We move into a 2300 square foot, two-story family house on 1.25 acres. It is affordable rent, ample size, has a play area for the kids, and a separate fenced yard for the dogs. The layout is roomy with four bedrooms, formal and informal dining, bonus room, family room, and a huge deck. We think we are in heaven!
My oldest daughter is rushed to the emergency room on a late Saturday night with a severe headache that is diagnosed as a sphenoid sinus infection. We bring her home with antibiotics and nasal spray, thinking nothing of it. A late cold that got into her sinuses. The following Monday the hospital calls to say that her blood sample cultured something and she was septic, that we should follow up with Children's in Seattle. She is hospitalized for half a week at Children's Hospital in Seattle with intravenous antibiotics to treat the sepsis and sinus infection. They cannot identify what grew in her blood culture. We make no connection to the house whatsoever at this point.
I believe that I have had a recurring eye infection for a month. I forgo wearing contacts for a week, and change them out. When that doesn't help or improve the situation at all, I make an appointment with my eye doctor who prescribes antibiotic drops. After 4 followups throughout the month of July, the doctor determines that the inflammation is not bacterial in nature, prescribes lubricating drops to soothe, and tells me to give it time. I stop wearing contacts and make up completely because the inflammation is so painful I don't want to aggravate it further. I make no connection to the house of course, I actually think it is something viral from our chickens, cats, dogs, or tortoise.
My eyes continue to bother me greatly, but I think it is related to contact lens wear and eye makeup, and some sort of allergy or infection. Then one night as I'm helping the girls get ready for bed, I notice my younger daughter's eyes are red and inflamed. I ask her how they feel and she confesses how much they hurt and have been hurting for a while. I instantly check my other daughter's eyes which are also red, both in the whites of her eyes and her eyelids which are kind of puffy. She says that her eyes only hurt a little though but that her head hurts more.
Our landlords notify that they have no money. They are poor missionaries for their church and have no income of their own. They don't seem to grasp the severity of the situation and suggest that our symptoms must have other causes because they are sure their rental home is safe and clean. After all, there is no visible mold in the home. Upon their refusal to pay for an inspection we start to research doing one ourselves. I contact multiple companies and find out that the cost of mold testing is outrageous and prohibitive. Some inspectors even tell us that they won't come out unless the landlord approves it. Our landlords refuse. I finally find one company that will do a free preliminary inspection and will work out a full inspection on a payment plan. I schedule the inspection.
I get the results back from our mold inspection. Our inspector is very concerned. "Run," he says, "don't walk, run!" He says the spore counts are extremely problematic in our home; exceeding the outdoor levels a hundred times over. He also says that the molds that were identified inside are highly problematic;