24 September 2018

I have survived

Well, I survived the great eventful bathroom makeover. I'd waited 30 years for that moment and I can't think why I didn't do it sooner. Well, I can. Life just got in the way. Work, having a baby, Greg's alcoholism, caring for my mother. Excuses, excuses, I know, but seriously there never seemed to be a right time when I could devote time to planning it and executing it. The last few months have given me that time. Kay's bathroom (or, to be more precise, the family bathroom) is now looking great. It's not an experience I'd want to repeat in a hurry, although repeat it I must, as I have my own ensuite bathroom to update too.

It took a fair bit of planning, getting my head around what was available, what my plumbing system dictated (poor pressure at the top of the house) and what we wanted. I let Kay do a lot of the choosing as it is the bathroom she would be using. She's been used to a dribble for a shower, poor flush on the toilet and increasing growth of mould, so I figured she deserved a big say in the design. She had a vision for colours, so I gave her free rein.

Here are some of the before, during and after photos.

BEFORE - The sad 1960s style bathroom

DURING - Back to the brickwork and replastering

The plumber and his young gofer lad worked like Trojans every day for the two weeks allocated to the task, bringing in a plasterer, electrician and tiler in a well organised relay. The young plumber's lad ran up and down my five flights of stairs all day long, carrying out the discarded rubble and rubbish and bringing in the new, lugging about 20 different toolboxes containing valves and pipes and screws. He also used to vacuum-clean down the stairs each evening before they left. They barely stopped for refreshments which I plied them with regularly. I cannot fault their stamina and attention to perfection. But, oh dear, they managed to mark walls up and down the stairs with their grubby hands and tool boxes, so that I had to paint one complete landing wall after they'd gone and touch up the skirtings. The lad seemed to spread all the tool boxes into three of the bedrooms, even though I had shut the doors deliberately to keep out the brick dust. Each evening I would find the bedroom doors open again and a layer of brick dust covering everything. Each morning I would shut the doors to find them open yet again in the evening. One evening I discovered a brown wet stain on a cream bedroom carpet. I worried overnight that there was a pipe leaking and rusting from the adjacent bathroom work, only to discover the next morning from the lad that he had accidentally kicked over a full mug of coffee. On a cream carpet! He looked sheepish and said he had tried to clean it up himself, but of course had said nothing until confronted by me the next morning, by which time it was too late to remedy. I have scrubbed and scrubbed and removed about 90% of the stain but it still shows slightly! They could see I was not happy, but I did not have the heart to push it further as I was so happy with their hard work otherwise.

THE FINISHED ARTICLE - Clean and fresh

So it was all worth it, although I can see why my reluctance to get workmen in is backed up by the pain, mess and damage they cause all over the house. I shall try not to leave it another 30 years to get my en suite bathroom done, but may just give myself a few months rest before I put myself through it all over again.

01 September 2018

Denial in 3D

Wow. Did anyone see that documentary about the BBC presenter Adrian Chiles last week? If not, here is an opportunity to see it.  This man admits to drinking 25 units a day  (almost double the weekly recommended amount EACH DAY) for six of every seven days of the week. He only abstains on one day when he is working on air. He appears to think he doesn't really have a problem, but then tots up that his units are into three figures on a weekly basis. Jeez. If that's not a problem, I want to know what is. 

The programme shows him going along for a blood test which sadly shows his liver function is OK. I say "sadly" because that often supports the alcoholic's blinkered thinking that they don't have a problem. However by the time the blood test might flag up something, it is often too late.  The liver is a very forgiving organ and can take a lot of hammering, before it finally gives up the battle. However a subsequent ultrasound shows Chiles that he does in fact have fibrosis of the liver which will in turn lead to cirrhosis and death, unless he does something pretty soon about it. That is a more sobering thought for him, but even then he limits his drinking to a still deadly level compared to what is acceptable.

Denial is one of the symptoms of alcoholism.  The alcoholic thinks he is invincible. Greg thought it. After every detox in hospital he would kid himself the occasional drink wouldn't hurt and he could take it or leave it. Until it spat him out on an intensive care bed and flat-lined him on the monitor, too late to turn back.

Let's not beat about the bush. Alcohol is a poison and, like any other poison, can be deadly toxic if not consumed within safe levels. It is not something you can play Russian roulette with and hope you are the one who will be fine. Adrian Chiles should take note.