I’ve spent the last five days learning more than I ever cared to know about plumbing. My wife and I decided, after years of living with a leaky faucet that required us to turn the hot water on and off by turning the shutoff valve UNDER the sink, to replace our faucet with a new one that would work properly. And we figured we might as well also replace our old dishwasher, which didn’t work and recently started ending each cycle with about two inches of brownish standing water in the basin. Needless to say we’ve been washing our dishes by hand for quite a while (and each time, reaching under the sink to turn on the hot water with the shutoff valve…).
So…we ordered our new dishwasher, and purchased our faucet. Initially, we were planning to have a plumber come to take out the old stuff and put in the new. Well, the day before our dishwasher was to arrive (and to be installed by the store that sold it to us), we had the plumber come out just to disconnect and haul away the old one. It was a quick and easy trip for him, and it still cost us $75, which is why we decided the install was going to be done by the store (in spite of reports that the store installs are never quite as good or reliable). The plumber’s estimate for the install of the new dishwasher, and replacing the old faucet with the new one (plus replacing an old shutoff valve and a few other odds and ends that would go along with all this) came to about $250–300.
The day of the dishwasher delivery came. My wife and I were ecstatic — we’d finally have a dishwasher again! The install guys took one look at our water line and informed us they couldn’t connect to it. The new water cable for the dishwasher was the wrong size for our valve, and they weren’t allowed to use the old line. And so we were left with a new dishwasher sitting in its box in the middle of our kitchen, right next to the new faucet sitting in its box. The store refunded our install fee, and we were left at square one.
Maybe I can do this…
The old supply line was still connected to our system, and it fit our dishwasher. The install guys couldn’t use it because it violated their store policy, but there wasn’t any reason I couldn’t. So, I though, “hey, maybe I can do this.” And so I started connecting. I followed the installation guide, connected the electrical, connected the drain hose out the back, and finally connected the old line to our new dishwasher. Once this was all finished (and this was all fairly straightforward), I turned the valve and…it leaked. No water made it to the dishwasher, and the old valve proved to leak like crazy. I shut off the hot water and took a look.
Here’s where the fun started. The valve that was previously installed consisted of THREE adaptors in a chain, welded and epoxied together, in order to connect a 1″ outlet to a 3/8″ water line. I started my search for an adaptor, but no such adaptor exists. The guy at the hardware store didn’t even believe me when I said the valve was 1″. “Nobody would install that for an indoor plumbing hook-up.” Well, someone did. And then someone ELSE created a Frankenstein adaptor to make it work. What I needed to do was to install a new shutoff valve, something far more involved than the initial hook-up of the dishwasher. I could have called a plumber here. But I didn’t. I thought, “I can figure this out.” And I did. I found the right valve, I shut the water off further down the line, cut the line to the dishwasher valve, installed the new valve, ran the new water line to the dishwasher, and our dishwasher came to life, working like a charm!
If I could do THAT, well…
Fresh off my victory over the new dishwasher and my installation of a new valve to fix the leak, I turned my sights to the faucet. As with everything else in our south Philly row home, the connections weren’t uniform, and I was again required to install a new shutoff valve. In addition, I had to cut through some copper tubing, and take out our old faucet, stuck in place through years of neglect. It came down to a hacksaw, pliers, and me twisting my body into unbelievably tight spaces like the world’s clumsiest and least graceful contortionist. At multiple points, I thought I had hit my limit. But each time, something kept pushing me forward. The thought kept coming into my head, “no, you can figure this out. Option A through G didn’t work, but there’s gotta be an option H!”
I’m happy to report that as if this writing, all of the new shutoff valves are in place, and leak-free. The copper tubing was cut perfectly and aligned with our new faucet. The faucet is sitting on the sink, perfectly aligned, leak-free, and working as it should. And of course, the dishwasher is still humming along.
But this isn’t a plumbing and home-repair blog, right?
Right…it’s a diabetes blog. You see, as I was sitting on the couch after finishing the last touches, admiring my work and enjoying the accomplishment, I saw a connection. You know that thought, that drive that I was talking about? The thought that went, “A through Q didn’t work, but maybe if I try R…”? That thought comes straight from living a life with diabetes.
How many times do we hit obstacles? How many times to we have patterns that don’t make sense initially? How many times do we have to figure out puzzles that defy easy answers, and add skills we didn’t know we had but had to make up on the fly? How many times have we hit the point of WANTING to call it quits, but pushed ourselves to take just one more step, try just one more adjustment? We Diabetians are a tenacious bunch, a group that’s unwilling to sit back and let defeat last. We might have our moments of giving up, our moments of failure, our setbacks, and our obstacles. But when push comes to shove, we know how to face a challenge.
We know how to think outside the box, we know how to respond to setbacks with deliberation and creativity. We have to know all of these things, because our bodies demand them from us everyday. We don’t really have the luxury of giving up, calling it quits, and walking away. And you know something? THAT’S why my wife and I have a working kitchen again!