Homeless, the First Time

by Christa Upton

March 2010.  I had been very, very sick for almost 1 ½ years.

A hidden enemy lurked beneath our flooring, in our walls, and in our crawlspace.  Every day for 2 ½ years, it had been secretly tearing down my health, until I was bedridden with complete exhaustion and weakness.  I suffered heart irregularities and severe pain (sometimes agony).  I could hardly eat or sleep.  I was barely functioning.

The enemy’s odor in that wet spring began to reveal its ugly presence; it was mold, and lots of it.

We called four professional mold remediation companies to check it out.  We began putting two and two together from everything they told us.  We talked with experts on the phone.  We did some serious research on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

We finally realized—our house was making me sick.

Sleeping outside wasn’t an option.  I was often choking from the smoke of burning trash and leaves.

We knew I would not last 5 minutes in a hotel.  Over the past year, I had begun reacting to all kinds of things, including cleaners, shampoos, lotions, detergents, etc.  I had very little idea why.

Later we figured out that two of the mold remediation companies knew what they were talking about and had excellent removal techniques, a third company had trained their representative with reasonable but not thorough knowledge of mold facts, and one was armed with dangerously false information about mold.

Unfortunately, we immediately followed one piece of advice of the last company and opened up our crawl space.  (It might have been good advice BEFORE the mold had grown down there….)

Within a few hours, my weakness increased until I could barely speak, move, or eat.  I was really scared.

We began to make frantic phone calls to try to find someone we could stay with, but many of our friends’ homes had inherent triggers that would not work for me.  Others had tiny houses; one close friend had a child in the hospital at the time, literally fighting for his life!

The next day, we had an appointment to see a duplex for rent.  I grabbed my purse, Steve helped me to the car, and that was the last I ever stepped foot in that house.

After touring the duplex, I lay down on the floor (embarrassed) because I was too exhausted to stand up (and the duplex had no furniture).  The Realtor explained how she knew the townhouse was too small for us.  (Too small?!?!  Do you realize our house is a major danger and we have nowhere else to sleep tonight?  Of course she could not really understand, and we do not blame her.)

We drove away, and I turned to Steve.

“I can’t go back there.  I just can’t do it.  Can we just go to Wal Mart or something and try to think what we can do?”

But then Steve spotted the place of work of an old college friend.  Steve ran in and explained our situation.  They immediately offered for ALL five of us to stay with them, that very night.

Whether that was “near” or “actual” homelessness, it was a scary experience.  I was so grateful for my friend that emailed us that day:  “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”  1 Peter 5:10

Christa Upton                                                                                                                               Black Hills Picture Books                                                                                                                     PO Box 293                                                                                                                                            Custer, SD 57730


About Christa Upton

I am a wife and mother of three children ages 11, 14, and 18. I used to be a stay-at-home mom (teaching piano & dance, volunteering, etc). From 2007 to 2010, I suffered accidental Toxic Injury (also called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or MCS). MCS has had major impact on our family, but the forced time in bed has given me time to write. So far, I have published 4 children's books (2 in e-book format on Kindle, one in Print-on-Demand at CreateSpace, and one printed by a local printer). Sometimes I miss my old life, but I love writing for children!
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