55 Moves in 2.7 Years

Since acquiring severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, I have slept in our car four nights, on our driveway for a couple weeks, in a tent, on piles of quilts on decks, and in a camper with tracked-in snow and ice literally frozen to the aluminum camper floor.

Why?  Because sleeping inside would have caused me to have trouble breathing, eating, sleeping, or all three.

For the same reasons, we have had to suddenly leave our home (due to chemicals/toxins) five times.  All five times, we did not know where we were going to live next until the day before we moved.

I am not able to stay with family or friends because most of them live in the city (pollution that devastates my body), others live in “moldy forests,” etc.

Since we left our mold house in Indiana (April 2010), I have had to move to a different place 55 times. That includes 8 “true” moves (moving all of our stuff to a new place of residence), 18 temporary places we stayed in between residences, and the 7 places I stayed by myself (in a camper).

In those 55 moves, I have had to go back to a temporary place I had stayed before 22 times.  For instance, I’ve ended up at the State Game Lodge campground in Custer five times—twice as a “planned” camping spot and the other three times using their Camping Cabins in emergency situations.

Other times, I stayed somewhere in the camper without electricity a couple nights to be safer/recover a little but then had to move back to civilization because it was too cold to be without heat after that.

Still other times, I’ve been relatively safe one place but then something happened in the environment to make me not safe there anymore (rain/increased mold growth, someone spraying a chemical, burn ban lifted so campfire smoke, etc.)

And other times, I have been staying in a less-than-ideal place (such as right now), and the “load” of chemicals finally built up to make me unable to tolerate the environment anymore.

I also know and/or have read about people with severe MCS—most of them highly educated with no addictions—sleeping long-term on porches, in tents in winter, or in their cars for weeks, months, or even years, due to their MCS. 

Let’s be honest—I am probably shocking some readers by what I am writing.  How can this be, in 21st Century America?

BUT, I am in good company. Matthew 8:20 says, “Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’”

I can tell you this—I never thought much about this Scripture until I got severe MCS and had no place to lay my head!!!

Now I think about it a lot and feel enormous comfort that the Lord of the Universe knows what this is like.

PS  I had this post all ready to go a while ago, and this week we are facing yet another housing crisis.  But, keep a look-out for my next post for something wonderful the Lord is working in my heart….

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!
This entry was posted in Homelessness, Homeschooling, MCS/Chronic Illness, Mold/Mould, Suffering/Grief. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to 55 Moves in 2.7 Years

  1. Wow…Although our situation has been challenging, I’m humbled…Nothing like this…You have been through so much!

    I have a question. How have you continued to homeschool through the chaos? This has been an interesting and very challenging homeschool year for us because of all the upheaval, and I wonder how others handle these kinds of situations.

    • Christa Upton says:

      Good question! 🙂 We skip all breaks (for instance, we do school on Saturday of Thanksgiving week and so get a full week in) and only take one week at Christmas, so we can take breaks during especially chaotic times. One year it was so tough we did 6 days of school per week for a while to catch up. Several years we have schooled through July and took only a month or so break in the summer. Our older two children are quite independent in a number of subjects, so that helps a great deal. We also “tag-team” because Steve has to be home anyway to take care of our daughter & me. (I can’t do any of our daughter’s daily physical needs. 🙁 ) Steve does a lot of reading aloud and also Nathan’s geometry (which I’m terrible at :)). We keep all our homeschool books in a box with the spines upright, so they are easy to keep track of and take places. (That’s how we homeschooled when we lived in the Winnebago. 🙂 ) We use My Father’s World for Nathan, which is QUITE well laid-out for the teacher. Those are the main things I can think of. Yes, SO HARD with upheaval!! Hang in there!!!

  2. KrisLymesister says:

    I also suffer from MCS. my folks – in – law are looking for a place in the Black Hills to celebrate their anniversary with the family. Can you recommend places for me to check out that would be tolerable for an MCS’er? Thanks so much. God Bless!! ~ Kris

    • Christa Upton says:

      How COOL! The Black Hills are a wonderful place to celebrate!! 🙂 So beautiful, IMHO. Yes, I will be thinking about this and come up with a list!! Are you looking for a hotel, campground, Camping Cabins, and/or something in particular?

      • KrisLymesister says:

        I guess the family is looking for cabins that have cooking facilities and only for 2 nights. I do have a tent if all else fails I can sleep in there. I did find the Red Roost cabins that are fragrance free but the draw back is they have a minimum of 3 night stay which MIL has shot down which is fine. Thank you so much Christa! So glad to meet a fellow SD and MCS’er who totally understands! (((HUGS)))

        • Christa Upton says:

          Echo Valley is one place I have camped.

          I think their cabins are beds only, BUT they have some RVs on site (with little RV kitchens) that they rent out. My parents-in-law rented one, and it was really nice!! The one they were in was NOT fragrance free (though mostly just leftover scents from other campers, I think?), but I could be in it for 30 minutes or so to eat lunch if they weren’t using the propane (as opposed to most indoor places where I can hardly even step inside).

          There are quite a few trees and it’s in a valley, so I am guessing I would not do well there during rainy season because of outdoor mold. (We camped there a very dry late August through early October.) But, we are STILL having a drought here so far…. If you like, please feel free to email me privately, and we can compare “sensitivities/tolerance levels,” and maybe I could give you more specific thoughts on that.

          The Echo Valley Park people are SO nice as well!!

          The ONLY cabins/hotel-like place at all I have been able to stay indoors are the Camping Cabins at Custer State Park, specifically at Game Lodge Campground (which is the most open campground in the park for bad things to drift away and for less outdoor mold).

          (Otherwise, I’ve slept in a tent, our car, eventually our camper, etc.) But the Custer State Park Cabins do not have cooking facilities. 🙁 They have fire pits, and you can use camp stoves on their metal picnic tables, but you cannot cook at all in the cabin.

          They do re-stain the Cabins every fall, but people bring their own linens, which means that each Cabin only has a bare mattresses in it (and no other sources of scents). If you have a barrier cloth you can use to block “leftover” scents in the mattress, it would be even better. Their cleaning chemicals also seem to be better than average & don’t seem to leave a scent behind (at least as of February 2012).

          So glad to meet you as well!! Sounds like we have a lot in common. 🙂 Hugs back to you!!!!

          • KrisLymesister says:

            Thank you so much Christa. I’ll check these places out and email you privately. camp fires are not good for me either ~ any type of smoke gets me into a RADS reaction quickly.

        • Christa Upton says:

          PS I forgot to mention that any outdoor cooking will depend on if there is a burn ban in effect at the time. (Though for me, it helps because I can’t be near campfires.)

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