Friday, August 8, 2014

More Loss...more heartbreak

Periodically I remember things I've lost due to the mold and I feel the need to document these things somewhere so in some small way, they're still with me.


  • The tooth fairy pillow my grandma sewed for me: soft white cotton fabric with tiny yellow flowers sewn on a six inch pillow that was hemmed with aged white lace, and a small pocket sewn on top with a white felt tooth on it. 
  • The busy book sewn for me to use in church by my grandma: Pink, double sided pages with numerous sewn on "activities," a fuzzy brown bear with black, button eyes, little blue shoes with real laces to tie and untie, an apple tree with puffy red felt apples with snaps on the back to snap and unsnap on their tree or collect in the pocket bucket in the corner of the page. 
  • The real paintings of beautiful red haired ballerinas, reminiscent of Degas but much more beautiful and ethereal given to me by my grandma because the red hair reminded me of her. 
  • The Night Before Christmas book given to me by my aunt and uncle when I was but a wee baby less than one, because the babies in the pictures had red hair, and I had red hair. 

So many more sad memories will come later. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why Do We Throw It All Away?

The question I am most often asked, and even more often know people are wondering but too shy/polite/whatever to ask, is "Why couldn't you save anything? Isn't that a little extreme?"

This post explains it better than I ever could, especially while still trying to recover from the experience. What we were exposed to was Stachybotrys, the infamous most toxic black mold that is mentioned in this post. It is notoriously impossible to clean and eliminate and because of the nerve damage and mitochondrial DNA damage that it does, it hyper sensitizes your system to the point that you cannot tolerate even the most minute amounts. Which, as you can see, minute amounts are ubiquitious when dealing with this particular fungi.

Stacybotrys is greenish black and slimy in color. When I would wipe out bathroom cupboards or behind toilets, the cloth would come away coated with slimy greenish black fuzz. My younger daughter would frequently miss the toilet with her toilet paper and so crumpled wads of toilet paper would land behind and next to the toilet. If they were left there for more than a day or two (because I didn't see them) just the humidity in the house and the cellulose in the toilet paper would cause it to be covered in greenish-black slimy mold. At the time I didn't know what was going on. I hadn't done the research to know it was mold, it didn't look like what grows on cheese or in old yucky shower grout.

Boxes and books that were stored in a musty, damp garage during one of our interim locations grew rings of slimy greenish black mold that looks identical to pictures of Stachybotrys (like this one) I've seen online. The most toxic and damaging mold in the world has really wreaked havoc on our lives.

So I had a "sad"

And I had to document it somewhere. It felt almost like being punched in the gut. When we were getting out of the moldy house (the first one) and going through our stuff at the second moldy house, I was undergoing a lot of confusion and brain fog due to the mold and was constantly in a state of near panic, a sort of survival mode - fight or flight, and so I don't have the best memory of what I packed and saved and what I threw out, or simply never got unpacked and was hauled to the dump.

So, now as we recover and survival mode and its accompanying feelings of panic and confusion wear off, I have moments of clarity and memory and certain items pop into my mind in flashes. The other night it was my "blanky" that my dear, beloved, departed Grandma made for me as an infant. She sewed it with her arthritic hands, fluffy and pink and quilted, and imbued with a grandmother's love. I was like Linus from Peanuts with that blanket, I carried it everywhere. It was my constant companion, my comfort, my protection, my safety. By the time I either outgrew it or my mom finally talked me out of it, it was a sad, threadbare little thing, more gray than pink, with bare patches worn clean off.

I also had a busy book hand made by my grandma with my name on it. It had activities with things to feel, button, open, hide, they have books like that now for babies but they're store bought and mass produced. This was handmade again by my grandma's arthritic hands with character specially for me.

Tonight, as I brushed my teeth, it flashed in my head. My older daughter, who has always been smart and advanced and precocious, won the Science Fair in first grade. She won overall for Best New Scientist with an amazing project that she came up with all on her own. It was on bacteria, and she bought petri dishes, swabbed items around the house, had a control and a test group, and it was amazing! She did it all on her own, she learned so much, she researched at the library and online, she did tests and experiments and checked on it every day for a month. The night of the science fair they announced all the first grade winners, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place and her name wasn't among them. She was crushed. I was a little shocked that her project didn't win for first grade...until they announced her as an overall winner for the whole school.

That medal with her name engraved on it, that is gold and says "Best New Scientist" plus the shiny laminated certificate, all gone. I almost can't catch my breath when I think of it. There was also a letter about what a wonderful and advanced student she is with a little pin. Gone. Her citizenship award for going above and beyond...gone. Her skating pins for achievements in figure skating. Gone.

Maybe it was in a box that was saved. But probably not, and I can't remember for sure. And I can't go look in the storage and find out. Only those who have experienced the nightmare that is toxic mold know the overriding, all encompassing, indescribable fear that comes over one at even the idea of going near those toxic elements again. The tiniest amount causes such painful and long lasting reactions when you have become as hypersensitized as we are.

And I know they're just things, but they're the little things that make up a life, that help cement memories, especially when the people who gave them to you are gone. She will never go to that school again, or see those friends again. I will never see my grandma again. And we have nothing to remember them by. Our moldy brains that sometimes feel as holey as Swiss cheese try to hold the memories fast, but it's like sand through a sieve. Some days are better than others.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Mold! It's Like a Stephen King Nightmare, only...

it's only too real. In my never-ending pursuit of answers on the internet, I stumbled across this, and while it was obviously fantastical and strange, not unlike a Stephen King story, it also felt eerily possible and real after what I've been through.

For those who don't want to click the link (I'm not above internet laziness myself) it's about a family in 1961 whose humble farmhouse was completely taken over and consumed by a rapidly growing, hyperactive, super mold. They lost everything and could not rid their house of the mold, they had to send their daughter to live with friends, while they themselves moved into a bus on their property and eventually moved away with nothing. 

The mold grows overnight, and even after being cleaned repeatedly, keeps growing back, covering the entire house and all it's furnishings overnight. It makes the farmer and his wife extremely ill, hacking and coughing, and according to their daughter may have contributed to an early demise as well. 

Despite the fantastical elements (covering walls and furniture overnight???) it still feels so real to me. If our mold was visible, it would almost be better, because then you could show it to people, and prove it. See? I'm not crazy! But it's invisible, insidious, and pervasive. It covers all your belongings and entire house alright, it's just not visible. If you can't see it, how can you remove it? How can you get away from it? 

Why is it still everywhere? When will we finally be free?


To reflect on later...

Today was a bad day. Lots of symptoms, and considering how far removed from the original exposure we are, this makes me discouraged. Finding this timeline on the internet broke my heart...I relate so much to the pain and suffering, and am so grateful that it could have been so much worse if we hadn't gotten away from the original exposure as soon as we did. I am indeed thankful for the good things. It all could have been so much worse. Feeling thankful!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

We Have Lost Everything...

And we're not alone. There are many others out there like us, and many more still struggling along without answers and without realizing.

http://archive.9news.com/news/article/342972/0/Toxic-mold-displaces-family

Which I believe is the same as this family. So much of their story is similar to ours:


I'll keep adding more links and information as I find it. Today is a particularly bad day health wise: my eyes are on fire and I have sharp shooting pains behind them and whenever I move them, look to the side, or blink. My legs are shaky and tingly and numb, the muscles feel worn out as if I'd run a marathon yesterday, yet I've done no exercise recently. I'm starting to have the brain fog that makes it hard to write, hence how I'm starting to rely on links and other people's words to say what's going on.

All of the toxic mold posts on this blog say it as good or better than I could, feel free to peruse and learn what a toxic mold nightmare feels like.

Looks like the fourth move is not going to be the charm. It's because of how much stuff my husband brought to the garage from the original moldy house. I wish we wouldn't have made that mistake in the line of so many others.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

It's just not fair...

So much of this rings true....

http://it-takes-time.com/2014/03/fathers-journey-toxic-mold.html

The night fevers, my older daughter had those. She would become burning hot at night with high fevers, over 104 degrees, only to seem fine by the time the morning came. Of course doctors thought we were crazy, until they measured the fevers themselves that then subsequently disappeared.

And doctors not understanding, thinking it's all in your head because it doesn't make sense. My own husband kept saying, maybe you need "help," meaning maybe you need to see a fucking shrink. You're crazy!

Rashes, confusion, tiredness, oh so very tired, all the time. Eyes burning and in pain, feeling like they're going to explode, or implode, so much pain. Too hard to concentrate with that amount of eye pain.

Why, why us? When everyone else can move on with their lives and live happily and in peace and comfort, why do we have to suffer and have it never end?


So I'm writing a lot, several blog posts a day sometimes, because right now I seem to be able to find some words and have enough mental clarity to put them together at least semi-coherently. Since the mold exposure I don't always have that capability so I'm taking advantage of it while it lasts. I want everything to be documented while I can, in case I ever get to a point where I can't document it anymore and can't get that ability back.

I know a lot of what happened won't make sense to people. I certainly wouldn't have understood it before experiencing it firsthand. I never had any idea that mold was capable of all this, and I certainly took my time in accepting what was going on. It is incredulous indeed, and I even thought as I started to research it, that these "mold people" were crazy, and that wasn't me. But as we moved and moved again, I began to realize that it wasn't crazy. Something was going on. It wasn't enough to simply get away from the initial exposure. These tiny molecules of toxin were embedded in our belongings and no amount of cleaning seemed to eliminate them entirely. And our sensitivity to increasingly smaller and smaller amounts was increasing, meaning that even as we moved and got rid of stuff and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned again, it was never enough, because our sensitivity was increasingly exponentially all the time.

At least we weren't alone. My research uncovered countless people who suffer, and every story is different. Every physiological reaction is individual and complex, making it so hard for doctors to treat and understand this illness.

Here are some celebs who have experienced the same thing:
Shemane Nugent, wife of Ted Nugent, her entire family lost everything due to mold exposure. Fortunately they're celebrities so it's a little easier for them to get away and replace everything, than it is for me, the average working class person.

Brittany Murphy, who famously died a few years ago due to chronic pneumonia, and mysteriously her husband died only a few months later from the same thing...turns out toxic mold was a factor in their illness and death. It's interesting that they both died of identical causes, "pneumonia and anemia" when they were a male and female with different physiological structures and conditions, yet died of identical causes within months of each other, clearly indicating environmental causes.

Suzanne Somers moved into a leased rental following her house burning down and became ill from toxic mold exposure.

Ed McMahon lost his dog to toxic mold exposure and he and his wife lost their homes and were made ill.

So, we're not alone, but fortunately for the people in these stories they were celebrities with the funds and means to leave the mold behind and replace and rebuild their lives. I don't have the means to completely get away, and I'm starting to fear that just like Brittany Murphy, it may kill me and my children. We have tried everything, at great expense that we can't afford, and still there it enough residual mold in the air and in our home to kill us.


So sad today....

Okay, my words aren't adequate today. I'm having a "mold moment" as we've come to call them. My eyes hurt so bad I can't think, and my children's eyes are red and inflamed and "on fire!" as the youngest explains it. So, I'm sad. We have moved from the original mold house, to a vacation home, to another house that turned out to be moldy as well, to this one. We made the mistake of hanging onto some keepsakes and valuables that we were storing in the garage, and have since moved to a storage unit, but the residual mold is really affecting us. It is unbelievable what a small amount can affect you once you've been sensitized by months of exposure. This is just not fair.

So, I have to link to someone else's words today because mine are inadequate. But this blog explains so clearly and succinctly what it's like, that I have to give props.

Start here for tons of links and information:
http://www.paradigmchange.me/

And check out this one for tons of good info and the closest approximation to what we are going through that I have found:
http://moldrecovery.blogspot.com/

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Loss of home and community

Five years ago I moved to Camano Island, Washington, believing that it was to be my forever home, where my children would grow up and later bring their children, my grandchildren to visit, and we would fill the place with memories and pieces of our lives and stories for years to come. Thanks mold, you took that from me too.

Camano Island is a small and close knit community, one of the things we loved about it. It's also one of the things that makes it hard to find housing. There are no new developments being built on Camano Island, both a good and a bad thing for me now. Many rentals are old, and run down, and also it turns out, moldy. Because it's an island, it's inherently humid and moist and damp, perfect conditions for growing mold. If you can afford to buy one of the few and far between houses that are new construction or well-maintained one owner older houses, then you're in luck, you might be avoiding mold. 

But if you made the choice that I did, to stay home and raise your children and therefore limit your income by half, you might not have the economic freedom to choose where you live. If only we had stayed in the first house on the island that we lived in. We lived there for almost three years and we were very happy. It was a beautiful house with maple hardwood floors, limited carpet, electric baseboard heating, clean and safe. If only we had stayed there and not moved. Unfortunately as renters, we had little choice. The owners wanted to sell and couldn't sell if the home was under lease. So we had to move, and so started the worst nightmare of my life. 

For over a month we searched, trying to find another rental on the island that fit our needs. We were running out of time and beginning to feel a bit desperate. I didn't want my daughter to have to switch schools and leave her friends behind, I didn't want to leave this little community that felt like such a safe haven to raise my family in. So when we found a large 4 bedroom home with over an acre of land, in a private quiet setting, we thought we had found our dream home. Every day I relive that moment, when we toured the house and jumped so eagerly at signing a lease, and every day I regret it with every fiber of my being. If there was any point in my life that I could go back in time and change, that is it.

The day we signed the lease and accepted the keys, little did we know we might as well have signed our own death warrant. It would change life as we knew it, and ruin everything; our health, our happiness, our financial security, our hope for the future. I would give anything to have that all back. Lesson learned universe, can I stop being punished for that mistake now? 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Such an insidious enemy...

Unseen, invisible, able to destroy and attack at will, it's not fair.

It's The Little Things...

that make life sweet. Here is a small, and ongoing, compilation of the little things I've lost due to this dread mold illness. I realize most of them are small and petty, but if most people were honest, it's the little things that make life worth living.

In no particular order, I've lost:

I've lost the ability to go to libraries and enjoy one of my favorite pass times-reading. I am too sensitive to molds and dust now to enjoy rifling through stacks of musty old books. It causes my eyes to burn and become even more inflamed than they regularly are, to the point I almost can't stand it, and then couldn't read anyway. It's not a major things, but it makes me sad. I am a lover of the written word, and it breaks my heart to not be able to enjoy it at my will. A kindle or ebook is just not the same. And who can afford new books when you have to replace everything you've owned or worked for your whole life overnight.

A huge hit to my vanity-no more contacts so I have to put up with glasses which is not just a hit to my vanity, but such an inconvenience I never realized. It is very rainy where I live so every time I go outside I have to remember to keep a cloth with me to wipe my glasses off so I can see since they get spattered with rain. They fog when I open the oven or try to clean dishes in hot soapy water. I can't shave my legs since my vision is so poor and I can't wear glasses in the shower, so I end up a bloody mess. My kids can't jump on me like they used to without knocking my glasses into me or them. It makes it harder to wrestle and tickle and play with them like I used to. Also hard to workout, as if I could do that anyway anymore.

Another hit to my vanity- no more makeup. My eyes are chronically inflamed and I can't use any makeup at all, without increasing the inflammation and pain. As a pale skinned ginger with orangey eyelashes and brows, this is kind of a big deal. I used to love piling on eyeliner and mascara to enhance my eyes and diminishing how much my freckles stood out with a dash of powder. Now I have to face the world with my awful ginger faults all brazenly on display (that's tongue in cheek, y'all). But still, it makes it hard to want to go places when not only do I not feel well, I feel like I look awful too.

I've lost the ability to work out. Now I know some people will say, uh, no big loss, but for me it is. I loved exercising. I have since I was a young teenager discovering dance and aerobics in junior high. I enjoy being active, I love running and lifting weights, and of course, I love the results. I love kickboxing, Taebo, dance aerobics, calisthenics. It literally gives me that endorphin high, as well as giving me so much energy and strength, and makes me feel good about myself. Sometimes I make myself take a walk around the block to get a little exercise, but it's not the same. I really miss that.

Feeling good about myself, as well as feeling good in general, I miss that too.

And yet more hits to my vanity- weight gain. Besides not being able to work out and being depressed and feeling ill in general, something about mold seems to cause weight gain. It's awful. I have never been this heavy and that of course brings me down too.

Hair loss- yes, more petty hits to my vanity, but come on, a women's hair is literally her crowning glory. I loved my hair, it's rare, bright jewel color of red, it's length and shininess, it's curl. And now, I have bald patches, it's thin. God, I'm hideous!


There seems to be an element of this going on as well

I'm still learning about what mold exposures can do. Because the medical community seems to not understand it very well, and it is rather rare, all things considered (although in another post I'll talk about how many celebrities have experienced toxic mold exposure, so it's not that rare), the research and knowledge is limited and ever changing. I learn new things every day, and I am always uncovering contradictory information as well, which makes it hard to understand what's really happening to us. Overall I just know that I want to be well, I miss life as I knew it, and I will try anything to get past this and back to a state of normalcy.

We have moved four times due to this dread exposure, and shed ourselves of well over 99% of our belongings, and we are still experiencing symptoms. So I am trying to figure out if it is due to exposure, or permanent damage, or the need for treatment. Something called Toxicant Induced Loss of Tolerance was suggested to me, and some of it fits. Which frankly scares the hell out of me.

http://discovermagazine.com/2013/nov/13-allergic-life

Lost Health

So few people, doctors included understand the very dangerous toxin that toxic molds are. Here are some of the health effects that we experienced, followed by some links to sites that document these concerns.

Our primary troubles have been with our eyes. This is the damage that seems to be permanent and hasn't gone away even though we removed ourselves from the original moldy environment and have since shed ourselves of most of our personal belongings. I still hold out hope that if I can find the right treatment or remove ourselves with a complete break from all belongings (as in literally just the clothes on our back which would then be shed in a hotel room somewhere after buying new clothes) and then start over completely from scratch, that our eyes will heal to pre-mold levels. But I also fear that that may not be possible anymore. I just don't know.

Eye troubles: constant redness and inflammation, burning sensation like soap in the eyes, pain behind the eye ball like pricks and pins, sharp pain with movement of the eye in the muscles behind the lids, near constant eye pain and burning, blurry vision.

Skin rashes, itchy and painful.

Dizziness

Brain fog, and confusion. Trouble with finding words and remembering things. Not just me, my younger daughter started calling leopards, her favorite animal, leprechauns. And asking what presents she might get for Thanksgiving this year. My older daughter started having trouble with math and difficulty recalling facts when she used to be a highly advanced student reading at an 11th grade level in the 2nd grade. I used to write for a living, but began having so much trouble composing coherent sentences and recalling even the simplest words, that it obviously made writing for pay impossible.

Headaches

Balance issues

General feelings of malaise and discomfort. This was exhibited as well by my older daughter who would frequently groan and whimper and when asked what was wrong, be unable to articulate exactly what was going on.

Inability to draw a full breath, a feeling of heaviness in the lungs and chest. Shortness of breath.

Constant diarrhea, independent of dietary changes and without any discernible medical cause. Experienced only by my husband and younger daughter.

Lack of ability to concentrate.

Depression, which also could easily be caused by the extreme difficulty of our situation: loss of health, loss of finances, lack of finances to fix the situation, family and friends who don't believe you or understand what's going on, loss of community forced by moving, loss of school and friends from moving, the list of things that can cause depression go on and on. But it is also medically documented that mold can cause neurological symptoms including depression which can compound the feelings of hopelessness caused by the situation.

Anxiety, see above.

Insomnia, again see above. Could be medically caused, could just be how shitty awful our situation was.

Hearing loss. I had a cold that was so bad, it plugged up my right ear to the point I couldn't hear at all. 3 rounds of antibiotics failed to clear up hearing in that ear, much to the confusion of my doctor and ENT who couldn't understand why the antibiotics weren't helping. I'm no medical professional, but hmmm, maybe because you're targeting a fungus with a drug designed only to kill bacteria. Call me crazy.

Loss of tolerance to chemicals. I thought I was losing my mind because after moving from the original moldy house and most of our symptoms went away, my eyes still burned not only when sorting through our moldy possessions, but when pumping gas, cleaning with bleach, or walking by the laundry aisle at Walmart. Turns out mold-induced loss of tolerance is a real thing.

Reduced immunity. Even after we left the moldy house and stopped getting the really bad recurring colds and sinus infections and ear aches, we still kept getting colds with alarming frequency. I believe due to our immune systems being depressed due to the mold.

Nausea.

Blotchy, dry skin, in addition to the rashes.

Feeling of pressure in the head, not due to a headache, just a weird swimmy, pressure feeling. Hard to describe, but it comes when I have to sort through our moldy possessions and goes away about a day after being away from them.

Burning feeling in the nose, stuffiness, nose running.

Sore throat.

Hair loss.

Irritability.

Sunken eyes, dark circles under the eyes.

Sores that take a long time to heal.

Behavior changes, particularly in my children who went from being sweet little girls who were mostly kind and had only the occasional spat of sibling rivalry, to literal little monsters who fought constantly over the littlest thing, threw tantrums, and were just generally ill behaved and emotional.

All of these were experienced directly by my family, who prior to living in that moldy house had zero health problems of any kind. I had a perfectly healthy family, who is now riddled with sensitivities and problems.

Now many people, doctors included, believe that the only symptoms due to mold are allergy symptoms. After trial and error, numerous allergy tests on all of us, and much research, I know that this is not the case. Not a single one of us has any allergic reaction to any of the over 200 species of mold that they test for. We have all been tested and not a single test has come up positive. All of our reactions are toxic, not allergic reactions. Allergic reactions in general are more of an annoyance than life crippling and altering. And they can be relieved with allergy medications and steroids, both of which did nothing to help us.

I wish they did. We would have experienced some level of relief by now.


Links:
http://blackmold.awardspace.com/black-mold-toxic-stachybotrys-mycotoxins.html

http://www.stachy.5u.com/posts.html

http://moldgeek.com/black-mold-symptoms/

These are just some of the most comprehensive links. To the side are some of the same and compilations of more. Mold allergy symptoms are not the same.













You Never Know What You Have Til It's Gone

You know how people say "At least you have your health." And if you have your health, you think it's a stupid phrase because if someone is saying that to you it's because you're experiencing some kind of minor life event that is bumming you out. Short on money? At least you have your health. Boyfriend broke up with you? At least you have your health. Car got broken into? At least you have your health. Lost your job? At least you have your health. You get the picture.

But before you dismiss that phrase as stupid, think about how much you take your health for granted. Being able to wake up every day and worry about mundane, daily worries like being out of coffee creamer, or even making ends meet at the end of the month. To not have pain and illness overshadow every other feeling or thought or issue going on in your life. When you're healthy, you never even realize how good it is. 

I used to be healthy, and worked hard to keep it that way, although as a female I wasn't working so much to be healthy as to be thin and pretty, as all women know. You work out to be thin and have a nice figure, it's just a nice side benefit that it keeps your blood pressure down, your energy levels up, your cholesterol and blood sugar stable. You lift weights so that your figure will be toned and not jiggly, it's just a nice side benefit that it prevents osteoporosis and improves your posture and ability to handle everyday tasks like lifting kids, picking up the house, and hauling groceries. You eat healthy to complement your workout program and drink water to have nice skin, it's just another nice side benefit that it keeps you healthy. 

I always took it for granted that I had the energy to work out, the energy to keep up with my kids, the strength to do all those things. I loved that I was healthy, but I totally took it for granted. After a few months of living in our moldy house, I suddenly had trouble working out because I couldn't get a full breath. I was winded and tired easily. I had constant recurring sinus infections and colds that knocked me out. The worst colds of my life that kept me out of commission for weeks at a time and never seemed to fully get better. It took more than months to realize it was due to mold.

 Like most people, I thought that I just kept picking up a bug that was going around. Especially since at intervals my children and husband were both sick too. Going to the doctor yielded diagnoses of sinus infections, severe colds, a couple of rounds of antibiotics, nothing out of the ordinary. Then an eye infection (or so I thought) started that wouldn't go away and soon spread to the other eye. My eyes burned as if I'd just dropped soap or shampoo in them and were red and inflamed all the time. The eye doctor prescribed antibiotic eye drops and after three rounds of increasingly stronger drops not working, she tried steroid drops. Nothing helped and my eyes continued to get worse. 

The colds and sinus infections abated temporarily, perhaps because by then it was summer and we were outside a lot more, but the eye "infection" did not let up. I started to see a different eye doctor who said that the problem wasn't bacterial or viral in nature and was not an infection at all, but some sort of irritant reaction. I had already stopped wearing contacts, so now I stopped using makeup entirely. A different type of steroid eye drops was prescribed, but still did not help. Then one night as I was helping my children get ready for bed, I saw that their eyes were red and inflamed as well. 

I immediately took them in to see the eye doctor the next day, but she was sure that it was not bacterial or contagious. Now I knew it wasn't simply due to contacts or makeup, but what could it be? How could all three of us have severe conjunctivitis without it being bacterial or viral and contagious in nature? That was where I started to wonder if something environmental was going on in the house and my online research led to mold. 

Once I found the missing puzzle piece of mold in the house, everything else fell into place. It all made sense. We had been perfectly healthy with never more than one or two minor colds per winter before moving into that house. Now, we had been almost constantly ill since moving in and our eyes had only started to have problems since living in that house too. I finally had an answer, so I thought that would lead to a solution. Little did I know, it was just the beginning of a nightmare that would never end. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Beginning...and the End

It was the end of life as we knew it, but we didn't know that yet. A year ago this month, in March of 2013 we moved into what we thought was our dream house but it turned into a total nightmare. The worst possible kind of nightmare that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

They say you never know what you have until it's gone. It is so true. We had it all but didn't realize it, and of course what we had we took for granted. I was healthy, I worked out every day and had a great figure. I had two healthy children with above average intelligence. My daughter had a best friend and regularly won awards and spelling bees at her school for superior academic performance. We had a house full of nice furnishings, nothing fancy, but it was all clean and comfortable and made our house a home.

I had clothes, many of which I'd had since high school; cute skirts, dresses, vintage tees, jeans. My children had toys: a beautiful dollhouse that was taller than they were and filled with Barbie sized furniture, clothes, and accessories. They had four Barbie cars, all bought at garage sales, but clean and in good shape. They had over one hundred Barbies. Most bought at garage sales or Goodwill, other cherished ones bought new for birthdays, Christmas, and special occasions. They had cute clothes, my youngest in particular had more clothes than she could wear because she had all her sister's hand-me-downs plus new clothes from relatives at special occasions and holidays.

I had a collection of books that I had kept from childhood with all my favorites. The Anne of Green Gables series, given to me by my grandmother, the Harry Potter series bought piece by piece and waited in line for as each book came out, Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine novels collected over time, a series of young adult female novels about important periods in history that I couldn't wait to share with my own daughter when she came of age, now out of print.

So many cherished possessions: my board games given to me by my parents at several childhood Christmases, my stuffed cat Fluffy and her kittens, a beloved and cherished gift from my grandmother on my seventh birthday. Yearbooks, baby books, the tooth fairy pillow sewn by my grandmother, baby blankets sewn by my mother-in-law for my babies. So much, all lost and gone due to mold contamination. And still we struggle and our health is poor.