On Paying Strange Men

Lately I’ve invited strange men over while my husband is at work. They always leave with a payment in hand and a smile on their faces.

No, it’s not quite what you think. Since I got sick, my Ms. Fix It routine has gone on hold indefinitely.I used to be quite handy around the house. I could refinish wood floors, repair plaster, garden, paint, lay sod, change my oil, replace bad fuses and windshield wipers on my car, you name it. My tool collection was impressive. I bought a Haynes manual whenever I got a new car and could (and did!) use that to fix issues.

I knew those days were coming to a close when I Googled the schematics to the dishwasher and tried to fix it while my husband was at a meeting. The old filter was clogged and the timer was shot. I got the thing apart, all pieces laid out on the kitchen floor, but the very last screw refused to budge. When my husband came home, he found me halfway in the dishwasher, sweating and swearing.

Damned RA. I have such poor hand strength now.

My husband is the computer guy in the family. I was always better with power tools and tasks requiring physical strength. A few years ago, mowing the lawn became difficult. Pulling the cord to turn the engine over hurt. Pushing the mower on a tiny incline sapped my strength, particularly during St. Louis summers. It would cause a nasty flare, rendering me useless for a few days. We hired the lawn guy the neighbors use.

Then came the yearly landscaping stuff. Trimming bushes and refreshing the mulch all got outsourced.

I have a favorite plumber and a company for carpet deep cleaning. (Yes, I’d love to hear what specials you’re running.) I’m still on the hunt for a good electrician and a handyman who will return calls. (The bathroom caulk needs some love.)

Last November, I tried one last time to do something big. I thought I could spend some time and save some money. It was going okay until I hurt myself. After spending a few days digging out old concrete joint sealer, I learned the meaning of ulnar nerve entrapment. Ouch. I wasn’t able to use my left hand correctly for nearly a month. Shampooing my hair was interesting. Dry shampoo is the shizz.

It wasn’t worth it.

My husband is fine with hiring help, so why did I have such a difficult time? Answer: ego. At first, paying someone else to do all the stuff I used to be able to do pissed me off. The memory of my (former) ability was still fresh in my mind. Even fresher still was the memory of how badly my hand hurt and the cost associated with the trip to the orthopedist.

I have to cringe whenever someone tells me to “YouTube it!” when I ask for recommendations for repairmen. I used to be able to do that. Now, though, I tell people I physically can’t. There’s no shame in not being able to do something. We all need a little help now and then.

I’m finally learning that my value as a human is not wrapped up in what I can accomplish. My worth is not weighed on a scale against projects completed and feats of intellect. We all have value as we are, blemishes and frailties and all.

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