August 19, 2013

The Mystery of the Exploding Toilet

I will preface this post with a warning: Do not read if the subject of poo offends you. Also don't read if you are eating, especially if you are eating mushy weetbix. If you are a parent, read on, as neither of those things will bother you in the slightest!

I was having a coffee with my friend Nat on Friday before we headed off to our sons' athletics carnival. We were congratulating ourselves on both of our toddler daughters becoming fully toilet trained in the last month, which is a pretty big milestone, not only for them, but for us. It is the Milestone of No More Nappies, and by extension, no more cleaning up someone's poo off their, admittedly adorable, bottom! Parents of the world, you know what I'm talking about. We crave this milestone. We love this milestone.

Cue a perfect example of 'pride goeth before a fall'. Oh the pride! Oh the fall!!

Downstairs at our house we have a very large two car garage. Well I'm sure technically two cars would fit, but our garage is so full of STUFF that you would be hard pressed to park a pair of roller skates in there.

Off the garage is a small bathroom with a shower and toilet. On Saturday, we went downstairs, opened the garage and were greeted by the alarming sight of a garage floor swimming in poo and a toilet overflowing with what seemed like the effluent of the entire population of Collaroy. And here's the reason for my earlier warning. It looked exactly like mushy weetbix. With dates floating in it. And a MUCH more fruity scent.

And Oh. My. God. The stench!

I grabbed my phone and called our friend Guy who is a professional fireman, but like most firies, has another trade; in Guy's case, plumbing. He instructed us not to let any water down any sink in the house or flush any toilets and he would be there within the hour.

And so began a back-breaking, heart-breaking, nose-breaking five hours of removing every item from our garage that had been seeped in poo onto the lawn, and the removal of ALL THAT POO.

I don't want to gross you out more than I already have. I think you get the picture. Oh you want a picture? Really?? Well okay . . .

Oh come on, you know you wanted to see it . . .
Then Guy arrived - the plumbing equivalent of Superman - and John and I let our own superpowers be revealed. Together, we became some kind of stinky Super Heroes League.

My super power? Poo Immunity. As a mother, I have wiped up enough poo to make me resistant to its malodorous stink and repulsive appearance.

John's super power? Poo Eliminator. As a Virgo, he wields disinfectant like Spiderman wields webs. He dispatched two litres of Pine-O-Clean in 15 minutes. No germ escaped his reach. Bring in fellow Virgo, big son Ryan, and you could've eaten off the garage floor after 5 hours. (Or not. I probably still wouldn't).

But Guy? He was the Big Kahuna of our little poo elimination outfit. First up, his detective work. We had to download a Sewer System Diagram for our property from the internet. Using this, he began to dig. And dig, and dig, and dig. He cracked the concrete path like it was honeycomb and, when he could sense he was getting close, he gently troweled away the dirt like a skilled archaeologist until he hit the jackpot - a sewerage pipe with a big problem.

The Amazing Guy - our super hero!
Due to a dodgy plumbing job where someone had done a rough silicon job of covering the outlet in the pipe, hundreds of tiny plant roots had wormed their way into the cracks, thirsting for the ultimate plant food. Inside the pipe, being fed by the finest fertiliser produced from collective Barraclough bottoms, the roots had grown fat and eventually blocked the pipe completely. This is what ultimately caused the massive backwash that exploded from the downstairs loo on Saturday.

After this excellent piece of detective work, Guy pulled out the electric eel, a contraption that worms its way through the pipes underground, breaking up all the roots and other blockages in its path.

I must say, the whole experience, watching Guy work and figuring it all out, was fascinating and I learned a lot about sewerage systems and plumbing in general.

We were lucky actually. It could have been so much worse. It could have happened upstairs where we live. We could have lost irreplaceable items. There could have been carpet involved for heaven's sake - can you imagine?!

And finally, it was over. We left most of our belongings from the garage out on the lawn overnight and headed inside for hot showers and a large tankard of whiskey for John and a gallon of wine for me.

Feeling exhausted but satisfied by our handling of the situation, I carried Francesca to her room later that evening, chatting about what stories we'd read before bed. I was so proud of her. She had gotten herself up from her afternoon nap and had happily occupied herself on the deck above where we were working with a tube of moisturiser. (Oh there was so much moisturiser. But we ignored that. She was happy and quiet and busy so we left her to it).

As my soft-skinned daughter and I walked into her room that night, my nostrils were once again filled with a familiar scent. I peered into the potty we keep in her room for emergency night wees, and lying there in a semi-circle, like a taunting grin, was a sweet little turd.

A perfectly fitting end to the day wouldn't you say?

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