Thursday, May 29, 2014

Yeesh... Everything but what is truly important. Is this the path to self destruction?

She utterly baffles me and simultaneously breaks my heart.  It makes me sad to say that, and not in a mother-daughter way, but the feeling I would have elicited by any client I have worked with over the years.  

As I keep telling my staff, there are two overarching tenets to case management/social services.  

  1. You cannot want 'it' more than the person themselves does...
  2. You cannot assist someone in spite of themselves.
With those two touchstone observations as the perspective in which I am dealing with this, onward to the latest installment of utterly CRAZY.  

For those new to this blog, as with many folks who engage in compulsive hoarding at this level, the stuff is a side effect of the power and control issues, her addictive behaviors, and her narcissistic/borderline personality disordered behavior.  It is so hard to filter through what she says, since she makes minor or inconsequential things HUGE things, and important things are often not shared until way past critical mass.

So- the latest installment of 'cannot get out of my own way to be my own solution to save my life...'

Since February or early March my mother has been complaining of headaches, and had a siege where her jaw hurt so badly that she could not open her mouth wider than 1/2-3/4 inch.  She was passed back and forth from her primary care doctor to her dentist and referred to her ear specialist.  Long story short, partially due to her refusal to follow process and allow electronic referrals, records to be sent, etc. she made what was really poor follow up and communication come to a complete standstill.  I also realize that the recollection of events I am getting are what she chooses to share with me, so again, who really knows what is actually based in reality.  I do not think she receives the greatest of health care in her small Appalachian state, and her mental health and behavior are definitely a barrier, and the fact that she is an isolated, elderly woman with Medicare.  I have offered to come pick her up, put her up in a hotel nearby, and take her to John Hopkins Medical Center in the past.  She flatly refuses.  

During this nearly 3 month ordeal, she has made things more difficult by:
  • Refusing to give all her providers similar information
  • Refuses to allow electronic referrals or prescriptions to be sent
  • Refuses to allow the doctor's offices or medical facilities to transmit records, she picks them up, reviews them and picks through them
  • When she calls a medical provider, if she gets voice mail she most often refuses to leave a message
  • She has never set up her voicemail on her land line, and has her answering machine disabled so she only knows who calls by caller ID, and she does not want anyone to know she has caller ID
  • She refuses to give out her cell phone number to anyone, and does not keep the phone on or check the voicemail
  • If a provider does not respond in the manner she deems appropriate and quickly enough, she launches a scorched earth response
  • Yesterday she called her ear specialist, and in a very condescending and sarcastic manner, cancelled her appointment that her PCP had moved up 5 weeks for her as he thought she had an infection in her mastoid bone at the very least
  • She scheduled with an 'older doctor that knows something' for today (which is the day she was supposed to go to see the ear specialist)
  • She arrived at her PCP today unannounced an hour before an appointment that would take a half hour to drive to, demanding copies of medical records, and stormed out when the office person informed her that she was busy and that (mother) would have to wait
  • Her gums started to spontaneously bleed and she said nothing
I could write a book on this... and it feels as if I have.  The older doctor told her that he did not feel he had time for a biopsy, but she had 13 of the 20 symptoms of Temporal Arteritis so he was starting treatment with massive cortisone doses.  Upon researching this a bit, and having a bit of background working in medical case management with folks with TA, her assertions from today do not line up.  But with TA there is a real threat of blindness or stroke if untreated.  She has an appointment with the doctor she sees in a nearby city to manage her rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.  

She mentioned it in the 'I am so mistreated and shat upon' way that she does, then she was off to complaining about her neighbors, attempting to gossip, and her normal negativity.  She then mentioned suing all the doctors involved to this point.  Ugh.  

Do I know firsthand that medical malpractice and terrible errors happen with the most consistent and reliable of patients?  Yes.  And medical providers are human too, and they make errors.  I also know that her combative and paranoid behavior makes treatment a crap shoot at best.  No one wins.  And she refuses to see any other perception than the one she stubbornly clings to, even in the face of facts.

I am not sure how this will play out, and it may be one of her 'Chicken Little' episodes that will be anticlimactic as she moves through the process.  Time will tell, but this is a situation that she may have made much, much worse.  

I know she will not allow anyone, including me, to do anything meaningful for her.  Whatever happens, if anything does, it will be partially consequences of her choices.  Choices that include piling her home floor to ceiling with crap, and forcing anyone out of her life that would be willing to help her... including me.  

Hoarding... no one wins.  NO ONE.  Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Soulless and absolutely heartless... trailers, deed restrictions and inappropriate pretentiousness... OH MY!

Just a word of warning.  This may devolve at times into language stronger than PG-13.  

A bit of back story for this entry.  Back a few years ago the house next door to my hoarding mother's home burnt flat on Christmas Eve.  The blog can be accessed here:  my-worst-fear-was-almost-reality  The lot sat empty since, and it took the family a year or more to decide to sell it.  After many, many months of being on the market and little activity, a few months ago it sold, and apparently from the deed information it sold to a younger female buyer.  The speculation and the inappropriate assumptions were unending.  A few weeks ago an older single wide trailer was pulled in, and my hoarding mother promptly hit the stratosphere.  Griping about the property value hit her property would take, complaining about the position of the trailer, speculating on why things were not happening quickly, etc.

Today I called her on my way home from a late evening networking event.  Today has honestly been an absolutely WRETCHED day at work, and I should have just drove home without this bit of sadomasochism.  The upshot of our rather brief conversation is as follows:

  1. My hoarding mother observed gravel being hauled in and dumped, the trailer leveled, the gas line and water hook up being connected, and an electrical pole with a box being set today.
  2. My frail, 77 or 78 year old hoarding mother took herself, her 20 year old Honda, her cane and her multiple health conditions and pains to the county courthouse and looked at the deed and the restrictions.
  3. She made copies of said deed and documents.
  4. She determined that there is a restriction on that property that prohibits temporary dwellings of any sort, and that includes mobile homes, not matter how they are 'seated' on the property.
  5. She saw a few neighbors out, and passed on the news that there was a deed restriction, and provided copies.
  6. She encouraged one person to seek legal intervention and possibly to request an injunction to stop this process, and indicated she would go in on this to help since her property value was being adversely impacted.
  7. She gave her little elitist speech/opinion that 'no one should have to look at/live in a trailer park'...
  8. The one neighbor called and has started the ball rolling.
Now, some of you may be thinking there is nothing wrong with this.  There are several factors to consider:
  • This street is a dirt road in rural Appalachia.  DIRT.  Mud holes with broken up cinder blocks dumped in them so someone can drive on the street.
  • My mother's house is one, but the not only, of the most uncared for, dilapidated houses on the street which includes:
    • A chain link fence installed in 1974 that is rusted and has almost all fence posts broken off at the ground, and she has wired T bars to them and driven them into the ground to hold the fence up.  One of the gates has the bottom frame rotted through and is in pieces.
    • She has yet to trim or mow her yard, or hire it done.  (It is the end of May)
    • Her screened in porch has big rips in the screens and they hang in tatters
    • The porch is full of hoardy crap
    • She feeds all kinds of animals and vermin on the front porch, and it is overgrown and has hoardy crap on it as well
    • She has done little to nothing as far as upkeep to the exterior of the house
    • The storage shed has wet rot halfway up the sides of the building
    • There are at least three trailers on properties adjoining hers or across the street, and the next street over has a large trailer park
    • The neighborhood is a mix of old ranch style homes built in the early 60's and some in the 70's, with a few houses built in the late 90's.  None are large or considered luxury, and the neighborhood is steadily declining and many houses are turning into rentals
    • Until very recently, the home behind her had goats- and the damage caused by their insatiable appetites is readily apparent when you look at the garage and siding on her neighbor's property.  And they have several discarded cars in the yard...
    • This same neighbor has a house on her property that has been abandoned since the early 70's and has trees growing through the roof, and you can smell the mold from 20 feet away
You get the picture.  Her house is not Buckingham Palace, although she is doing a damn good impression of the 'lady of the manor' routine.  

She thrives on other's hardships and misery.  Today she saw the young woman with her significant other and their dog for the first time as she spied out her closed window blinds.  They got out of the car, and seemed so happy.  They were holding hands as they looked around at the work that had been done thus far, and he kissed her and spun her around... and mother was absolutely disgusted.  Instead of going out and introducing herself, welcoming them to the neighborhood, and otherwise just being a decent human $*&^ing being, she watched them and mocked them through the window.  Who is the ridiculous one, the ones happily enjoying their property or the bitter old woman miserably watching from her darkened kitchen?

When she told her neighbors of the restriction, she threw her support behind blocking this young couple from using their property as they envisioned.  I suspect this could, and will be, financially devastating for these folks.  And my hoarding mother does not care.  All she can do is lament how she should have bought that property when it was for sale and how inconvenienced she is.  It is always about her, all the time.  She will keep agitating and keep the neighbors stirred up.  She forgets that she had her own mother in a travel trailer on the property in the mid 80's, and looked into a single wide trailer for her mother at that time.  She has also expressed wanting to live in a trailer.

What does this mean?  Nothing, other than it is a stellar example of her lack of compassion, her desire to stir the shit, and her utter unwillingness to drop her willful ignorance.  This is narcissism and sheer mendacity perpetuated as only she can.

Perhaps legally she can do this.  I have little doubt she can.  However, just because you *can* do something does not mean that you *should*.  And that is not a lesson she will or cares to learn.  I think it is so sad for this young folks.  There is what is ethical.  And she does not care.

I keep telling myself that 'hurt people, hurt people'.  But... she makes keeping her in a space of my empathy very, very difficult.  Her behavior is absolutely hypocritical, and makes me sick.  

She is a severely mentally ill woman who has survived much, but is unable/unwilling to see or do anything outside her initial perception.  She has very little insight, but enough to know to keep some of this secret, which tells me she knows how things will be perceived and that she is doing something cruel.

I posted a meme today at the end of my previous post, never dreaming what she would do today.  It is to the effect of 'It is okay to be angry, but it is never okay to be cruel'.  This is a lesson she has not learned.

Hoarding, no one wins.  No one.  And she just created collateral damage today.  I wish the young couple success in fighting the crazy.  I am so saddened and sickened by this.  As I keep saying, this is not going to end well.

Thank you for reading.  I am going to bed and try to sleep this day into a new, better one tomorrow.  Keep your fingers crossed for this young couple.  

Sharing an article- How to not say the wrong thing...   

I am always searching for articles, etc. for my workplace to post on social media, and a happy, happy side effect is I often find ones that might increase my personal knowledge and, hopefully, emotional intelligence quotient just a bit.

Just completed reading this article, and thought I might send this to my hoarding mother anonymously since she will not consider this if I just have the discussion head on, or in an 'oh how interesting' way.  Not to be snarky and harmful, but perhaps, just perhaps, she will read this article, and perhaps she would rigidly follow the 'no dumping in rules'... Not because she suddenly had insight or understanding, but because in her machinations and manipulations, this is another 'rule' she might find worthy of parroting.  

Just an ill executed attempt to make my life (and others who must deal with her) lives more palatable.  I know that unless I do this very carefully, this will backfire completely.  Worth a try though... Perhaps.

The second reason I found this a helpful is as children of hoarders we get a lot of judgement and 'judgy' statements sugar-coated to look something like empathy.  This could not be more relevant.  Especially with all the statements of 'your mom is your mom no matter what' and the expectation that you put your emotional and physical health as second priority.  

Thoughts on this article one way or the other?

Hoarding... No one wins.  No one....

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I have been remiss... From the mouth of a hoarder!

It is the evening of primary election day in my northeastern US state.  I just came in from work, and called my hoarding mother on my way home.  It had been just a few days, and I know I was going to get a lot of FTMOAH...

Lather, rinse, repeat.  And without further delay... Here we go!
"Do they not make those any more? [Her previous sentence was about the trailer pulled in next door]"

Make what?

"The shoes I have that look like tennis shoes... [sparing you the overly long, overly awkward description of her clog casual shoes]?"


"I have looked at THREE SEPARATE STORES and I cannot find them anywhere!!!"

What stores?

"I went to [names three local area Walmart stores]!  None of them have them!  Why I think..."

You went to one store.  Walmart.  Did you try the mall or a shoe store?

"... No..."

Telling her I was almost home and that I was planning to go for a short run.

"It is almost dark!"

Yes.  [Her powers of observation are astute at 8pm...]

"Aren't you afraid to be out after dark?"


"Do you run with a group?"


"As fast as people drive there, aren't you afraid?"


"Do you wear black when you run at night?"

BANG.  BANG.  BANG. <sound of my head hitting the steering wheel>
"For a girl cat she is not very ladylike."
"Did it ever occur to you that if humans were meant to run we would be on all fours?"

Did it ever occur to you that the human body is made to be active?

"So, up there, do they..."

You do realize that I am much farther east, but only about 90 miles north of you, right?

"So like I said, up there..."
"So, Glenda now has a lump under her armpit.  She had breast cancer years ago and had all that chemo, Tamoxifen and radiation.  It is back isn't it?  She is going to die isn't she?"

This was the tip of the iceberg for a 15 minute conversation.  I have been calling her when I have been on the road a few minutes and sign off when I am approaching my exit.  I simply cannot take much more than small doses of this without screaming or saying something really unnecessarily ugly.  I do not want to be abrupt or rude, but... BUT.  Life with a narcissistic, hoarding mother that cannot see anything but her own twisted point of view is challenging.  And I keep trying, as pitiful as my efforts are.

Thank you for reading.  Have a great week.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Friday, May 9, 2014

For all of you that have decided 'no contact' is the safest option  

Mother's day approaches with all the commercialism, sentimental advertising, and the schmaltz that is absolutely endemic on this day.  For many who have a decent relationship with their parents/mother, this is a time to celebrate that relationship.  For those of us who are low contact or no contact due to the choices and toxicity of our family, it is another helping of guilt and sorrow, and another opportunity for folks unintentionally to rub salt in what may be a very thinly healed wound.

My advice on sharing your thoughts, helpful ideas, memories and solutions to someone that has distanced for safety and healing...

JUST DON'T.  See the link above.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sharing a link on narcissism...

Sharing an article that resonated.  I read the comments below, and one person posting pointed out that folks with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) do not suffer from it, those who are around them do.  

Still contemplating that...