Almost three years ago, I learned the words “sewer rodding.” A drill bit of sorts is put into the sewer line and cuts through the roots that have intruded. There is a camera, too, so that the plumbers can see what’s there. In our case, they saw problems. The biggest, though not the only one, was that our pipe had slipped from the sewer main. It was just an inch or so, but it was going to get worse.
In order to repair it, we eventually learned, our garage would need to be taken down because it sits over the sewer line where it connects to the main. Worse still, our pipes are more than 20 feet below ground and we’d have to find a special contractor to dig down to them. In layman’s terms, that’s a big ass hole. For those of you who are plumbers, bear with me. This may be complete gibberish and make no sense at all.
We would have had to walk away from the house because that solution above would have cost more than $100,000 from start to rebuild. I never thought that a city plumbing engineer would be my hero, but when he came to see our disaster, he and the two contractors overseeing it realized that the best solution was to reconnect our plumbing to the nearest manhole. Access to that is in our neighbors’ backyard.
The city gave us special permission to take this option, and our neighbors let us dig up their yard. Bless them all. Work was done two years ago, and this summer our yard looks sort of normal, as you’ll see below.
This plumbing crisis happened two years after I was diagnosed with cancer. I hear some people say that they can handle everyday problems better after cancer. I am not one of those people. This was my crucible.
Cancer exhausted what coping strategies I had and this plumbing crisis dumped me over the edge. I had to find a psychiatrist to manage my meds because my GP no longer could. He is an alchemist, but more importantly he has the best rolodex this side of the Hudson River. He referred me to my counselor. Plumbers, doctors, and a gem of a counselor have helped me climb out again, though I still struggle.
This is a before and after story, but it’s not the kind you’ll find in People or Better Homes and Gardens. I am not a gardener. I grew up in the desert, and I don’t have a strong relationship with green things. But I have a husband and a mother-in-law who have been dedicated to getting this backyard back in shape. It’s a work in progress, still dotted with weeds and rough edges. But it’s so much better than it was.
Sometimes things do get better.