Scleroderma Has Been Affecting My Self-Esteem!

Kim Tocker avatar

by Kim Tocker |

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scleroderma and self-esteem

Yes, scleroderma certainly has affected my self-esteem in many ways. But help is at hand!

This weekend there was a big sale at our local “everything” store. You know those stores, the ones that have all manner of household items, from computers to washing machines.  We went to buy a new bed – one that can be controlled with a remote. My Rheumy instructed me to sleep on an incline to try to keep stomach acid from aspirating into my lungs. This is a common issue and you can read more about the wonderful world of scleroderma gastrointestinal complications here.

Since it was such an awesome sale, I convinced Max also to buy something I’ve wanted for quite a while, and here he is:


Introducing Alfred, my lightweight, rechargeable vacuum cleaner. I’ve always named my appliances; it’s a little quirk of mine.  We have Barbara the washing machine, Derek the printer and Steven the tumble dryer, to name but a few. I haven’t managed to work out the psychology behind why I do this. Perhaps I’m just a tad eccentric.

Anyway, the really interesting thing about Alfred’s arrival is what has happened to me.  Yes, having him has changed something about how I’m coping with my scleroderma. You see, Alfred has given me back some self-esteem.

The thing is, I haven’t been able to vacuum our floors for a very long time.  My inflamed joints and compromised lungs no longer can cope with hauling around our weighty, plug-in, heavy-duty cleaner. Max has been vacuuming the house during his weekends, but it just doesn’t last the whole week, unfortunately. Bless him though, for tackling that on top of working full time to support us. Unfortunately, our budget simply doesn’t stretch to employing a cleaner.

Alfred helps me regain my self-esteem

By Wednesday or Thursday, anyone entering the house must wade through a collection of cat fur, bits of wool from my crochet projects and tiny plastic items of unknown origin on the floor. Then it gets to the stage where I feel any guests should be handed a mask on arrival. This is in case asphyxiation occurs from inhaling the massive accumulation of dust in the carpet. By Friday, things have become pretty feral.  Seriously, I had begun to feel like I just couldn’t face anyone seeing the state of my floors. It isn’t just the embarrassment. The main thing is that I’ve always enjoyed keeping my home to a certain standard, and it simply isn’t “me” to live like this.

Being sick and unable to attend to fundamental things like the cleanliness of my home has affected the way I view myself. I see now that as the house became messier during the week, my self-esteem and confidence also began to erode. If visitors came by, I felt my dignity plummet as I would apologize repeatedly for the state of the floors.

I do realize people visit to see me, not the house, and I know friends don’t think anything of the mess and understand my circumstances. I appreciate their reassurances of the same. I also know that others may choose to ignore their own un-vacuumed carpets and that is totally fine with me. No judgment here. But this issue is about my own feelings of unease. It is about how I feel with myself being unable to keep my home as I would like.

Now I have Alfred, and have been able to just whiz around and clean the carpet every day in-between Max’s heavy-duty efforts on the weekends. He swivels, saving my wrists, and is so lightweight, it takes me only 10 minutes to get things under control (Alfred, not Max).

The floors look great, but the biggest change is the way I feel inside — lighter, and more at peace with myself.  I’m now feeling more confident in my ability to look after myself and my home. Wonderfully, I actually think I like myself more, and can accept my chronically unwell self with hugely increased ease.

Who would have thought a new household appliance could bring about such change? Thanks, Alfred!

Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News, or its parent company, Bionews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.


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