Backstory

Warning: This post is going to be loooooooooooong, probably boring, with no blog-sexy before & afters.

Please take a moment to look back on this post (specifically the part where I talked about finishing up projects that are dragging along) and laugh at me. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way.

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that Dots has been having hip pain. And also that we recently had our electrical panel replaced. For those of you know don’t know, I will now launch into the very long story explaining the previous sentence.

Dots’ problem started sometime around Freckles’ 7th birthday. We were doting on Helper Dog, and talking about how it didn’t feel like 6 years since we adopted him, and patting ourselves on the back for having such healthy 7 and almost-7 year old dogs. I’m not going to pause and let you laugh this time, so just try to keep the snickering to a dull-roar.

We had noticed that Dots was letting out the occasional yelp when we cuddled her, but we could never figure out a reason. Whatever hurt was gone as soon as she yelped. Similar to the yelp that Freckles lets out if one of us accidentally steps on his foot (he is extremely-helpful/always underfoot). Then one morning at 5:30am Dots woke up screaming (there really is no other word for it). I thought maybe I had rolled over onto her legs or something, and tried to comfort her. I stroked her ears and told her I was sorry, and that hopefully whatever was bothering her would feel better when we got up. An hour and a half later it happened again. I stroked her ears to comfort her and noticed that her right hind leg was twitching/spasming. A few minutes later she seemed perfectly fine, and didn’t make a sound when I tried to find a sore spot.

When we got up she was favoring the leg, didn’t want to walk down the few steps to the backyard, and was sitting or lying down a lot instead of her usual wiggling. Anyone who knows Dottie knows this isn’t normal. We called a few vets offices that were open on Saturday, but most of them didn’t accept walk-ins or have appointments available. They said if it was really bad that we could take her to an emergency vet, but they likely wouldn’t know what was wrong and it would be very expensive. We decided to watch her throughout the day, and take her to our vet as soon as possible. She seemed to limber up and the very short walk we went on didn’t seem to bother her, and at one point she ran around the backyard and tackled Freckles like a nutcase. We also bought her a glucosamine supplement. I thought maybe it was arthritis since she seems the most sore in cold weather, or hip displaysia, or nerve pain. Regardless, we wanted to have the vet look at her.

And then the water heater stopped working. Robert was in the back of the house, and I was trying to make a latte, but someone had decided to use my thermometer to attempt to check the internal temperature of meat (I’m pretty sure that failed horribly, so he – I mean they – just cut a slit into it to check pinkness). I turned the hot water on and held the thermometer under the stream while I reached for the dishsoap. “This water sure is taking a long time to heat up,” I thought. Five minutes later the thermometer was still reading somewhere in the 70 degree range. I called to Robert that I thought maybe the water heater from 2001 had finally died. He came into the kitchen and was equally confused by the lack of hot water, he checked to see if the water heater was running (it wasn’t), and went to check the breaker. The breaker seemed to have tripped, so he flipped it back on and the water heated up fairly quickly. I made my latte, Googled “water heater break trips randomly” without any concrete answers, and we went on about our day thinking “we may need to buy a water heater”.

A few days later the same thing happened again. Fortunately at this point we decided to mainly leave the breaker off when we were home until we could replace the breaker. Again, please hold your laughter.

On a Wednesday night shortly before Super Bowl (I work in sports merchandising, so my work picks up this time of year), and right before Robert planned to take Dots to the vet, we decided to replace the water heater breaker. We removed the old breaker, went to Lowe’s, bought a new 30A breaker, commented on the relatively low cost of new electrical panels, and went home to install it. The short version is, there were a lot of sparks whenever we tried to turn the power back on, with or without the water heater breaker installed. We made the decision to leave the power off to the whole house, and call in a professional. I whined a lot on Twitter.


Look, new panel! Also I never finished painting my house.

The next morning I was at my parents’ house having breakfast & discussing cabinet hardware, and Robert met with an electrician he knew through work. Diagnosis: our panel was old, and improperly wired. You never want to hear the electrician say “well, they just wire this whichever way they felt like it that day, didn’t they?” He them proceeded to remove the old panel, cut a larger hole, and install a new panel. I was going to take pictures but I didn’t want to bother him. Also my camera battery died right before we shut the power off.


This pretty much expresses how I felt. Also note the unused contractor paper.

A few hours later we had this.

Sorry for the terrible night-lighting iPhone picture.

A few weeks later we got the bill for $636. We are so thankful that we were able to use one of Robert’s connections, since we know what this typically costs. We are also thankful that Dots had some luck on the glucosamine supplement through this process, because we felt terrible that she hadn’t had an appointment yet. After the panel was replaced she had another episode and we felt like the worst dog parents ever. About $400 worth of vet visits, pain medication, and X-rays later, she was diagnosed with the beginning stages of hip displaysia and arthritis (one of the things I suspected). We’re supposed to give her fish oil (for the omega-3s), keep her moderately-active so she retain the muscles that support the weaker joint, give her pain medication for any other flair ups, and consider surgery in about 3-4 years.

So, that’s about 1100 words to say that we’ve had some unexpected bills lately. And while we are thankful to be able to pay those bills without issue, we also have the second half of Robert’s tuition to pay. Basically, all of it made us realize that we need to be better about saving, and we need to build our emergency fund back up. So rather than regularly checking things off our to do list, projects are going to be a little slower than I had hoped this year. We have a lot of completed projects that I have neglected to blog about (like the super exciting process of recaulking the tub! …I’ll be skipping that post) and I am a project supply hoarder, so we have some things that will only require minimal costs to finish.  My hours at work have also picked back up for the time being, which will help with budgeting.

Sidenote: I just paid off the balance on my credit card this morning, and the feeling of not having that hanging over me is almost as jazzing as completing a large project. Yes, my nerd is showing.

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7 Responses to Backstory

  1. Oh man. I so know how you feel. We set up a bunch of emergency fund tax-free savings accounts only a couple months ago specifically for situations like this (we have one for our car fund, one for the pets, and one for general savings) and started contributing monthly, but it’s going to take us a while to build them up. In the meantime, we’re saving as much as we possibly can.

    • Cait says:

      Thanks, Jeanette! We are also in the “saving as much as we possibly can” boat right now after we let our budgeting get a little lax and splurged a bit too much in 2012.

  2. Gamble says:

    Poor Dots!!! =(

  3. Pingback: Spending Freeze » Hernando House

  4. Jane @ The Borrowed Abode says:

    So sorry to hear about Dots! That is a huge bummer to have to deal with hip dysplasia. Did they prescribe any joint supplements like Synovi or Phycox? They are stronger than just glucosamine but still natural. I give them to my Charlie for her knee and hip issues and they work wonders.

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