Digging Holes

I have a number of hobbies.  One that I really love is digging holes in dirt.  It’s almost as much fun as taking a sledgehammer and breaking up concrete.  It is certainly more fun than taking my brother to the doctor, which I had to do twice this week so on Saturday I starting digging a hole. The cool factor in digging a hole is that you can just look at the resulting dirt pile to see how much you’ve accomplished.

Here’s a hole I dug yesterday in my backyard:

Shoe by Hole

Shoe trying to show how big the hole is

The shoe is there to show the size of the hole.  My shadow is there because I find this whole light source camera angle thing confusing. The whole picture concept I had was kind of a failure, but I was standing there on one foot and didn’t feel like taking another picture.

Let me explain to those of you still reading – This hole is where the valves for the backyard irrigation system used to be.  One of the valves developed a leak that soaked the side of the house.

The vavles

Note the missing valve and the mess the pipes were in.

The one on the far right was the one with the leak.

I know what you’re thinking, why not just replace the valve?  Well to quote The Great Gonzo in the Muppet Movie, “Sure, if you want to do it the easy way.”  The other reason is simply that the person I paid to install the system years ago put the whole thing too close to the house, and these valves fail all the time so best to move it.  Plus we’ve added a lot plants in the back, so it was time to change how the zones were plumbed.

The whole procedure can be summarized like this: Dig out all the dirt around the pipes, cut the pipes out of the ground, replace valve, put everything back while changing where some pipes go, put the dirt back and finally call the doctor to beg for drugs to deal with the terminal backache.

Couldn’t be easier.  It just takes some work, sweat, scraped knuckles, fingers glued together, backache, twice almost falling, a trip to the hardware store for the parts – I thought I had in the shed but didn’t – and a patient wife who is willing to let her husband tear up the backyard for a couple of weeks.

Seriously, it’s totally cool – Here’s a picture of half the dirt I moved:

The Dirt Pile

Half the dirt I dug. Sorry no shoe to gauge the size by.

I didn’t get a picture of the dirt in the wheelbarrow – was too busy putting my shoe back on.  The size of the dirt pile, the amount of wrecked piping and all the tools scattered about proved that I got a great deal done.

Wish I could say the same for visiting doctors this week.  On Monday we saw a doctor and a RN.  Both were very nice.  Both were helpful.  Both helped us see another doctor on Wednesday who helped us get another appointment with a different doctor next month.

None actually said, “Here’s what you do to fix this problem.”  Not one doctor we’ve seen yet has been able to say, “Here is the scientifically proven treatment that cures this cancer.”  That’s the problem with the human body and modern medicine, little certainty and a lot of “Studies suggest…”

We do have a treatment plan in mind and have discussed it with three doctors, two nurses, a receptionist and a couple of people we met in an elevator.  So far they all say, “That is a good treatment and has a reasonable possibility of working, but you need to talk to the specialist that does that.”  There have been no, “That won’t work,” or “you’re out of your mind to try that.”  It’s been a thoughtful, sympathetic, caring and sincere, “let’s get you to the right doctor.”

It’s been frustrating taking my brother through the process.  He’s looking for THE answer, that thing that will cure the cancer and make the world right again.  He looks to me and the doctors, and all we have to offer him is estimates, theories, statistics and uncertainty.

I find it so frustrating.  I can’t fix it for him.  He’s not a plumbing project where I know I can fix it – replace the valve, dig the dirt and solve the problem in 10 simple predictable steps. With the human body there is so much uncertainty that all we really can do is to take our best guess and hope.

And dig holes in the backyard.

Till next week,
Andrew

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I work in the high tech world doing software release engineering Then I got prostate cancer Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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4 Responses to Digging Holes

  1. bronxboy55 says:

    When it comes to illness, there can never be absolute assurances, but neither can there be a complete loss of hope. Your brother is lucky to have you by his side.

    Those pipes make my head hurt.

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  2. Yes, I can see that digging hole in the ground is much easier than managing illness in real life.

    AND I can tell that although you have more plants in the yard this year you are NOT a real gardener. Real gardeners call the stuff that makes up the ground “soil” while the rest of the world calls it “dirt.”

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    • Andrew says:

      My wife’s the gardener. I am just a guy that likes to dig. She buys the plants, puts a stake where she wants a hole and I just ask, “Is that a 1 gallon or a 5 gallon hole?”

      If it wasn’t for Heather my irrigation system would be watering what most of the world considers weeds…

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