Clean is a matter of perspective –aka The Dust Bunny RanchI was in high school the first time I discovered something in my back didn’t feel right.

It didn’t happen all the time. I never got that feeling marching down the football field in my band uniform holding up my piccolo as I played, or during the plays I worked in or on in drama class..

It only happened at one particular time.

Every Saturday morning my mother and I stripped the sheets from every bed in the house and put clean ones on. By the time we reached the last bed, usually mine, I had a funny feeling in my back, from my waist down.

At the time, it wasn’t a lot of pain, it was simply uncomfortable. It went away after a little rest and my mom and I would go shopping, a routine we both enjoyed.

I’m the first to admit I am not now, nor have i ever been, a good housekeeper. I always had better things to do than clean anything and my mother simply shut my bedroom door rather than try to get me to put it in an order she understood. As much as she disliked the chaos in my bedroom she had to admire the fact I could put my hand on anything in my room, even it if was to tell her, “It’s the third thing down in that stack by the stereo.”

I was still living with my parents when my back began to hurt when I did dishes, and that was one of the few chores my mother asked me to do.

I did them, but by the time I had put the last thing in the drain, that strange pain returned.

I was in college when a rheumatologist pointed to an X-Ray of my back and showed me the damage that had already started and his words about what my future held was not good.

After I got married and had my own house to take care of, I really started slipping. It hurt to haul a vacuum cleaner around, then a mop, then a broom.

My practice husband kept his things in order, but my part of things suffered. I did my best and while our house wasn’t totally scary, neither was it completely tidy.

When I started working full time, housekeeping went out the window. Since there were just two of us, it was fairly easy to just keep the kitchen clean.

When we divorced, the house went to hell. There was no reason for me to do much of anything and I didn’t.

I’ve rarely done any housework since.

As my back got worse, I graduated to back braces. That’s when the floors went. Since I rarely cleaned under anything, I started my dust bunny ranching career.

These days, I’m glad my animals can’t get under any bed because who knows what those bunnies have mutated into. I may have alien races thriving under my furniture because I can’t get to them.

The dishes get done, cooking gets done and the kitchen and bathrooms are the only places that get any sort of care.

The rest of the house gets what my mom would call “A lick and a promise” and that’s the best I can do.

Laundry has even gotten tough. Bending over is always a bad idea now, and these days I can’t fold a load of clothes without help.

I’d love to have a house where I felt people could come visit anytime they wanted, but the only way they can is if they understand my messy house is as good as it gets. It doesn’t make me a bad person; it makes me a person with bad bones who simply cannot do much anymore.

Have I mentioned we live in a two story house? I haven’t been upstairs in probably two years. The stairs whisper to me that I might walk up them but I will fall down them at some point. After breaking nine bones in my foot two years ago by tripping over my own foot, I’m not going to risk it.

Sometimes I feel ashamed by my lack of interest in having a house Martha Stewart could visit, but generally I lie down until that goes away.