PLUMBING

Literally and figuratively. In the physical and metaphysical sense. Concerning a defunct hot water heater, a leaking sink disposal, and a resulting mold problem. As well as a pump that’s been reliable for almost 82 years — my heart. And my lungs — working in and out for just as long. Some serious soul searching. Plumbing the depths!?

I’ve resolved to post this today, the last day of September, so here’s what’s been happening since July. I’m reminded of Gilda Radner as Roseanne Roseannadanna on Saturday Night Live saying with a shrug: “It’s always something!” I hear again my mom’s mantra: “When you can’t stand one more thing, you’ll get it…” That’s what it’s been like.

I’m finished being a Pollyanna, the fictional “glad girl” of my childhood, who always saw the silver lining, saying annoying things like “I’m so glad I broke my leg since it’ll be such fun to use crutches!” Somehow I don’t get much comfort from the Biblical saying: “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.” I’m not yet in Job’s league but I’ve now and then asked “Why me Lord?” I know the answer: “Why not you?”

I haven’t felt myself since my eye surgery last March. Am still more tired than I should be, and for several months have been somewhat short of breath, with chest congestion, heavy eyes and head — a general feeling of malaise. But I’ve tried to keep active as I said in “Changing Course.”

In August Honey and I drove to my sister’s cottage in Southampton, joining my son and his family who’d arrived a week earlier. I’d just traded in my faituful old Saturn and bought a shiny 2009 Honda Accord with lots of trunk room to hold stuff, including a beach chair and umbrella, so decided not to fly. Honey and I broke up the trip both ways staying at pet-friendly LaQuinta Inns. I loved being with my son, daughter-in-law and grandson for a whole week.

My son kept his promise and gave me a boat ride across the choppy bay (I squealed a bit) to the North Fork for lunch in Greenport. And it was so good to see my cousins Mary and Paul again — they bought houses near my sister’s years ago. The week was topped by a lawn Mass for colony residents celebrated by Father John, Paul’s friend since Kindergarten. Father John had said my mother’s and husband’s beautiful funeral Masses, and I confess to some tears remembering them.

From the sublime to the mundane…

Suddenly without hot water a couple of weeks ago, I discovered my hot water heater had died. The good news: It met its demise because my upstairs neighbors’ boiler leaked through my laundry room ceiling and shut my boiler down. They were liable and their insurance will pay for my new heater and ceiling repair. After 10 days of two cold showers and eight brief sink ablutions I was reminded that in many parts of the world water is a precious commodity, often polluted — and hot running water only a dream.

More… About two months ago I noticed a moldy smell coming from my kitchen sink and treated it for a while by pouring baking soda down the drain and spraying the kitchen with Febrese. Some time later, I belatedly looked underneath and was horrified to see the dripping disposal unit — and ugly black mold on a soaked piece of carpet, the cement floor, and surrounding particle board.

I threw out the carpet and splashed mold remover liberally on all affected surfaces, then called a plumber who replaced the disposal. He advised me to aim a fan there for several days — not a good idea — since mold remained and the spores were liberated. Two weeks ago, the same time my old boiler was being removed and new one installed, professionals came to finish the mold job.

Human parts are sometimes unreliable, too. We too often take for granted the fact that we’re here at all — and that our bodies are amazingly intricate creations — thanks to the Master Builder (Who’s also a Master Plumber).

I enjoyed my Long Island vacation but was worried about my maladies, so went to my Bel Air doctor when I got home. He listened to my complaints, examined me, and ordered cardiology tests. I’ve had a slight heart murmur for years, but previous tests showed no real problem at my age and with my good health. Now I passed the stress test with “flying colors,” the cardiologist’s exact words, and the echocardiagram showed no need for valve surgery. And no need to buy new pajamas for the hospital.

Then I researched mold’s effects on health, googling the Internet and reading articles in my library’s medical database. My symptoms seemed to fit. I had a chest x-ray which showed no lung abnormality and last Friday had pulmonary tests. The doctor prescribed Nasonex and Advair which won’t show results for a week, he said. And I may not need to continue for long. I’m hoping and praying.

And I’m trying to avoid food and drink for now that environmental medicine cautions against for mold sickness: wine, hard cheeses, most fruits, sweets, wheat — the list goes on. Anyway, I lately prefer Friendly’s coffee Fribbles or ice cream sodas to wine, and refuse to give up this indulgence.

After the pulmonary tests Honey and I drove to a beautiful nursery and walked around admiring the fall flowers,shrubs and garden ornaments. A couple buying tiles stopped to admire Honey, and the woman reminisced about her beloved pets past and present – they have a Shepherd and a parrot now. She exclaimed: “What a beautiful day!” She had oxygen tubes in her nose.

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6 Comments »

  1. Christine said

    I really hope you mend soon…we too had a summer of a busted water heater and black mold…no hot water for 4 days and my husbands studio was unavailable to him for a few weeks…we lucked out though because we didn’t get sick…for us a small inconvenience…please feel better soon…xo Chrissie

    • Starting to get a bit better. Sorry for your house troubles — those come with the joys of ownership, but worth the price. xo Eileen

  2. Bob McSweeney said

    Hang in there Eileen, Think of what Job went through. Things will get better! They always do; its just a question of how long you’ve gotta wait. Lottsa Love, Bob McSweeney

    • Beginning to feel more like myself again. Patience isn’t one of my virtues!? Have added your Job comment to my post. xo Eileen

  3. Eileen, I hope that you feel fully better soon. Bx

  4. Thanks, B. Edited “Plumbing” and added at end that I’m doing better. Thanks for “hanging in there” with my blogs. xo Eileen

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