Why I Fixed My Broken Vacuum Cleaner

One of the principles that I learnt during my brief experience of Mickel Therapy a few years back was that it is important to stay on top of things in order to avoid feeling any more overwhelmed than we already do by being ill. Having an accumulation of small unresolved life stressors can add up to create stress and tension in our nervous systems. That’s why it’s helpful to make a judicious list of “outstanding issues” that we want to address and whittle it down over time.

I say “judicious” because most people with CFS tend to take on too much, and and up feeling overwhelmed with the familiar feeling that there is “not enough time”. We don’t really trust in the process of life and have bought into the idea that the more we do, the more stuff we can have and the happier we will be.

The truth is that time is indeed limited and we need to choose what to focus on in our lives generally. But when I got sick a whole bunch of things that were actually important to me started to fall by the way side.

Now that I’ve whittled my “outstanding issues list” down to virtually nothing, it’s important to stay on top of things to prevent that feeling of overwhelm from coming back.

So last week when my vacuum cleaner entered its death throws with a weird revving sound and an acrid burning smell coming from the motor, I decided that I would get it fixed immediately rather than putting it off because I had other things to do. Of course I did actually have other things to do, but I figured that getting the vacuum cleaner fixed immediately would help rewrite the pattern in my brain that says that I’m overwhelmed and there isn’t enough time to do everything that I need to do.

It was my fault because I didn't clean the filters enough
Exhibit A for the Prosecution: The burnt out motor

The very next day I took my busted vacuum cleaner to the local repair shop who told me that it would cost $300 to fix; and given that it was worth $450 new, the guys at the repair shop said it wasn’t worth repairing. He was also kind enough to explain to me that vacuum cleaner salesman generally don’t tell you that bagless vacuums require a lot more maintenance in the form of filter cleaning than disposable bag cleaners do.

I was a little upset about this. This is the vacuum cleaner that I bought a few years ago when I was worried that my illness might be related to dust or mould allergies, so I specifically bought a more expensive model with a High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filter. It had more than a little emotion attached. Unfortunately I had failed to uphold my end of the bargain of loving and caring for my precious vacuum cleaner by cleaning the filters as often as was required.

I knew that I had bought this situation on myself but I wasn’t about to just give up that easily. I jumped on eBay and found a vacuum repair shop selling the motors online for $85. I also found a video on YouTube from another vacuum cleaner repair shop showing the whole process of replacing the motor of exactly my model vacuum cleaner.

When I was a kid I used to love pulling electrical and mechanical devices apart and trying to fix them; so I figured this could be an opportunity to get back in touch with my inner child that loves to dismantle things and can sometimes even put them back together again.

Before buying a new motor I decided to dismantle the vacuum cleaner just to make sure that there wasn’t going to be any challenges that I couldn’t overcome. Like not having the right screwdriver, which turned out to be the case. Fortunately I got away a star headed screwdriver drill bit and one of the handheld wrenches from my old car toolkit.




The shop selling the motors on eBay turned out to be in the same city as me only about an hours drive away. So I drove down to pick up the motor myself and even got a few tips about how to ease the installation process.

I thoroughly cleaned the inside of the vacuum cleaner and washed the internal filters to prevent any internal dust and dirt from getting into my new motor. After waiting a couple of days for the filters to dry completely, I reassembled the vacuum cleaner and now have a reconditioned model that works just like new.

Back together again

But more importantly, I’ve made another dent in my sense of overwhelm. From a practical point of view I may not be any better off than I was last week before the vacuum cleaner died, but I have a greater sense of my ability to rise to the challenges that come my way in life even when I’m not feeling 100%.

The sense of satisfaction that I have in rising to this challenge flows over into other things as well. And that’s way better than putting my broken vacuum cleaner in the “too hard basket” and just feeling overwhelmed something new has gone wrong.

Author: Graham

I'm a guy in his late 40's, recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since May 2009. I now offer coaching and support to other people with CFS/ME.

7 thoughts on “Why I Fixed My Broken Vacuum Cleaner”

  1. Hi Graham,
    I really like your blog and I used it as part of my justification for trying Mickel therapy.
    So in case some one else reads this and wants to know my results from Mickel so far.
    For 2.5 years I have had a headache as well as the fatigue. I started the Mickel with a therapist based in Melbourne via Skype. Since the idea is to react to the emotion or symptom I stopped taking Panadol every 4 hours (my idea not the therapist) and just started experimenting trying different things. The headache was always constant but I started to notice when I did certain things I wouldn’t notice it. First I thought I was just being distracted from it, but over just a few days I stopped getting them at all. I really did not think I had any emotional hangups and was confident I had great control of my emotions I meditated etc etc, But I think I am actually too in control too rational and have been blocking that primal emotion too much and it just revolted. Anyway I seem to have energy back (went for a run this morning) and no headache. I still have ringing ears and an Acid stomach hopefully these too will recede. I do find dealing with these other symptoms harder than the headache as they are not so obvious or immediate and the therapist does not seem to have a great answer for it. I think I need to work harder on identifying my emotions rather than the symptoms for these. One thing to note is that my sister a GP sent me a book called the divided mind early in the piece but I did not relate to it at the time though it is similar to Mickel with the Primal V Rational mind conflict. in that book they noted that there was no need to address the anger just the true belief that it was that anger causing your issues would be enough. I wonder if that is not some of the case with myself. Oops this turned into a essay sorry.
    thanks again for your blog

    1. Hi Mike,

      I’m glad you found the blog helpful and appreciate the report on your Mickel Therapy progress. I’ve had the headache for about 4 years, and it’s a good reminder to me to be mindful of the circumstances under which it gets worse to see what it’s trying to tell me; I’m reinspired!

      I think you’re spot on about the challenge of identifying and accepting emotions without trying to control them. Identifying when I’m angry has been a big part of my journey since I used to suppress my anger so intensely; and often just identifying that I’m angry is enough to allow it to pass. Other times I find I need to take action on the thing I’m angry about to get the underlying need met. But the starting point is just being able to identify it.

      I find it’s often easier for my coach/therapist to identify what’s going on for me, and that’s what I now do for my clients. If you’re interested in diving deeper into your feelings down the track, I’d be open to that; but I’d suggest focusing on what your existing Mickel Therapist is doing with you at the moment rather than taking on a second approach at the same time. Glad to hear things are working for you, and keep in touch!


  2. Love your vacuum cleaner story Graham! We write down everything in what we call our ‘niggles’ book and like you say, work through them bit by bit over time. Feels great as you get things done without feeling overwhelmed. Thanks for your great stories. ??

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