Flame On! (Trigger and Mushiness warning)

Last night I had a meltdown. I haven’t lost control of my emotions or had no logical response in a very long time. A decade? Maybe more. Last night, my nightmares came true. This happens rather often, I presume it is because my fears are actually reasonable. The place I live had a fire. My home was on fire. I am still shaking as a result, but my mind is clear.

A man i had never seen before came to my home, pounded on the door, and told me there was fire and to get out. I turned and grabbed Sprite, and we went outside. My panic was instant. Where do I go? Is it close enough I can go? How far can I make it? Where is the fire? I had no answers, and no shoes. Sprite had no harness or leash and nestled on my shoulders to balance me. This is how I get things done in the house, so this wasn’t out of the norm.

I moved for the office, while calling the apartment manager. I could hear the fire engines coming, someone else had called in. I did consider it but, I had to work on the presumption that my being notified to get out meant they were coming. It was the lat bit of logic I had for a while. I made it rather far, I used the fence and held myself up creeping along. I was the only one outside when the fire went from small to OH MAH FRIGGING GODS THERE IS A GIANT FIRE OH GOD.

I saw it, in a washing machine in the laundry room. There are apartments all around this room, of course. The door was closed, the fire department had to smash it to get into it. They weren’t there yet though, and as the flames went Fwoosh and started eating the building, not just the laundry, I began to cry. The tears were wet, and painful because of my allergy to water. My reaction ranges from full body pain (minimal( to blisters. It was just pain. I back tracked away from the flames and was stuck. I couldn’t be sure home was safe, a sensation that made my panic worse, and I couldn’t get people to answer. I stopped calling folks because I was having trouble breathing. Athsma + Smoke * tears= Cough cough cough.

This is when things get interesting. My neighbors all respect me, every time there is a need they perceive this is shown. There is a strong sense of community with in the hallowed complex. There is also a fear of outsiders, but if you pay rent you are automatically accepted. As people arrived, I did my best to retain the little shred of calm that I thought I had, it was not there. I still suggested that they wake up the manager, it was about eight at night. A lot of people go to bed around then.

The fire department stayed near the fire, and I stayed on the fence. Literally. I watched as they quickly contained the fire, then got it out. The flames were no longer visible by the time we got the manager up. The fire department was more than efficient. In movies and TV they are never that quick and to the point. I know that is to play out the drama but, it really doesn’t credit the fire fighters.

Sprite only tried to escape once, and it was the moment I wanted to. It’s natural to go away from fire. When the fire doubled in size in that split second, she started to bolt. Started. She stopped herself. I want to give her an award, a medal, a treat, and a golden kitty bed that she would never ever use because she was quiet, composed, and she did her job when the other service animals in the complex could not.

A part of my melt down was the pain level I was facing. Standing for more than thirty seconds has me on the edge of my pain tolerance. Past that and we’re entering territory where my systems stop functioning bodily. Circulation cuts down enough that I was blue again. My hands are still a bit oddly colored, it will take time for my body to catch up to itself. The second issue is breathing. The injury to my back spasms and it can paralyze my diaphragm. This is scary when I am not facing fire.

A secondary part was the sounds. Fire is loud, the fire department HAS to be loud. Sirens alone make me want to scream and cry. Even the far away ones. There was banging, hissing, shattering, smashing wooshing sounds. There was also a high level of fear, and fear can be contagious.

My neighbors supported me, for a few moments literally, and then once we could go inside I had help so that if I fell it wasn’t as bad. Then, for the next few hours until the fire department went away, I was checked on by every single person who could do so. Further more, the person alerting people to fire was making certain to tell the people who would be slowest to get out first. It was an act that put him in potential danger and was unselfish even if my not knowing him scared me.

There are rumors of arson today, but I am hoping for either an electrical cause or a cigarette butt left smouldering. a lot of people smoke here, and an electrical issue means that no one purposefully set the building on fire. I don’t want to suspect my neighbors of wickedness, when every single one of them is wonderful. I like them all. Not everyone here gets along with one another but I can talk to every single one of them.

Everyone in my complex has a form of disability, from mobility on to cognitive challenges. Everyone has a different way of speaking and yet everyone here is supportive. I know if I need help, I can ask. I can just scream out for it really, and they will come to my aid. I am left to think on the times when danger came hunting me, and danger did not find me because of my neighbors.

I am safe here, the fire is out and it’s ashes are quickly being covered in snow. I admit I want to see the destruction. I admit my fear of fire is not less but a bit greater. I did not have dreams last night. I was so tired, as I hadn’t slept for a day, that it was beyond me. I am aware that Sprite has not left my side since. She even held it until I was upright this morning, then bolted for the litterbox only to check and see I was following. The cut on my hand (I think it is from the fence, and so did the police) is a little infected but with my immune system that’s fairly normal. If it didn’t get a little pussy I’d worry. It’s not as bad as I expected and my costco gallon of peroxide (it was two bucks!) will get plenty of use.

Sprite and I are fine, no one was hurt. No one lost their shelter or home. I faced my horrid nightmares in reality. Facing fear sucks.

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5 Comments

  1. Whoa! Bad experience indeed. Glad you two are more or less ok.

  2. We are more okay than less, too. She is queasy and feeling a bit icky because of the smoke, but other than that Sprite is just sleeping right now.

  3. Am glad to know you are safe again. What an awful thing to go through.

    It’s incredible (and moving) to know about the guy in the building who made a point of targeting people he knew would need extra time to evacuate so he could warn them and give them a chance to get out … even at risk to himself. We need more people like him in this world.

  4. Very scary! I am glad that you are okay. I understand the fear of strangers, especially with the vulnerability of disability, but am very glad for that kind stranger to look out for you and others.

  5. I am still stunned that he did this. I can hardly wait for my chair for a billion reasons, but one is seeking him out and thanking him. I suspect that without his notifying me everything would have been ten times worse. I wish I could do more for him than say thank you, but he deserves to know that he is appreciated. I suspect that his actions went relatively unnoticed by many people as well.


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