Are We There Yet? Part 2


Today is day 67 since leaving my home with my hubby in a leap of faith.  I was deathly sick with complications of Lyme Disease and had just become aware of the mitigating factors of mold in my home.  My husband, Steve, and I had left town for about a week when turnaround in my health began for the better.  We are forever grateful for the prayers, friendship, wisdom, and online community that have been instrumental in surviving this incredible time in our lives.   And still, we are not “there yet.”  Here’s the story:

We left town less than a week after receiving the results of an ERMI test from  The findings:  our home was in the 60-65th percentile of homes with mold exposure.  When my health improved after leaving our home, we quickly initiated a “mold claim” with our homeowners’ insurance company, arranged for an inspection from a mold remediation company, and kept me in a hotel room until we had further direction as to how to proceed.  The inspection was completed at the same time of a visit a field adjuster from our insurance company.  Cool beans.  Both agreed that the damage was a residual effect from water damage in 2009; we would be eligible for the full amount of reparations from our insurance policy.  Only problem was the difference from the estimate to the policy limits would place us $6500 in debt.   Strike one.

We contacted the original company who had completed the water restoration in 2009 and by the grace of God, this visit coincided with a consultation from an industrial hygiene testing firm.  Steve got talking with both of the reps and determined that the damage was most likely due to closing the vent under the master bathroom cabinet and not the water damage; condensation had built up under the cabinet which backs to the cooler wall behind it, from the garage.  We went ahead with some expensive testing and contacted our insurance company with the update.  The claim would now be limited to reimbursement for a limited amount of hotel expenses, and only if this was approved by special managers at our insurance company.  Well, it’s something.  Strike two.

The consulting firm used air quality measures to test inside and outside the home, unlike the surface testing methods of the ERMI test.  The latter is deemed more useful in the healthcare realm for mold sensitive individuals; the former is the industry standard for most workplace, school, and governmental testing.  The results brought no surprise:  the industrial hygienist determined that there were no significant levels of mold inside verses outside our home.  Well this is winter time in Indiana.  Duh?  Everything is dead outside the home this time of year!  The report would later recommend cleaning the duct work if someone in the home is allergic to mold.  But there’s dust everywhere in a home!  What about the drapes, walls, furniture, books,carpeting and so on?  Nothing mentioned about them.

We had the duct work cleaned and the furnace serviced anyways.  One company found a mysterious white dust in the duct work and both companies gave different answers for what it might be:  residue from rust in the galvanized steel duct work vs. drywall dust.  We knew that we could have it tested for another large sum of money or just have it cleaned.  Around this time, Steve and I talked to a waterproofing company rep at our local home and garden show and decided to have them give their opinion on our house.  We live on a slab and they said a couple of days later that it could be lime leaching from the concrete.  Yeah, whatever.

Because I was amassing a large hotel bill as more time was passing, we had decided to begin the process of preparing our home for sale “just in case.”  If we could not diagnose or remedy the irritant in our home, we would need to clean it up, disclose all the reports, and put it on the market anyways.  So Steve made a few repairs, we replaced the garage door, and the house got a thorough cleaning.  The place looked stunning.  All was completed when Steve and I wondered if I was allergic to the drywall.  Maybe it was Chinese drywall?  (Google that one for the controversy and class action lawsuit saga for homes built around the time of our home:  2005.)  After all, there was a noxious smell in the home when I moved in when we got married 5 years ago.  No one was able to smell it but me!  The smell went away when I proceeded to repaint the inside of the home as I gratefully redecorated our love nest for our new life together.

Then there was another “bunny trail” to distract us:  I was not reacting as much in the hotel room as in the homes of others with whom I’d tried to live during this temporary displacement.  The hotel room has an electric furnace.  Our home and the home of our friends has a gas furnace.  I researched byproducts of gas furnaces and related allergies.  We bought a CO detector and put in in the house.  Later we would put it in the garage.  The detector was working fine in both locations without sounding it’s alarm.  Oh Lord, WHAT IS IT?  Strike three and we are out of our minds trying to solve the mystery!

One fateful Sunday night, we did a “smell test.”  I did not react to a sample of drywall.  I did not react to a sample of insulation.  I had not reacted to the blown-in insulation in the attic.  I reacted severely to the tweeny amount of dust on Steve’s coat that he had not worn since last Fall.   So the answer is:  the culprit is in the dust.  We have a mold claim after all.

By this point we had to make a decision about restoring our home or moving.  Our insurance company was unavailable to discuss reclassifying our claim back to the mold claim and the amount available in the policy for reimbursement.  He had last reported that he would only reimburse us for our initial hotel expenses with “manager approval.”  We went ahead and decided to replace the carpeting — another typical allergen — and get me back home.  If I still reacted to the house then we would move after that.  We just needed to keep moving forward.  Restoring another house would introduce too many unknowns even if we did all the same cleaning and replaced the flooring in the new place.  Better to go with a largely known entity with our compiled data from our home.  Although fewer, I was still having setbacks in the hotel that might be the ongoing recovery from Lyme; I am still 65% better overall, gratefully.   The hotel room has newer carpeting.  The dog was with me now and although I’m not allergic to dogs, I usually don’t share a hotel room with a German Shepherd!  It will have to do for now.  I am going home soon!

So at the time of this writing, we are not “there yet.”  We are closer though!  A dear friend is installing a lovely Canadian Maple engineered hardwood throughout our home.  It is more than stunning.  The insurance adjuster just called to notify us that we are eligible for the full amount of the mold coverage in our policy plus a little more for some hotel expense incurred in the beginning before the field adjuster got involved in our case.  Overall, this is fair and a gift from the Lord.  We will pay off our expenses and simply replace a car payment with a flooring payment as one resolves and the other begins.  No problem.

Our story reminds me of the Dear Abby column from many years ago called, The Station.   It’s a short read and a nice conclusion to the topic of our desire as human beings to have everything completed, resolved, answered to we can move on with our lives as we desire.  Well life really is never done, we don’t “arrive” until we face the Lord our Creator after we leave this life and pass onto the next.  This life is more about the journey.  The Station encapsulates it better than I can for sure.  I will say that I’ve learned a lot about myself, my beloved husband, and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ during these past 67 days.  There’s more to come before I’m home here in Indiana.  Lord willing, I’ll be home soon.  What happens after that is in His hands.

And I do miss blogging.  I’ll write again soon and I promise it will be shorter!  :J

Enemy Number Two

moldimagesEnemy number one is the author of all that is evil, Satan himself.  Fallen from the angelic realm, he roams the earth tempting and taunting everyone.  Unless we claim the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will have no defense against his schemes nor against sin.  With faith in Christ, we are free from the penalty of sin (which is death), receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and our eternal life begins with the triune God.  Whether I live or perish in this earthly life, I have eternal victory in Jesus Christ.  Enemy number one is defeated.

I have a new enemy in my life and it is not Lyme Disease.  Enemy number two, superseding all other hassles is mold.  Mold is making me sicker and sicker every day.  Turns out that the floods in our home when our water softener filter broke, twice, have introduced this dangerous neurotoxin into our master bedroom and bathroom.  We got a good look at some of it tonight when my husband, Steve, shined a flashlight under the bathroom cabinet.  Greenish blue spots splatter the wooden base that backs to the garage (and where the water softener is located).  The next step is to pull up the carpet and examine the pad, drywall, and wooden base in the bedroom.  Geez!  No wonder the ERMI (household DNA test for mold) exceeded the scale values.  We have a serious problem!

Sick building syndrome and mold exposure can mimic the symptoms of Lyme Disease or worsen them.  Initially I wondered if the mold exposure complication I was suspecting was from working some years ago in a moldy old hospital Aurora, IL.  Certainly I had chronic sinus infections back then, with the sick leave eventually complicating my job situation.  This newer exposure leads me to wonder if this is why I have had such a rough time treating Lyme Disease?  Is this why I am  struggling even more since ingesting mold (microbial rennet) in Gruyere goat cheese this past week?  Well with this discovery, we not only have a serious problem, we might have a solution!

Steve and I are implementing some survival strategies while we investigate the matter further.  We wonder if our homeowners’ insurance will cover repairs and we wonder how to protect me and everyone in our household from further mold exposure?  Can I stay here?  Thankfully, I will see my Lyme Literate Doctor this week and this will be a center point of our discussion for sure.  I’m feeling very sick these days.  Thank you for hanging in there with me as we prayerfully proceed.

Since the Lord has given us victory over enemy number one, we know that He will grant us grace, mercy, and peace with “enemy number two.”  And this night, I will be keeping my eyes fixed on Him.  Oh Lord, grant me your gracious mercy, yes mercy please.