I thought I'd seen everything.
Then I turned on A&E's Hoarders the other night.
There was a woman living in her own shit -- literally.
Due to a medical condition, the woman has to wear adult diapers. When she's finished with one, she tosses it into a heap on the floor and just leaves it there. There is a garbage dump full of shitty diapers near where this woman eats her food.
She also has myriad cats whose feces is smeared on the other floors.
When the clean up crew went in, they found three cats who were flattened like pancakes, dead in the corners. One of them had a perfect head and deflated body so you could see it wasn't a fur coat that Mrs. Hoarder had accidentally tossed on the floor.
By the end of the program, those saints who work at 1-800-JUNK were making jokes as they shovelled yet another pile of Mrs. Hoarders paper indies into plastic bags.
I guess when you're in hoarding clean up, you have to learn to laugh.
I know a hoarder and her place is pretty grotty. She has so many boxes, I can point out her ninth floor apartment from the street.
A few months back, she lost her 20-year-old cockatiel but still has the cage in her living room complete with rotting food and bird excrement.
Needless to say, Doris doesn't get many visitors.
I watch Hoarders to get some insight into how to deal with a hoarder. I've been trying to get Doris help for years but nobody -- not even her landlord -- seems to care that Doris and her husband, Bob, live amidst mould, dust and dirt. Nor does the landlord care that their apartment is a fire hazard.
When people reach adulthood, it is reasoned, they have free will and no one can stomp on their rights by trying to help them. Even the paramedics who came into their apartment to take Bob off in a stretcher last year did, and said, nothing about the conditions in which they live.
I'm very frustrated and I want to help them. I've tried talking to the health authorities and have, basically, been told to mind my own beeswax.
I was told nothing could be done unless Bob and Doris asked for help.
Part of me understands this. This is Canada. If people want to live in their own shit, it's their God given right to do so.
But when it affects others, I think something should be done.
Bob smokes in bed. Doris smokes on the couch surrounded by papers and clothing.
One day, one or both of them will die in this heap.
My hope is they don't take the people in the rest of the building with them.