On a Thursday night, I stayed at my home alone overnight, for the first time. For the few people who know, I am not counting the time when my dad had to go to ER in the evening, and came back late in the early morning when he was having problems with his gallbladder. This time was from on Thursday, when I started my services with FOCUS Behavioral Health, and lasted until almost 6:00 PM on Friday.
The trip was a planned trip, that I gave to my parents. I thought up the idea a few months back. The trip was to a hotel of their choice which they had points saved up for. There are certain credit cards where a person can amass points by using that card. They happen to have one for a hotel. The trip was an early Christmas present that I presented to them. I also gave them twenty dollars to spend sometime during the trip. The time alone was supposed to be a time of growth for me, since I don’t like staying by myself, and to give them a chance to go somewhere alone together, something they had said they would like to do. Only with confidence instilled in me by my SSB (skill-builder person)/PM (participant manager) at FOCUS, was this a possibility.
Anyway, the day started out normal for a Thursday with me leaving home with my FOCUS support staff around 10:45 AM, and heading to York, PA, to practice driving in both a city and also on multi-lane roads. While I was out, I ate lunch, and stopped at my favorite store before heading back home. Once I was back, that’s when stuff became different. I needed to rest before tackling the remainder of the evening, so before taking a short nap, I let the dogs outside to potty, since they now depended solely on me until Mom and Dad returned the next day. After my nap, it was time to feed the two dogs and the cat. For the dogs, I was able to put food for the dogs in a dish, and put the dishes in their enclosures so I could go into my dad’s office and feed the cat. The dogs can’t be trusted alone, thus the crates. Feeding the cat is a little different. She needs to eat canned food. Misty has had some problems with her teeth, and now has few of them, so she was having trouble with eating her regular kibble too fast, and not chewing it. So, dad replaced the kibble with wet food, which of course needs to be kept in the refrigerator when not in use. Also, Misty won’t eat unless someone is sitting in the same room with her. She and the dogs don’t particularly get along, so the cat stays in my dad’s office and the dogs in the sunroom. I sat in the chair in the office while the cat was eating, and then put away the portion of food not eaten. The dogs had to be let outside after they ate.
Supper for me, which was heating up food out of the refrigerator was simple enough, though I also had to take care of the Advent wreath. Following the instructions on the paper of what prayers to read, and what to read out of the Bible wasn’t hard, but lighting the candle was a little harder. I also have an OCD problem with candles, so I had to watch the candle closely while I was fiddling around with the other things (I did the candle first, and heated the food later so it wouldn’t be cold.)
I spent a while in the sunroom watching the dogs. Charlie had had some stomach issues the day before, and I was a little worried about him. He needed to be watched closely. He did not eat well for me, and was just lying on the sofa. He’s usually more active than that. When I normally come in the room and sit on the couch or a chair, both dogs would come running over to me and hop on my lap, and want to be petted. They would also lick me. This time Charlie went and sat on the edge of the couch farthest away from me with Jenna next to him and laid there. He did show an interest in treats and some sliced lunch meat chicken, however.
Jenna our other dog, who is normally a playful, but also naughty dog, was also relatively quiet, though I had to keep a close eye on her to make sure she wasn’t getting into trouble. I didn’t let her leave my eyesight, and she was fine. When she left and went towards the corner as the evening progressed, I repeatedly called her back. Why would she like to leave my sight: to tear up papers, pull stuffing out of her toys, or maybe pull Charlie’s bed out? I think the biggest issue the dogs were facing, was that they missed Mom and Dad. Mom spends many hours in that room with them normally. While I was in there my parents called on “Line,” which is a communication application on cellular phones similar to Face Time and Skype. I talked to them for a little while and told Mom about the issues I was having with Charlie to check up on him. I also mentioned what I had been doing to try to get him to eat, like give the dogs freeze-dried chicken treats and also Nubs (basically, dog junk food.)
After the dogs went to bed, the cat needed another opportunity to eat. The purpose is so that she doesn’t get so hungry in the middle of the night, and expect to get fed early in the morning. She had done this to my dad, before the new practice had been started. While Misty was eating, I sat on the chair. I thought about how the room seemed empty, since this is where my dad and I would normally go to “philosophize” most evenings.
When Misty was taken care of, I selected a snack like I normally do, and went up to my computer—a place I hadn’t been since the morning. Later, I went downstairs to have a pear, and make sure everything was fine for the night. The OCD rituals started. I had to make sure the Christmas lights weren’t on outside. I had to make sure the plug-in candles were standing up. I had to make sure there was water for Misty. I had to make sure there was no un-accounted for “red” in the room (the color of flames.) There wasn’t. I finally had to check the rug to make sure it wasn’t a tripping hazard, before going carefully up the stairs. Every step I took had to be perfect, so I wouldn’t think that an object was left on them to fall over.
Cleaning the litter box was the next chore that needed to be competed. I really don’t like animal waste, but through the good example of my mom, and seeing examples of what happens when the chore wasn’t accomplished by friends, I muddled my way through it. The dust on the Litter Genie container was the worst part as I thought it was dirty and couldn’t ask anyone what the gray stuff was.
I stayed in my room for the rest of the night, and played a few games of Free Cell on my computer, before going to bed. I set my alarm for 8:00 AM knowing that the dogs would need to go out the next morning, and that Misty would be meowing outside my room for food. Mom also called again to say “Goodnight” and check in. I had been uncomfortable about where to put the butane candle lighter since I was done with it, so I asked where I should put it for the night. I had at that point put it on my dad’s workbench. I was concerned that it could get knocked around or fall and catch the wood of the workbench on fire.
That night I did not sleep well. I thought it seemed extra dark, and I felt very alone. I couldn’t get comfortable. I tried to figure out which direction “east” was so I could face that direction as that would be towards Lancaster, PA, where they were staying.
The next day I got up, and repeated the process with the cat and let the dogs out for their morning bathroom. I had a minor problem with the cat. Misty ate too fast and threw up on my dad’s office floor. Just like the litter, it was one of those things that if I didn’t clean it, it would stay there and, in this case, it could damage the hardwood floor. After cleaning it up, I also had to make sure the area was nice and dry. By the way, every time I had to bend down to do something like this it caused my injured knee to hurt as well. Later I had to go back and try feeding her again so that she wouldn’t be starving. That day I sat at the table, and did stuff on my computer while keeping an eye on the dogs. At one point in the early afternoon, I got so tired I fell asleep at the table in front of the computer.
It was time to feed the animals again. As before, the dogs were put in their crates with their food dishes and Misty required the attention. After the cat was done eating, she hopped on my lap, and I petted her for around forty minutes. Knowing that my parents were coming home around suppertime, I decided to take Misty’s dishes and clean them to get the fish smell out. I had the dishwasher loaded, and the Christmas lights at the garage turned on. I also replaced the trash bag to make it fresh, and had the area looking nice. I knew ahead of time that they were taking me for supper that night, so I didn’t have to worry about supper this time.
So, I found the ordeal long and tiring. I discovered what it is like when you have to care for another creature for a prolonged period of time. Their needs come first even if it isn’t convenient, as they can’t do it for themselves. I was also correct in thinking that I was able to stay alone for a night, though I’m in no hurry to do it again. I’m also glad that my parents had a fun shopping trip, and enjoyed their evening out.
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