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.

Friday, June 24, 2011

No hopping for Hopper. At least not for awhile...

All things considered, Hopper is doing quite well after her surgery.

She was able to get about 6 hours of sleep straight through the night following her surgery, but that's about it. The poor little thing has always fought sleep when she's in the hospital or on a road trip. I think she's afraid she's going to miss out on something, so her eyes will be drooping, her head will be nodding, but she won't allow herself to relax enough to drift off. Normally, the different pain medicines she's been on would knock a person on their butts, and they'd have a hard time staying awake, but it's been a real struggle for her. 

The night of the surgery, The Hubster and I both stayed with Hopper at the hospital. The charge nurse was nice enough to block off the other half of the semi-private room, so we'd have a place to sleep. It's the first time she's been in a non-pediatric ward after surgery, so the nurses were more than happy to have us both there. They weren't sure how to handle the situation, and I think she intimidates them a bit. Where she has difficulty communicating, says 'yes' when she means 'no' all the time (and vice versa), and she can't put into words how much she hurts (the pain scale along with the little faces is worthless for her), they were just happy to have someone there to help them bridge the gap. It just happened to work out very well for us, and we are very, very thankful.

Hopper was able to get out of bed with the help of the physical therapists yesterday, but even though all she did was sit in a wheelchair, it was rough on her. She was in the chair for a couple of hours, while the staff changed her bedding, I gave her a sponge bath and braided her hair, and she ate lunch. Unfortunately, she needed morphine to get back into bed. She having difficulty understanding how not to put weight on her foot, and as a result we had to increase her pain medicine after her excursion out of bed. 

This is not going to be easy for Hopper. 

Hubster is at the hospital with Hopper right now. He stayed with her overnight. I'll be going up later today, but I am home with Scooter right now. I'm hoping to be able to get the house a bit closer to being ready for her to come home. I was so far behind before she got hurt that I'm really feeling the pinch now. I'm hoping I can get something done while I'm home, so it won't be as overwhelming when she comes home.

Plus, we're worried about her slipping into a depression. She's realizing everything she's not going to be able to do for several weeks...go to her day program, bowling, hiking, swimming, walking.... She apparently fell apart and cried really hard last night after Scooter and I went home. The poor thing. My heart breaks for her. Needless to say, I don't want the condition of the house to add to her concerns. 

I was able to get a little bit of sleep last night, and Scooter waking me up came entirely too early for me this morning. All things said, though, I'm thankful she woke me up. I can sleep later. I need to get some more laundry in the washing machine, get Scooter's room ready for Hopper to move in (it will be awhile before Hopper will be able to navigate the stairs well enough to sleep downstairs), and get something else done as quickly as possible in the rest of the house. The way it is, Hopper will really struggle getting around.

She's likely going to need a walker, a wheelchair or crutches to get around, and right now there's not room for any of them. 

On that note...I need to get busy before I fall asleep. My eyelids are feeling rather heavy about now. 

Thanks to all for your thoughts and prayers. They're much appreciated.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I want a do over!

In the surgical waiting room at the hospital. 

Hopper went to 'work' today with her day program. They went to a fun tumbling gym that has the gigantic trampolines at ground level. She was having fun jumping when she landed wrong and her leg buckled. She broke her femur. Thankfully, they hadn't eaten yet, and she hadn't eaten or had anything to drink since before she left the house this morning, or I think surgery would have been delayed even more. 

They'll be putting a rod down the center of her femur and then putting the rest of the femur in place and pushing the rod even further in. It will then be screwed in place, so it can't spin around inside the bone, and it will be able to heal. 

She's done amazingly well all things considered. Her anxiety swells from time to time, but they have given her plenty of pain medicine and something for anxiety, so hopefully she'll do okay when she wakes up. It's been a long day for the poor little thing. She fought the medicines and didn't fall asleep at all, even though she's beyond exhausted from the pain and anxiety.

She'll be in the hospital for a couple of days before we can take her home. We have no idea how we're going to pull it off, or even if we can, but she needs to learn how to either use crutches or a walker when she gets home. She's not going to be able to put weight on it for awhile, so it'll be interesting to see how it goes. Shockingly, she won't need any sort of brace or cast to help stabilize it. That sorta blows us away, but we trust the doctors know what they're doing.

Thankfully, Hubster brought my netbook up to the hospital for me to use, so I could have something to do. So here we sit and wait. He reading a book. Me playing on the web.

The cutest thing that happened today? Hubster asked Hopper how she liked the ride in the ambulance. She got very animated and said, "Ambulance is Good!" 

The poor little thing. I'm glad she can see the adventure in the day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The good, the bad and the ugly.

Woke up from a nightmare this morning. Heart racing. Palms sweating.

We were apparently staying with the in-laws, but they decided in the middle of our stay to go out of town, and we had the house to ourselves. I got out of the hot tub (they don't have one, so I'm thinking that came in to the picture from the stiffness in my body over the weekend), and went into the kitchen to fix something for everyone to eat, but when I went in there, I couldn't believe the mess.

The dishes were piled high everywhere. There was trash that hadn't been thrown in the garbage can and was sitting precariously perched here and there. My heart sunk. I walked through the other rooms of the house, and I couldn't believe what a mess it was. There were clothes strewn everywhere. There floor was covered. I couldn't even find the swimsuit I'd taken off when I got out of the hot tub for the clutter.

My heart sank. 

It was then I realized we'd been in town for several days and hadn't even taken the time to visit my brother, and we had to leave in the next few days. I woke up to the realization that it was going to take at least 2 full days of cleaning to get the house in order. 

What a rough way to wake up. I've got a knot in the pit of my stomach. I am sure the stress of not being able to accomplish much of anything since we got home a little over 2 weeks ago. I am motivated, however, to kick some major butt today in the house!

We woke up Saturday morning feeling much better, and we were able to meet Bugster to go wedding dress shopping. She looked amazing! We were also able to find something for Hopper and me to wear to the wedding. We've had Scooter's outfit for over a year, but I'd been stressing over the rest of us. Hopper hates dressing up even more than her dad, which says a lot, but we settled on a colorful ankle-length broomstick skirt and blouse that matched one of the colors. She was happy with it, and because she sees Scooter wear skirts like that all the time, we figured she'd be comfortable wearing it. 

What a relief!

Seriously! A huge relief! Things will go so much more smoothly, if Hopper is comfortable in what she's wearing and doesn't freak out. She wore a shorter skirt when we took Hubster out yesterday for Father's Day, and she freaked a little. She doesn't like the attention that wearing new clothes brings, so it was a rough start to an otherwise great day out, and by the time we were halfway through dinner, she was talking about how cute her outfit was. It was worth getting the stress out of the way now, even though it did put a bit of a damper on the celebration to start.

We were able to pick up a pair of black jeans the hubby will be wearing for the wedding and got them washed and hung to dry, so they don't fade. He won't take any chances by wearing them before the big day. We still have to find a dress shirt for Hubster and get some shoes for us girls, but otherwise we're set. I am so relieved! It's weighed on my mind a lot, and it's just one more big thing off The List.

Another big one marked off? I finally finished the paperwork that had me so stressed out since we got home from vacation. It was dropped in the mailbox at the post office last night. Thankfully, it's just being mailed here in town, so it shouldn't take long for it to get there, and hopefully everything will get straightened out in short order.

I've got entirely too much to do, but I'm hoping I get enough done today I'm not dreaming stressful dreams about the inlaws and the house again. 

I'll be starting in the refrigerator. Found out the hard way that it's not a good idea to lay an opened bottle of sparkling apple cider on it's side, even if the cap is back on as tight as it will go. 


Friday, June 17, 2011

More of a miss than a hit day.

Whatever this stomach bug we have floating around our house has been so sporadic. It seems to be hitting one of us every other day, and not to complain, but it's getting old. It's making it hard to accomplish much of anything.

Yesterday started off as a good day for Hopper. She'd been looking forward to going to her day program all last week, and she woke up in a great mood yesterday. She was ready to go to 'work'. Happy and out the door in a flash when her ride got here.

However, she was out of sorts when she got home. She burst into tears on several occasions and just seemed so sad that she had to wait another week before going to her program. She went to bed within 30 minutes of getting home, and she was sound asleep by 3:00. She didn't get up today until after 1:00, and she was back in bed by 5:00. She's not feverish, but she's definitely not feeling well.

I might be concerned that something happened at work, if she were upset she'd be going back next week, or if she weren't begging to see the aide she's paired with each week. She loves work. She also has been very much aware of the fact that she would only be going to her program once a week over the summer, so I don't know that it's even that she is sad over not getting to go more often. It's more than just seeming off. She even looks off. 

Then again, that doesn't really surprise me. I woke up feeling just fine this morning, but I ended up feeling horrible within a short time of eating breakfast. I couldn't eat anything all day. When I finally started feeling better this evening, I ended up with a headache and stuffy nose just from going out to get the mail. There's a lot of smoke in the air from the different fires around the area and from the major wildfires in New Mexico that the wind is blowing into town. 

I couldn't smell the smoke this morning when I went out to turn the soaker hose on to water the garden, but I think it must have been worse than I realized. I was quite dizzy when I came in, and I figured it had to do with whatever's been ailing us. However, after my sinuses being assaulted the way they were when I checked the mail, I'm beginning to think the dizziness this morning was due to the smoke messing with my sinuses. The asthma was an added bonus. 

I need to leave the mail checking and garden watering to someone else until the air clears. 

In the meantime, I'll be looking for the rest of the receipts I need to finish up the paperwork. I've found several of them, but I need to find the rest. While I'm going through the paperwork to find them, I've been bagging up more shredables to be put through the professional shredders. I was making decent progress when I realized I made a mistake, and I had to go through 4 bags to pick out somethings I shouldn't have tossed. 

I realized some time ago that I don't need to keep Hopper and Scooter's report cards. They don't really get what they are. They don't really get grades, so the cards don't really say anything. Instead, they have IEPs that have chronicled their progress over the years. I'd torn up a few of them and tossed them in the shredables thinking that I didn't need them. And while we no longer really need them, I realized it was a mistake to throw them away. I want the information in them. They tell of how far the girls have come, and I don't ever want to forget. 

Eventually, I'll get a portable document scanner and scan them all into the computer. Once that's done, I'll be fine putting them in the shredables. It's going to take a little time and some tape to get them in good enough condition to scan, so I'll set them aside until I have time to get to them. 

In the meantime, it's time for bed. Past time, really. 

So hoping tomorrow is a better day. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dehoarding: 1. Stress: 0.

We haven't felt well since we went on vacation to my nephew's wedding. There have been chills, fevers, lethargy (Hopper actually slept 25 hours straight the other day, and the girls slept about 18 hours straight last night), body aches, (my elbow has hurt so much I can hardly use my right arm and have been using one of those band things around my forearm that are used to treat tendinitis and wearing leg warmers to keep the elbow warm), and some rather unpleasant side effects of the intestinal sort. It's been rather discouraging. I'm just hoping we're almost done with this bug, since we've already had it right at a week.

The good news is that we're unpacked from the trip. I just have to put the suitcases away and finish up the laundry. I quite liked having the laundry room floor clear of dirty clothes, so I'll be working today and tomorrow to finish up the rest of them. It's been so nice knowing we have a place for everything to go, too. It's the first time in 18 years we've had a place for all of our clothes. It definitely helps that we got rid of probably two-thirds of the clothing we had, and I'll be working on getting rid of even more. 

This is only the second vacation we've taken since I discovered that I have a hoarding problem. The first was last June when we went back home for Mom's birthday celebration. When we went back home then, we put the car-top carrier on the car and loaded it up and filled the back of our car. I can't think of a time we haven't used the extra space on vacation. 

Car top carriers are great for transporting those extra things you don't have the space for in the car, but they also make you a major target for thieves who can tell at a glance you're away from home. They also tend to be cumbersome to store, and as much as they're convenient, they're not. It can be quite the pain to attach them to the top of your car, and it's not entirely convenient to retrieve your belongings standing on a step stool. So it seemed really strange to try to go on vacation this year without using it. 

Things are always a bit tight in the back of the car. We have a small station wagon that can't possibly even be half the size of the one my family had when I was younger. (Those things had storage!) Still, we were able to get everything we needed for clothing for 2 weeks for 4 people, the pinata which was quite large, 4 winter coats, 4 sweatshirts, some items Mom asked me to take out to my sister's house and a few pillows from home in the back of the car. Granted, Hubster had to rely on the side mirrors only, but it really wasn't an issue.

And not having to load or unload the car top carrier was huge! It may have even saved us from having an accident. The carriers are not all that aerodynamic, so the wind can really bat you around the highway. On the way to Rochester, the wind was so strong, Hubster didn't dare take either hand off the wheel. There were several times that the wind buffeted the car enough that we nearly ended up in the ditch the way it was. I don't doubt that's where we'd have landed, if we'd had the car top carrier in place.

Honestly, I think we'd have ended up using the top of our car for storage for our vacation, if I hadn't started the dehoarding process over a year ago. Realizing we all have hoarding tendencies and trying to change the result of those tendencies made all the difference in the world for this trip. Obviously, the car top carrier situation was huge, but that wasn't the only thing.

It used to take me forever to get things packed for a trip. Because we had so many clothes, I was always doing laundry up until the last possible minute. There were times I'd forget to wash a much needed item, and we'd have have to haul it along to launder it while we were on vacation, or we'd have to buy something new when we arrived to replace it. And because the laundry was stacked in baskets in several rooms in the house, it would literally take days for me to pack.

I could never seem to sort out in my mind what shirt would go with what pants with what socks, etc., when I never had the room for the clothes to all be in the same area. I would think one set of clothes would make the perfect outfit only to find the right colored shirt in the dirty clothes. It was exhausting and incredibly stressful. I would get by on no more than 5 hours of sleep nightly for a full week or more before heading out of town. Considering I need a minimum of 8 hours to function properly, I felt like a zombie most of the vacation.

My, what a difference a year makes!

I was able to pack the girls' suitcases in less than 30 minutes. 

Total. For. Both. Of. Them. 

It took me about 10 minutes to pack my own bag, and The Hubster packed his, so I didn't have that to do. I was in shock that it took so little effort and so little time to get everything ready to get on the road for a 10 day vacation.
There was still stress. There always is. But the amount of stress getting out of here for this trip compared to vacations in the past is minuscule. 

Just one of the many perks of dehoarding. 

I think I'll keep it up...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dancing with Daddy

Last year when Bugster and Bubster got married, there wasn't really a reception. They got married at the courthouse just after 5, when the judge was available. We then went to a neat little pizza joint, where we surprised them with the wedding cake I made, and we hung out with them for a couple of hours that evening. But there wasn't a reception in a formal sense. 

This year, things will be more formal. They will have a ceremony, followed by a reception. There will be eating and dancing and toasting and hopefully, some pinata demolishing.

And with my nephew's wedding just days away, I started thinking of the traditions of a reception. The first dance for the bride and groom. The father/daughter dance. The mother/son dance. The money dance, where as many people as can pin money to the bride and groom to dance with them for a moment before the next person steps in, all in attempt to give the happy couple a little extra cash with which to start their lives. And of course, we mustn't forget The Hokey Pokey. 

They are going to have a blast!

As my mind wandered down this train of thought, it wandered to my own wedding reception 25 years ago, when Daddy asked me, if he "could have this dance."

I remember being a bit embarrassed when I admitted that I didn't know how to officially dance. I mean, I danced with Hubster, but not a Waltz or a Two Step. I could only dance Clingon. As in I would Clingon to Hubster, and he would Clingon to me. Which, incidentally, is the only dance either of us knows to this day. 

But when I think of that dance with Daddy, I can feel the butteflies in my stomach all over again, my eyes begin to well with tears, and the smile cannot be wiped from my face. I feel his hand on my waist and the rough, calloused hands of a man who worked for a living under my fingertips.

I had the giggles. I was nervous, even though I knew Daddy wouldn't judge my lack of dancing ability. But I wanted to please him. I wanted to do it right. I wanted to make him proud.

He sensed my nervousness, likely, because I was stiff as a board. He told me to relax.

"There's nothing to it."

"Just follow my lead."

"Those were my toes."

School girl giggles. 

"I'm glad you're happy. Hubster seems like a fine young man."

"Thanks, Daddy. I am happy. And he is an amazing man."

"I said I'd lead!"

Hysterical giggles.

"You're doing fine."

"But just follow me. I'll lead."

The giggles turned to guffaws, as we joked and teased one another, and I stepped on Daddy's toes repeatedly, as I tried to lead, without knowing the first thing about dancing. It was such an intimate moment with my daddy, and it's one I will cherish for the rest of my life. 

I want that for Bugster. I'm trying to talk Hubster into learning a Two Step or a Waltz, so he can have that experience with Bugster, too, but even a Clingon will do.

Because they both need to experience that intimacey and closeness and the giggles that only a father/daughter dance can bring about. 
So that years from now, when Bugster is driving 1000 miles across country to go to a cousin's wedding, she can tear up at the wonderful and fond memories of that special dance with her daddy. 

So she can still feel the butterflies of excitement, fun and nervousness of dancing with her daddy.

So she can feel the calloused hand of a man who works for a living beneath her fingertips.

Because everyone needs to have something so wonderful that nothing can wipe the smile from their face at the mere memory.

This post was written in the car on the way to our nephew's wedding a couple of weeks ago. It is dedicated to the best dad in the entire world, who we lost too soon 4 years ago this week, because it's always too soon to lose someone as beloved as he was and is. I miss you, Daddy, but I'm so very thankful God gave you to us kids as our very own Daddy! I love you from the bottom of my heart, and I can't wait to see you again someday. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Debbie Downer strikes again.

The last couple of weeks appear to be catching up with me.

I put off taking care of some very important paperwork that I should have done months ago, in order to dehoard as much of the house as possible as quickly as possible. And partially just because it slipped my mind. I got a reminder about the paperwork being due a week or so before we left for my nephew's wedding, but I thought I'd have time to get it done right after we got home.

I was wrong.

Got news in the mail today that I didn't have the extra time to get it done as I was hoping I had. Unfortunately, it's going to affect our lives quite negatively until I can get all the receipts together and get the paperwork turned in. It's going to be like digging for buried treasure to find everything I need, and it's probably going to take just as long. 

The whole situation has raised the stress level around here tenfold. I don't like stress. It makes me cranky. It makes me short with The Hubster. It makes me feel weak and like a great big crybaby when things get overwhelming, and I blubber over the slightest thing. 

To top things off and add to the stress, I can feel I'm getting sick. My throat is sore. My lungs are tight. Although I think the lung situation is my asthma deciding to flare up with our return to the higher altitude and exposure to different irritants that exacerbated it while we were gone, I think the throat thing is a whole different story. 

Several weeks before Mom left to go home, I had a sore throat that reared up a few weeks after I'd had a cold. It got steadily worse, and I had a rather large white spot on the back of my throat, so I went in for a strep test. It came back negative. I ended up having to go in for several tests, and the antibiotics took forever to do their thing. The final diagnosis was that I had an abscess of the soft tissue in my throat. Apparently part of my tonsil has grown back, and it had become infected. 

Four weeks of antibiotics infected. 

I'm hoping that gargling warm salt water and getting some extra sleep will keep me off the antibiotics. 

I'm feeling too much like Debbie Downer, and I don't like to keep her company. 

It always turns into a contest. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

And on that note...good night!

It feels like we've been gone from home for forever. It's only been about 10 days, but it's amazing how much we packed in to that short amount of time. We've thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, but we've had some interesting hotel adventures along the way.

The longer we're gone, the harder it seems to get going in the mornings to get an early start on the road. It seems to verge on the impossible, even. So we decided to stop last night in Lincoln, NE at the same hotel we stayed at on the way up to Rochester. We were hoping the several hundred miles we had yet to drive today would go more quickly, if we were well rested, and the kids had gotten some sleep.

We didn't want them to go straight to sleep, because we wanted them to feel like they enjoyed their short visit at this now familiar hotel. So we took them to the pool. The water was a bit on the cold side, so they didn't stay in the pool long. We sat in the hot tub for about 10 minutes and went back to the room, got the girls showered, and into bed. 

When the girls were little, we'd often give them a nice warm bath to help them  sleep, but it didn't seem to do much good last night. The second Hopper's head hit the pillow, she started having a meltdown. It came out of nowhere, like the one had the night before, with the volume escalating with every cry. There were several times we thought she'd finally succumbed to the sandman only to hear a panicky, "MOM!" or "DADDY!" from the other bed, startling all who had dare drift off to sleep. It was well after midnight when she finally drifted into a relaxing sleep.

We were so tired that we decided not to set an alarm and just wake up on our own. Where we'll be home tonight, and we'll all get to sleep in our own beds, we figured it didn't matter, if it took longer to get home. We'll get home tonight regardless, and we figured a little extra sleep might make traveling today easier. 


Precisely at 9:30a.m., the strobe light in the room that is used to alert those who are hard of hearing of an emergency started flashing. Let me just say that it was BRIGHT! We didn't exactly panic, because there was no audible alarm sounding, and it shut off within about 30 seconds. We figured we could wake up a little more slowly, so we crawled back into bed to awake at a more leisurly pace. 


Our heads no sooner hit the pillows than the strobe started flashing again. Hubster tried to call the front desk to see what the problem was, but the phone didn't work. He put on his jeans and walked down to the front desk. Someone was working on fire alarm system for the hotel. Over the course of the hour and a half or so it took us to get packed up, showered and leave, the strobe light started flashing no less than 20 times. The last time, it stayed on continuously for 45 minutes. 

That peaceful and restful start to our day didn't really get off the ground so well. The strobing made me sick to my stomach and got on all our nerves. Hubster talked to the manager of the hotel and got a partial refund on the room. We felt it was very fair of them. We understood that the inspection wasn't their fault, but they could have also alerted those who were staying in the rooms that were equipped with the strobing lights to what was going on.

When Hubster was finished up, we took off on our long trek home. There was no rain in sight, but to say there wasn't a cloud in the sky would be a lie. There was heavy cloud cover, haze or smoke in the air all 450 miles home, and the wind was something else. It buffeted the car about the highway for a couple hundred miles, but things finally settled down, and we didn't have to stop for Dramamine. Still. It made for a long start to a long day.

We did finally make it home at 8pm our time, 9pm Central time, where we'd spent the last 10 days. Needless to say, it was a long day.

Everyone is exhausted but oh so glad to be home. Best of all? 

We get to sleep in our own beds!