by Christa Upton
Two weeks after leaving our moldy house, we found a townhouse. We figured it would be short-term for a variety of reasons. We just didn’t realize how short-term.
2 ½ months after moving in, I bent down to pick up a box by our piano. The whole bottom was soaking wet!
After some investigation, we found a large patch of soaking-wet carpet on the wall adjoining our neighbor. We immediately notified our rental property manager.
Keep in mind that we had had a long conversation about my Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) with the property manager before we signed any contracts. We tried to make sure we wouldn’t have chemicals forced on us. (They were very happy to forego their usual cleaning and let us do it ourselves with non-toxic cleaners.)
Back to the wet carpet….they had a guy come out and take a look. His “plan” was to spray some stuff and aim a fan at the wet floor and wall. The property manager didn’t even want to figure out where the water was coming from!!!
We knew that within 48 hours there would likely be mold inside that wall. Plus without addressing the problem as a whole, there was no guarantee that more water wouldn’t come in causing more and more mold problems.
Not only would the mold make me very sick again, it would also affect our possessions that we had just rescued from the mold house (by HEPA-vacuuming and/or washing) and the mattresses and everything we had just bought to replace our possessions ruined in the mold house.
So we began packing up to move. The sooner we were away from the impending mold the better. Plus I was already fighting cigarette smoke from one attached neighbor, gas stove (very hard on my body even with normal use), and inherent building chemicals.
That day we went to see several rentals. When we returned, I began to enter our townhouse but was met by cleaning chemicals filling the air. Cleaning chemicals were coming through the walls from the neighbor. (Looking back, I’m surprised that didn’t happen sooner.) My MCS symptoms increased, and I had to stay outside until Steve aired out the place.
But the worst part about this move was that five days previous, we had had one of the worst experiences of our lives. Our daughter Sarah (who was five years old at the time) has seizure disorder. On this day, her emergency seizure medication failed, and her seizure kept coming back and back. As she was leaving for the ER, she was conscious enough to be crying for me to go with her, but I could not go. We knew I would get very sick with the hospital chemicals and would be a liability, not a help. I don’t even like to think about this day, much less write about it, but I want to share for those readers who might be overwhelmed by their grief or fear, too. The pain was worse than any physical pain I’ve ever had; it was piercing anguish watching them drive away without me.
At the ER, they had to go very slowly giving the anti-seizure meds (because too much will stop breathing). As Steve watched, he fought the fear that she was dying. Indeed, she was experiencing status epilepticus; apparently up to 33% of status epilepticus patients die.
Back at the townhouse, I called family and our pastor, tears streaming down my cheeks. Our pastor gently reminded me that God is in control, and then he headed to the ER to meet Steve & Sarah. Another dear friend headed to meet them, too, and later came to help me and our older kids.
The doctor started Sarah on a new medication, which has really worked well for her. But at the time, they told us it would take at least a week to reach therapeutic levels.
So five days later, we found ourselves moving, and the stress was over the top.
However, a lovely friend found us a place to stay—her relative’s house that was not in use at the moment. It got us through to the next place God would lead us. And God, in His grace, kept Sarah from having any more seizures until eight months later.
Christa Upton Black Hills Picture Books PO Box 293 Custer, SD 57730