Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I don't want to start any blasphemous rumors...
Seriously, we're being punk'd by the universe. Someone has been made aware that we got some money from our tax refund and has decided it must be rapidly taken away from us before we go and do something crazy with it. Something rash and irresponsible, like taking a short trip for our 10 year wedding anniversary next month. Just a local trip, mind you. Not back to Maui, where we spent our honeymoon and promised ourselves we'd return for our 10th. No, no! No way can we afford that. But we got a small chunk back from taxes, enough to go up to Big Sur and Cambria for a few days.
So...first thing to happen is the fuel pump in Jim's truck breaks. That was an expensive fix, but we were relieved that it happened during the only time of year when there's a chance we could pay for it.
Then the plumbing incident occured. Last Thursday, just before Jim got home, disgusting brown water began gurgling up into the shower and bathtubs in the house. Awesome. So Jim tried to snake out whatever might be causing the backup. No luck, better call a plumber. Crap. I don't know a good plumber, we've never had an issue before. So I look online, pick one called Rescue Rooter because it looked like it was a big corporation - must be trustworthy, right? And they had 24 hour service, and it was after regular business hours..and we needed help right way. So they came and tried to snake out the drains....and were unsuccessful. The guy told us he'd have to send a crew the next day with a snake that had a camera on it so they could find the blockage. This, he announced, would cost $425.00. Just for them to look, then we'd have to see what they found and go from there. *gulp* So they arrived on Friday (2 hours late) and I sequestered all the dogs in the bedroom so the crew could go in and out of the house. They come back to me with this news: they found the clog, but it's in the sewage pipe under the front yard. They will need to dig down to it, replace the section of pipe and put a release valve on it. This, they say, will cost $2,250.00 - possibly more if they find other issues beyond the clog. I had to call Jim at work to tell him we might as well kiss our vacation goodbye because we were buying a piece of sewer pipe instead.
So....the day dragged on. They had one guy here digging the hole, the rest of the crew went off to other jobs. At 4pm Friday the guy tells us he's leaving, they'll be back tomorrow. So...Saturday. The crew arrives and since Jim's home, I just hole up in the bedroom with the dogs, TRYING to get some stamps carved (oh yeah, did I mention how little work I was able to get done Friday?). The crew puts their camera/snake contraption into the pipe beyond the leak and lo and behold! Another clog is found! Under the street! But still in "our" portion of the pipe. And it's going to require blowing the clog out with a power washer and replacing thirty feet of pipe with something called permaliner. This, my friends, was going to cost TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. So we were both freaking the f*ck out. Complete meltdown. We don't have anything CLOSE to that much money. The $2,250.00 we were already looking at was going to break us. We don't have credit cards anymore - last summer I went through debt settlement, paying all our credit card debt off for about half of what we owed and ruining our credit. We had to, though, we were getting buried in debt. SO...yeah. No credit card to put it on, nothing close to that amount in the bank. None of our parents would have been able to lend it to us. Maybe we could have taken it from Jim's 401k..but it was Saturday, there was no one to talk to. Oh - and I forgot to mention, I just had the surgery to fix my broken nose last Tuesday..so I've still got a splint taped to my face and I'm feeling like crap anyway..before this happened.
SO...I called my friend just to freak out about it, and she saved the day. She gave me the number of her good friend who happens to be a plumber. I called him and told him what was going on he said "STOP!!! Don't let them do anything, you're being ripped off!!!". None of what they were saying we absolutely needed was necessary. And these people were watching us freak out when they first told us about it. I was in tears, Jim was just about having a heart attack, we were running around trying to make phone calls about the 401k..it was very obvious we could NOT afford this - and they would have happily taken the money we'd have put ourselves into debt to get. Anyway, Frank - our Fairy Godplumber, told us to just tell them to stop, pay them for whatever they did (which was basically to put a snake in the pipe to look for a clog, dig a hole, and take a chunk out of our wastewater pipe). We asked them how much all of that cost and they said it would be $1,100.00. !!!!!!!!!!!! Frank had already told me he could do the entire job (not just what they'd done so far, but to dig up the yard and replace the entire pipe) for under a thousand. I called him back and he told me not to pay them that much. Offer the $425.00 the originally quoted for snaking the pipe and maybe $200.00 for digging the hole. They argued with us. We called and spoke to a supervisor and told him we knew they were upselling us on thousands of dollars worth of work that didn't need to be done. Suddenly they were able to unclog the pipe and replace the section they removed, and put in the release valve...for a thousand, total. Amazing, no? Frank came by to check their work (as they were working..so they could see we had someone watching out for us). Thank GOD for honest people. I can not believe this company was just going to stand there and rob us. So.....despite having had to spend a thousand dollars, we felt like we got off easy all things considered.
Sunday managed to be a nice day and no catastrophies occured. Oh wait, except one of our dogs, Lucy, seemed a little off. She threw up after she ate breakfast (very unusual - this is the rabbit killer, who NEVER lets food get away from her). She was acting sort of weird. Ears down, walking kind of slowly (again, weird - this dog does everything in fast forward). She acted reluctant to jump up on things that she normally leaps and bounces across. She usually treats our house like an agility course, leaping from the pass-through, down to the couch, onto the coffee table and out the back door. Something was wrong. Then I fed her dinner and she just stood there, looking at her bowl. Again...wrong. This dog is usually finished with her food before I've managed to put the other three dogs' bowls on the floor. She finally ate..but really slowly, and only because she didn't want the others to get what was hers. I worried all night and knew I'd probably be headed to the vet on Monday.
Monday comes along and yep, she's definitely not feeling well. She did the same thing with her breakfast - just looked at it, then reluctantly ate it. She was walking really gingerly, like something hurt. She's a corgi, so I was wondering if it could be a back issue..but I also noticed she went outside, tried to poop..but didn't. Uh oh. Blockage? She does eat all kinds of weird things - sticks, dirt...rabbits, lizards. Off to the vet we went. There they did an xray (cha-ching!!) and gave her fluids (cha-ching!). The vet read the xray and didn't see any obvious blockage, but he seemed to feel something firm in her abdomen. That might have just been the food in her stomach, though. He did notice she seemed tender in one area of her back. The conclusion - her back is probably hurting and maybe that's making her just reluctant to eat. They gave me an anti-inflammatory and said to have her rest in her crate for a while to rest her back. But they'd call me after the radiologist looked at the xrays, since he's the one who really knows how to read to them. So..I get back home (oh..I forgot - my morning was already eaten by the doctor appointment to remove the splint from my nose). It's now around 1pm and I can FINALLY start to work. I'm panicking because I'm late on so many stamps and I'm getting lots of angry Etsy convos to that effect. I start on a stamp...and the phone rings. It's my vet. The radiologist read the xray and thinks Lucy has an intestinal blockage called an intussusception- where the intestine sort of telescopes into itself. Very dangerous, life threatening, requires immediate surgery. I'm sent to an animal hospital in Ventura, where they're waiting for me.
Jim raced home early from work to go with me, and I was freaking out. The vet warned me the surgery would cost between 4 and 5k!! I'm sick with worry about my dog, and also wondering where the f*** we're going to get this money, once again.
So...tax refund? All gone. We will spend our 10th anniversary marvelling at how well our toilets flush and petting our dogs, appreciating their good health.
And now I need to get up, feed the dogs (Lucy, by the way, was running, jumping and generally acting like a maniac when we got home from the hospital. As though nothing had ever been wrong. She farted the entire way home, making it necessary to ride with all the windows down..) and somehow carve, like, 200 stamps today.
Could somebody please point out the hidden cameras?