Often, clarity comes from the look back and evaluation of events after the fact. This has been the case recently as I pull mole skin mini journals and read through daily entries from the past few years. I am baffled by the number of times I have been truly sick over the past four years. And these bouts of illness have had many of the same symptoms: shortness of breath, overall ache and fatigue, weeks and weeks of deep gutteral hacking that does not let up, a constant need to clear the throat, some fevers. This most recent episode has now lasted six weeks. A close friend has asked in the past: “have you checked for mold”. I dismiss her comments because in my environment, it just does not seem to be the issue.
About five years ago, when Dad had one of his first TIAs (mini-stroke or precursor to stroke), I was at the end of my apartment lease. I sat with Mom in the hospital and felt her deep despair at the idea of losing Dad and at dealing with his current illness. I turned to her and said: “would it help you if I moved back in? would it make a difference?” She turned towards me and her eyes wide she slowly responded as if in disbelief: “Would you do that?” “Of coure Mom, in a heartbeat”. The truth is this helped me as well as finances had become tight on one income in a world that lacked cost of living increases. My travel agent income was minimally sufficient to live and I was often short. So, moving in with them would be mutually beneficial. Within a few months, I was officially moved in.
I settled into the lower level, that area of the house often mocked when referring to adult children living wtih their parents. The good news is that their home is very spacious and I have a large bedroom, walk in closet and my own living room with fireplace should I ever wish to make use of it. The lower level of the townhome offers two extra large master sized rooms with full walk in closets each, a shower/toilet room, a large back room for Dad’s in-home office where he can tool around on the internet and respond to emails. The basement is fully finished, and has been a cozy and clean and well ventilated place to live. At least I thought that was true until fairly recently.
A few months ago, I noticed what looked like little black stains combined with quarter sized gray asymetrical stains that look a bit like blobbs one would find on a microscope’s slide. These seemed to have suddenly appeared on my Berber Carpet, just at the place where my feet land as I get out of bed. I dismissed these new arrivals on my bedroom floor, since this room used to be Mom’s atelier, and I thought perhaps those were stains that had been there all along from her days of working on masterpieces in this space. I must have simply overlooked them. However, on my return from a work trip in Jamaica, the stains seemed to have multipled and I am now noticing them in other parts of the room: under my side table, on the other side of the room and along the edges by the base boards. The carpet is speckeled to begin with so it is hard to discern the stains from the general pattern.
Of course I google the words: mold and carpet and then screen touch the “images” link to see what this might look like according to experts and novices alike. There are a lot of images that are in no way like my little black stains; horrific black patterns all over walks – giant stains of black on carpets. And then, as I keep scrolling down, there they are. Pictures that look exactly like what I am seeing on the floor of my room; blueberry sized black clusters of stains that look like someone has flicked a fountain pain on the carpet and the ink has bled. So I go furtther, and check on health symptoms for mold exposure – and there they are. Most of the symptoms I have been dealing with these last few years, all since I moved in, are there on the screen. And it occurs to me that if this is true, I have to empty my living space completely, this could involve seriously expensive professional clean up and while I may be able to move over to the other bedroom downstairs, perhaps I will have to move out for a time while the project is under way. Worse, what of my lungs- I may need to seek a specialist. And what of my parents- are they safe upstairs? This inability I have had to fully take in a breath or walk stairs without completely losing my breath… there may be a concrete answer. The chest pain on my left side that sent me to the radiologist for a mammogram because of the left side pain; well, perhaps this is why I have had that pressing on my left side. I feel relief- if in fact, this is it. I feel overwhelmed and don’t want to get ahead of myself.
So, I look up various mold experts in the area to call and get an evaluation. This might not be it… but I have a sneaking suspicion that it is. Reading further on medical impact, fear creeps in- neurological issues aside from chronic bronchitis. Pictures of lung xrays and spores growing in people’s systems. The internet is a great source to get information, it can also create panic and psychosomatic crazy people. So: calm down, one step at a time.