I've been playing detective today in an effort to figure out my next move in trying to solve this latest slew of problems. First, Midge got sick, then Scrappy, then me. I've been spinning in circles cleaning up messes and trying to recover from my own problems long enough to address the dogs' problems. I've wasted a lot of money lately hiring professional help and not getting anything resolved. I don't want to keep beating my head against that wall.
I've had a headache off and on for several weeks now, and I am not a person who normally gets headaches. It's clearly in my sinuses, because it's more like a face ache. My husband said I needed a decongestant, but we didn't have any. I finally couldn't take it anymore and ventured out to the pharmacy to get some. The pills didn't help at all.
When the dogs were at their sickest, I had to do a lot of carpet cleaning and I assumed that the chemicals were causing my headaches. I figured that the wet carpet was causing the urine smell in the house. Then Midge got better and I put Scrappy in diapers. The floor was dry, but the house was now smelling like poop. I kept looking for accidents, but didn't find any. I kept taking the dogs outside and ordering them to stop farting and just poop, but they didn't need to. Then I remembered that we were due to have our septic filter cleaned.
The septic company sent someone out yesterday, I paid him, and I woke up this morning without my headache. However, Scrappy soiled all of his diapers, so I had to run them through the washing machine and dryer. Suddenly, the house started smelling like a sewer again and my headache came back. The smell was emanating off the floors of the dining area and kitchen.
Then I remembered that when we've had this problem in the past, it happened when the ground was saturated with water after it rained, and we were running either the washing machine or dishwasher. To me, it seemed like the cause was a broken pipe under the house, but one plumber told me that was impossible. I was confused by that assessment, because we had a broken pipe replaced under our old house right before we moved out. But both houses are different. The old house had a crawl space underneath it, and the pipes were above ground. Our current house just sits on a concrete slab. There is no crawl space and apparently the only way to change out a broken pipe is to rip up the carpet and tile, cut the concrete, replace the pipe, pour new concrete, and install all new flooring. Super expensive. We could definitely use new flooring, but not until after the dogs pass away. Supposedly, when a house on a concrete slab is built, the pipes are supposed to last for the life of the house, but to err is to be human.
If there is a broken pipe under our house, I can kiss the next several months of my life goodbye as various contractors take over my home. That means no horseback riding for me. I swear, I should just sell all of my horses and take up knitting, the way things have been going for me.
I spent hours researching various causes of septic smells indoors, and none of them fit our situation. I checked some pipes, drains, toilet seals, and vents myself, and didn't see any obvious issues. The only thing that fit was that septic gases do cause headaches and sinus infections. If ignored for too long, a person can get pneumonia or become asphyxiated. Carbon monoxide can build up. I thought about my three little dogs and how they've been staggering around gagging and vomiting. Midge keeps falling when jumping up on furniture and Scrappy walks like a drunk and fell down the stairs this morning. Last night my heart began racing and I blamed it on the decongestant. Then I remembered that I hadn't taken any recently and the last dose should have worn off. Also, my headache was really bad this weekend, and we were running both the dishwasher and the washing machine all weekend. This could all be related.
I'm unsure what to do, because the septic company was no help, and every time I've had plumbers out in the past, they either said they couldn't help me and told me to call the septic company, or they claimed to have fixed my problem only for it to come right back, and that was for much simpler problems than this. I'm tired of pouring money into services that don't work. Right now I'm just airing out the house and I'm not planning on using the washing machine or dishwasher for a while. It's freezing outside, so it's not an ideal day to be opening windows, but you've got to do what you've got to do. I feel like I'm sitting in a block of ice, but at least I can breathe and my headache is cut back to a dull roar.
We don't have this problem when the ground is dry, and because the ground is wet right now, it makes it impossible to detect any leaks coming out from under the house. I'm in a bit of a Catch 22.
This is one of the hassles of living a rural lifestyle. You most likely live on well and septic, and every time you call the well or septic companies to fix a problem, they tell you to call a plumber. Then when you call a plumber, he tells you to call the well or septic companies. You just have to figure it out yourself. But that's kind of hard to do when you're passed out on the couch with a headache, most likely caused by septic gasses and probably mold as well.
In addition to researching the cause of the stench, I tested both Midge and Scrappy's urine to see if either of them have a urinary tract infection. Midge has been peeing a lot since the vet made us drop her insulin dosage, to the point of waking us up every hour or so. She's also been drinking a ridiculous amount of water, which is a sign that she's getting diabetic. Scrappy has been peeing about every 15 to 30 minutes around meal times, and it's hard to comprehend how his bladder can even produce that much urine. Last night I took him out every few minutes and he still managed to pee in his diaper and have it leak on the carpet.
It turned out that they are both free from UTIs. In Midge's case, we are upping her dosage of insulin, and in Scrappy's case I am chalking it up to old age and his inability to control his muscles. But if there is a septic leak that is causing him to stagger around and vomit, it could also be causing him to be incontinent too. Stewie doesn't seem to be affected, except that he occasionally gags, and it's been a little more difficult to wake him up lately. I've just assumed that was because it's so dark out during the day. The other interesting thing is that Stewie has been refusing to eat, and I usually set his bowl down right where the stench is the strongest. He runs and hides behind the pillows in the bedroom instead of eating. I wonder if his nose can pick up that bad smell even when mine can't. I'm going to have to try feeding him on the other side of the house and see if that helps. But as least Stewie isn't having accidents all over the house like Midge was and Scrappy is.
I hope I can get some answers soon. If it were warmer out, I'd move all of us into the tack room for a few days and nights as a test to see if our health problems clear up. I don't really want to spend money getting us into a motel that accepts pets. Plus that wouldn't be an accurate test, because I'm allergic to cat dander, and chances are that a motel room that accepts pets would have cat dander in it, so my headache would remain.
It's hard to figure all of this out, because there are so many variables. My headaches could just be caused by stuff blooming after all these rainstorms, and Midge's issues could just be all related to her diabetes, while Scrappy's issues could all be related to him being at the end of his life. The stench could be back pressure from excessive ground water, and there may not be any leak at all, so I'd just be wasting time and money to get a plumber out to investigate.
If the sun would just come out soon, that would probably solve a lot of these problems. In the meantime, I'll be looking for signs to direct me on which move to make next that won't end up being a complete bust. Plumber? Septic company (again)? Doctor? Veterinarian (again)? I've already spent well over $500 on vet bills and vet supplies last month and hardly anything has been resolved. I also spent $150 on the septic filter maintenance. A plumber will have a minimum consultation fee to cover his time and gasoline, and we all know how I feel about doctors. Maybe I should hire a detective who doesn't have a headache and who doesn't have to take dogs outside every few minutes?