This is not a story about gut health affecting mental health, though I can see where the title might suggest that.
No, this is a story about Covid - not actually having it, but simply existing in the world we have lived in for the past elevenish months - and the number it does on your mental health. Now, in fairness, there has been a lot going on in addition to Covid-19 in the past year, especially in the US (I'm in the slightly saner Washington), but none of them caused me to have the almost visceral reaction I had this morning.
You see, I called a plumber.
And then I had a little bit of a panic. Why would I call a relative stranger to come into the house? We've been so careful, the kids are in distance learning, my job (I work for the public schools) is both minimal hours and 99% remote (I had to do my First Aid recertification in the office but that's it so far), I get groceries delivered or do curbside pickup, I do takeout or drive-thru, etc.
Then I thought about it more calmly. And I came to the conclusion that it was the right choice for us, considering the safety protocols everyone is following and all.
I mean, I'm a homeowner, and I can do the very basics. I can adjust the temperature on my water heater (now that my kids are both teens they're old enough to adjust the water in the shower without scalding themselves). I can unclog a sink or a tub or a toilet (usually). I can do very minor household repair stuff, I can hang artwork, and I can even put up my own Christmas lights on the eaves (though I usually don't). I used to mow my own lawn, but now I pay a neighbor kid, because of asthma. And in my climate, it only needs doing from about April-October anyway.
So while I'm better with electronics than I am with mechanical things, I'm not helpless when it comes to the very very basics of homeownerdom.
But I don't have the tools or the know-how to unclog this kitchen sink - goodness knows I've tried - anymore. And the dishwasher hasn't worked for almost as long as we've been stuck safe at home; it won't drain and I think there's something - probably one several of Abby's long hairs - stuck in the drain hose. Again, I don't have the tools to investigate or fix this on my own, so when I (finally) got that second stimulus check (for me and Liz; apparently the government thinks barely-18-year-old Abby is on her own, though not enough to send her a stimulus check. They stop eating on their eighteenth birthdays, you know), I called a plumber.
We've used these guys before, about eighteen and a half years ago, in fact. I was pregnant with Abby at the time. I trust them, I like them, I'm willing to pay plumbing prices for them. And they're currently in my kitchen, masked, gloved, and paper-bootied. First people who don't live here in my house since March 7, 2020, except for two flying visits - one by my ex-husband and one by my stepkid - to use the bathroom.
So I'm nervous, even though all protocols are being followed, we're in separate rooms, all the windows are open, all masked, them gloved and bootied. I'm freezing cold because it's like 40F out there.
But I'm doing my deep breathing and meditative exercises (though a mask with an extra filter). So I'll be okay.
And if I'm able to run the dishes through the dishwasher again, it will be worth the nerves.