In 2012, my daughter with autism began getting ill – upper respiratory infections and sinus infections that would spiral out of control within 24 hours, even while on antibiotics. Our doctor visits were weekly and before it was over, just in 2014 alone, more than $7000 in medical expenses was spent in trying to get her well and still no resolution.
From 2012 to 2014, my daughter missed 160 days of school in total and spent most of her days so ill she had very few happy moments to fill her days. Being a single parent and caring for her during the illnesses made it impossible to work and I quickly lost my job because of too much time taken off to take care of her.
Her behavior became out of control with increased anxiety on a daily basis. While we went to specialists who all agreed the illnesses were being triggered by allergies, not one person in the medical profession we met with mentioned the words “black mold” or suggested I look in my home for the cause.
Looking back now, there were signs that I missed. My daughter would become more symptomatic while playing in our finished basement. It would be late July 2014 that I would literally stumble on the cause of her illness. While moving furniture in my basement, I found wet carpet under a sofa. When I followed the source of the water, it led to a wall shared by my HVAC unit.
Upon calling my service provider, he quickly traced the leak to what he believed was the cause. As we both looked at the damage, there was black discoloration on the floors and walls. He began making calls to have my carpet ripped up and explained to me that it was just dirt and asked for rags to wipe the areas down.
As I stared at the discoloration I remembered television shows I had seen regarding black mold and I made a spontaneous decision to call a company that specializes in black mold to come look at the damage. I did not allow him to touch the area.
It would be in the first 5 minutes of that meeting that our lives would begin to change. Within minutes, my basement was filling up with crews from the company. It was quarantined off, sealed completely – including the HVAC system itself – to contain the area from cross contamination. It was then explained to me that black mold, once airborne, could infect my entire home and had I allowed the carpet to be pulled up wet, moldy and untreated the black mold spores would have been airborne.
The process is not a quick one and for a month our lives consisted of work crews in our home for many hours a day with large, very loud equipment, that remained on 24 hours a day. Walls and floors were treated with chemicals and then removed completely. The HVAC system would also have to be treated and the worst part was losing sentimental items to mold.
I learned that hard surfaces could be treated to decontaminate while soft surfaces like paper and fabric could not be treated. I lost all my photos. Memories of loved ones who have passed were now sealed in air tight bags and discarded. Baby pictures, my childhood pictures, all discarded. It was as if I had no past. My daughter’s baby blanket, her first pair of shoes, first outfit and more, all sealed away and tossed out. I watched as every sentimental item was thrown away with tears streaming down my face.
To ease my mind that all these painful steps had to be taken, the crew cut open my sofa, the sofa my daughter often napped on when ill. It was then it all became so clear. The entire frame on the inside of what looked like a beautiful leather sofa on the outside was filled with black mold on the inside.
By the second day of the crew working, the entire contents of my basement would be outside split into two piles. Pile one had less than 10 items. Pile two was huge and took up my entire patio and half my yard. Pile one was what I was allowed to keep safely, pile two was to be sealed away and hauled off.
While I was blessed to have a insurance policy to pay for the process of removal, the emotions of losing memories that could never be replaced overwhelmed me daily throughout the process.
By the end of September, my basement would be rebuilt, but it was what happened over the next few months that healed my heart and made up for losing so many cherished memories. My daughter became well. The doctor visits stopped, the antibiotics stopped and daily smiles and giggles began.
Now, by March 2015, she has not missed school, has not been ill with infections and our lives are healthier and happier. New memories are being built daily.
I urge anyone who has suspicions that black mold is in their home to take action immediately. Call a company that specializes in Black Mold to analyze your home. Constant exposure long term can have irreversible medical consequences.
Get the facts here at Center for Disease Control today! http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/indoorenv/mold.html