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I'm vandwelling/homeless but I'm still here

It's been so long since I've wandered over to this part of the web. Life has been ridiculous, but good. I'm still too ill to care for myself even living in a house, and yet I'm somehow eeking out survival from a van on the streets of Seattle with more happiness and freedom than I've experienced my entire life so far.

Living in an unheated, sparsely insulated metal box through the winter isn't exactly recommended. When my van broke down and the place I thought I could duck into turned out to be locked, I contracted a severe case of hypothermia and most likely would have died if a familiar face hadn't stumbled upon me and let me in. I had a 100-101 fever for the next 6 weeks, and the fever still returns with activity.

When I first moved into the van mid-december I was shocked to experience incontinence issues that made such a mess, worse than I'd ever experienced before. The first several weeks were spent trying to manage the mess and a nerve injury that rendered one arm mostly useless as i lived off of power bars.

You see, the only health food stores that might have foods I could eat were nowhere near my previous place, so I had been stuck relying on my then caregiver to fix the few foods I could eat. Once I got out there were a few nutrition bars I could eat, and that's it. But once I was actually able to park near stores I could eat, spend the night and go shop the next day, then come back and rest, I began to find foods I could eat. One food at a time. Very slowly. Unprocessed lunch meat. A certain brand of hemp milk. One flavor of instant oatmeal. Cooking is out of the question, but I have a small fridge that runs off of 12 volts, though most of the time I use it more as a cooler.

The "adventures" have been non-stop - both good and bad. Three months in a row my vehicle has needed at least $200 of work, one month it was over $500. Yay for AAA...I've already needed 2 tows. Having my brakes fail on a busy road wasn't cool. This is the second month I'm spending the last 2 weeks of with almost no money, scraping by on shelf-stable food that makes me a bit ill and going on dates to get quality food in my system (hehe). This month it was 2 flat tires - one that went flat overnight and then the full-sized spare suddenly blew out on me the next day while on the freeway amidst heavy traffic - I'm amazed that it didn't cause an accident.

But I'm making it. And I'm meeting a lot of fantastic people. I have my own mailbox that I use as a street address, a storage unit, a place I can grab showers with my special filter, and even a place I can plug into the electrical grid sometimes, with the business owner's permission.

This life is pretty rough on my body, but I think I've survived the worst of it. The weather will be warming up soon - while it was 35 degrees inside a couple nights ago, I have three sleeping bags I can stack to keep toasty warm while sleeping and any day the sun is out my van can become as hot as I'd like - 70+ degrees - which helps because I'm so dang sensitive to the cold. My new life is stabilizing. I'm dating, for the first time ever, and those I date tend to try to take care of me, which has filled the gap of a caregiver. A few weeks ago I contracted severe food poisoning and I was able to call someone to come over and help. I was unable to sit up for a good 12 hours or so and all the vomiting and uncontrollable bowel movements that had caught me by surprise from being asleep had left my van such a mess. I get into binds a lot...from running out of water or food to needing help in other ways, and it seems I always manage to find someone I know who can scrape me through.

A lot of my new friends ask me "soo....are you going to get a job? Get into subsidized housing? Like, don't you want a more stable life/future for yourself?" Of course I do. They can't see how disabled I still am, because of course to them I look normal. I still can't drive far without getting hopelessly lost - with GPS. I still have awful brainfog and fatigue issues, like when I make myself lunch and then fall asleep for 8 hours with the ingredients still out on the bed, kicking them over and around all the time. Food in my fridge goes bad, the mayo jar falls on the floor upside down and isn't discovered for days, all that fun stuff.

I've had two attempted breakins so far, which were upsetting, but I've become more street-smart since. For now I have relatively safe areas to park in that seem to work out okay.

It's a really different life. Its harder in a lot of ways, but easier in others. Just wanted to update those who used to know me - I'm still here, and I'm learning how to thrive amidst all the ridiculousness. What a ride.

Comments

That is horrible and amazing all at the same time. I do wish we could do huge communal homes with decent facilities. One-bedroom living space with a small living room to receive visitors, then community kitchens and help. Pipe dream. Thought blessings, love and hugs.
 
Wow. Sorry no hug emoti's on blogs. I echo Gracie re communal living. Congrats on learning to thrive amidst it all.
 
OMG. Its hard to know what to say to that. I think I understand how living like that though very bad would in other ways be easier (Im getting asthma attacks cause where I live is so terribly dirty, I cant keep my house clean).

"My new life is stabilizing. I'm dating, for the first time ever, and those I date tend to try to take care of me, which has filled the gap of a caregiver. "

I find that incredible while at the same time completely understanding it. I have to date someone even if its the married man I see otherwise I couldnt survive.. the one Im dating has to be my carer as I dont have the support I need to live with this illness so Im completely reliant on having to have "someone" in my life to fill in the gaps or at least try.

The whole thing is a crazy situation and you are in this crazy situation so deeply. I will be thinking of you when I got to bed tonight, not even having a home to stay in. I really hope someone in your country/state who has ME/CFS will reach out and allow you to stay with them.

Could you get together with a couple of others who have this illness (and hence MCS etc too) and rent a place together? I assume you are stiill getting a disabiity pension?
 
Like one of those unbelievable plants that thrives in the cracks of the concrete. There is a quality to your writings that I can relate to, or would like to relate to.
 
Dainty, your name belies your incredible resilience and resourcefulness. I am in awe. Best wishes, Andy
 
Dainty I remember the things you did for us here at PR and I was in awe of you then but now you are my hero for sure I agree with andypandy that your name here does belay you for sure . Know I'm thinking of you Dainty and glad your dating again.

Gary
 

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