May 25th, 1996
Y’all listen to The Moth recently?
If you’ve got 15 or so minutes to listen to something truly hilarious that is also totally safe for work please follow this link. Click on the “listen now” button for the first story.
I started listening to this episode of The Moth Radio Hour in the car on my way to work at 0620. I’m not a morning person. My trips to work early in the morning are usually done in a driving haze. Which is to say that I can focus on my driving, but the internal monologue in my head is entirely white noise.
Except the other day when this gem came up.
I started laughing at 0625 and didn’t stop until I was at work at 0650.
In about 1983 I developed a cavity in one of my upper right molar teeth.
Being a dutiful daughter and unable to decline in any case, I resentfully went to the dentist and had it repaired.
That filling lasted until about 1986 when, in the midst of a campout with a troupe of 7 and 8 year olds in the woods at Camp Sealth, it fell out in a toasted marshmallow. As an aside, if you ever have the chance to get concentrated sugar on a raw nerve in your mouth, might I recommend that you decline the honor. That’s a really special sensation.
So back to the dentist I went.
That filling lasted until about 1993. At which point it cracked and I had to take time away from my shifts in the university hospital to go find a dentist to repair it. That was the first porcelain filling that went in that tooth.
The porcelain filling lasted until about 1997 when it cracked. And the dentist that I’d been seeing in Olympia replaced it.
Which lasted until about 2002. When it cracked and my current dentist noted that since there wasn’t very much of the original tooth left, it’d probably be worthwhile to just go ahead and put a crown on it.
And, through (if you’ll pardon the expression) gritted teeth, I concurred.
Until a couple of weeks before my 6 month checkup in January when the damn thing broke.
And since my dentist said that the average lifespan on an average crown is about 15 years, I had to agree with her that it needed replacing. AGAIN.
So loaded to the eyeballs with valium I trotted off to the dentist. Before she took the old crown off I asked her if, since the last two times I’d needed a crown on a tooth I’d ended up needing a root canal, she shouldn’t just plan on doing the damn root canal.
And here’s where it begins that I hate being a professional.
The dentist said that she’d evaluate the nerves and the underlying tissue after she had the site cleaned up and she’d decide then. Dandy.
She looked at the tissue, said that everything looked pretty good, but she’d make the final decision when she was placing the final crown. And two weeks later when the permanent crown was ready she looked at the nerves and the tissue and said that everything looked good and she didn’t think I’d need a root canal. WONderful.
I was expecting the new crown to be a little cold sensitive. New dental implants are cold sensitive, it’s just the nature of the beast. But over the last six weeks the new crown got more cold sensitive. Then heat sensitive. Then sensitive to vibration. And pressure. And sweet, and salt, and sour.
So that when I called my dentist on Monday to describe my symptoms the dentist didn’t even bother making an appointment for me to go see her to have the tooth evaluated, she just arranged a referral to the endodontist.
And I spent the week taking 600mg of ibuprofen every 4 hours during the day and codeine or gabapentin at night.
Somewhere in the past I noted that the best time to have surgery was when the idea of *not* having surgery was worse than the idea of having surgery. The same sort of thing applies to trips to endodontists for a root canal. Or three root canals as the case may be. That tooth has three roots. By the time I got to the endodontist yesterday my mouth hurt so much that I didn’t even notice the lidocaine injections.
So yeah. Sucky week, sucky mouth. Dental pain sucks. You can’t chew which plays havoc with your digestion because you’re either swallowing without chewing or eating only things that don’t need chewing. And constant infusions of NSAIDs aren’t really good for either your kidneys or the lining of your gut. And brushing your teeth, even rinsing your mouth with anything, becomes a remarkably special sensation.
But as much as I’d like to, I can’t hate my dentist for not doing the root canal before I spent a couple of weeks in pain and spent another $1200 to have a series of holes drilled in the $1200 crown that I’ve not paid off yet.
I can’t hate her because I know she used her professional judgement in deciding that I didn’t need a root canal. And professionals are people, we’re not psychic. Shit happens. So I am professionally obligated to understand this.
But god damn I really don’t wanna!!
Things have been moderately insane recently. But I promised to explain the previous radiographs so here goes.
So this image is a ventrodorsal (he’s lying on his back) image of Andy’s abdomen. Andy’s head is towards the top, his butt is towards the bottom of the images. The circles are pointing out Andy’s calcified right renal artery (the little squiggly white line in the center of the single circle camera left), and Andy’s two partially calcified femoral arteries (the little white linear blotches in the center of the circles near the bottom of the image).
This is a left lateral abdominal radiograph. Andy is lying on his left side and his head is towards your right. The big oval circle near the top is pointing out the calcified portion of Andy’s terminal aorta (complete with calcifications of the major arteries that come off the aorta) and the other circle lower down is pointing out the calcified femoral arteries again.
The big red line at the upper right of the image is an oops with the highlighter feature of the image software that I can’t figure out (nor do I want to try) how to get rid of. Hey, I deal with carbon based life forms, not silicone ones.
Seeing these images come up after I’d taken the radiographs was one of those professional “Oh holy SHIT I’ve never seen THAT before!” moments that happen quite rarely. And since I managed to wig out both a board certified internal medicine specialist and a board certified radiology specialist with these images, I’d bet that I’m never going to see another one of those again. No, I don’t know why those blood vessels are suddenly becoming calcified. I’m currently working with both a wigged out board certified neurology specialist and a wigged out board certified surgeon to try and get an answer.
Carbon based life forms are such a glorious mystery.
Interpreting these images is a _bit_ more subtle than sussing out a Matchbox car but they’re still pretty damn cool images.
Super extra kukamunga bragging rights if you can point out the specific pathology.
Heard on NPR the other day (half of what I talk about is stuff I hear on NPR. If this surprises you, it shouldn’t.) that car sales spiked in 2015. The article went on to mention that a lot of these car “sales” were 3-5 year lease agreements and that “the modern car buyer is more interested in having a car with the most up to date gadgets and connectivity than in previous years”.
Hearing that made me follow the train of thought, as it were, to its extreme (logical?) conclusion.
How long will it be, I wonder, before cars come with data plans? Or you can’t access some of the bells and whistles of your car unless you purchase the accompanying data plan.
Or, how long will it be before we start having ads for cars like there are currently for various mobile phone and phone services? An ad for a car that offers to pay off the lease on your trade in so long as you purchase the appropriate number of minutes of connectivity?
How long will it be before automobiles will be seen as mobile phones are now? Disposable because the newest version just came out. I realize there are some people who have always operated in exactly this way, trading in once a year or every other year just to have the newest and best model, but is that going to become the norm?
Certainly won’t with me. I’d still be driving my ’97 Impreza wagon if I’d not been facing something like $3K to replace the clutch and the head gasket on a car with 150K miles on it.
I’m hoping to drive my Forrester until she’s a crotchety little old bump mobile too.
Four new elements have been added to the periodic table. These four new elements are all human made and all, apparently, incredibly unstable lasting only a fraction of a second in the real world.
But they’re really honest to goodness elements and they need to be named.
There are, of course, rules and regulations for naming elements as they are discovered. But I really, REALLY think the rules should be bent a little bit and one of the new elements be named TomLerherium.
Yeah, we did give in to the recent Powerball fever. And yeah, I know that purchasing a ticket only gives one the barest fragment of a better chance at winning than one would have if one hadn’t purchased a ticket but….
For a buck how can you not occasionally give in to fantasy?
Our first lottery fantasy experience was in January of 1994. We were on our way into Pullman for an extremely rare evening out. It may have been to celebrate my finishing all my board exams in preparation for graduation from vet school, but it may have been a totally random “I’ve got to get away from my damn textbooks or I’m going to go berserk!” night out.
Regardless we were getting into the car when we were approached by the dude that owned the land on which our mobile home sat. It was a weird arrangement, we owned the trailer, he owned the land, but it was a MUCH better place to have spent three of my four years in graduate school than living in the bloody awful apartment that we’d lived in my freshman year would have been. MUCH more expensive, but way better for living, studying, and not going to prison for killing the displaced frat boys that lived above us in the apartment complex.
Anyway, landlord (we still refer to him as Farmer McFuck) comes up, tells us that despite the verbal agreement we’d had (yes, we were suckers) when we’d bought the place three years prior, he wasn’t going to let us sell the trailer while it was sitting on his land. We had to move it before we could sell it.
We’d borrowed money from Andrew’s parents to purchase the trailer — a 1975 14′ x 70′ mobile home with a 30 foot chunk cut out of the back wall for a 12′ x 30′ home built addition. There wasn’t _any_ way to move the addition and even if the wheels and axles of the main trailer were still extant the whole thing was 20 years old. Moving the trailer meant not only finding a company to handle the moving, but finding a contractor to patch the hole in the back wall where the addition wouldn’t be anymore to say nothing of finding somewhere to put the damn thing once it was off Farmer McFuck’s land. All of that costing WAY more than we’d be able to sell the rickety, patched up thing for even assuming that we were able to find somewhere to put it.
We were… what’s worse than stunned? Gobsmacked doesn’t do it. Blindsided is close. Devastated? Yeah, devastated is a bit better. We were not only facing my graduation and $47,000 in loans (a pittance now), but we were facing starting our adult lives and careers with another $20K or so owed to Andrew’s folks.
It’s a bad place to be with one person unemployed and the other only earning sandwich shop wages.
Realizing that we’d just been hit with what was close to financial devastation we decided that we’d still go to town for our dinner & movie and we’d figure something out.
On our way to dinner we stopped to purchase a scratch ticket because we figured fuckit, if we were going to go down we might as well do it with style.
Setting a bad precedent, that particular ticket happened to be a $50 winner.
You all know the end of the story. We’re not destitute. We currently own our own home (okay, the bank owns it, but whatever) on our own land, we paid off my student loans and we even (somewhere around 2006) managed to pay off Andrew’s parents.
But that night started our lottery fantasies.
That first night our lottery fantasy was very much along the lines of paying my loans, paying Andrew’s parents, then finding a hit man for Farmer McFuck. I like to think we’ve gotten a little more sophisticated in that we’re now talking about using the entirely theoretical lottery winnings to assure financial security for ourselves and as much of our families as can be managed (although the idea of a hit man still has its charms even though Farmer McFuck has to be long dead of some or another smoking related disease). But doesn’t everybody give in every so often?
Lottery fantasies are pointless, especially if you don’t ever purchase a ticket, and in a lot of ways the lottery fantasies are just like those games that we played as children — a magical, mystical something happens and you can have everything that you’d ever wanted. A big house with an elevator? You got it! The transportation of your choice and only YOU get to decide who gets in it? You got it! The neighborhood bully gets pantsed in a public place and everyone laughs? You got it!!
But imagination is free and it’s at least one indulgence that doesn’t affect your waistline!
Part whatever at this point.
I bitch a lot about my job. Mostly because dealing with the pet owning public is enough to turn one into a raving lunatic in a remarkably short period of time.
And while there are a lot of things that I wish I could change about my *job*, I love my profession with a passion.
I’m a boards monitor for the megalith that is known as the Veterinary Information Network. We’re a group of better than 50K veterinarians around the world who meet online to share cases, research, tips, lunacy, whateverall. And being a boards monitor means that I moderate discussions in four of the medical boards. I make sure that the volunteer specialists answer people’s questions in a timely manner, I help bring specialists from other areas into a discussion as needed, and I occasionally wear my Hall Monitor sash and tattle non-subscribers or non-veterinarians using some subscriber’s account (we’re a little snotty that way). It also means that I’m online a LOT and checking in on discussions that I might not otherwise have had the opportunity or interest in opening.
Case in point.
In the last week on my four boards alone I have participated in a discussion about a fractured incisor tooth in a kangaroo (really cool radiographs by the way), a discussion on the ethics of various types of mousetrap, and have read a research paper about whether or not pouched rats are less effective landmine detection animals if they are castrated (they’re not).
And in one of the other discussions in which I have been participating for the last five years I ran across two of the most awesome sentences I think may have ever been written in the English language.
My friend Astrid, a exotics and wildlife DVM in California, was talking about how the tiger cub at the big cat rescue where she works has ringworm. We were all giving her a hard time about who got to give antifungal dips to the tiger cub (onetwothreeNOTIT!!) and she mentioned that at least this time the resident dog hasn’t gotten ringworm yet. And I quote: “The last time I made the keepers do the dips. It was them that let the dog play with the tiger.”
My job has its downfalls, but I do love my profession!
It’s a question of semantics.
I was reading my way through a National Geographic the other day when I ran across an article about the patch of ocean strait between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia. Seems that this area is known for being one of the richest and most biologically diverse sections of the temperate Pacific. Apparently has some AMAZING diving conditions.
One of the quite lovely photos that was included in the article was a waft of neon green flowing around a colony of reddish sea urchins. The commentary included with the photo reads “To see how nutrient-saturated currents feed creatures like sea urchins, I poured a nontoxic dye and watched it flow not around the urchin colony but right through it.”
Now remember that this photographer is deep underwater. To get some of the photos for this article he literally had to tie himself to a boat anchor and anchor himself to the bottom to keep from being swept away by the currents.
I submit that the verb “pour” for his action in releasing the dye around this urchin colony does not seem to be the right one. Can one pour something when one is deep underwater? Now granted I can’t come up with a verb that seems to be any more appropriate, but I still don’t think one should be able to pour a liquid when one is submerged in a liquid environment.
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Sasha.
Sasha is one of my favorite Lab patients, but, being a Labrador, she’s one of those sorts to whom _things_ tend to happen.
Case in point. A few weeks ago Sasha was swimming in the river. We got a panicked call from her male owner when Sasha got out of the river. The call was “I’m on my way bringing Sasha in! Her tongue is pinned to her nose!!”
This is what we found when he brought Sasha, still dripping, into the hospital.
Yes, that is a treble fishing hook pierced into Sasha’s schnoz. What the full face photo doesn’t show is what we found after we’d sedated Sasha to get the hook out of her nose. I kinda wondered if there was something else going on with her tongue because she was doing a lot of licking. So we sedated her. And what we found was this:
And yes, that is a _second_ treble hook pierced into the under side of Sasha’s tongue.
The owner told us that Sasha’s tongue really was attached to her nose after she got out of the river. It was only the fact that two young fishers a little downstream had had a pair of scissors with which to clip the line that was attached to the two treble hooks (no, it wasn’t their gear that pierced Sasha) that allowed Sasha to reel her tongue back in before she got to us.
It was actually a fairly easy thing to un-hook Sasha and she suffered no lasting harm, but the photos still make me wince.
In what has to be my favorite of his stories about the period of his childhood that his family spent on the Greek island of Corfu, Gerald Durrell tells of a visit that they had by a minor French nobleman. The picture that Durrell paints of the Count is that of a prissy, autocratic French nobleman with “such a thoroughly Gallic interest in the edibility of everything with which he came in contact that one could have been pardoned for thinking him the reincarnation of a goat.” “His philosophy, if any, could be summed up in the phrase ‘We do it better in France'”.
Because Durrell’s family, strong willed and just a tad on the eccentric side themselves, and because these tales are _mostly_ accurate, but not necessarily without some descent into fancy, the story of the Count is fraught with mishap and hilarity. The story ends after the Count has left Corfu, but sends back a letter warning the Durrells that he has developed a disease called “Moops”. Since post-pubescent men who contract the Mumps often end up with swelling and inflammation within their testicles, it can be a fairly dangerous disease. The Count’s letter ends with “I am in clinic inflicted by disease called moops. Have inflicted all over. I finding I cannot arrange myself. I have no hunger and impossible I am sitting. Beware yourself the moops.”
Ever since I first heard that story — maybe 11 or 12 years old — any virulent, hideous funk has been, in my mind, “the Moops”.
Well Monday I got the Moops.
Monday was my first day back at work after my recent hand surgery. I felt well enough during the day, but started to feel a bit off on the drive home. Assuming I was just hungry I came home, ate dinner, and sat down to watch The Nightly Show with Larry Willmore.
In between the middle of The Nightly Show and the time I ended up in the Highline ER (about three hours) I lost three pounds. Any time anyone even mentioned food to me I’d throw up again. Even trying to distract myself with The Gummybear Song was enough to make me puke (hey, gimme a break. I *like* it!). I spent the next three hours getting worked up and then filled up with anti-emetics, IV saline, and (wheee!) morphine.
Feeling hideously guilty, but entirely certain that there wasn’t any way in HELL that I’d be able to go to work yesterday, I texted my boss when we got back from the ER at 2 a.m. and told her that I wouldn’t be coming in on Tuesday, but I would make it Wednesday (a.k.a. today).
Well, yeah. That was a nice thought.
My temperature only dropped below 100F this morning and I have eaten a grand total of three pieces of toast and one hardboiled egg in the last 36 hours. Also I’ve been vertical now for two hours and I’m going to have to go lie down again as soon as I am done here.
Friends, family, Ladies and Gentlemen, loyal readers of UADN, beware yourself the moops. This is a truly GROSS bug, apparently highly virulent, and pretty damn violent. If you start feeling yucky, go see a doctor because losing 5 pounds in 2 1/2 days is not usually recommended by the medical profession.
Yeah, I know. Bitch, bitch, bitch.
But I just got the cast off my right hand. Sucker has been VICIOUSLY itchy for the last week – basically since the first day postop – and I haven’t been able to use either my right thumb or my right pinky finger the whole time. Hell, for the first couple of days the only finger I could use was my right forefinger because the center two fingers were too sore to use.
This has its disadvantages. Especially if you have hair like mine.
But my postop check was good. The surgeon was impressed with both my mobility and the improvement in my range of motion. And of not insignificant import I was able to WASH my hand for the first time in a week. Definitely important for those of us in the “mildly germ-phobic” crowd. And I have yet to met a veterinarian who isn’t a little obsessive about washing their hands. Granted I haven’t been at work this past week (I’m not that nuts), but still…..
I am to wear a wrist brace for the next 4-6 weeks because the tendon repair that was done on my wrist (the extensor tendon of the thumb) has to be protected until the inflammation around the tendon sheath is completely resolved and because until the area is completely healed if I flex my wrist too much the tendons will pop out of their normal position and then pop back in again. Apparently a relatively uncomfortable sensation, to say nothing of a COMPLETELY OOGY ONE!! If y’all hear a blood curdling shriek followed by an earth shaking thump you’ll know that I flexed my wrist too much and have passed out from the oogy-ness of it.
And the following photos may give some readers the squicks. But since I’m entirely certain that UADN only has a few regular readers anymore, if y’all aren’t used to me posting squicky photos by now you’re reading the wrong blog.
I cannot say enough about how pleased I am with Dr. Miyano at Seattle Hand Surgery. Seriously, I have known a LOT of surgeons and a LOT of specialists. Even in veterinary medicine it is hard to get a talented specialty surgeon who isn’t a real twit. Dr. Miyano is a talented specialty surgeon who treats his patients as human beings. The fact that Dr. Miyano was willing to squeeze me into his schedule at _very_ short notice so I could get my hand back to function and do my job efficiently (it’s hard to do surgery if you can’t use your thumb and middle fingers properly) was just maybe the best gift I’ll get this holiday season.
Oh I almost forgot! After my carpal tunnel surgery in 2013 I apparently wigged out the surgical nurse in the recovery room by waking up talking about how I needed to call the cardiologist. I did need to call the cardiologist. The cardiologist who had done the ultrasound exam on Chuck’s heart. Apparently surgical recovery nurses are wired to be a little jumpy when someone starts talking about cardiologists. This time I woke up talking about how I was going to approach the surgical repair of a cat patient’s ear. I’ve been cogitating on the surgical challenge that that cat’s ear is going to be for the last -oh- six weeks or so. And whatever good happy juice the anesthesiologists at Seattle Hand Surgery use, it apparently frees one’s mind to solve complex problems. Now that I can suture again the cat’s surgery is scheduled for next week.
For the third time in four years I’m getting ready to subject myself to a week with only one hand.
My previous two hand surgeries have been carpal tunnel release surgeries. My wrists and fingers have been a LOT happier postop than they were before I had the procedures done.
This time it’s a little different. After 21 years of clinical medicine I’ve got some trapping of the extensor tendon of my right thumb (the one that lets you fold your thumb across your palm) and the flexor tendons of my middle and ring fingers (the ones that let you curl your fingers into a fist) on the same hand. Basically if I try to hold up three fingers on my right hand it ends up looking like this:
It isn’t quite Dupuytren’s Contracture but it’s close.
I am actually looking forward to this — despite the need to have my dominant hand out of commission for a week — because when you have an opposable thumb that doesn’t oppose, it’s irritating. To say nothing of ouchy!
Scheduling the surgical repair was kind of a last minute thing. I saw the hand specialist on the 12th expecting that he’d stab me in the tendons with additional steroids, like he did 6 months or so ago, and all would be good again (at least once I got over hating him for poking needles in the palm of my hand). But I seem to have found a rare specimen here. The hand specialist not only is a _very_ talented surgeon, but he is a congenial human being that seems to like treating his patients as human beings and (most importantly for me) treats me as a doctor. And on the 12th when I told him that I’d been having problems putting sutures into a cat’s skin the day before he went a little bug eyed and started talking about getting me in for surgery. Like, NOW!.
I was already scheduled to have this week off so he pushed his schedule around to fit me in. A great kindness on his part because I’d otherwise not have been able to schedule anything until after the first of the year.
So after Wednesday I’ll be stoned out of my gourd with a cast on my right hand and an absolutely BLISSFUL cat on my lap for a week. I’ve spent the last 3 1/2 days getting all of the heavy work in the garden done for the year and I’ve gotten a lot of the tasks, errands, and chaos that I had on my schedule for the next several weeks out of the way. I can spend a week stoned, watching silly movies with my cat and playing Candy Crush with an absolutely clear conscience.
If only I could teach Andrew how to braid hair…..
The last time we _know_ we saw the female Pine Siskin we fostered last spring, alias Birdbert, was at our Memorial Day party on the Sunday before Memorial Day. That was the last time we fed Birdbert (at least, that was the last time we fed Birdbert her bug butter) and, as I said, that was the last time that we _know_ we saw her.
Okay so there are a jillion little brown birds in and out of our garden in a six month period and approximately a grillion of those are female Pine Siskins.
Over the summer I’ve been in the habit of making the little chirpy noise that we used with Birdbert to let her know we were bringing her food any time I’ve been around a female Pine Siskin that seems more comfortable with people than most. And a couple of times I’ve gotten a response from the bird to whom I have aimed said chirpy noise.
So can I prove that Birdbert fledged into a mature Pine Siskin and then spent the summer being a mature Pine Siskin bopping in and out of her “home” garden? I cannot.
But I like to think so.
However in the last couple of rather chilly days Andrew and I have had experiences in the hot tub that make me think that Birdbert is still around.
Last Friday we were in the hot tub and a little brown tweedlebeep flew into the grape vines. Once I got my eyes focused I realized that said tweedlebeep was a Pine Siskin. I made the little chirpy noise and the Pine Siskin hopped further into the grape vines under the arbor and sat there looking at me. The bird hopped even closer in, then sat, presumably enjoying the increased ambient temperature that exists under the arbor when we have the hot tub open, and, for lack of a better term, hung out with us for about 10 minutes. Just looking around being a bird for the most part, but several times she responded when I made the little chirpy noise at her.
Still not proof however. Once could be a coincidence.
This morning though… Again we were in the hot tub. It was chilly last night and foggy this morning and the temperature under our glass-roofed grape arbor has got to be a good deal warmer than it is outside. Into the southwest corner bops a female Pine Siskin. Who then responds to my little chirpy noise (I’m sorry, when a critter turns towards you then turns her head sideways and hops closer it is an actual response to a stimulus not just a coincidence). The Pine Siskin found herself a comfortable perch in the upper vines just underneath the roof of the arbor, proceeded to give herself a good grooming and fluffing then stuck her head under her wing and took a 15 minute or so nap.
Once may be coincidence. Twice is something more than that.
Y’all long time readers of UADN will recall my commentary about Wellman Type 1 experiences.
A couple of weeks ago I had another.
The master bathroom in our house is not a bathroom at all (at least according to strict real estate agent definitions). Technically the master bath is a “powder room” but since I hate the term and it’s me doing the writing I’ll call it a lavatory (a likewise unappealing term with its hints of air travel, but at least not frou frou and *pink*).
Anyway. The teeny little WC in the master bedroom is about 4 feet by 6. This is really a small space. There is a toilet. There is a sink. There wasn’t even a medicine cabinet until we moved in and mounted one on the wall, but since there is one now there is an equivalent amount *less* space for one to maneuver.
And the toilet was old. Like probably late ’80s old. And the fucker didn’t flush worth a damn. Water consumption aside, I’d have kept the bloody thing regardless of the increased water consumption as compared to more modern toilets if it had actually worked, the main purpose of a toilet is. To. FLUSH!! Over the last 2-3 years I’ve probably flushed that damnable piece of equipment about three times as much as it needed to be flushed just to get it to do it’s job. It was, as you can understand, FRUSTRATING!
So in April when we had the Nice Ukranian Plumber out to look at the hose bib I asked him to take a look at the devil toilet too. NUP poked at its innards, flushed it and said “Whoa! That is a WEAK flush!” He then proceeded to tell me that the little holes around the under side of the rim where the water comes out when you flush had, over the years, gotten gunked up with mineral scale and that the only real practical way to address the problem was to replace the toilet. NUP is a good guy, he told me exactly which toilet to purchase to fit in the teeny little space, then quoted $500-700 for the toilet plus the labor to replace it. I thanked him and he went on his way to fiddle with the hose bib.
But inside my head I was thinking…. “$500-700! That’s INSANE! I know I can get the toilet for a couple hundred at the most and *I* can replace a toilet! It’s not that difficult! You unbolt things, replace the wax ring, bolt everything back into place and you’re done!”
(Do y’all see the foreshadowing?)
A couple of weeks ago I’d finally had enough of the toilet. Our water bills have been horrendous (okay, we’ve got a garden and a hot tub, but at least *some* of the outrageous water bill was that fucking toilet), the damn thing was taking more and more flushes to do the same bloody job, THAT’S IT!!
So we got the toilet from an unnamed big box hardware store that delivers (very important) and a new wax ring.
And one lovely Sunday afternoon I announced that I was going to replace the fucking toilet.
First and foremost I didn’t realize that I was the _only_ one of the two of us who could replace that fucking toilet. The room is approximately 4 feet by 6. Take away about 2 feet of the 6 foot length for the sink and the cabinet underneath and you’ve got about 4 x 4 feet. Take away 18 inches from the 4 foot width for the footprint of the toilet and you’ve got what, a little under 3 feet? And into this 2 1/2 foot by 4 foot space one of us was about to have to fold themselves to disassemble, remove, and replace a large, slippery, WET object with no convenient handles. Even with the best will in the world, a lot of Vaseline, and a 6 foot shoehorn there is no way that Andrew could have done the job. He couldn’t even come in to help!
Secondly, I didn’t remember that the most basic rule of any big do it yourself home project is that however well you think you’ve prepared for it, there is always, ALWAYS something that you don’t have which will necessitate at least one mid-project trip to the hardware store to fetch.
It went about as well as you could imagine.
I remembered to turn off the water then realized I was going to have to fold myself into an origami crane to get at the bolts on the seat and the tank. Once I’d gotten the seat and the tank removed (with the help of power tools and rather a lot of Language since the bolts had been stripped over the years) I discovered that the only way I could get to the bolts that hold the bowl to the floor was to lie on the floor on my side with my legs either pointed out the door or resting on the edge of the sink depending on which side I was working on. Further Language managed to get the bowl removed, I’m proud of the fact that I didn’t blorp a whole bunch of toilet water all over any of the floors, the old wax ring replaced, the new bowl placed and bolted down.
Success! Half a toilet! The hard part is over! (foreshadowing foreshadowing foreshadowing)
Additional Language was required to get the tank bolted down, but bolted it was before I realized that the old water line, which was a solid steel tube not one of those convenient flexible hoses, wouldn’t reach the new tank. I had to take the tank off so I could get the old water line off (little teeny space, remember?) so I took the damn thing off and removed the old water line.
Then I took my first trip to the hardware store. Dunn Lumber is just down the street so, without bothering to change from my grubby work clothes, I ran down to Dunn Lumber, went into their plumbing aisle and grabbed the first flexible steel water line that was the appropriate length, got some amused sympathy from the counter drone, and came back home.
I attached the new water line to the water source then put the tank back on. Folding myself into an origami crane again I lay down on my side to attach the water line to the tank only to discover that the female end of the water line didn’t fit the male attachment on the tank.
I believe my exact words were something along the lines of “WHO IN THE NAME OF ALMIGHTY *FUCK* DECIDED THAT THERE NEEDED TO BE MULTIPLE DIFFERENT DIAMETER WATER LINES FOR A FUCKING TOILET?!”
So I detached the water line from the wall (fortunately that nice, convenient, FLEXIBLE modern water line kept me from having to un-bolt the tank again) and went back to Dunn Lumber.
They were closed.
I don’t know enough Language to be able to properly express my feelings about the fact that Dunn Lumber was closed. Thank Zarquon that our local ACE was still open.
Got the new water line, attached same to wall and to the toilet tank, turned on the water (nothing leaked), flushed the toilet and all was good. Great. We now have a functional toilet in the WC (a much better term I think) in our bedroom.
The whole process took 7 hours, three trips to two different hardware stores, $75 to my massage therapist to work out the freaky ass muscle spasms engendered by having to lie on my side and work a ratchet wrench and more frustration than my current vocabulary can express.
I now know _why_ the Nice Ukranian Plumber wanted $500-700 dollars to do it.
When I was very young my father replaced a toilet in one of the bathrooms in the house I grew up in. I don’t remember much of the process except that when he was done Dad took the old toilet and chucked it over the railing of the second floor balcony to smash into a zillion pieces on the driveway. It was awesome! The part that I, of course, hadn’t remembered is that once he was done chucking the old toilet over the railing Dad stamped back into the house (thoroughly uncharacteristic for the Pater familias. My father is not one to stamp.) and told my mother that the reason he’d gone to college for 12 years was so that he wouldn’t have to do plumbing.
The man has a point. The reason I went to college for 8 years was so that I wouldn’t have to do plumbing. And now *I* know that too.
The next time I’m going to pay the Nice Ukranian Plumber his $700.
_And_ they’re totally safe for work:
I know the second one isn’t real. I don’t care that it’s not what it appears to be. I’ve watched it a dozen times or more and it still makes me laugh until I cry.
Happy Birthday! (October 2nd)
Happy Birthday! (October 4th)
Happy Birthday! (October 7th)
Happy Birthday! (October 8th)
Happy Birthday! (October 9th)
Happy Birthday! (October 14th)
Happy Anniversary! (October 17th)
Happy Birthday! (October 20th)
Breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe….
October and January man!
My technician, Red, has a pair of friends. A couple who are expecting their first child.
Red was at their house the other day and she picked up a random parenting book that these friends had in their living room.
In this book there were a series of “short tips for parents”. One of which was that fathers of sons should be sure to assure said sons that their penis wasn’t ever going to fall off.
To which I have to ask…. IS THIS REALLY A THING?
Dr. Other Associate has two sons, one five, one eight. She says that her sons have NEVER indicated any concern that their penis might fall off. No male person (granted I have only asked two) to whom I have recounted this bit of parenting wisdom, has said that spontaneous penis detachment was ever a concern for them.
This is thoroughly indelicate, but not having one of my own, I have to ask those (few) male readers of UADN… Were you, as a child, EVER concerned that your penis might fall off? Did it ever even occur to you to think it might be possible? And fathers of sons, have you ever been concerned that it might be necessary to tell your child that his penis won’t fall off?
For heaven’s sake (and here my inner curmudgeon starts to speak) if we, as a culture, are at a point where a parenting book points out that we have to reassure our children that their genitals won’t fall off it’s no wonder that the world is going to Hell in a handcart!
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