Having no electric for days on end tests doctor’s abilities
Published 8:15 am Wednesday, February 17, 2021
The power went off about 1:30 a.m. on Feb. 17… I heard a pop and immediately woke up to the world being too quiet.
I leaned over and turned the switch on the light. The room remained dark.
Since it was the middle of the night, I snuggled with new puppy, Foxtrot, and we went back to sleep.
Thursday morning the roads were a sheet of ice. We canceled all the appointments and called a Guardian Animal snow day.
I went for a walk on our hill with Foxtrot. We made it about a third of the way up when Foxtrot said he needed to be carried. It was far too slick for that, so I picked him up, took a selfie and we turned and walked down the hill.
I noted as I had to step up to get back on the driveway that there was erosion taking out the old road up our hill. Great, something else I needed to fix.
I tried to light a fire in the fireplace, but the wood didn’t want to light.
I lit some cardboard and took the immediate chill off the room.
Most of the day was spent with Foxtrot snuggling, playing and reading in bed. Amazing, but he can have the zoomies and run and twist. He seemed to be flying around in the small queen bed. Matt and I had cold food for supper.
Text to a friend: “Took pup for walk in woods. Fed birds seed. Firewood in fireplace to start later. Settled in to my recliner with Kindle. Won’t recline without power. The recliner is my major inconvenience. Seriously, what does that say about me?”
Later “Still no power. The house is cold. Grabbed blankets and took puppy to bed. Will have to get firewood tomorrow. Here it is iced down.”
Power was not on Friday morning as I headed to work. The roads were not great.
I thought I could go under a tree that was leaning over the road. I did actually, but it pushed the windshield in and cracked the glass. Continuing on the road, I came to the place where the bamboo was leaning halfway across the road. I had driven over it on my way home Wednesday night. Apparently, more people had done as I did, and it was fairly easy to go around it at the far right of the snow and ice covered road.
Still this was two significant hazards that were less than three miles from my house, I was starting to think I should have gone the longer way to work.
A little farther, it became obvious that I should have gone the other way. A tree was being held up across the road by power lines. Technically, the truck would have fit, but the lines would have touched the top of the truck.
I stopped and called Rusty at work, who confirmed that under no circumstances should I continue that way, but I couldn’t return because of the tree that had broken my windshield. We talked about calling 911, but I was certain that they had true emergencies to deal with. Rusty suggested I call Mike.
The day before we had been talking about getting the hawks out to hunt.
I had finally gotten them ready, but found I’m not really that great a hunter. We didn’t see a single squirrel. Mike’s generator had failed and he was out trying to get a replacement. He said he couldn’t be there for a while. I
told him that it was okay, it would take me a bit to get turned around on the icy hill anyway and I had the foresight to have completely full tank of gas.
Mike finished his errands and stopped by Lowes to buy a hand saw. I did a perfect 18-point turn around on the icy hill with the deep ravine on one side and the running water on the other. I was back at the first tree trying to watch the birds and see the beauty in the ice, but mostly succeeded at thinking how unwise I had been.
Mike showed up and within three minutes he had the tree cut in two and pushed out of the road. He looked at the glass and noted that it was pushed away from the frame and waved off my thanks.
At no time did he even hint at how unwise I was.
I followed his Jeep out the long way by the creek. The roads were better by Route 5 and I make it to work.
Friday night was even colder. The house seemed in the high forties. I slept in my jeans, sweatshirt and socks. Actually, I slept in them for three or four days.
When it is very cold, you don’t need clean socks. I dreamed of the cold places I had slept on the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.
I texted Mike: “At 4 this morning, it occurred to me that someone must sell something. I read some about propane heaters. Know anything?”
I went through the camping supplies and found a battery-operated sleeping bag liner.
I gave it to Matt, but he was unable to slide into it. Laying on top was not effective. My staff called everywhere and Robert took my truck and scouted all the stores.
By Sunday, this had ceased to be an adventure.
I had been unable to light the fire even when I poured Heet fuel additive on it. The Heet would burn a nice blue flame, but the wood didn’t light and no heat came out.
I posted on Facebook with a photo of Whiskey and Tango snuggling with me in bed: “Glad they all snuggle like this. Day 4 no electric or heat. The wood that I got is wet. Any tips for getting it to burn? Good wood somewhere? Any generators or propane heaters anywhere? I, of course, could stay at GAMC, but Matt needs a hospital bed and power wheelchair.”
A client from church called me. She had a generator. It was 12 years old, brand new and never used. They had power still and they had a family meeting. She said that they were better able to live without electricity if they would need than we were. Her husband was finding it in the garage as we spoke. I was choked up and couldn’t even talk.
I still needed many things. Robert went back out in my truck and found an electric heater. I borrowed the gas cans from the clinic. Erika and Harley found three more gas cans and filled them up for me.
It was dark by the time I got home.
Of course, I had never been around a generator before. I backed up the hill to have the generator by the door. It was still on the truck as I worked on it. It was starting to sleet.
The generator was sitting on top of the sandbags and made level on the firewood that hadn’t been able to burn. Mike patiently walked me through putting oil and gas in it. My hands were cold and I was concerned when I spilt both gas and oil in the truck.
He explained the choke, but that part I understood. Still when I pulled the start cable, it took everything I could to turn the motor over. It was obvious I was struggling and Mike asked if Robert could come and help. With a new baby at home and no power either, I didn’t think he could.
I was afraid to put too much into pulling the starter cable while standing on the increasingly slick tailgate. I told Mike I would call him back and I carefully crawled out of the truck.
To be honest, I didn’t think I was capable of getting into the truck bed anyway. Once on the ground, pulling at chest height was not easy, but after a few times, the cable was easier to pull. Finally, it was running!
I called Mike to ask what to do next. I will admit that he was a little too amazed that I had gotten it running, but he talked me through running the power cords and getting the space heaters plugged in.
Facebook post: “Today I am incredibly thankful. Friends loaned us a generator even though we are expecting another storm. A friend talked me through setting up a brand new never seen by him generator and praised me like I did it all by myself. Another friend employee and his FIL came and helped set it out of the pickup. Other friends too far away to help checked on me and offered suggestions. I don’t know when I have been so lucky!”
The power came back on and stayed on for 12 hours. Although that sounds like a tease, it was wonderful!
We got everything charged and the whole house got warmed. Robert got power for two hours and was grateful for that.
But the second ice storm took the power out again. I moved cords in the middle of the night and we were dark and with space heat again.
I won’t say that rest of the nine days were easy.
I fell on the crusted snow and banged up my good knee. The next day I fell on my hip and somehow got a mild concussion.
The house remained cold, but hot food from the microwave helped. Another friend found propane for the propane heater that Amazon delivered.
But on the ninth day without power, as I refilled the generator, started it back up, set the propane stove in the kitchen to help a little and set off for a day at work, I had this feeling that I had this. The routine was set, the knowledge was learned. I could continue to do this for as long as it took.
Still I was glad to get a text that afternoon that the power was back on. The Internet was back the day after that.
The house is still cold, but it is up to 60 in the main part of the house. We are cold in our bones and run the space heaters in our bedrooms. We are grateful for power, the knowledge that we won’t die from this and I am grateful for friends that helped.
Meanwhile, Mike continues without power. His generator skills are far better than mine, but he had a run of bad luck. Karma was ultimately on Mike’s side though because as the third generator failed, my generator had just arrived at Lowes.
I had already listed him as a potential pick up person. We met in Lowes parking lot to transfer a Red Shouldered hawk with a broken wing to me and load my new generator in his Jeep.
Back at Guardian Animal, we fixed the wing, fed the hawk and sent Mike to set up the generator at his house. Day 11 and we can talk about finding time to get the hawks out again.
MJ Wixsom, DVM MS is a best-selling Amazon author who practices at Guardian Animal Medical Center in Flatwoods, Ky. GuardianAnimal.com 606-928-6566