Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.

You can read the start of my journey here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Am I the only one, or does anyone else find themselves exhausted from a trip to the doctor/dentist's office and a day away from home?

Things went better this morning than we anticipated. When we got up to get ready for the dental appointment, I gave Hopper a second dose of Theanine. I'm glad I did. Hopper did start ramping up for a meltdown, but it didn't have time to materialize before the Theanine kicked in. She was downright jovial on the way to the dental clinic. We were really hoping it would last, but we've seen her in similar positions in the past, and it hasn't lasted, so we weren't sure what to expect.

Knowing that the clinic only allows one parent at a time back with the child, we asked Hopper who she wanted to go in with her. She thought about it for a moment and said, "Daddy." We knew there was a good chance she'd change her mind, but we wanted her to have some control over the situation to help ease her anxiety.

Once we got to the clinic we were a bit concerned. The waiting room was absolutely packed. One of the hardest things for Hopper is waiting. It gives her anxiety a chance to build to monumental proportions. So we were absolutely thrilled and relieved when they called her back before I had finished filling out her paperwork. Hopper was finished rather quickly, and we were back in the car and on the way home within 30 minutes.

All they were able to accomplish was to look in her mouth and see that the crown had indeed broken. The gal apparently thought she was going to get a chance to clean Hopper's teeth, but that didn't happen. Then again, we knew it wouldn't. Theanine works wonders, but it falls a bit short of working miracles. She goes in for surgery Tuesday when they'll take x-rays, do a deep cleaning of her teeth, and take care of any cavities and the crown. We're hoping that they'll be able to just replace the crown and that they won't have to pull a tooth. She's already missing one of her molars that broke down into the root, so we're really hoping this didn't break that far down. We'll find out soon enough.

When we were done, we took the girls shopping for a little while. We have always tried to end days like this on a high note, so the day isn't all about a negative like going to the dentist or going to the doctor. When I was pregnant with Scooter, and we had to see specialists that were 200 miles from Camp Lejeune in Norfolk, VA Bugster was 5 and was old enough to be scared over the fact that Hopper was supposed to have heart surgery. It was too much for her little shoulders to carry.

So each trip to VA, we'd go to the Lynnhaven Mall. It had a giant carousel that we let the girls ride it each time we were there for appointments. We'd play the 'claw' game in the mall's arcade and actually got pretty good at it. The girls came home with a new stuffed animal after every trip. (I think we finally got rid of the last ones when the girls' room was cleaned out several months ago).

The visits to the specialists in Norfolk always took a few days, because we saw more than one each time, so we would stay at a little motel right on the beach in the outskirts of Norfolk. I can't remember the name of the bay it overlooked. I just remember it was a little one and not Chesapeake. Of course we'd look for seashells, (I have 3 or 4 shoe boxes of shells and sand in the garage somewhere that we collected on these many trips), we'd have tea parties on the beach, and we'd get our feet wet in the waves. We'd bring our table top grill and grill burgers and hot dogs to make it more special. We even went as far as bringing the electric ice cream maker and made ice cream one time. We wanted to make it as fun as possible.

Because if we were scared as adults, we couldn't imagine how scary it was for the girls.

Life needs to be about more than visits to doctors and dentists and what's wrong and being scared.

It needs to be about what's right in the world.

It needs to be about family and fun and those you hold dear.

And sometimes, hoarding isn't about placing humongous amounts of value on things that have no value at all, but it's about the memories associated with those things having so much attached to them that you're afraid to let them go lest you forget those moments that were wonderful. Because if you forget those wonderful moments, all that's left is the terror of knowing your child is sick and needs heart surgery or the nightmares of bringing your baby home in a body bag, because she's really that sick, and the judgment you see in others' eyes, because your child looks typical but acts very nontypically and the people assume you're not a good parent when you're doing the very best you can to hang on, but you can't keep up with all the doctors' visits and breathing treatments, and diapers they used until they were 8 and 10 years old, add the ADHD and anxiety to that, and the therapies, and the laundry, because your youngest can't eat solids and throws up every bottle she drinks until she's almost 4, and they find that she's missing the sphincter at the top of her esophagus and goes through 12 changes of bedding on her crib on a good day and at least 20 on a bad day.

Sometimes, hoarders are great parents who are so overwhelmed by the lack of control they feel in their own lives that they're afraid something bad will happen, if they get rid of stuff. Because somehow hanging onto physical things that spark the good memories has worked for them. When they see the toys from the claw games in the different rooms of the house, it comforts them. It reminds them that they tried just as hard as they could to make the very best of horrible, impossible situations.

The things are a reminder that they've mattered in their kids' lives.


  1. A trip to the mall after a dentist or doctor's appointment is a great idea! Mind you, I never really need an excuse for a trip to the mall...

  2. Great post! So sorry about all the visits to the doctor with two scared little girls as two scared parents. You did a great job! Just look at Bugster! She's grown up to be such a lovely young woman with a lot of heart!

  3. Wow! That was very moving. You're an amazing woman, who's also a fabulous wife and mom, and a cherished friend. I'm so proud of you and all that you're accomplishing!

  4. Momma, you're a friggin rockstar. Just fyi.

  5. Great post. We always accompany good things with stressful ones. Allergy tests, blood work, x rays, and stitches usually get dinner out and ice cream. With us, I go for an experience that doesn't involve bringing something home. (I am an anti-hoarder, remember.) However, I do fear I'm giving them food issues. :0)

  6. LOL @ Sandra.

    Thank you, Jennifer.

    Portia-Thanks. I take comfort that we apparently did something right with way that Bugster turned out. :)

    Anita, my beautiful friend, thank you for all the support you've always shown me. You are always in my heart. :)

    Bugster - Thank you, dear daughter. You know I couldn't have done it without my band! They (you being a back up singer) rock, too, you know!!

    Julianna - We've gotten to the point that when we do get things for the girls after something stressful like this, it's typically a notebook for them. That way they get used up and eventually tossed. :) And I understand about the concern over food issues!


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