“Life’s Daily Inspiration” When Helping Hurts!
“Life’s Daily Inspiration” When Helping Hurts! today is about a former Hospice patient Ms. Lorene. Who lived in a little two bedroom house. That would have been adorable if you could have gotten through it, that is. Ms. Lorene had Cancer as a physical diagnosis. But she was also unfortunately a hoarder.
That definitely was not a “life’s daily inspiration” and her illness certainly was not. Ms. Lorene even with her hoarding was an amazing woman.
Her second bedroom was full of dolls, on the bed, the dressers, you name it. Hanging on the wall even a few hanging from the ceiling. Around the wall where there was a free space. And stacked in boxes that you couldn’t see. According to Ms. Lorene anyway. And sitting on top of said boxes.
But that was the “good” room or neat room.
From there it was downhill. The kitchen was piled with takeout containers, and throw away cups from every conceivable fast food you could think imagine.
There were empty hamburger containers. Used aluminum foiled she’d wiped off and pressed out flat to reuse. Stacks of different food napkins from all those restaurants. Not to mention mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup packets, and straws galore. Then there were piles of dirty dishes. Or what I assumed were dirty dishes.
In her bedroom, there was literally only room to walk if you turned sideways. Not so difficult for me but, Ms. Lorene had to walk sideways with a walker… it was a shipwreck waiting to happen. Her bed was a mountain of bedclothes, piles of blankets, and clothes of unquestionable cleanliness.
Her dressers and vanity were mountains of stuff. I remember in one corner thinking there must be twenty boxes of Kleenex.
Funny how certain things stick with you. But, that Kleenex just stuck. I think because even though the quantity was certainly excessive it had at least been stacked orderly. Where the rest of the house was like a bomb that went off.
With that being said, It was home to Ms. Lorene.
It isn’t our job to judge someone for their choices. Or more aptly there lack of choices. My concern was Ms. Lorene herself and her safety in her home. Now the question was how much help and assistance would she allow? And how best to bring up the conditions she had surrounded herself.
Elaine and I have often found in Hospice you need to wear many hats. Go that extra mile to get the right help for our patients.
Ms. Lorene needed a Hospital bed. Not a problem getting one. Just a matter of calling the medical supply facility. That was the easy part. How to get it in her room? That was the question of the day. And how to do it without offending her.
So a couple of days later I went back to see Ms. Lorene. I’d talked to the chaplain and the social worker. Who in turn spoke with her church pastor. The pastor spoke with her Sunday School class.
They, of course, were aware of the situation. As many had visited and were more than willing to help. Now we had the how “to” in place.
But, more importantly, we needed permission from Ms. Lorene. To us it was helping ,to her it might be an unwanted intrusion in her space.
I let myself in as Ms. Lorene didn’t answer the door when I knocked. Hollering as I entered to alert her it was just me. She wasn’t feeling well that day. And said, she had stayed in bed all weekend.
So that gave me the opening I needed. Ms. Lorene, don’t you think you would benefit from a hospital bed? Well, honestly this bed has gotten really hard for me to get up and out of she declared.
But, all my things whatever would I do with them?
We explained we could take this bed down and stand it against the wall. We were sure we could get some help with the clothes. Personal thing things could be put in boxes and put around the wall.
Would you be interested in getting some help in the kitchen and bathroom? It would make it so much easier to get you, walker, around. You wouldn’t have to turn sideways anymore, as we explained, she appeared interested.
She said I would love to get it where I could walk around again. It wasn’t a big deal till I couldn’t walk anymore. But, who will you get to do it?
We explained that hospice frequently has volunteers to help out. So we would see.
That day there were 7 of us that showed up to help. We brought boxes garbage bags, and cleaning supplies. Because of the Hospital bed being delivered, we started there first. Taking down the bed and placing against the wall.
We sorted clothes with Ms. Lorene’s direction. We had those needed for now and those for winter in another pile.
We even had a church member to volunteer to take care of her laundry weekly.
We packed boxes along one wall to clear a path for Ms. Lorene or anyone else. What an awesome feeling to know she was safe to navigate it again.
The kitchen and living room went quickly with seven pairs of hands pitching in with the cleanup. We filled up some 30 green garbage bags. Yes, thirty. We took turns washing dishes and putting them up in a nice and clean cabinet.
The bed came and was put up for use. Her face was priceless, to be able to sleep in a clean,clutter-free and comfortable bed.
The one thing I think we will all remember was the tears of gratitude by Ms. Lorene. She apologized for the mess her house had become.
Saying it got out of hand and then she didn’t know how to start to clean it. Then she got sick and couldn’t clean it. She feared she would die with it like that. She did not want to be remembered as a hoarder.
Now she could die with her head held high.
Amazing what a little caring and compassion can accomplish.
We hope you are encouraged and inspired to make a difference in someone today.
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