I saw my doctor today about my hand. My husband and I adore her. She's our age, and quirky. She's petite, with long, wavy hair down her back. She wears long, floral, Laura Ashley–style dresses with clogs, as I did in the '80s. She squints through her spectacles and chews gum constantly. Her beside manner is brisk and businesslike in contrast to her girlish appearance. But while she may not look the polished pro, she's sharp and wise, and we trust her completely. She'll do anything to get her patients the best care, knows the best specialists, and can get an anxious patient (like me) an appointment with one the next day, if need be. I often see her the same day I call. I've gotten follow-up calls from her at 6 am and after 7 at night. She cares.
She examined my hand, found the sore area, and told me I need to have a splint made to immobilize my whole hand and wear it continuously for six weeks. I tried to argue but she interrupted and told me bluntly that my injury won't heal otherwise. I tend to be persistent and eloquent, but I was reduced to muttering and growling. (I'm spending too much time with my cats; soon I'll be hissing.) She paid no attention; she was busy typing at her PC, which is what she does through most of every office visit.
I tried bargaining with her. I told her my hand was already feeling much better, and that I wasn't planning to go the gym to lift weights and do push-ups. She replied, "Of course not. That would be STUPID!" I didn't score any points. But I kept at it, and she conceded that I might find some kind of ready-made splint that would hold my thumb but let me use some fingers. She sent me off for X-rays. She'll probably call at dawn tomorrow and lecture me while I'm still asleep.
I spent the rest of the afternoon trying not to use my dominant hand. Forget it. Try it for an hour sometime. You can't do anything. The only positive thing I can report is that you get to eat pizza because you need only one hand to manage a small slice. The same is true of cookies.
After pizza, we went to my relative's house. The driveway, devoid of dumpster, seemed bleak. The cleaners have finished. They worked magic like wizards in two and a half days. I didn't think many of their accomplishments were possible. The refrigerator no longer looks like it came from hell's worst kitchen. It looks brand-new. The vile kitchen floor and shower stall are sparkling. The house feels and smells clean and inviting, and that's a small miracle. We toured each room, exclaiming at each discovery. The end of each bathroom's tissue roll was folded into a point. When I compare a detail like that with what that house was like less than a week ago, and for much more than a decade, I am stunned.
Tomorrow I'll be there with a full agenda: putting away laundered clothing, ironing and hanging new curtains, making up beds, shelving groceries, spreading out large and small area rugs, putting up wreaths — using both hands the whole time. Then the house will be ready for my relative's arrival. We won't be there for that event; we'll be at our favorite annual Christmas concert, miles away. Other relatives will be with her then and for the weekend, to help her adapt to clutter-free living again. When hoarders return to cleaned-up houses, the reaction is usually explosive; they are traumatized, grief-stricken, enraged. That's what we're expecting. She's heard about what we've been doing over and over, and we keep telling her it was necessary so she could continue in her own home. But the reality of it is going to be a terrible shock anyway. And while I organized the clean-up, I can't do a thing about that. Yikes.