The last time we saw Kat, she was retrieving old fishing magazines from her neighbour’s bin. She learned the hard way not to trust Bill with her father’s old collection. She knows the young lad down the street could use them, so she stacked them neatly by the front door. Someday soon she would find out if he was the kind of person who would value those magazines.
3 weeks later, those magazines still stood by the door. The piles started to slump with the constant passing traffic. Then one day, Kat brushed by the pile once too often. She bumped the top magazine and that started an avalanche of paper spilling down. She lost her footing, tripped and landed awkwardly and in pain.
“Damn you Bill! If you’d only taken care of Dad’s magazines this would not have happened.” Bill came to the rescue and rushed her to the emergency department. Kat was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and scheduled for knee reconstruction surgery. Full recovery would take months.
At the Hospital
During the consultation with the doctor, one question she knew was coming and dreaded was, “How did the injury happen?” Bill was by her side and “let the cat out of the bag”. By the end of the surgery, it seems the whole hospital knows she is a victim of her hoarding. As she came out of the anaesthetic fog, she could hear Bill’s voice regaling the nursing staff with tales of how she’d been scuttled by her own clutter.
A kindly nurse patted Kat on the shoulder. “Don’t worry Love”, she said. “My aunt’s a hoarder. She’s still got every birthday card she ever received.” And the room full of people erupted into laughter, before exchanging voyeuristic horror stories about the extreme clutter they’d seen in person and on TV. Mortified and feeling helpless, Kat thought to herself, “Well I’m not as bad as any of those people.”
Heading Home Again
As the time neared for Kat to go home, she looked forward to being back in her own cosy nest, and checking that Bill hadn’t taken any liberties with her belongings. He was right there by her side when the discharge nurse ruined her day. The list of standard discharge questions included
- Is the home clean, comfortable and safe?
- Is there space to easily manoeuvre your crutches?
- Are there hazards such as area rugs, electrical cords or clutter?
Yes. Yes. Yes. She’d be able to manage her stuff and the crutches no problem. But the final question really shook her.
- When can we arrange to come to your home to do an assessment, and see if any modifications are needed?
Bill seized his moment. “Don’t you worry, Kat. Your job is to recuperate. I’ll sort out the house. I’ll get Kylie involved and I’m sure Violet will help too.” Kat was in pain all over again.
Bill’s face says it all. He’s been waiting for this chance. And Kat’s worst nightmare is about to begin.