Two workers were busy installing new gutters and gutter covers on my house today. Autumn and Winter in the Pacific Northwest means that more air comes off the ocean bringing with it moisture. Much of that moisture falls to the ground on the Westside of the Cascade Mountains (rain shadow effect). Our home is actually somewhat protected from the Olympic Mountains across Puget Sound, but about 40-45 inches of precipitation falls annually. Only 10 miles east of us, the rainfall increases to 90 or more inches a year as the Olympic Mountain rain shadow is not as much in effect and the air moves up in altitude. The rain usually comes slowly but it is critical that houses have good gutter systems to collect and divert the water away in order to avoid damage. Thus, good gutters are vital.
Once Autumn arrives, the sounds of leaf blowers can be heard almost every day. More often than not, those blowers are on a roof being used to clean gutters in order to maintain flow. That was my weekly routine for the past five years. But that practice was interrupted by a visit from rheumatoid arthritis. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to not have to clean gutters anymore. But hiring a professional gutter installer brings home the point that RA has changed my life. Here’s a partial list of some activities that have changed over the past year since RA decided to kick it up a notch.
- Lawn mowing and gardening
- Snow skiing
- Long walks with the dog
- Visiting the recreation center
- Missing evening events because of fatigue
- Stopping short that awesome Hawaiian snorkel tour
- Learning how to navigate medical systems
- Cutting back on service activities
Sometimes RA brings changes in small increments…droplets. Sometimes the change is more rapid…deluges. RA patients must have good gutter systems to capture the changes and channel it away. Such systems include family, friends, others who are experiencing RA, good doctors, and most importantly, faith and hope in God. My gutter today came in the form of a handwritten card from a family who thanked me for all I had done at church over the past few years. They knew I was in pain and was cutting back on my activities. And the father of this family offered to clean out my gutters a few weeks back. That note, coupled with the offer to crawl on my roof, helped me stay “warm and dry” today.