Something about those tiny half-baths with just a toilet and sink that are built under the stairs, never sat right with me…..Ever. Maybe it’s the side effect of having panic disorder and claustrophobia and I can’t stand small spaces. But when the full-size bathrooms are upstairs in your townhome, sometimes it’s the easiest go-to place. Mine is very small and filled with limited supplies of tissue paper, a candal, towels and hand soap.
Sunday’s are busy, cleaning days for me. Music is on and I’m singing along. Taking my time. A window open with a March breeze drawing away the smell of Pine-o-pine and Ajax in the air. My dog Snoopy is following me around as he always does. As I walk, he walks. He checks to see if I’ll stay put and then he sits and waits. Repeat.
I wash my hands in this tiny half-bath and dry them hastily. I check my messy hair bun in the mirror and tuck in a few stray strands of hair. I turn around, throw some tissue in the trash can and reach for the door knob. The door won’t open. It’s stuck. I’m pulling and thinking to myself “stupid, turn the knob”. I turn the knob and the door still won’t open. This sickening feeling of chills starts rolling up my body from my feet all the way up to my head. Instant dizziness. I’m frantically trying to move the knob left and right, pulling and pulling! Then, I realize that no one else is home. I’m alone. I think, “Oh my God!” The air thickens and it feels like there is a vacuum in the ceiling vent sucking out all the oxygen from this 5×6 ft. space. I can’t breathe! I start scratching at the front of my neck, saying to myself “not now, please don’t”. I tell myself that there has to be something under the cabinet to help me get the door open. Nothing. No tweezers, bobby pins, Q-tip, just nothing. I start feeling all around the door frame in the hopes that one of the boards is loose – nothing. I climb up on the sink and start trying to loosen the vent, but I realize there is no way I could fit through it. I reach my finger nails deep into the crack of the door near the lock and can’t reach it. I’m stuck and alone. Pulling frantically and banging on the door. I feel like I’m losing my mind. I hear someone screaming for help. My breathing is erratic and my heart rate is near 150 beats. My hands, arms, lips and face are numb from hyperventilating. I turn around lost and scared, catching myself in the mirror. It’s me screaming! My body slumps down to the floor. I can’t breathe. Flat on my back on the floor with my arms laid out beside me, I’m trying to slow my breathing and I’m grabbing at my chest. I need to get up from the floor or I’m going to die. Everything turns dark. This is it…..the end. And just when I think I’m dead, in my ear, over and over, I keep hearing a loud repetitive noise. Bang, bang, bang, bang……and then it turns to bark, bark, bark, bark. It’s my Snoopy. He’s barking hysterically and he’s running back and forth to the open window. I realize that I’m not completely alone and I start to regain some consciousness. My body is still completely numb and I feel like I’m taking my last breath, but I desperately want Snoopy to go get help. I maneuver my right arm towards the crack at the bottom of the door and slip my fingers through. Snoopy starts to lick my fingertips and stops barking. I feel comforted. He makes crying noises and from time to time he runs back to the window to bark. I start to pray. “Our Father, who art in heaven…..”, “Hail Mary, full of grace….” I keep praying. At some point, I’m aware enough to tell him “it’s gonna be okay Snoopy. Go get help”. Two minutes later, the door is opened with a crow bar by a family member and my Snoopy is the first one to comfort me.
My Snoopy passed away two months ago and I miss him terribly. Without him, I really don’t know if I would be here today writing this story. God Bless all trained and “untrained” Service Dogs. And all dogs go to Heaven.