Sunday, May 26, 2013

So when does a hoard 'tip over' from a dry hoard to a wet hoard?

Dry hoards... 
Wet hoards... 
Clean hoards... 
Dirty hoards...  

No matter what stage the hoard is on the clutter scale, most COHs refer to the type of hoard.  Many of the hoards you see on the reality television shows are wet/dirty hoards.  There is significant vermin and garbage in the hoard, and often animal or human waste in very severe hoards.  My mother's hoard historically has been a dry/clean hoard.  Do not get me wrong.  Her house STINKS.  It is dangerous to anyone going in from a respiratory/health standpoint.

A quick rewind, if you will, to when I was at her house the last time, which was July 2011.  This was the first time in over 10 years,  and it was hugely hoarded to levels often towering over my head with goat paths, but for the most part it was a dry hoard.  I gagged going in, and the refrigerator was full of nastiness, etc... and I got deathly sick.  Fast forward to last month, and I was in the hoard-mobile and got sick again.  Now, if you have read this blog and saw the mid-March entry, she found a turd downstairs.  And it was not from her cats...  She first decided that it was snake poo and then decided here in the last couple of weeks that it is skunk poo.  And she believes her hated neighbor broke into her house and left it there.

Fast forward to this week.  Her paranoia continues to feed on her narcissism, her negativity and her abject and self inflicted misery.  As many folks who hoard do, she has long monologues about minutia of normal living.  Long side expiditions into the world of 'no-one-gives-a-royal-#$&%'.  This time she took over 10 minutes to describe her extreme caution in bringing produce into her house.  She will tell you will a straight face that there is not one insect in her house.  If you believe that, I have a lovely used car with 165K that I will sell you that is LIKE NEW for what I paid for it 5 years ago!  <Oh... I digress...>  Anyway, as I was about terminate the call, she finally gets to the issue.  She found a roach in her kitchen.  She just KNOWS that it came in on the two bananas she bought a few days prior and went through her 'process'.  

Now... I realize it is possible that happened, but very unlikely.  I would be more likely to believe that the roach come from one of the following:

  • How any roach and his or her friends enter any home since it is in essence Roach Nirvana
  • That some of the paper bags, cardboard boxes, or umpteen year old dry goods hatched roach eggs finally
  • The same route or reason the poo was in her basement ... (wait... is that technically the same as the first point?)
  • It caught a ride in on any of the other 5 million items she carries into the house weekly from warehouse retailers, big box retailers, the pet store, etc.
With that being said...  What concerns me the most is the first and third points (and they technically are the same I think) so... to me this means that the infiltration of garbage is getting to be more substantial than it was nearly two years ago.  There was some, and a whole lot of reusing things that should never be kept, but 2 major things have changed for her.
  1. She now wears continence pants after a couple of incidents of soiling herself without knowing it (????) in public.  Apparently pissing herself repeatedly did not prompt Depends usage.  But a series of sharts or worse did.  Ugh.
  2. She has walked very laboriously and with a cane since last July.  This has resulted in her being even more sedentary and immobile than she was. For example, she is now feeding the 6 cats their canned food in a communal bowl making them 'take turns'... whatever that means.
I strongly suspect that she is continuing the steep slide from dry to wet hoarding.  Her house is already toxic beyond description... Most of her animals who have passed in the last 20 years have succumbed to liver failure, which there has been some discussion on hoarding task forces that animals (especially cats) forced to live in the hoard have a disproportionally high incidence of this.  (I would like to see some evidence/citation of research in relation to this... Not that I doubt it, but I prefer scientific method and SCIENCE, not just anecdotal information.)  She always, always, ALWAYS has some sort of respiratory ailment that is antibiotic resistant and hell to treat, then there is the fact that I ended up with a systemic infection/endocarditis from being in her house less than 10 minutes.  She had the library staff print off documents on the weird and rare form of bacteria that nearly cost her her hand and her life from a cat bite.  And she was shocked to find that it is unlikely that it came from the cat... Denial immediately set in and the information was discarded as relevant.  

I have only talked to her once or twice since this disclosure, and she was going to buy roach traps, etc.  I am sure her delusion/denial has set back in, and if I have to guess, she will at some point start blaming hated neighbor for this too.  And how would she ever have someone come in and treat?  She would not.  The horror!  Having a pest control truck there!  Acknowledging the problem!  And letting someone in her house?  Not happening.

If I do outlive her, and she has not succeeded in estranging me completely, it is going to be quite the legacy/inheritance she leaves me.  That is enough to keep me up at night...  Simply horrible.  And there is nothing that I can do to get her help, willingly or not.

One humorous note, she was referred to a therapeutic  massage therapist by her chiropractor.  (Another person that I should add to the 'send flowers for dealing with her' list).  She has another Wonderful Stranger and something else to talk about, interspersed with the crazy... but hey, you take the positive where you ca find it.  Her 934,768 questions before the appointment were funny, such as:

"Do you wear clothes?  I am not getting naked for this!"

"Do they pound on you like they do on TV?"

"Will the place be clean?"

You get the idea.  And I have real empathy for the massage therapist.  

Have a lovely Memorial Day Holiday if you are from the US and commemorate this holiday.  I will be spending it with my cats, my friends, some awesome food (corn on the cob, grilled portabella mushrooms with a mix of shrimp and scallops and white wine stuffed in them) and more wine.  

Goodnight all.  


  1. As a kid, I thought that mice were a common thing to have in your house. It wasn't until I grew up that I discovered that this wasn't the case. My parents dry/clean hoard, but like your mom's situation, this doesn't mean vermin-free. Nirvana indeed!

  2. Oh goodness. This is not good. I do not envy you. The hoard I cleaned was mostly dry (see: That isn't me but I SWEAR it is identical but a four story house in St Louis). Also, that poor Physical Therapist. Oh dear.

  3. TC:

    I still am agoggle at the things that hoarding 'normalizes' for COH's... and am still amazed at the pervasiveness and the depth of my mother's denial.

    Wet hoards, dry hoards, vermin... What a legacy eh?


    WOW. Again, hats off to cleaning a hoard of that magnitude, and ((HUGS)).