Friday, August 24, 2012

Marjorie, Builder of the Great Pyramid

A lot of people think they have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Sometimes they do. If keeping things in order and strictly following routines to the point that it's damaging their relationships and health, then they  should talk to a doctor.

I've met a lot of people, though, who say "I'm totally OCD. I'm obsessed with keeping my refrigerator organized a certain way, and get upset when anyone changes it." That is probably not OCD - it's just a trait. It's like saying, "When's dinner - I'm starving." Being hungry is a trait of starvation, but you're not really starving.

Marjorie was one of my friends in the hospital. She was probably in her late fifties, and really had OCD - badly. When I got my clothing priviledges back, I could have only a couple of changes of things because storage space was limited. There was a washer and dryer in a little room where we could do our laundry.

Marjorie monopolized those machines. Sometimes I would sneak in at night to try and launder my other pair of pants, and she would be there. She would wash the hospital sheets, the curtains, the gowns, anything she might come into contact with.

Every day she would wash her room. Floors, walls, every surface, even under her bed. She would use facecloths and hand soap. And when I say "under the bed," I don't mean the floor. She would lie on her back, working on it like a mechanic on a ferrari. Being so depressed and unmotivated myself, I was astounded by her seemingly endless energy. I wanted to take her home with me for a day and let her clean up my place.

What really bothered her, though, was her ceiling. She told me it was tormenting her - lying on her bed at night, staring up at a place she couldn't reach to clean.

Then one day when I was pacing down the hall she motioned at me to come into her room. "Come in here and help me for a minute! I've figured it out!"

I looked into her room. She had built a precarious looking pyramid out of furniture she had snuck from different parts of the ward.

"I need one more piece of furniture - can you go get one and help me put it on top? I can't reach. Then I can clean my ceiling."

I looked at the wobbly pile of certain injury.

"Sure thing, Marj. I'll find something and be right back."

I walked briskly to the nursing station.

"Excuse me - Marjorie is trying to clean her ceiling."

"She's always trying to clean her ceiling," replied Joy, a nurse I really liked.

"She built a pyramid, and wants my help to finish it," I said.

I've never really seen someone's eyes bulge, but Joy's did. "Shit!" She ran down the hall.

I took Joy's chair and followed her, pushing it in front of me..

"Here's the last piece, Marj - oh, sorry, I'll put this back since you're talking to Joy." I didn't want Marjorie to think that I had betrayed her.

On one hand, I feel good that I helped save her from injury. On the other, I would have loved to help her stabilize that pile of furniture and help her clean the ceiling. That would have been fun.

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