Thursday, January 24, 2013

I Share a Shower With a Giant

Today, I did something I have not done in 16 months. I showered in the master bathroom.

I know. Super exciting. The last time I stood in that shower was September 21, 2011. I have missed my shower. I've used hotel showers, and nice rental house showers, and crappy rental house showers. I've even fallen through a rental house shower. I've been using the really nice main bath shower for 2 1/2 months. But, I missed my shower.

So...I stepped into my shower today. Only, it wasn't my shower. Like everything since the fire, it has changed. For the most part, I enjoyed the changes.

Nice, yes?
I love the tiles!

And the new rain glass shower doors are awesome!

But then I stepped into the shower and...



This shower was built for a GIANT.

No, seriously! Look again. I'll give you an EYE-LEVEL view. 

I kid you not. That faucet handle is armpit level for me. Armpit level! I can barely reach the soap! I have to stand on my tippy-toes to  adjust the shower head. Towel over the shower bar? Toss and hope. 

The Big Guy's response to my distress? "So I won't have to bend over to get my head under the water?!"


I guess I don't call him the Big Guy for nothin'. Last time I let him design a shower stall. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How Not To Do Surgery

How to Not Have a Successful Hip Impingement Surgery
Tips from Tuna

  • Address your surgeon as 'Mr. Dude'
  • Render your Morphine pump useless. 
  • Tolerate replacement pain medication with vomiting and nausea
  • Develop a fever and spend 10 hours in the emergency room
  • Develop a spontaneously draining hematoma and spend 6 hours in the emergency room
  • Get so loopy on 2nd replacement pain medication that you find the sound of your own voice absolutely hysterical. 
How to Make the Best Out of a Crappy Hip Surgery 
  • While looped up on pain medication, discover that your tongue is too big for your mouth. 
  • Wear Ninja Turtle PJs everywhere. 
  • Ask your siblings for fresh ice water 25 seconds after they sit down. 
  • Bling your crutches. 

Graffiti-print  duct tape-covered crutches. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Reunion Avenue

Today was surgery day for Tuna. It has been a long, long day.

Tuna could not eat after 1:30 a.m. and she is sort of the opposite of a gremlin. We didn't feed her after midnight and she turned into a monster. At 8:00 a.m. when I denied her a drink of water, she unleashed a torrent of profanity one would not expect from a Ninja Turtle-printed pajama-clad patient. At that moment, I said a little prayer for her nurses.

Tuna is funny, and tough, and super-resilient and I love those qualities in her. But...she is also smart mouthed, and ornery, and sometimes her filter malfunctions. Okay, most of the time her filter malfunctions. When the first nurse we encountered asked the date of her last menstrual period, Tuna gave her a running monologue about the new Tampax radiant tampons and how they probably make your vagina glow and wouldn't that be fun? I said another little prayer for her nurses. I reminded Tuna that the nurses pick the size of your needles.

This is not Tuna's first surgery, but it was her first planned surgery. She usually enters into these things on an emergency basis. Like when she was five and got the flu like the rest of the family only she didn't get better when everyone else did and three days after an ER visit we returned to the ER to learn that her appendix had been ruptured for several days. That surgery ended with an eight-day hospital stay. Or when she went roller skating and broke her hip. That surgery is what led to this one. It required an ambulance ride and an emergency surgery to pin the bone back together.

That surgery went really well. She got two screws in the hip and even though the surgeon gave her less than a 40% chance of maintaining blood flow to the bone, the bone healed nice and solid.

Post surgery, SCFE pinned with screws 

It healed nice and solid with a little extra somethin'. It healed with two really long screws and a marble-sized bump (or bony prominence) on the ball of the hip (femoral neck). Look! I speak ortho now. It was the bump we suspect was causing most of her pain, though the screw heads may have contributed as well so both were removed today. My girl is now bump and hardware free.

Pain free she is not. We arrived at the hospital at 9:30. Surgery was scheduled for 11:00 but was delayed. Surgery began at 1:45. We finally met up at Reunion Avenue at 6:00 and made the tear-filled journey to her room.

Reunion Avenue, the happy place where you meet your groggy post-op kiddo.

She got settled in with a morphine pump and the good times began. Her oxygen levels are dipping a bit here and there causing her monitors to beep which is generally met with a colorful shout in the general direction of the machine. Occasionally, she wakes briefly to illustrate her pain with colorful descriptives or to carry on one-sided conversations about strange things. In between, she dozes. But never, ever, does she drop her cell phone. It is amazing.

It is now almost 9:00 and I'm tired, hungry, and in serious need of a Dr. Pepper. We have a long night ahead and the good doctors will start making rounds at dark:thirty. Whether I've slept or not, dark:thirty tomorrow will officially mark the end of this very long day and I will greet the dawn with new hope. And, I'll say a few more prayers for her nurses.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Behold, The Pantry!

Well. We've done it. We've built the pantry.

And by we, I mean the Big Guy built the pantry and I told him how to do it. I did a good job too. I mean the Big Guy did a good job. He did. I love my new pantry.

When we moved back into the house in November, the pantry was not finished and as we had not fully settled up with the insurance company and we were out of pantry.

I was unhappy. I stormed. I pouted. Then I demanded that we sit down together and find a temporary solution.

This was the temporary solution:

Because we have fabulous friends, the can rack was together before we moved in. Because we had a small catastrophe with the insurance company and they abruptly ended our extended living expense earlier than agreed we have purchased a full household worth of rental furniture. Sigh. 

So, we took the rented nightstands we now own and don't want and stacked them in the pantry with lengths of plywood layered between and on top. Hey, it kept the food off the floor. It worked, okay?

Finally, the time came to purchase the shelving and build the pantry. YAY!

But first, everything had to come out of the pantry. Oh wow. It was super ugly. 

We pulled everything out into the family room. 

Then it spilled over into the kitchen. 

And then it consumed the dining room table. 

So, we ate out Monday night. Tuesday night we ordered pizza. But...

By bedtime Tuesday night, it was almost finished and we had regained full use of our family room, kitchen, and dining room again. 

Behold, the pantry!

I am in heaven. We are eating at home again (minus pantry building). We have room to store food. Everything is neat and organized, which I expect to last until the first child strolls in there. 

All is perfect in the pantry!

Now c'mon. You know I can't end a What-A-Crock blog post like that! 

Remember Flooring Guy? Remember how hard he worked at getting our flooring all squared and level? Behold, the work of Flooring Guy. 

Do you see it? Start at the bottom left corner and just follow the grout line up...up...oops...yeah. Sigh. What a nerd. This is a minor, insignificant little thing in the grand scheme of things, but when the man leaves the steps unfinished, the basement unfinished, and then tries to pursue bad check charges on his stopped payment...

Well, what a goober. 

Have I told you lately how much I dislike fire recovery? 

Have I told you lately how much I love my new pantry! 

See...there it is again. The good, the bad, the whole crock.    


Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Flooring Guy

In an effort to stay as positive as possible (ha!) and perhaps in an effort to not 'air the dirty laundry' I have left much of our struggle off of the blog. I've been doing some soul searching on this subject. My soul is deep folks, deep. I have decided that I have not been true to the spirit of the blog. You know...the good, the bad, the whole crock.

So, here we go people. We're going to journey right down into the bad.

I could not even imagine when our house caught fire how much time rebuilding our home, our lives, would consume. Not in my wildest imagination could I have understood what our lives would look like going forward. To say I was naive was an understatement. We both were, the Big Guy and I. Naive.

He trusted contractors much more than I. Much more. I wouldn't trust a one of them any further than I could throw them and I really couldn't throw any of them at all so...

Actually, I could probably throw the flooring guy. I can do a lot when I'm angry.

Well...wait. I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning here. I'll try to be brief. (Me? Giggle.)

The flooring guy was hired to install flooring. Carpet. Tile. Linoleum. Carpet in 2 bedrooms and on 2 sets of stairs. Linoleum upstairs, and down. Tile on the main floor. Simple. For a set amount of money, Flooring Guy was going to install the flooring in 5 days. F-I-V-E days. This is where the story gets reminiscent of The Money Pit with Tom Hanks.

A week in, Flooring Guy had not made it out of the master bathroom. Every day, every single day, he would say "tomorrow I'll start the linoleum." Every day, I would visit the house and find him laying tile.

He ran into lots of issues you see. The floor was extremely un-level he said, and he worked hard to level it. This required multiple trips to the big box hardware store to buy more floor leveling stuff. Then, an unscrupulous contractor who had agreed to be paid when the insurance check arrived (another blog post entirely), blazed into the house one day demanding payment immediately. He apparently yelled and cursed and made quite a scene.

Some of our contractors were humored by the scene. Others were angered. Some worried they wouldn't get paid. Others just fled the scene never to return. The 'others' included Flooring Guy's crew. So, our already painfully slow flooring installer moved even slower. He borrowed other contractors and helpers  to assist from time to time. Our other crews were generous with their time and muscles and helped carry large rolls of flooring up and down stairs for him.

At one point, he used some of our other crew members to help carry a very cold roll of linoleum into the basement. He turned a corner too sharply, with no direction to his new-found helpers and cracked the roll of linoleum. We paid for materials on this job so this was at our expense. He left in anger and did not return that day.

I was, at this point, beginning to joke that when we moved back into the house Flooring Guy would be eating breakfast with us because of course, he would still be there laying flooring!

I was wrong. He demanded a check for the remainder of the bill. This amounted to several thousand dollars. If it was post-dated and given that day, Flooring Guy would show up once again with a full crew and finish the job. As I said earlier, the Big Guy trusted contractors more than I and he wrote this check.

Flooring Guy promptly disappeared. We promptly stopped payment on the check.

This is what is finished in the basement. The linoleum ends just outside of my son's room. It is not adhered to the floor. The basement floor has been 'leveled' which means the washing machine, when it leaks (again, a whole  blog post right there) leaks water across the floor toward the sheetrock instead of toward the floor drain. Criminy!

The basement stairs never got carpeted, but the stairs on the main floor did. Sort of. For reasons only Flooring Guy could possibly understand, the carpeting above that top stair is cut into two strips and as you can see, the top strip is not exactly attached. 

For all that fancy piece work, Flooring Guy still ran out of carpet. 

A whole stairway plus a single stair did not get any carpet and yet...there were carpet strips scattered here and there like confetti on the front lawn.   


So anyhoo. Today we get a call from the county prosecutor's office. This nerd has turned us over to the prosecutor for a bad check. They required us to prove that we had enough funds in the bank when the check was written to cover the check. Our bank was all too happy to write a letter stating that we did indeed have the funds to cover the check. We've assured the prosecutor's office that we have sent a formal dispute letter to Flooring Guy via certified mail and that he is fully aware of why he is not being paid. 

So here is the whole crock. I'm mad. I'm fighting mad. I am so angry. I am angry that this nerd would do this shoddy job and try to collect the full amount of money on it. I am angry that he would even pursue it. I am actually quite stunned at the nerve of Flooring Guy.

But, this is just ONE story. One blog post. I could write a hundred more. I could fill a whole shelf with proverbial crocks. I could tell you about more battles. More contractors. It just drags on and on. The fire? The flames? That was just the beginning of this disaster. I thought those first steps back into my burnt out home were the hardest steps I would ever take, but they were just baby steps. I have walked this walk until I am exhausted. I am sick of the path.  

I had no idea how long and complicated this journey would be. How could I have known? 

I do want to acknowledge that we chose this particular path. We chose to contract this mess ourselves. (Okay, not exactly. The Big Guy chose it. I went along kicking and screaming.) We could have hired a contractor. When you face a house fire, you have several paths to choose from. What I've realized though, is that none of those paths would have been easy. None of them were going to be simple or pain free. There was no good option. I have talked with many fire recovery survivors. The stories are different, but they are all tear jerkers. 

So, we are living in our home again and for that I am grateful. It is so much easier to fight the battles from our own home. And, there are things I love about the house. It is fabulous. But we are far from finished. We are still in full-fledged fire recovery mode. We still have contractors to deal with. We still have projects to complete. We still have insurance money to fight for (though we have now hired someone to fight that fight for us). We're still recovering. I'm afraid this time next year we will still be recovering. 

That is the whole crock. The good and the bad of the thing.