How A $260 Appliance Saved The Week (And Has Dramatically Improved Matt’s Quality Of Life)

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Before I tell you about last week, I want to back up a bit and give you some background. I grew up in central Texas. I was born in Waco, and lived here until I moved away for college. But even then, I just moved to Dallas for a couple of years, graduated from Dallas Baptist University, and moved right back to Waco after that.

Growing up here, I remember hearing people complain about “the humidity” on a fairly regular basis. But to be honest, I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. When people would say, “It’s so humid today,” I genuinely didn’t know what they meant, and I certainly didn’t feel it. As a native central Texan, I was acclimated to it, and this “humidity” thing that people would talk about didn’t bother me at all.

Then when I was 27 years old, I moved to Istanbul, Turkey. After being there for about a year, I came back home for a visit to be in a friend’s wedding. I flew into DFW, and I will never forget the feeling of walking out of the airport into the Dallas air that day, and feeling my lungs lock up. It was like I had been submerged into a vat of pudding and was trying to breathe it in. It took a minute for me to catch my breath, but the air felt so thick in my throat and my lungs. I had never experienced anything like that before, but for the first time in my life, I finally understood what people were talking about when they complained about “the humidity.” It took me being away from this climate for a year, and then walking back into it on a very humid day, for me to finally understand it and feel it for myself. After my year-and-a-half in Turkey, I spent three years in Oregon, so suffice it to say that ever since then, I’m very aware of the humidity in central Texas. And lately, it has been awful.

Matt’s experience was quite different from mine. He grew up in California and Oregon, so from them moment he stepped foot in central Texas for the first time, he’s been very aware of the humidity. In addition to that, he also has M.S., and I don’t know if this is pretty standard for most people with M.S., but Matt is super sensitive to heat and humidity. If he gets hot, it completely zaps every bit of his strength. But humidity does the same thing to him. Being aware of these things, I don’t push him to go outside or leave the house when it’s really hot and/or humid outside. I know it’s miserable for him, and zaps his strength and energy, so I know he’s much more comfortable just being inside.

And speaking of inside, Matt’s M.S. and his hypersensitivity to heat and humidity are the very reason that our thermostat stays set at 67 degrees year round. I’ll be honest. I absolutely hate it. I am constantly cold, and very often miserable, in my own home. I wear a sweater year round any time I’m home. It’s just something I’ve gotten used to. If I’m home (which is most of the time), I’m going to be cold, I may be miserable, and I’m going to be wearing a sweater.

I’ve tried many times to sneak that thermostat up a degree or two, thinking that maybe the issue is in Matt’s mind. Maybe he won’t really notice that the thermostat is on 69 if he still thinks it’s on 67. But every single time I try it, he notices. If I turn it up literally one degree, he’ll eventually notice and complain about being hot. Every. Single. Time. So I finally gave up, and I just make sure I’m always wearing a sweater.

But even with all of that, there are days that Matt is just absolutely miserable. And there have been many of these days this year especially. He’ll be lying in bed or sitting in his recliner, and he’ll get so weak that he can’t lift his (one good) arm, or hold his head up, or drink through a straw. It’s like trying to work with a 215-pound mound of Jell-O. And when he gets that weak, he can’t talk. He can’t drink water by himself. It’s awful. And this year, more times than not, when that happens, he blames it on “the humidity.” And what’s worse is that when he starts blaming the humidity, he wants to turn on fans. So now, not only is our thermostat set on 67, but now he wants fans on in addition. And even with my sweater and jeans on, I shiver and freeze. In June. In Texas.

I understand humidity now. I walk out my front door, and the humidity hits me in the face like I’ve run into a wall. The door handle is wet even though it’s not raining. I get it. But what I’ve never understood is how he’s feeling this humidity when he’s inside the house. Even my friends, who are inside my house regularly, have asked, “How is he feeling the humidity when he’s inside? Your house doesn’t feel humid to me!” I didn’t understand it, either.

But this all came to a head last Tuesday. My friend Lori from Houston was coming into town, and she was going to join us for our Wednesday lunch. This has been planned for well over a month. Matt has always been perfectly fine being home during my Wednesday lunches with my mom and brother, and he’s never had a problem. I ask him on a regular basis if he would like me to find someone to stay with him on those days when I’m gone for extended lunches, but he has always said no. So last Wednesday was going to be just like any other Wednesday.

But on Tuesday, things got awful. As the day went on, he got weaker and weaker and weaker. He wasn’t sick (no fever, etc.), so I had no idea why this was happening, but I couldn’t believe it was happening that day, that week, when my friend was supposed to be here. But the later in the day it got, the worse he got. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t hold his mouth closed. He couldn’t drink water. He couldn’t move his hand or arm. He couldn’t hold his head up. I felt like we were probably going to be headed to the E.R. at some point that evening. This seemed like the same progression that happens every time he ends up in the hospital.

We have a chart that we use to communicate when he can’t talk, and he communicated to me that his weakness was being caused by the humidity. I just couldn’t understand it how it could affect him inside the house like this, and to be quite honest, I didn’t believe that the humidity was the cause of his weakness at all. But in my desperation to find a solution, keep him out of the hospital, and still have lunch with my friend the next day, I decided to humor him. At about 7:00pm, I started a frantic search for a dehumidifier. I thought that it might even have a placebo effect, which I would happily accept if it would keep him out of the hospital and allow me to keep my lunch date with my friend.

I couldn’t find any dehumidifiers in Waco. I won’t even detail my frustrating experiences trying to locate a dehumidifier except to say that the whole experience strengthened my hatred of Lowe’s. After calling three different stores and spending probably a cumulative 90 minutes on the phone, I never one single time was able to speak to an actual human at any of those three Lowe’s stores in the area. But that’s a whole different topic.

Finally, my brother located a dehumidifier at the Killeen Lowe’s store, so at about 8:30pm, he and his wife headed to Killeen (about a 45 minute drive from Waco) to pick up this Hisense 50-pint dehumidifier. By the time he got back to our house, it was 11:00. We got it out of the packaging, plugged it in, and turned it on. Then he left, and I went to bed and prayed for a miracle.

Well, in the morning, Matt was GREAT! I couldn’t believe it! And at 8:00am, I pulled the bucket out of the dehumidifier to see how much water was in there, and it was FULL! I would guess it holds about two gallons. I couldn’t believe it! It pulled that much moisture out of the air from 11:00pm to 8:00am. I was genuinely shocked. Matt wasn’t making up this whole “humidity” thing after all! He was right!

So that we could have some peace of mind, I did end up having someone from Visiting Angels stay with Matt while I was gone that day. After his horrible Tuesday, I didn’t want to take a chance that he would be by himself and not be able to drink his water. But he did great all day! He didn’t just do great that day, though. Ever since we got that dehumidifier, he has had one good day after another. Heck, he fed himself three days in a row! He hasn’t been able to feed himself all year! Not only that, but he’s actually complained about being COLD several times! WHAT? And he let me turn the thermostat up to 69 during the day! I noticed that I’m only wearing a sweater inside our house about 50% of the time now rather than 99% of the time. There has only been one time since we got the dehumidifier that he has gotten hot, turned on the fan, and I’ve been miserable even with a sweater on. But one time in a week is a lot better than every single day, so I’ll take it!

So not only was I able to have a very long lunch with my friend and my mom on Wednesday, but I was able to spend several hours with them on Wednesday evening, then several more stress-free hours with them on Thursday (as we sat around my work table and painted spoons). And then I was able to have a three-hour breakfast with my friend on Friday morning before she headed back to Houston. And Matt did GREAT during all of that.

I honestly cannot believe what a huge difference this one little appliance has made in our lives, and the effect it has had on Matt’s quality of life. And I can’t believe that I didn’t take action and buy this thing a lot sooner. How have we lived so long in central Texas without a dehumidifier? I’ll never be without one again. And in fact, I’m thinking about getting another one for the other end of the house. But if we get another one, I won’t make such a rushed decision. The one we have has to be emptied manually, and I’ve been emptying it three times a day. (That’s about six gallons of water that it’s removing from our indoor air every day!) But our next one will be the kind with a hose that can drain itself. I’m pretty sure this is the one I’m going to get (affiliate link)…

…but I haven’t made my final decision yet. But quite honestly, I’d be willing to empty buckets of water six times a day after seeing what a huge difference this has made in Matt’s quality of life. I could kick myself for not buying one of these years ago.

 

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