Sunday, November 17, 2013

When is enough, simply enough?

The title is a rhetorical question... on two levels.  I will start with the larger question.

In the past few days, an 11 year old boy was found by a deputy in North Carolina.  He was handcuffed to the porch, and had a dead chicken around his neck.  The video on the story can be viewed here.  You might be saying... "How terrible... Lisabeth... how does this relate?" Bear with me a minute.  If you have the iPad or iPhone app, look at it on CNN/US.  Also, in an AP link that for some reason is eluding me... the information contained in the initial CNN mobile site story is there.  So, between the 3 stories referenced here, and the countless others I have seen over the past little bit, the "Cliff's Notes' are as follows:

  • The perpetrators are both 57 years old.
  • They have 4 adopted children, and one foster child.
  • The foster child was the one who was handcuffed to the porch with the dead chicken around his neck.
  • The woman in the case is a SUPERVISOR at the area DSS.  She is a Department of Social Services SUPERVISOR... Let that sink in for a minute, eh?
  • The police officer that made this discovery was actually enroute to another house when he spotted this.  This was a discovery of misadventure.
  • The man was not cooperative upon being contacted, and one of the kids opened the door and released a dog that chased the officer to his car.
  • When the officer returned, the child was in the house, the chicken was on the porch...
  • In the CNN mobile app this morning (11/17/2013) both a law enforcement official and a member of the press stated that the situation was one of utter misery and squalor.  They remarked on the animals running in and out, and the farm animals roaming on the property.  The entire place stunk of feces and urine, and there was lots of junk...
So- in a word... HOARDERS.  And no one said the word.  And the woman?  In the management chain of DSS.  Wonder how many other children she damned to a life in the shadow of the hoard?  Besides the 5 that are now in CPS custody out of state.  

The upshot is, until all of us as community members make our elected officials, our members of law enforcement, our first responders, et al aware that we consider this to be a form of child maltreatment, and we continue to advocate for the children, there is little hope of a child escaping the hoard without significant trauma, and some do not escape at all.

What can we do?  Advocate.  Loudly.  Many of us, vociferously.  We can contact our housing multidisciplinary teams.  We can contact the Area Offices on Aging, find Hoarding Task Forces, or demand they be assembled, and demand that the focus not be solely on the hoarding person, but on on those in the home as well.

So... switching gears slightly.  I know I have been rather 'on' or 'off' since my surgery in August.  I am still healing, and long story short, things have continued to not be what I would call 'linear'.  

Some of the challenges I have been dealing with include:
  • Continuing to lose muscle mass and drop in weight.  I went down to under 112lbs without trying to.
  • Attempting to catch up and dig out at work, and it has been hellishly busy, and I am still buried from 2 months off.
  • I had an allergic reaction because I am an idiot, (I ate turkey pepperoni despite a text warning me as I was flying low from NY to my best friend's home for his daughter's 3rd birthday party.  I saw the gist of it, but did not connect the dots.  Luckily, I caught it within 3 minutes, purged the 2 slices, and got liquid Benadryl caps that I opened and swallowed immediately.  No epi pen needed... this time.  Now however, I am hoarse, (had NO VOICE for 3 days) and appear to be dead with a cold, although it is not.
  • Went to my specialist who was not aware of the events since June and July.  She FREAKED on me, screaming at me that I was underweight (duh) and needed to gain 12 pounds NOW.  (Double duh).  She disagreed with some of the surgeons decisions, and set me up for nasty and unpleasant tests.  On the positive side, she took me off 2 meds, decreased one in half, and said I should start gaining weight.  I have!  I am staying between 115 and 117 for right now, and I am actually hungry.  And eating!  And now I actually have some energy, and my sleep/wake schedule is resuming somewhat a normal rhythm.  I am losing my 'bracket face' and have resumed the gym, today I did three miles on the stepper.  Not much, but a start.
  • My nerve damage issues have continued to be on or off.  Travel, eating, illness, med changes... it has been UGLY.
  • I had a thyroid/parathyroid tumor scare.  It is not totally resolved, but it is not the frightening issue presented to me last week.
  • Once I am back to near 100%, I will be scheduled for another bone scan, and hopefully, a genetic test to look for BRCA 1, BRCA 2, and other cancer indicators.
Again, I do not need a 'wahbulance' but life has not been all rainbows and puppy dogs for Lisabeth, and I did not expect it to be that way.  I am grateful to be here, to be back at work, to be cancer free.

So... where the piss off at my hoarding mother dearest occurs... 

Last night I attended the wedding of friends.  It was beautiful, and fun.  The reception ended 6 hours later, and since it was relatively early, and I had not talked to her in a few days, I called.  

The call consisted mainly of:
  • Her commenting on how hoarse I sound, and using that as a springboard to talk about her many maladies and to ask bizarre questions.  I will spare you the questions, but they are of the type that comes from someone with nothing else to do but look at every bump, lump, and excretion of her body, and pathologize it.
  • She commented on the 'actress' (GAH!) that had her 'stuff' removed due to her mother dying of 'that'.  She meant Angelina Jolie, the actor and human rights activist, and her mother's death from Ovarian cancer... and her being tested for the breast cancer gene, and getting a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, hysterectomy and her ovaries, etc. removed.  I made the DIRE MISTAKE of commenting that I would be doing the testing soon and might have similar decisions to make (not commenting that she could have done this under her insurance at no cost and refused a few years ago).  She was appalled, and started her BS about breast implants, cancer, and etc.  I cut the discussion off brutally.
  • She said she had something to tell me that was not pleasant, was disgusting, and I knew she was going to turn to discussing her poo.  Again, I will save you the unsavory particulars... but she asked if I was still having 'trouble' (referring to my partially paralyzed colon).  I very quickly and acidly told her I. DID. NOT. WANT. TO. TALK. ABOUT. IT.  She responded with a rebuke that she is just trying to be helpful, and plowed on with her 'discussion' that I would clog my toliet up like she did today, and then attempted to go into the details of the 'event' and its particulars that caused it, her phone calls to plumbers, the recommendation to buy an acid product (that we have at my shelter BTW) and how she used vinegar to unstop it.  I hung up on her.  
Not that this is to the level of anything near the hoarders who severely abused that child.  But- one thing is similar, and it is this amazing sense of entitlement that they do not have to follow anyone's set of boundaries.  They are above or beyond the law, society's conventions, and the boundaries of appropriateness.  It is always about them, what they want, what they experience, their priorities, and their screwed up narcissistic perceptions.  

What was a lovely evening filled with love, fun, food, music and laughter was eroded somewhat in just a few minutes on the phone.  I should have known better.  When will I learn?  And when is enough, enough?  

Dysfunction flourishes in silence.  Abuse grows in secret.  Keeping the secret... protecting the hoard.  After over 44 years, I am done being silent and keeping the status quo.  

Thanks for reading.

Narcissism is often co-occurring with Hoarding...

Sorry, I am extremely annoyed at my hoarding parent, my friend's hoarding parent, and a pair of hoarding parents in the news on the AP and CNN (US) that abused children, and had a small child handcuffed to the front porch with a dead chicken affixed to the child's neck. The news crews discuss the 'misery' of the home, the filth, the smell, the animals- BUT NEVER USE THE WORD HOARDING.

Hoarding- It comes down to the mental illness, the refusal to do anything to help themselves or their families, the addiction, and the abuse/use of power and control.

-Hoarding... It is not about the stuff... That is merely a symptom of a life threatening mental illness.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Wow. How small and inconsequential she has allowed her world to be...

Called my hoarding mother today.  I had been out of town for the weekend visiting a friend, and had not talked to her since last Wednesday?  Thursday?  I am not sure what day it was.

I am sure that I did tell her I was going upstate and that I would call when I returned.  

So- when I called I was not surprised when she had to make a comment about not hearing from me.  "So, what happened to you?"  Why?  "Well, I did not hear anything, so I did not know..."

Okay.  For the sake of argument, let's assume that she DID NOT remember my trip north.  Let's assume that she does not go over to her monthly calendar when we talk and write down any days I mention I might be off, trips I am planning, etc.  (My aunt and 1/2 sister shared she does this.)

If you were concerned something was wrong... wouldn't you pick up the phone and call?  No?  Really?  Well okay then.  So be it.  

She amazes me.  After asking several probing and pretty nosy questions about my weekend, my trip, my best friend's daughter's 3rd birthday party and new house, and getting NOTHING she moved on to the usual subjects.

  1. Her recently extracted tooth.  Think she should use a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water?  I told her to call her dentist.  She said to this- "All they know how to say is salt water rinse..."  Well, okay then, do what you want.
  2. Her neighbor to the rear, and her social activities with her new boyfriend. "She has 'run' with him more in the past few months than she did in all the years she was married to her [former abusive and deceased husband]."  
  3. Talking about her strained relationship with her stepson (the neighbor in #3) and speculating, and offering her opinion on dealing with it, which, by the way is ALWAYS the nuclear option.
  4. Complaining about the next door neighbor, how many vehicles they have, that the yard looks like a 'junk yard' and complaining about all the stuff outside.
  5. Complaining that the same neighbors park 4 cars against the fence to benefit from her dusk to dawn light and do not even turn on their front porch light.  The NERVE! 
  6. How she had planned 'if she ever got the basement cleared out' to put her crappy, hoarded, peed on and gross living room furniture downstairs and have that be the animals' apartment.  "I guess that will never happen... long suffering sigh..."  I did state there are people who help with that kind of thing, that I could give her some names... she acted like she did not hear it of course.
  7. She was complaining about a neighbor of a hoardy acquaintance.  The neighbor of this woman is a Realtor  and at one time this person was moving to a faraway state, and listed the house.  Of course that blew up in a hoarded fury and she returned.  She allegedly, from across the street, overheard this woman tell a visitor that she could not even show the house, it smelled so bad of cigarettes and pee.  My hoarding mother was all indignant, and was getting on her soapbox.  I took the wind out of her sails by telling her ... "It's true.  Remember the stuff you sent me from her?  It simply REEKED."  Sputter, sputter, excuse, excuse.  Stated she has been in her house and she does not smell a thing!  Um... reminded her she cannot smell at all.  Reminded her of the previous dog's incontinence, and the fact she has never housebroken her puppy.  I suspect that subject will not come up again anytime soon.
I was waiting for her to say something like... "Now I suppose you will say my house stinks..." but she did not.  I think she knows better.

WOW.  Nothing earth shattering... but again, the level of insight is spectacularly poor, yet she is still able to maintain her stance of denial.

<Shaking my head>  Enjoy your week, and thank you for reading.

Sunday, November 3, 2013