I had planned for weeks that I would take five days off of work for a stay-cation and paint our living room ceiling. And if that went well, then I’d paint our kitchen ceiling. And maybe even paint the walls too. I’ve done a lot of painting over the years, so I knew exactly what I was getting into. Sure, it’s been a few years since I did that big of a job, but I knew I could do it.
I woke up on my first day off feeling determined and energized. I spent the morning prepping the room, then ran some errands, and then just after lunch I cracked open the primer paint. It wasn’t laborious work, just tedious. Ceilings are trickier than walls. Instead of painting the trim all around and then returning to “start” to do the roller painting, with ceilings you have to paint it all at once as you go so it never has a chance to dry. So a little of the trim work, then a little of the roller work, then trim, then roller. Up the ladder, down the ladder, move the ladder, up the ladder, down. You got it.
A couple of times I got light headed and told myself to open the windows a little more and to slow down as I climbed up and down the ladder. Even though my body was aching more than usual, I refused to accept that I was too old to be doing this big of a job. By the afternoon, I noticed I couldn’t hear out of my right ear. Strange. And I found myself a lot more wore out than usual. I reassessed my plan and decided the kitchen ceiling—being twice the size of the living room ceiling—was too big a project for me to handle alone even if I didn’t plan on applying a primer coat. I refused to believe I was getting old and made a rash decision that no one else was going to notice the difference between the “new white” and the “old white” of the two rooms.
Day Two I ran some more errands first thing, waiting for the full light of day before grabbing a paint brush. Since this coat was the “real” paint, I worked a little harder making sure it was applied properly but fast. My hearing was back in my right ear, but I was getting an echo. Not a good sign. By midafternoon, the ceiling was done and it looked fantastic. I loved the “fresh” look but now the walls looked dingy. I had a feeling that might happen, so I was prepared. I started to prep the room to paint the walls.
I stopped at suppertime to run more errands with my husband and have dinner out. At one of our stops I found myself standing next to one of those quick-stop clinics inside a big-box store, so I decided I’d have someone take a look to make sure I didn’t have something going on with my ear. No ear infection but a whole lot of fluid build-up behind the ear drum. So with a prescription of antibiotics in hand for a sinus infection, we stopped at a favorite restaurant for dinner. And as we sat waiting for our food, I suddenly felt very ill. I maybe ate three bites of my meal. My husband said I looked awful. Gee, thanks.
Most of that night I spent in the bathroom. The next day is all a blurry memory. I know I drank lots of fluids and I ate some soup, but I don’t remember much else. But the next morning, I felt rested and ready to get back at it. So I painted the living room walls. And then I cleaned up the room and moved back all the furniture. That’s when I realized the mistake of my earlier decision to not paint the kitchen ceiling. There was no denying people would notice the difference. Still, I knew it was just too big a job for me to do alone and I’d have to find someone to help me or save money to hire out the job. I went to bed feeling satisfied with my hard work in the living room but disappointed that I discovered my limit and couldn’t do the kitchen myself.
In the middle of the night, I woke up as sick as I had been before. That’s when I realized my second mistake—of thinking I had paced myself. And I spent the next two days laying low, reading a book, watching TV, feeling old. Tomorrow is my last paid day off. I will spend it cleaning bathrooms and doing laundry (I hope). I’m grateful I will work only two days before I have the weekend off.
It’s right up there in the Top 10 list of disappointments for a working person—getting sick while on vacation from work. It doesn’t matter that I hadn’t planned a trip or some extravagant outing. The fact remains, I spent days of hard-earned paid time off laying in bed or on the couch with the double whammy of a sinus infection and the stomach flu. I can’t get that time back. Just thinking about it makes me feel queasy.