I hate asking for help. Hate it hate it hate it hate it hate it. I'm terrible at it, and any request for help comes with so much heaping self-guilt that it's often just not worth it and I end up half-killing myself to do it on my own.
This unfortunately also applies to my health - and last week I was in desperate need of help.
It started with Alan and Shirley, two of my colleagues, coming over to stay at my house to help me with my kids and disease (I know, I know) while my husband was away.
And here is how I made everything excruciatingly awkward in 10 easy steps.
1. The Dress Code
When I called them, I was in my pajamas, teeth unbrushed, hair wild and surrounded on my bed by a tissue graveyard of sadness and phlegm.
When they arrived, I was wearing clean yoga pants, a nice sweater, a bra, socks and makeup. I even did my hair. I'd brushed my teeth three times to get rid of 'sick breath'.
So when they rushed over to me on my deathbed and I opened the door I looked better than I do most days at the office.
2. The House
When I called them, I was still lying atop the aforementioned tissue graveyard in despair and desperation. My kids room looked like a bomb, the dishes were still on the table and counter from the night before and the upstairs loo had no toilet paper.
When they arrived, my room was clean, the kids' beds were made, laundry was put away, the dishwasher was running and I'd shuffled around the living room dryheaving and crying in order to vacuum before their car showed up.
So when they rushed over to me on my deathbed and I opened the door they were greeted by Martha Stewart.
3. The Kids
I needed their help with the kids, as I just couldn't handle working from home AND getting the kids to and from school without use of the car (I can't drive here yet, Stroke) So they arrived at the door and I welcomed them in on my way out to walk the kids 1.5 miles to their school and back. I'd already made the kids beds and gotten them ready for school, lunches packed and pick up instructions arranged.
Come on in guys and make yourselves at home. I'll be back in an hour and a half.
4. They're still guests
Even though I've asked someone over to help, they were still guests. Dying as I was, how could I at least not make them a cup of tea? And some lunch? And a nice dinner of fresh pasta with a homemade cream sauce and foccacia garlic bread? WIth a nice salad?
I at least let them help with the dishes afterward, but this was more so because I had passed out in a chair after sitting down to taste it.
5. I'm so sorry
It may be unhealthy, but I tend to associate gratitude with guilt. Friends offered to come by and drive me to the hospital, but I felt too appreciative of their thought to possibly accept it. After having slept upstairs for an hour in bed while my colleagues were downstairs working at my dining table and entertaining my kids I lay there, staring wide-eyed at the ceiling above me.
I can't be lying here while they are downstairs with my kids. It's just not right. I could really use the rest, though. I can't just do nothing though. Maybe I'll just give the washroom a quick clean.
Okay, that's done. But while I'm here I'll just maybe throw in a load of towels downstairs. Then go play with the kids. Make them all some lunch. Or a snack. Maybe set up a proper little tea party for the kids. Check my email, respond to a few. Okay, yeah. I'll do that and then come back up to rest.
And this is how Alan and Shirley found me halfway down the stairs, clinging to the banister for dear life, panting like a wounded water buffalo and apologizing profusely to them for having them take care of my kids. They dragged me over to a living room chair, where I then sat and apologized every time they walked into the room.
6. Kids: food, water, play
The kids had been fed and watered, but were desperate for some attention and playtime. Usually I'd hand them the wiimote and tell them to have at-er with Netflix, but not when people were over! Instead, out came the bane of all sick parents - play-doh and Lego.
I threw out half the play-doh as I kept sneezing in it. I was horrified when Shirley got underneath my dining room table with a cleaning cloth to collect the play-doh shrapnel from under the table and chairs, prompting me to dive down onto my knees to do the same while saying 'I'm so sorry about this, you didn't have to do that, I'm sure the dog would have gotten it. I'm so, so sorry.'
The Lego then came out and I was guided back to my old-man-sleeping chair in the living room. I woke up just in time for the clean-up, and again dove to my knees to help with the gigantic collective explosion of Lego - with the idiotic, ass-hat suggestion that while we were cleaning it up anyway, we may as well sort it into color coded boxes.
So Alan and Shirley had basically come over to watch me feed my kids and to sort through their Lego for, not kidding here, 2 hours.
7. I don't really take sick days at work
So Alan and Shirley worked from my house, with me and my raging illness and disease. How considerate of me, I know (hey, I made them a really nice tea!) Even according to them it was one of the most singularly productive work days of their professional lives - even with me cooking, cleaning, hacking and passing in and out of narcolepsy throughout.
So out of the kindness of their hearts, they had come over to my house to help me out and I worked them harder than I do at the office.
8. It was time to finally go in to the hospital
There was no more avoiding it, I was flaring out of control and something had to give. I either would go to the hospital or, what gave would be me.
Paul got home from London, walked in the door and rushed upstairs to check on me, after I had been forcibly put to bed by Alan and Shirley (very forcibly) and I jumped into panicked apologies for having worried him so much (he thinks I'm insane with this stuff - I'm pretty sure a therapist would have a field day with my guilt issues). I felt terrible. Terrible that he would have to drive me to the hospital, and likely wait with me. Terrible that he would have to drive Alan and Shirley home. Terrible that he was likely tired and terrible that he had worried about me during his time in London. I also felt terrible that I had let myself get to this state, despite promising him that I would have gone in to hospital much sooner.
He dragged me out the door, cutting off my frenzied apologies to Alan and Shirley after he helped me to lace my shoes as I laid on the floor. I'm quite sure I even apologized to my dog.
I can't help it at all, I feel so guilty when I'm sick. I'm being told right now by my husband that this isn't normal, but I'm not buying it.
9. At the hospital
The A&E doctor came to me within the packed ebola-breakout stadium style emergency room and I apologized (of course) for taking up so much of his time and bringing such as rare disease to him when he was so busy.
'Candace...' muttered my now getting impatient husband.
'Sorry. Thank you doctor, I really appreciate your help.'
'Caaaaandace...' came a warning growl from my husband.
The doctor assured me that it was fine, it's nice for them to deal with something different now and again, not to worry, they will get the right people in place to fix me up.
'Oh thank you, I'm sure it's fine and I'm just making a big deal out of nothing.'
Again the doctor assured me that it was fine - he was just going to have someone take my blood pressure -
'Okay, no worries - I'll do it!'
Fiiiiiiiiiiine Paul. I'll just lay here and be sick.
For like, a week. I'd like to say that next time I'll take the help with grace and appreciation instead of apology and embarrassment. That I'll let people just take care of me and stop worrying so much about what everyone else needs at the time. That I will just let Alan and Shirley nurse me back to health or better, drag me into the hospital.
But I won't. We all know I won't.
10. Next time I'll probably also make them scones.