How to cope with the smell and the grime?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by LucyJ, Nov 10, 2014.

  1. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Our much-loved elderly cat died on Friday. I phoned all the kids to let them know this sad news. He had been part of the family since they were all children. Unable to get any answer on my son's phone, I sent a text. He replied today. A text asking me to phone him, which I did. The outpouring of woe down the phone was like those phone calls that I used to have from him in his darkest days. He's unhappy, really unhappy, he's cold and wet and has no money and he's miserable and doesn't see any options for him and doesn't know how he's going to survive the winter months. The squat has a court hearing on December 9th and he thinks they'll be forcibly evicted. He says he doesn't care but he doesn't know where he's going to go. He says he hasn't had a bath or clean clothes or dry socks for a long time. He wants to come and visit to see the cat's grave in the garden. He says he just wants a bath and some clean socks and a hot meal. He sounded terrible. I'm going to pick him up on Wednesday morning. He's going to stay a couple of nights, then train-hop back. I feel sick thinking of him living like this. I'm dreading him coming, because as much as I want to see him and warm him up and feed him, I know he will stink. It's the stink that I find the hardest thing to deal with. The smell and the filthy clothes and the stink and the grime. In my house. Where's my son hidden under all this dirt? I don't know. The smell stops me hugging him, stops me seeing beyond the dirt, makes me desperately sad. I can cope with the political ranting and the alternative lifestyle --- but I can't cope with the smell.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Why not gently, gently ask him if he can find a place to shower before he comes home? Maybe even send enough money for a laundromat? He doesn't sound like a BAD kid, in that he is trying to harm anyone or is a danger to anyone. He sounds like he is mostly hurting himself. Is there a Y somewhere in the UK? do they have them or gyms where he can get a one day pass? I ask because they have showers. He will probably feel better if he visits you feeling clean with clean clothes.
  3. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I agree with mwm. If he could stand to be around people long enough to get a shower and clothing, it would make everyone feel better.
  4. We are not in your shoes (yet), but my difficult child only showers once or twice a week and wears the same clothing for days at a time. That's bad enough for me. I'm sorry for your pain.
  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree with MWM. His alternative lifestyle is okay but when it infringes on you in the way it would seriously infringe upon anyone really, you have the right to tell him that and ask him to shower and clean up before coming home. I don't see why you can't say that to him, he may not realize just how bad it is and if he is coming in to your home, you have every right to ask that of him.
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  6. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    I understand, Lucy. I understand about the grief about your son (and mine) living this way, and I really understand about the stink. It is more than a shower will wash off. If you son is like mine his feet will still smell to an overwhelming degree even after a shower. The clothes will be water, bleach, and two washings will not fix it. They need to be thrown away in a double sealed bag, and new ones bought. I'm not saying you need to do this for him...I'm saying that a shower and laundromat will not fix the problem...not even close.

    I'm sorry. Smell is so basic. It is awful to hug your son and then feel like the stench of touching him clings to you. It is a thing no parent can imagine until it happens to them.

    I try to avoid hugging difficult child. It is complicated now. He was such a cute huggy little baby too! And he always wanted to hug me hello and goodbye. But it feels like an assault now, at some level I am offended and angry that he forces this nastiness on me, that I have to submit to being near his stench.

    I get it Lucy. I don't really know how you should handle it. I don't really know what to do about the smell of their feet.

    My SO used to meet my son at the door and herd him into the basement to shave and shower before he could see me. We've tried keeping clean clothes at the house that he had to leave here..a pair of pajamas, jeans, a tshirt...put 'em on when you get here, leave them when you leave. Even as I write that it seems like a possible solution for you too...

    Do what will make it easiest for you to see your son. From what I've come to understand about you, you will want to see him and you will need him to not stink. That leads me to a a plastic bag for his clothes on arrival, and a clean set of clothes to wear at home, no pausing to say hi before a shower, no hugging till showered and dressed in clean clothes. It won't be perfect but it will help.

    Hugs and hopes for you and your son.

    Mine appears to be lost to me for now. I haven't seen him in four months, by my own decision and his actions. I wish for better things for you.

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  7. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    First, I am so sorry to hear about your cat. It's hard to lose a pet you've had for so long. What a wonderful thing you did in contacting your difficult child to let him know. I agree with the advice others have given in that you have every right to ask him to clean up before he comes for a visit. If you know his clothes size maybe you could go to Goodwill and get him a change of clothes.
    Keeping good thoughts for you.
  8. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Thanks Echo, thanks for getting it, and sorry that you do.

    He stinks even after 2 showers and a bath. It's an ingrained stench from months on end of living with no toilet, no hot water, no soap, no anything. He's attached to his rags, he won't let them be put in a sealed bag and thrown away. So they go in the washing machine, rinse, boil, rinse, boil, and still they smell (if they haven't fallen apart) and my washing machine smells and has to be cleaned out before I put anything else in it. He showers and smells again within ten minutes. He sits and eats with us and I feel nauseated. He cuts a slice of bread and I have to throw the loaf away. His nails are overgrown and broken and black.

    Thank you all so much for your replies. Thanks for reading and caring. I wish a laundromat and a shower would solve it, but it's too extreme. Yes RE, I'm sure he doesn't realise how bad it is, but even if he did then it wouldn't change. He lives outside of society, in a world where personal hygiene has little meaning and no importance. He lives in a world where just surviving each day and getting enough to eat takes all his energy.
  9. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    See, now that's taking it too far. It was bad enough with the smell issue alone, but he is attached to his rags and won't let them be put in a sealed bag or thrown away? That is entirely too much for me. I would not throw any of those types of clothes into a washing machine and risk damaging it. Washing machines can only take so much and the smell might get trapped in there, wait a minute, not might, it will get trapped in there.

    I'm not sure what to do in this situation. Half of me wants you to tell him he is not welcomed unless he follows your cleaniness rules. Your house, your rules. And then there is the other part of me that is like, well ok, he doesn't live with you, doesn't cause you any real trouble, he leaves you alone, he's only going to be there for a few days....etc, etc....but if the smell is actually assaulting you, then that's a problem.
  10. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Thanks for making me laugh Guideme. It is too much isn't it? It's ridiculous. :)
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    LucyJ, my daughter Jumper's sports clothes get to the point where even washing them 24/7 will not get out the...well, to be frank....body odor. I don't think she notices it because she is playing sports so much, but I do. But, as bad as the clothes get, at least in Jumper's case, if she showers and wears non-I-played-sports-in-these clothing clothes, she no longer smells. Maybe it's the clothes that are terminally stinky? Could you buy him a new pair of clothes for your house and have him take a shower as soon as he comes home to see if that helps? From this experience with Jumper, I am wondering if the clothes can be ruined, but the person can still get cleaned up and smell good.

    Wishing you lots of luck!!!
  12. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    Make him walk through the car wash LOL Can even get a blow out at the right place! :bath:
  13. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    Oh my god, I died!
  14. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I also vote for clothes probably being terminally stinky. From the body and hair stink does go away (mouth and teeth could of course be a problem) but for example I have lots of clothes, that stink even after washing them. Or they may not stink when I take them from the machine or dryer, but when I put them on, they start to stink in ten minutes when they get warm from my body heat. These are sport clothes and made of synthetic materials. I'm well aware of the smell problem, but because they are still perfectly good to use, I do use them when I'm training outside. It shouldn't bother anyone how I smell while I'm running.

    Then there are some difficult child's and easy child's sport equipment and clothes that either can't be washed or take couple days to dry. The smell is something... well something better left undescribed. Thankfully most of those stuff are not in our house any more but there are some. We have a special closet in our 'not quite warm' porch with big plastic boxes that close tight for this stuff. Makes smell problem manageable (and used to be our sons' favourite place to stash their chewing tobacco and other smelly contrabands, because they correctly concluded me or husband wouldn't voluntarily go through the piles in that closet.)
  15. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    When my difficult child had severe encopresis, it was impossible to get the stench out of his clothing. My washer, and even worse the dryer, had a horrible smell no matter what I did. His hair permanently smelled. Even now that it's over, I occasionally have a whiff of it when I hug him. It's very, very offensive. I can SO relate to this post.
  16. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    I don't have any suggestions, Lucy, but I do understand. My son wears the same clothes for weeks on end, then sneaks behind the Goodwill at night to help himself to another sack of clothes left after hours. Sometimes they roughly fit, sometimes he crams all of himself into a pair of women's pants, etc. Rarely showers, never brushes his teeth.

    I like the idea of a bag of clean clothes and a shower as the first stop when he gets home. Maybe something used that he can just wear when he goes? I don't see any reason to wash his rags for him.

    I'm so sorry about your beloved cat. Her spot in the garden sounds very peaceful.
  17. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I can relate to "smelly" as well. Oldest went through a period where she smelled awful. I'd pick her up and have to crack the window in the car to keep from gagging, it was so bad. It was a combination of smells of smoking, bad dental hygiene, lack of bathing, and (sorry but ...) her ostomy bag/site not being maintained or cleaned properly. Finally one day I just said, "look honey, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but you smell really bad. What's going on?" She didn't have much of an answer, except to insist that she'd showered. She got defensive and angry. My therapist suggested I buy her some hygiene products: nice smelling soap, lotion, etc.

    She's better these days ... I have a feeling that it began affecting her at work and around friends, so she finally started taking better care of herself.
  18. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I've read that in the olden days, people would carry scented handkerchiefs. If the problem persists after the person we love has done his or her part by showering and changing clothes, could something like this be a help to us? Another thing I thought of this morning is how important the scent of a thing is ~ how scent keys in to memory and hope. For instance, the scent of a freshly cut Christmas boughs or bay candles key the happiness and sense of expectation and hope of Christmas for me.

    I know that when I do see and touch and smell my children or grandchildren, scent is part of the joy of it.

    Then too, there are entire industries devoted to scent, and to marketing the "right" scents.

    So, for our children to carry odors that speak to us of loneliness or hardship may be keying our emotions in ways we aren't aware of and so, cannot come to balance or acceptance around.

    I don't have an answer for these things that happen to us when we see our troubled children "in the flesh." I have felt the same kinds of feelings, but until reading this thread, was not aware of the power of the scent of "homeless" or the meaning, to our secret hearts, those odors might hold.

    I am glad you will be seeing your son, and that you've given him the opportunity to be part of his family in grieving for the loss of someone each of you loved, together.

  19. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    My mom has an issue with smelling. Not that she doesn't bathe. It's that when she does she doesn't bathe well. The smells come from all those places that most of us wash really well. She doesn't. Her teeth and breathe are awful (medications don't help this by causing dry mouth). Her private regions have odor. Her clothes have odor from being worn multiple times. Her fingernails constantly have food or gunk under them and smell. It's like that old people smell in that it permeates everything and no matter what it smells.

    I don't even like sitting in her chair because it smells like her. She always wants hugs and to kiss my cheek and it's all I can do to suffer through it.
  20. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Our son also has terrible hygiene and can go weeks without brushing his teeth or bathing. It makes me crazy. (I literally cannot go to bed at night without brushing and flossing, even if I'm camping, even if I'm camping and drunk.) At least he does put on deodorant, but really, if you never wash your pits that doesn't help. Still, it's not to the extent you are talking about, mostly because I go crazy on him after about a week.

    I do like the idea of buying him some clothes to wear at your home, and make them as good smelling as you possibly can before he puts them on. Then just let him take them along with the stinky ones when he leaves. This may sound kind of crazy, but could you maybe check a pet store for some special dog shampoo, there are several types on the market for extreme odor, and actually mix it with body wash (or just put it in a body wash bottle) for when he showers? (You don't have to tell him.) I'm thinking it might cut the smell better than human soap alone.

    Have you tried Febreze Laundry Odor Eliminator? We use that for our dog's blankets. We always use Gain detergent and wash on Hot with baking soda or borax and then again on hot with Febreze Laundry. I haven't tried it, but I've read that adding 1 cup of non-sudsing ammonia and 1 cup of washing soda to your wash will cut odors. The only other thing I could think of would be using the Lysol in the brown bottle like they use for cleaning diaper pails and such. I wish I had some other ideas.

    I miss my cuddly little boy too. He was more than willing to snuggle until he was about 14. Then he got all difficult child - and stinky.

    Okay...I thought of one other extreme measure... buy some menthol to rub under your nose. It's what coroners and garbage men use to cut decomp it would have to help.

    Oh, and I am very sorry for the loss of your cat. Our furbabies keep us sane.
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    Last edited: Nov 11, 2014