May 4, 2012 § 2 Comments
After the conversation with our property manager, we realized that testing was not going to take place. We wanted to know how much of the air was filled with moldy microorganisms, and how much, so we took matters into our own hands.
Trever found a mold investigation company that tests four different areas around the home as well as the inside and outside air on Google. He gave them a ring and set an appointment for the following day–Thursday, April 19–at 9:00am.
The aptly named Justice, the mold investigator, arrived at nine on the dot. He began unloading his tool kit and setting up shop while I gathered my things to take the kiddos to music class with Angie from World Citizen Baby.
While we were at the park after music class, Trever texted me to not come home. Ever. Justice had requested to move the bed away from the wall and discovered mold a foot thick across the entire back of our bed, saturated into the bone white paint. Black, thick, disgusting mold. The photo he texted me of it (posted in part I) was so horrifying I shook with anger and tears.
I made a few phone calls and found us a place to stay. I spent the day at Gina’s and the night at Megan’s. Through the weekend, my friends were extremely supportive. Megan helped me watch Audrey and find a new place to live, which we applied to and became accepted for on Monday, April 23.
It would be another week until we found out the mold results. Our gut instinct and Justice’s expertise were confirmed. The air inside our apartment was 10% extremely toxic, causing microorganisms to float around and land on all of belongings. Black mold including penicillium, stachybotrys, and aspergillus were everywhere causing numerous symptoms* to occur in our bodies over the past fifteen weeks. Any mold is bad mold, yet these are known to be the worst of them all.
We we’re so thankful we got out when we did. Little by little over the past two weeks we have purchased things to take care of our needs. Trever has taken two very large loads to the city dump, filling his truck with our contaminated belongings including our bed and mattress, pillows, nightstands, couch, orange chair, toys, clothing, storage boxes, and different odds and ends amounting in thousands of dollars in losses and with visible and/or smelly mold in-tact.
It’ll be awhile until we put our lives back together. We have spent our tax refund on making our lives seem even just a little normal. A couch would be nice. We don’t know what will happen or if we’ll get our deposit back. On Tuesday, May 1 our property manager called to tell us it was our fault because of our humidifier–after finding it during a mold testing although I explicitly told them not to enter on Friday, April 27. And even though the city of Pasadena’s health department has documented that it is from poor ventilation. I’m sure our property manager enjoyed receiving that email of the complaint.
Sadly, we know they will do everything they can to not have to pay. After Tuesday’s conversation, they may even go so far as to attempt to charge us for the mold remediation, “none of this would have happened if you would have listened to me and just cleaned it off with bleach. Now you’re costing us thousands of dollars.” Yes, she said this on Tuesday even contradicting our first conversation two wednesdays prior to, claiming that that unit has always had mold issues.
It’s stressful. But we’ll figure it out. We always do.
If you or someone you love is dealing with environmental-related sickness issues, please take proper care and contact your doctor. If you have mold in your home that you are renting (home owners have rights too), here are some steps you should follow:
• Treat all mold as if it is toxic…because it is
• Take photos of all mold issues and video
• Document days and times by stating them on video
• Record conversations over the phone–tell them you are–or write down what they have stated and email it to yourself
• Place evidence in a well-sealed bag
• Visit a doctor who can identify if you have mold allergies and request mold allergy and fungal blood testing
• Submit an insurance claim with your Renter’s Insurance (even if they can’t cover it, you’ve got documentation)
• Find a toxic mold lawyer who will either represent you or advise you in your small claims case
• Contact the Renter’s Rights in your area
• Contact the Health Department in your area, submit a complaint, and have an investigator view the property and take photos before you return the keys
In the end, do not clean mold yourself, regardless of how much they push you. Contact an expert and have it tested. Seal off the area with 3 millimeter plastic. Do not touch it. Feel free to contact me of you have any questions at Jenny L’voe at gmail dot com.
*Here are our symptoms from living in 635 N Michigan Ave Pasadena CA 91106 from December 31, 2011-April 19, 2012.
Trever: Scratchy throat, chest pain, respiratory issues, sneezing, watery and itchy eyes (especially at night), occasionally headaches (more frequent at home in the last few weeks), swollen glands in neck, sinus pain, achy joints
Jennifer: Constant headaches (wrote it off as dehydration even after drinking enough water), scratchy throat, swollen glands in neck, itchy nose, itchy and dry eyes, chest pain, fatigue near exhaustion, itching skin, diarrhea, nausea, pain in joints and muscles, inability to focus/foggy brain, sinus pain, stronger body odor
Audrey: Runny nose, cough, fatigue, rash around bum and legs, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite (and therefore lack of weight gain)
Edric: Cold-like symptoms since birth, runny nose, cough, respiratory symptoms (flemmy sound in chest), blocked tear duct (gunky yellow eye cured by antibiotics)
You are on part three.
Read part one.
Read part two.
October 26, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Learning to deal. Sometimes I don’t know how I do it. I guess I just compartmentalize. I can’t bite off too much of my life or I get extremely overwhelmed. At the thought of weeks, months, and years in advance–I crumble.
Once in a while, my zen mindset gets overloaded in one way or another, and I break.
That was just the case for me on the Friday before my sister in laws wedding. I was on this brain overload: thinking about upcoming bills, Trever needing more consistent work, feeling comfortable during a wedding, and taking the final for my Web Development class.
When the rehearsal dinner rolled around on Thursday and we needed to head down early to pick up my dress, I was feeling anxious about it fitting or not. I wanted it to work out like magic or for the seamstress to at least be able to take out some of it if that were the case.
Well, imagine my surprise when we arrived to pick it up and this was Sharan’s response,
“Oh, I sent your dress home with someone earlier this week. With your sister/sister-in law or mother/mother-in-law. Yes, with someone.”
After bidding her a hallow “thank you” and walking away, I rang my mother-in-law. She did have the dress and would bring it with her. I had to wait another 7 or so hours before I found out if it was time to panic or not.
And there was my mistake. I had already decided that it wasn’t going to work and that there was no alternative, no backup plan. The beginning of my zealous mind wipe.
We enjoyed the rehearsal and dinner well enough. When we arrived back home, I immediately tried the dress on. The satiny classic bridesmaid material suctioned to my 25 week pregnant body. Too tight. I couldn’t breath.
I looked at Trever in the mirror, “What am I going to do?”
“I don’t know,” he replied, “but I know you’ll figure it out. You always do.”
I always do. Phew. His support was admirable. But I was still stressed. The next day, I chaotically searched for a replacement dress that my mother-in-law generously offered to cover. My plan was to wear the bridesmaid dress for the photos and ceremony and change shortly thereafter.
Friday went painstakingly slow. After making it through it in its entirety, I woke up Saturday deciding that I would do whatever I needed to do to deal. I had come this far and I wasn’t about to let the drama in my own mind get in the way of people and things greater than myself–brides take precedence of pregnant ladies. Period.
The morning couldn’t have gone better with the best updo ever (See Monday’s post) and it just put me in a good mood. My hair looked good, what could go wrong?
That was the end of that. I spent one day–Friday–griping about a tight dress in my mind and made a conscious effort to not let that stop me from enjoying myself. We arrived at the wedding ceremony site and I waited till the last second to put the dress on.
The ceremony and family-photo-taking ended and I had my opportunity to change. I decided not to. “I’ll just deal with it,” I told myself. And I did. I got over myself and just lifted the dress up a bit after I ate (and it was tighter than before). Thankfully, it didn’t go too long into the night and soon we were driving home.
All and all, I’m quite proud of myself. I guess we’re all capable of getting over even the silliest things in our heads. Now what to do with that dress? Wink.