hernia and dislodging a kidney stone as I went.

Once in the hallway, the other half of the battle was to unlatch it so I could spread the base open to make it look like an upside down V.  I usually have to push in on both sides with equal strength to pop those babies open, but using all my strength wasn't making a difference this time.  I tried leaning it against the wall without scratching the paint, but I couldn't stabilize it that way.  I grabbed the knobs and pulled out, and it unlatched easily.  I must have been thinking about how another ladder works.  I climbed up, but the ladder wasn't tall enough to help me reach the smoke detector, unless I stepped on the top where there is a warning label to never stand there.  I decided to take my chances because the hallway was narrow and I could balance and hold myself up like an American Ninja Warrior between the two walls should the ladder topple. 

I unscrewed the smoke detector, and of course, it turned out to be hardwired.  It just hung there with all these wires attached to it, so I couldn't carry it back to a table with me to sit down and change the battery.  I had to do it from the top of that ladder.  Dang it!

Without my reading glasses, I couldn't see where the battery might be located, so I felt with my hands and pushed every button I found until a battery compartment popped out.  Then I pushed and pulled and twisted and tweaked to try to get the battery out of the compartment, but it refused to budge.  It seemed physically impossible to dislodge it.

The horses were still whinnying for their breakfasts, so I climbed down the ladder and went to the barn to feed them.  By the time I got back, the chirps were getting louder and closer together, so I had to hurry in solving this problem.  I tried and tried, but could not get the battery out.  I gave up and climbed back down the ladder to call my husband.  I didn't want to do that, because he has a special day at the office and he's super busy.  Also, I knew he wouldn't be able to talk me through removing the battery from memory, so he'd probably inform his boss that he'd have to leave his team hanging and come home to change the battery on the smoke detector himself.

I considered just taking the dogs outside to the outdoor kennel and spending the entire day out of the house to avoid having to listen to that alarm, but that didn't seem possible.  The dogs get anxious if they are outside in the kennel for more than five minutes, and I'd have to suffer through a whole day of Midge barking, which is worse than the smoke alarm chirps.  I considered taking a hammer to the smoke detector and beating it until it shut up, but I knew they can be expensive.  I considered cutting the wires in the back and letting my husband re-thread everything when he got home, and figure out how to get the battery out himself.

Then I looked at Midge and realized that she was acting strange.  With this distraction, I had never given her insulin.  I took care of that quickly and began feeling sorry for myself for having to deal with the crappy timing of this problem.  Why did it have to happen first thing in the morning before I've had a chance to take care of the animals on a weekday when my husband wasn't around to help?  Why am I so unlucky?  And why can't I just have a few days off from unexpected problems?  My life didn't use to be like this.  My daughter calls it "adulting". When you're an adult, you have to deal with a lot of crap because you have more stuff you are are responsible for.  However, I've been an adult for a long time, and I don't remember ever having as many "fix me right now" type of problems as I've had in the past five years since we moved into this house.  Like I said, this house is portal to hell.  The problems are non-stop.

A little voice inside me said to look it up on the Internet.  I found a video of a fireman holding a smoke detector explaining how to change the battery.  The majority of the video was him chastising people for not automatically changing the battery every six months so that they don't get into my predicament.  Seriously?  I don't even have time to get my teeth cleaned and get a mammogram every six months.  How am I going to remember and find the time to change the batteries on the smoke detectors?  It seems like the list of things that we adults must remember to do regularly is getting longer and longer.  I have to flush poop-eating bugs down the toilet every month, pour grease-eating bugs into the garbage disposal every night, change filters on pretty much everything in the house that deals with air or water every few months, and now this.  When the fireman got to the point of changing the battery, he just did it quickly without any explanation of how to get the battery out of the compartment.  I was pissed.

Then something clicked in my brain, and I just decided that I was going to climb up that ladder and not come down until I had a battery in my hand.  I pushed and pulled and twisted and tweaked until that damn battery finally popped and slid out.  I climbed down and grabbed a new 9V battery.  As expected, since it didn't come out easily, it wasn't going in easily.  I wrestled with it some more until it looked like it was in, but the smoke detector was still beeping.  "Maybe I have to push a button to reset it," I thought.

So, I pushed every button I could find, and it was still beeping.

"Maybe I have to close the battery compartment."

I closed it, but it was still beeping.

"Maybe I have to screw the smoke detector back into its base."

I screwed it back in, but it was still beeping.

"Maybe the battery is in backwards."

So, I wrestled with it until I pulled it out, flipped it around, and wrestled with it until I popped it back in.  Then I did all the other steps, and it was still beeping.

I wanted so bad to just burn down the entire house at this point.  The beeping was driving me crazy.  My ears were ringing from being so close to the detector and having the beep be so loud.  Why do they have to make it so damn loud?  I know.  It's for the elderly who are losing their hearing, but why make the rest of us lose our hearing in the process?  At least sell two different kinds of smoke detectors:  One for the hard of hearing and one for everyone else, or allow us to adjust the volume of the alarm.  I was also in pain having to stretch so far and stay in that stretched position.  Literally, everything that could possibly go wrong was going wrong, taking a simple task and turning it into a massive fiasco.  That's my life story.  That's why I panic every time something goes wrong.  I know that fixing it will never be simple for me.

I considered giving up and performing one of those other options, all of which would make more work for my husband, but make me feel better.  No.  I had to figure this out.  I'm tired of being dependent upon other people's agility and strength and know-how.  I battled with the battery until I got it out, and then returned to the battery bin with a pair of reading glasses.  Well, there's my problem:  The battery expired in 2011!

I grabbed another one and started to head for the hall, but stopped myself and said, "Be smart."

I looked at the expiration date, and this one said 2010.  Sigh!  That was my last 9V.

Now I was in a position where I had to race to a store when I haven't had my breakfast, my shower, and haven't washed my hair.  Again, why did this have to happen first thing in the morning?  I was thinking I'd call my husband and have him pick up some 9V batteries on his way home to fix the damn problem.  Nope.  Can't do that.  I have to figure this out.

I looked over and saw something on our battery shelf that looked out of place.  It was another 9V battery!  This one had an expiration date of 2020.  Okay, I guess things can go my way every once in a while.  I climbed the ladder and it popped right in with no problem, I put everything back the way it was originally, and the beeping finally stopped.  Hallelujah!

Only I couldn't get the ladder folded back up, so I had to leave one job for my husband when he gets home, but that's okay, because the ladder doesn't make any noise.  I just have to squeeze past it all day.

I felt proud of myself for not giving up and sticking through the whole process until the problem was solved, but then it hit me what a true miracle all of it really was.  Just a couple of months ago I would not have been able to carry and climb a ladder repeatedly, nonetheless be able to walk without terrible pain.  Now I can do all of that without even considering how much it's going to hurt.  I looked at the clock and realized that I was an hour overdue in taking my anti-inflammatory medication.  I knew that meant I'd have several hours of pain.  It just hadn't hit me yet.  Oh well, you can't win 'em all.  Joy is such a short-lived thing.  In the meantime, I'd like to ask the powers that be to preferably give me a vacation from all of these home maintenance problems, and if that is not possible, to at least delay them until I've had a chance to give everyone, including myself, their breakfasts and medications on time.


Mrs Shoes said...

"I considered taking a hammer to the smoke detector and beating it until it shut up. this house is portal to hell. I wanted so bad to just burn down the entire house at this point...."
Oh Nuz, this story gave me a few much needed laughs, though I understand how frustrated you must have been. Things always need repair at the worst time, like furnaces that break down in winter & AC units that crap out in summer...

At the 4Shoes last week, Mr Shoes spent 2 days draining & fixing & filling our water heater; then he turned the thermostat up higher so I could maybe get a full tub of hot water (one of those deep jetted tubs) and it was bliss for 2 whole days.
The 3rd day Mr Shoes went back to work for a set of 3, and that was the day of course that the water only ran room temp. WTH? Then we lost a day because it was our 3 month regular visit to the doctor in the city; so we were 4 days without hot water again this week. I felt bad for him, really. Last night about 6 it was finally fixed and running hot again after 2 new elements + 2 new thermostats, and I don't know how many muttered curses. I was glad to not have to heat water for the pigs & for the horses night buckets on my stove last night, & Mr Shoes was glad to be able to take a hot shower again at last.

Mrs Shoes said...

p.s. And you did all that laddering PAINFREE - that is real progress! Hope you didn't have to pay for that too much later in the day.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Well at least you were able to get it all accomplished on your own!

ellie k said...

I got so mad trying to change a battery in ours that I finally just took hold and jumped from the ladder. It was wired in also. My husband had to change the battery, rewire the thing and put it back up. He showed me how to reset it to last until he got home.

Linda said...

They really need to figure out easier ways to do that. My husband always does ours. There was a funny Curb Your Enthusiasm where he destroyed the smoke detector and then his house burned down. 😂 you’ll have to watch it.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

LOL. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has such asinine problems with inanimate objects.

I love "Curb Your Enthusiasm"! I'll have to find that episode.

I had another day with not enough hours to get everything done, so no horseback riding. I was determined to ride this weekend and now Rock has a hoof abscess. I just came in from sitting with him in the dark while he soaked in Epsom Salts.