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What does a clean house look like to you? The idea of a clean home can vary from night to day among different people in America today. As I have aged and developed more symptoms of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), I have begun to realize that the cleanliness of my home is important.

I like to have company over and that helps motivate me to clean my home. I think it’s important to keep up the art of hospitality for relational health, so my bathroom gets cleaned often. I regularly inspect it for issues.

I am a bit of a germaphobe anyway, so I do enjoy cleaning most of the time. I feel awful if my bathroom isn’t clean or if my floors are not vacuumed or swept. As soon as those are cleaned (with vinegar usually), my day seems a little brighter.

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But really, can you blame me if AATD and germs don’t mix well? Every time I catch a cold or a virus of some kind, it knocks me down, so I keep my cleaning stuff ready to go. Sometimes I slack off. Like everyone, it seems like there is almost always one place in my home that is messy. But generally, I like to keep the main areas clean and dust-free.

Read about treatment for AATD

That’s hard to do because I grew up in a home where dusting was not a huge priority. We cleaned the house daily; we just didn’t clean everything. This is not terrible, and I don’t blame my mom, because it’s hard to remember such things. But when lung disease is in the picture, one must take desperate measures. This means vacuuming every 3 days, keeping my car clean, dusting, and sweeping. When I live by myself, I have to do it, so it means wearing a mask. If I don’t wear a mask, I have to use my inhaler after I dust. But that also motivates me to dust more often.

I don’t have a lot of figurines and I am learning other techniques from others who have the same struggles. If I am going to clean, that counts as exercise so I don’t do as much walking or biking. I exercise in increments so I don’t get overwhelmed.

I really like the satisfaction of knowing that no one can get dust in the air in my home. To do that they would really have to go out of their way. I appreciate the lessons I have learned the hard way. I got a handheld vacuum cleaner so I can clean hard-to-reach places and my car.

Right now I am learning not to allow cat hair inside, as it is hard to get out of things. That means I can’t stay long at anyone’s house who has an indoor cat and need to clean my car afterward. It’s pretty difficult to explain but it just seems to bother my nasal passages.

I wish I had a personal servant who would do all of this for me. In the best-case scenario, the AATD patient would have a roommate or significant other help or do all the cleaning. But, because during this month I don’t have any of those living with me, I am cleaning the rugs and everything else.

I hope all of that will change one day soon, but until it does, I’ll learn to appreciate what it takes to keep my home as peaceful of a place as it can be. I need to do it not only for my sake but for the sake of family and friends who may visit.

Some of my family also have AATD, because it is a genetic deficiency. I want my home to be a place where anyone can relax. That’s the most peaceful place I’ve got, and I need it to be really peaceful.

How do I find the energy to clean? I address that in a different column. I don’t have issues with energy and time every day, and I take advantage of those days.

We can all appreciate those days, and we also need days to relax and enjoy having a clean home and a peaceful environment. Sitting here with a hot mug beside me and a freshly vacuumed floor, I’m very happy.