Turns out that the basement flooding that blew out our furnace was caused by a backed up sewer drain, clogged with roots from our tree in the front yard. This had been forcing the sewer water (i.e. pee and poop) back into the basement mixed along with all of the melting snow and rain water that filled it. This is one of the headaches of living in an 1850s home with apparent historic "Mickey Mouse job" plumbing that decided to fail this week – decades and decades later.
Cleaning up from that required the help of both of our very strong brothers, our neighbor and his brother, a burly, wise cracking plumber named Marv, and Mike, the gym teacher. They devoted their Friday night and Saturday helping Craig discover and diagnosis what was an even bigger problem as evidenced by the 8-inch wide sausages of sulfuric rotting shit and organic matter that Craig and our neighbor pulled out of the pipe. They could only describe the substances they saw as like those you'd find floating around a lava lamp – only a lot more rancid.
Our big crew of demo heros helped Craig to cut out the sheetrock walls and pull out the insulation which had wicked water to heights of four feet. They pulled up all the floor tile and filled two trailers worth of dump runs with all of the things that were water damaged: couches, chairs, paintings, tables. But, they are just things. What we lost doesn't hold a candle to the devastation in Japan, keeping this all in unfortunate perspective.
The most entertaining part of the day was watching the crew of men stand around the sewer drain in the street to watch when the pipe auger pulled out the clog of rotting organic matter and the water gushed like a firehose. The boys also liked watching the water come flooding in every time the toilet flushed inside. It was awesome. You'd think they was a six-pack of brewskis down that hole the way they were glued to it. We are very, very lucky to have such strong, capable, strong stomached and helpful-in-times-of-crisis type friends and siblings.
I have stayed far away from the basement water and the subsequent mold and mildew for fear of contracting anything that my low immune system may not being able to fight it. The boys wouldn't let me down there even if I tried. We're having professionals come in this week to spray it all down with hospital-grade disinfectant to kill any germy growths brewing down there.
Speaking of germies, on Thursday I decided that I should call my Sloan oncology team to let them know about the sinus and upper respiratory symptoms I had been fighting for several days. My sinuses and throat had been aching and I'd been blowing out and coughing up a lot of bloody mucus in conjunction with coughing fits that lead me to gag. It was nothing debilitating and nothing that I would normally make a big deal of, but knowing that I could potentially go into transplant this week, I wanted to be sure that we kick this so that there are no cold viruses lurking.
I fully expected that they would call in antibiotics over the phone and all would be done. I was wrong. They heard my symptoms and wanted me in urgent care at Sloan-Kettering. They didn't want me to see my local oncologist or go to the local ER, they wanted to see me in person, despite the 3-plus hour travel time. I suppose I forgot what a careful watch I'm under. We need to make sure that I am in prime shape when entering this procedure and they want to leave nothing at chance.
So after I cried and whined for a little while at home by myself I sucked it up, threw together an overnight bag and drove to the train station. I took the train in solo to the city and spent several hours doing a lot of waiting in urgent care. My friend Lisa came over from Hoboken, NJ, to give me much-needed company by sitting in the waiting room with me, then coming back into the exam room to see the doctor with me. It was so assuring to have her there and it helped me to keep my mind off of how tired and whirling I was.
The urgent care doctor ordered blood cultures, a chest x-ray, nasal swabs, and gave me a thorough physical exam. Anything scary, like a pneumonia, was ruled out. He explained that even so, they wanted to treat me more aggressively than normally necessary as if I am fighting any kind of infection, I cannot go into transplant. I left with a z-pack of antibiotics and the assurance that I "look good."
Lisa then escorted me through the pelting rain and wind back to Hoboken where we shared fancy scrambled eggs cooked by her boyfriend Seth, good conversation and a warm cup of tea before I crashed on their comfy couch, falling asleep to the sound of raindrops on the sky light above me. Friday morning I followed her directions to navigate back to Grand Central and eventually back to Tariffville, CT. In total, just over a 24-hour trek. Then came the pipe and poop adventures of the weekend ... .
With a lot of determination during all of this, every bill has been paid a month ahead and all of our paperwork minutely organized, filed and in order. I packed a suitcase with three months worth of clothes and another suitcase of things to entertain me during that time. It's amazing what can be accomplished when it has to be. Everything is ready to go, I just need the word to hit the big red button. And in two days, I will know whether or not we lift off.
Tomorrow I travel back to Sloan-Kettering. I'm meeting up with Lisa and another dear friend, Meredith, to chill for a bit, then to the hospital for a resting echocardiogram, a pulmonary function test, and the all-important PET Scan. Tomorrow evening when the tests are all completed I'll meet back up with Meredith who will be working in Manhattan and we'll ride the train together back to her apartment in White Plains, NY, where I'll crash for the night. Phew.
On Tuesday, I'll take the train back into Manhattan and meet with Dr. Sauter to go over the test results and hear his plan. My head is reeling for sure and all of these logistics and multi-scenario preparations have most certainly been exhausting, but the distractions have almost been welcome. I'm ready for whatever the news is. No matter what happens, I've done my damn best and that is all that I can ask of myself.