Back Again – Now What?

Well, today was to be the day I was going to start back at the jobsite. I had taken the last 2.5 weeks off to rest the shoulder to see if it made any difference. Instead of getting better, it continued to get worse, so I thought I may as well go back to work and get some tasks completed while I waited for this Wednesday’s MRI.

But then Thursday happened.  My nephew Jonathan came over to help me with some storm proofing tasks.  I had to replace some plastic on the north bank and the backfill pile of soil.  After completing those locations we started on the task of replacing the tarp on the north side of the house.

We first tuned up the tarp on the south side and then built a short wall to support the seam between the south and north tarp. We had just finished stapling the edge of the tarp to the top of the wall and I was putting some tension on a ‘stud’ when I heard and felt a pop in my lumbar and had immediate excruciating pain in my lower back and extending down both legs to the calf.  If you know about back injuries, you will know that this usually is a sign of a bulged or even a herniated disc.

I had been suffering with some moderate back pain last fall, and had also had a 9 month long issue back in 2008, but this time it was different because it went from no pain to severe pain in a second. That ended most of my active involvement for the day and Jonathan completed the lion’s share of getting the south tarp set up,with me reduced to tying off ropes and such.  I am very grateful he was there.

I have spent most of the time since lying down and am trying to get my doctors referral to the MRI clinic to now also include the lumbar of the spine.  It will cost me an extra $900 (the shoulder will be $1400), but it is important to know if the disc is just bulged as opposed to herniated.  If bulged, it can be treated with the spinal decompression therapy and I will be able to proceed with minor to moderate work at the site and hire labours for any of the heavy activities. If it is also herniated/torn, then I really will need to stay off my feet for 2-3 months to let it heal.

Of course as luck would have it, I was not able to rest completely over the last few days. The Lower Mainland has just experienced a significant storm event. So I crawled back to the site on Friday for some tarp tune ups and then on Saturday for a major re-rigging. I started with some minor work tying off the eyelets at the SE and SW corner before a very strong gust ripped the entire south tarp off. I just about gave up at that point, but I knew the roof will not be on till next year and that if the dwelling was left unprotected all winter, all of the engineered wood would be ruined. So I sucked it up and re-rigged. This time I screwed the tarp down to the 2×4 supports below with plywood furring strips (normally used for rain-screen assemblies). Ron my neighbor helped with this task and I was very grateful. This seems to have done the trick and I have not had anymore issues since but we have not had a return of the strong winds, so time will tell.

Top side of tarp is strapped down to supports with furring strips

Top side of tarp is strapped down to supports with furring strips

Underneath, all is dry and easily inspectable

Underneath, all is dry and easily inspectable

So – once again, my plans are out the window and I am in a holding pattern while I wait to see how bad the back damage is. If I can continue with some work at site, I will hopefully be able to finish the torch on membrane, insulation, and dimple sheet on the east, south, and west walls of the dwelling.  This would allow the completion of the backfill before the falls rains begin because once the steady rains start, I will not be able to work this soil as it just turns to milkshake when it gets wet.

If I cannot do any work, I will just button things up and re-group in a few months as I really do not trust anyone to install the waterproofing, insulation, dimple sheet, granular drainage plain, geotech, and compacted backfill unsupervised.  This is too critical a task and is quite frankly very time consuming and at times difficult. I just know that others would not be interested in taking the time to ensure all steps were completed correctly.  From within the build community I keep getting comments to not worry about all the layers and to just throw the dirt up against the torch on membrane with the tractor and be done with it. But this would remove the redundant safety of the system and also reduce the thermal performance of the wall and place all of the insulation inboard of the foundation where it would create the conditions that would allow all interior air contacting the foundation wall to condense leading to indoor air quality and raceway wall structure issues.  I will wait until I can ensure it is done correctly.

So there you have it. Yet another set back for the books. I have had so many now that they are becoming easier to adjust to. I just need to dust myself off, regroup, and continue when I can.  But it is starting to become crazy.  How much is one person supposed to take?  And more importantly WHY???

Thanks for visiting.

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