The pointlessness of pre-surgery spring cleaning

cupboard with empty hangers, by Beng Ragon, from Unsplash

cupboard with empty hangers by Beng Ragon, source: Unsplash

A big clean before every trip’s a no-brainer, but in retrospect, clearing, cleaning and tidying the flat before going in for surgery may have been a mistake.

The sight of a cleared and easily navigable flat did not raise my spirits to the level that Marie Kondo had lead me to think might be natural. Guests might find it easier to get around now, but if they’re friends, boxes everywhere shouldn’t make any difference. Meanwhile, apart from the exercise involved in the expenditure of valuable pre-surgery energy, I have felt no tangible results.

That we all like to come home from a trip to a clean, well ordered place is a given (even though it might help the odd potential burglar). Swedish Death Cleaning is only a thing if you think you might die and want to stop people using your stuff and acting sustainably. Once maybe, the little housewife, slave to both housework and outdated conventions, might well have been judged by her pre-op efficiency, and leaving a clueless old-style (male) wage-earner adrift in a cluttered home might have been considered unkind. When gossip and scan-dal were glue that bound neighbours with nothing in common together, such things could have been more important. If only I had thought it through before! The received-wisdom idea of doing a ‘proper pre-surgery spring clean and tidy’ contains no wisdom at all.

To walk in a straight line from one part of my place to another has not conferred a benefit. The Big Tidy used energy better spent on important stuff. My newly-cleared apartment min-imises energy use in my in-flat peregrinations. I lost at least 20% muscle mass when I was intubated. My M.E is more manageable when I can manage more exercise. So, since my ex-ercise-per-minute-upright is now lower than it could be, I’ve lost out to my tidier flat.

Then there’s the dust (being in London, there’s no shortage). In creating a totally dust-free benchmark before submitting to serious surgery, I established a single point of reference. My apartment’s pre-surgery status is contrasted daily by accumulating post-surgery dust. Had I allowed a slight layer of dust before leaving, I doubt I’d have noticed it at all.

I have great friends and neighbours, who have all offered help, should I need it. They are time-poor and mostly wealthy enough to be able to have their own cleaners. My post-surgery instructions explicitly forbid me from vacuuming. How can I ask them to do for me what they don’t do in their own homes?

With a reticence worthy of a turn-of-the century Comedy of Manners, I find I’m unable to ask.


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