Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Water, Water, Everywhere...

(An important point is made at the end of this post, so if you are in a hurry, jump to the end now.)

When it comes to water, The Husband and I might be cursed.

I first noticed the problem when we started to remodel The Husband's previous house back in the late 90's. The basement kept flooding. After extreme waterproofing measures and replacing the sump pump and rebuilding the basement drains (dust, dust, everywhere), we were told by the waterproofing dudes that the house was probably built on a spring. Well, that would explain the surfing moles in the backyard. The Husband finally got the house fixed, then we moved. (No, not because of the surfing moles, but because our jobs took us to Delaware. But I digress.)

Jump ahead a few years: New house in Delaware. Hurricane Floyd, 1999. You guessed it - the basement flooded. So again, we had a basement waterproofed, drains improved, and this time we had an additional sump pump installed.

Last year, the toilet upstairs overflowed while we were not home (very suspicious, I think) and the water soaked through the floor to the next level of the house, collapsing the ceiling and destroying the carpet. We finally fixed that mess this Spring (the season, not the water source!).

In May, my car's water pump broke, stranding us on I-95. A few weeks ago, we went into the garage to discover that The Husband's truck had "peed its pants" and there was fluid all over the garage floor. His truck's water pump sprung a leak, so back to the auto repair shop.

Then last night, I was extremely fatigued but managed to pull myself upstairs to get ready for bed. I turned on a faucet to wet my toothbrush, turned it off, and heard a strange burbling noise, which oddly sounded like it was coming from the adjacent room. Fortunately, my energy miraculously returned as we rushed around the house trying to figure out where that noise was coming from. Then I heard the distinctive sound of a dam bursting. Damn, the pipe in the upstairs sink had sprung a leak. At 11:15 pm. On one of my worst-fatigue days.

There is no word to express the dread that I felt when I heard Niagra Falls behind the wall of the room we had just remodeled to repair water damage. We realized that the leak was in the second floor bathroom, was pouring down behind the wall of the first floor family room, then came through the basement ceiling. The Husband found the water cut off valves for the house and all was quiet except for the drip-drip-drip in the basement.

Today, The Husband is trying to repair the leak, which appears to be a hole in a connector. Fortunately, it is accessible without destroying a wall.

(Here is the really important point:)
This adventure got me thinking about what I would do if I were alone and incapacitated by an MS symptom and a house emergency happened. Brain Cheese recently talked about being alone in a post titled "The Cheese Stands Alone." I think it's time to put together a house emergency plan to document where cut off valves are located, who to call in an emergency, who are reputable repair places, etc. I think I should also expand my list of care givers to local people other than The Husband. What if he were out on a research trip and a home emergency happened or I had an attack? What would I do? What would YOU do? Are you prepared for a really bad day? Do you have a circle of care givers or just one?

I think this might be a good topic for a future chat! AND
I think it's time to do some serious list making.


  1. Joanie - first, I'm glad your leak didn't do too much damage to your house! Second - I learned when our childhood neighbor was suddenly alone when her husband died and she had no clue how to write a bill or even drive a car. I swore I'd never be that dependent on anyone. Any house I've ever lived in, I've made sure that I knew where shut off valves are and how to shut off the main electric. Then I learned when I was a single Mom how to have a list of handy men or mechanics handy. I think about Mrs. Rankin a lot and I hope she knows what she taught me without even knowing it.

  2. Good idea, Joan. As a matter of practicality, every non-handy woman should have her own tool box, too, with the basics. Hammer, screwdrivers, etc. I have given small toolboxes with basic tools in them as house warming gifts to girlfriends.


  3. Giggles, that's great that you know where everything is and are so proactive! Shauna, that's a great idea, too. But I will challenge you to imagine that you are not healthy. Imagine that you can't remember things, you find yourself suddenly confused, wake up blind, can't climb a ladder, can't hold a hammer, are too stiff to bend down. Would your responses have been different? You don't need to reply to this, I just need people with MS to think about what they will do when an unexpected symptom appears and something out of the ordinary happens. Will they be able to communicate with their caregiver? What is their "worse case scenario" plan?

  4. Sorry about all the water problems.

    I think you are right about the emergency plan. I am lucky to have quite a bit of family in the city. I have some friends in the neighborhood too but I should learn more about how to handle a house emergency.

  5. Yeah, had the emergency happen to me - worked nights and collapsed after dinner on the floor in so much pain couldn't breathe and phone was on the table to far away - no one else home. Luckily, was able to crawl to phone on 3rd time it rang and just scream help... had the plan in place with friends with a key 5 mins away and got me to the hospital and they were operating on appendix by 7am next day...

    Had not ruptured yet but have had a safety plan to include neighbors ever since!! And that was prior to MS Dx... Thanks for the post - very good stuff!! (sorry so long a response!!LOL)

  6. Joan--

    I HATE water problems. We're experiencing one ourselves right now with the pipe coming out of the washer. Somehow it's overflowing, and some of the spillover is cascading through a seam in the shower on the other side of the wall! The plumber has to come back, and he thinks that we need some sort of air filter?! Don't really understand, but the laundry is piling up fast.

    Honestly, my husband and I are the most backward couple of people when it comes to household stuff. Both of our fathers know way more than either of us. But we can't count on them forever, so we need to have a list of good resources. I feel like I could really count on a couple of my neighbors in an emergency. One woman is a retired social worker and the other is a guy who works nights but seems pretty handy if needed.

  7. Do I know water problems! When the were in condo and I was pres. of board just got plumber right out. Then, since, have lived in apt. and have great maint man. I LOVE tools, not a clue what to do with them. Keep loaded tool box and honestly, would rely on the kindness of strangers, until I move to an asst. living home. It is a #$%^ being alone and disabled.

  8. And here I thought this post was going to wind down to a BLADDER ISSUE! SO, I'm glad to read that is NOT the ending...but yes...having an emergency plan is best in my book. And I KEEP a book of emergency numbers, with doctor's numbers, friends numbers, my medication lists, where to find my advanced healthcare directive and power of attorney papers, my MedicAlert ID number, work numbers, etc. When in a relapse, it is on the counter top where ANYONE could find it...and I have a spare key outside should I need to instruct 911 to get in and NOT break down my door!

    Linda D. in Seattle

  9. Linda, Those are terrific ideas! I know of a gentleman with MS who got a high fever and found that he suddenly couldn't move. The paramedics did break down his door, but then left him with a hole in the wall that he couldn't fix. It's always the surprise attacks that mess up our wonderful plans for independence.
    And THANK YOU for the Gratitude with Attitude Award, which I don't plan to pass along because I don't have the energy.