Things you find when cleaning up... My office has been a complete disaster ever since my mom died, just over a year and a half ago. That's because her stuff is strewn everywhere in it, and I've been procrastinating – waiting, really, until it wasn't too awful while going through her things, trying to decide what goes where or to whom. It's still an emotional roller coaster for me, but at this point I'm not sure it's ever going to get any better. So I've begun the great office cleanup.
I've just barely started, and already I've found some things that were surprising, and some other things that brought me a nice big smile.
The biggest surprises so far came from skimming through my mom's voluminous medical records – hundreds of X-rays and a couple thousand pages. Before I shredded these things I wanted to make sure no other papers I'd want to keep were embedded in them (as I have found things I've kept in some very odd places). This time I haven't yet found any other papers – but I did discover two medical issues my mom had that I had never known about. The first was from 1998: the detection of a tumor in her brain, 1.5 cm across (so roughly walnut-sized). I found the X-rays, radiology reports, and a written recommendation from her GP to have surgery, despite it being (as he put it) “quite risky with a relatively high expected mortality”. So far as I know she never had any such surgery, and I can't imagine how she could have had it in secret – so she must have declined (not all that surprising for her). The second issue was from 2007, the detection of a lump in her breast and the diagnosis of benign but with a recommendation to have it removed. Again, I don't know of any such surgery – but that kind of surgery could, I imagine, be done without my ever knowing about it. On the other hand, it wouldn't surprise me to find out she'd declined that surgery as well! In any event, neither of these contributed in any way to her death, so if she did decline them, in hindsight it wasn't a bad decision.