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Living With CFIDS
My Good Samaritans
By Gayle Babykin
Last September, the U.S. Air Force’s "Can Do Crew," who had volunteered to clean my
yard, paid me a
visit. I remember being awakened at 8:00 a.m. by a loud knock at the door where I was enthusiastically
greeted by a bunch of airmen eager to do their civic duty for the disabled and elderly of the community.
The crew, started by the airmen themselves, is made up of a group of volunteers from
chaplain’s office of a nearby air base.
I must admit I was surprised to see them—I simply couldn’t remember if I had forgotten
they were coming
or just didn’t know when they were coming. It isn’t unusual when you have chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction
syndrome (CFIDS) to forget things.
I was flustered and not yet awake, but I managed to put on some shorts and a top, even
getting my blouse
on right-side-out the second time around. The crew members were not native Arizonians, and I feared that
they would mistake some of my fauna for weeds, so I hurried outside to show them what was a plant and
a weed, tripping over the cats and hitting my legs and thighs on various objects in my haste.
I noticed the airmen had brought with them only one water bottle each and it was a very
hot day outside—even
for us desert-dwellers. After providing them with some instructions and educating them that many desert
trees are only about six feet tall and should not to be mistaken for weeds, I managed to start my coffee,
feed the cats, and find a couple of substantial water containers to make large quantities of ice and filtered
As I worked to complete my tasks, I was interrupted numerous times, answering the door
to various questions
beginning with, "Miss Gayle...I need...can you show me...." I finally got everything together and deposited
the water jugs, along with a six-pack of water bottles, on a bench in the shade of the carport—tripping
over the cat dishes this time.
When I was finally able to drink the coffee I had made so long ago, I found that it
was way too strong.
Amidst the distractions, I must have ground the beans twice. As I said, it isn’t unusual when you have
CFIDS to forget things.
By noon, the crew was standing outside grinning like the overgrown teens that they really
"Miss Gayle, do you want to come outside and see what we did?" And, "We are sorry we did not get to the
backyard, but we will be back next month. We all agreed to regroup next time and come back here to help
Trying not to show my tears of gratitude and ignoring the 106-degree heat, I walked
with the airmen,
each supporting one of my arms, as they proudly showed off what they had accomplished and what they had
done as a crew.
It was outstanding! My yard had never looked so good. They had various suggestions for
next month when
they planned to return and were grateful for the water and the cool towels I had fixed for them.
When they finally said their good-byes and drove away, I collapsed across the bed for
a nap. But before
I drifted to sleep, it struck me that these gentlemen were happy to have done something that made Tucson
feel more like a home to them and less like just another air base, and they had certainly been my good
Samaritans that day.
I slept until 10:30 a.m. the following day. I grinned as I envisioned "my crew" flying
over the Arizona
desert saying, "somewhere down there I helped yesterday."
It is not easy learning to live with CFIDS, but on that day, I couldn’t help but be
proud to be a disabled
Gayle Babykin is a person with CFIDS living in Tucson, Ariz. with her much-adored cats.