Why is it always the plumbing?
The toilet cistern has been overflowing into the bowl for a couple of weeks – just for a minute or two as it refilled, but a warning sign of a failing inlet seal. It might have lasted for the next five weeks but I finally admitted it’s not worth the risk. So it was a question of roll-up the sleeves and replace the seal, which didn’t take long as I’ve done it before and had a spare seal ready. As usual it was an awkward job with poor access, actually not much different from gynaecology, fiddling in dark corners with your eyes shut, trying to imagine what fits where. Thankfully this job went well and the leak was fixed first time.
So many surgical jobs are a bit like plumbing. The good thing about humans is that, provided the job is done with care and no unforeseen complications happen, then healing continues after the operation and the situation steadily improves day by day. There’s the difference, because plumbing doesn’t improve with time – if it leaks after the repair, it carries on leaking until the job’s done again.
I put in new bath and wash basin taps last month but it was the basin outflow that caused the problems. Time after time I fitted the waste and time after time it leaked. I was ready to admit defeat and accept that amateurs shouldn’t be doing plumbing. That is until Nick dropped in for a visit. I wouldn’t have believed how stories of failure could be so encouraging. Nick has retired and doesn’t do any plumbing these days but his stories of close-coupled cisterns leaking on fitting ten times over and then working perfectly the eleventh time for no apparent reason made me feel so much better. If it happens to the professionals then I shouldn’t give up. It took several attempts and tried my patience but I regained my confidence and it came right in the end.
So here we are, flying out Monday morning and starting work a week later. This time I don’t expect there to be any hands on obstetrics or gynaecology. The plan is to visit four hospitals in two provinces and produce outcome data for 2010. This will hopefully provide further training in monitoring and evaluation, all for verification of the national data collection process and culminate in presentation of the method and the results at local and national level. It will be a busy month with a fair amount of travelling, the chief end I hope being the satisfaction of bringing a task to completion and knowing that others can carrying on doing the same in 2012 and subsequent years.
I’ll do my best to send a weekly report and not leave everything to the last-minute!