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Trying to Keep Up With My Historic Home Restoration While Chronically Ill

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Turning the 125-year-old door knob with no lock as a determent, I walked with trepidation into the giant space with unexplained sounds, an abundance of dust, rodents, spiders and unending stairs. That night, almost as a dare, I attempted to stay overnight in this house of horrors and centuries of possible ghosts, while a tremendous storm raged through the area. Once a rodent ran across the bed into the nightstand, I decided against the sleepover and ran to my parent’s house.

This was not the start of some horror movie where the kids dare each other to stay overnight in the scary abandoned house down the street. This was when I bought my dream of a historic home that needed some work to be done to it. I called pest control and got on with the move-in and proceeded to love the house and make minor updates.


This was over a year ago, when I was keeping a majority of my chronic illness symptoms at bay through very regular exercising, running, eating healthy and one to two prescription medications.

The next month after moving in I proceeded to have the worst asthma attack to date, attempting to do a 5k on a dirt path. My severe asthma has a few triggers, one being dust. I was nearly intubated in the ER, ended up with bronchitis/walking pneumonia and never really got better. Fast forward through a year of three surgeries, several ER visits and multiple hospital stays, and my giant, historical home is no longer taken care of by myself.

In fact, my pulmonologist required that I pay someone to clean my house, due to the chemical and dust triggers, and I cannot mow my yard due to dust and humidity. I cannot paint anything, due to fumes, and am barely able to do more than dishes, laundry and some picking up because of decreased energy levels, or just being sick at the time.

My lovely historic home with the incredible woodwork has become a source of guilt and anxiety for me, as I am constantly apologizing for the mess I cannot control in the 2,800 square feet with three kids. Also, I barely can stay there when I am ill, because it is impossible for me to rest as required when there is so much that needs to be done. The guilt I feel as my retired parents keep up with my yard work is unbearable, and I want to fix up my front porch and flower beds, but cannot do the repetitive motions due to my injured arms/wrists.

I am on the verge of deciding that wanting a historic home so much just wasn’t practical, not for a mom with chronic illness, and am hoping to find another solution. This was to be my forever home, but if I cannot ever do anything fun on my “good” days of my illness, because my guilt makes me think I need to stay at home to do housework, well, maybe I don’t want to stay there forever.

What are your thoughts? Maybe this tiny house movement/somewhat more minimalist living is the ticket to a release of some of my anxiety, or maybe I will feel bad for not sticking it out in my beautiful home. Ugh, anxiety wins again.

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Thinkstock photo via fallbrook.

Originally published: July 19, 2017
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