Wednesday, January 16, 2013

First World Problems for Priest's Wife: Mold, Asbestos, Termites, Bad Pipes

Today I rushed back from volunteering at Boy's kindergarten and picking up the CSA vegetable box to get our townhouse's ducts cleaned and furnace serviced. It was all a moot point when the serviceman saw asbestos wrapped around the furnace duct. We knew this three years ago when we tried to get the ducts cleaned before, but I thought a second opinion would change reality. It's getting chilly here. I haven't turned on the furnace for three years for fear of any asbestos in the air.
But then the serviceman said that it didn't help all that much to not turn on the furnace. There is still asbestos in the air. I had to hold back tears. Could our house be giving us cancer?

It is reminiscent of our brush with black mold in clergy housing. I had a strong reaction to it after our second daughter was born. I remember slowly crawling up the stairs of the school where I taught part time; the arthritis symptoms (but not arthritis- it is some kind of lupus-like autoimmune disorder) were so bad. I had to stop having the baby in bed with me because it took me so long to roll over or adjust my sleeping position; I didn't want to crush her. 

A few years after this event, we moved and I became pregnant with our third child. I had a miscarriage at about 20 weeks. The baby boy (John-Paul- he died a bit before Pope John-Paul) seemed perfect, but the placenta was calcified. This was most likely caused by an autoimmune attack on the placenta because normally placentas don't start breaking down until 42 weeks. 

I believe our old housing killed our baby.

When I was recovering from the miscarriage, one of my sisters and her children came to stay with us. The pipes backed up. We were alone, and I called the nationally best known plumber to fix it. That serviceman charged me over a thousand dollars to 'snake' the pipes. And he knew that I had just lost a baby. So I have a really difficulty trusting servicemen; I would rather my husband deal with these issues.

I am trying to be thankful that we have any housing. Most of the world lives in smaller, worse places, hence the post title. I do regret buying a house built in 1974. We should have known there would be major problems with the house that our 'sweat-equity' couldn't easily remedy. But the world does not owe us anything even though we have three Master's degrees between the two of us. The world does not owe us, even though my husband is working many different jobs to support us. I just wish we could be assured of health for our children and that our home were not a health hazard. I'm really not sure what our next step should be. Please spare a prayer for us!

8 comments:

  1. We also had asbestos duct tape, some of it friable, some of which has been removed, but I'm sure there's more under the floorboards. Not turning the furnace on is not an option because we live in the north. I had someone I came to trust and respect, a third-party inspector, test the air for asbestos before and after some of it was removed, and the levels came up normal.

    Which is to say, I don't think you should worry too much about the asbestos. Old houses "breathe" and have natural ventilation. Probably every building you've ever set foot in that was built before 1960 has some asbestos in it. The people who get mesothelioma from asbestos are the people who work with it over decades without proper protective gear.

    Mold is another story, but please don't trouble yourself about this. Peace to you in the new year.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words! (crossing fingers)...mold hasn't been a problem with this house

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  2. Is that a photo of your lemon tree? ♥ So cool...but too bad it got icy.

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    1. no- our orange tree was fine- but 5 miles away inland it got cold enough to do this- this might mean higher citrus prices!

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  3. I really feel sick for you & your housing concerns! Very sick to hear about your miscarriage at 20 weeks, as well. Please know I will be praying for you. I feel I've heard that asbestos is illegal now, and with all the known risks associated with it... could there possibly be a company that can safely remove it for you??? I know nothing about the topic. Our home is about the same age as yours and I never thought about asbestos before; I will now! So, so scary. My husband would say we have to go to heaven somehow, though. I've never found that comment very consoling, though. I'd prefer it took as long as possible for me to get there; I am a busy Mama and I want my kids to have long, healthy lives, too!! (And my husband does, too, but he tries to stay positive at all times!)

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    1. Thanks Anonymous! As you might imagine- prayers are very welcome

      The 70s seem to be a wasteland in terms of construction- after the strongly built homes of yesteryear but before all the strict codes

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  4. I know asbestos has been illegal for a long time now, and you can indeed hire people to safely remove it from your home. I also have an autoimmune, lupus-like disorder and spent my formative years in old houses and another 4 years in my 30's in an old house, during which time I lost my fourth and last baby, Caleb, at 20 weeks. It was a cord accident but he had gastroschisis (a condition where the abdominal organs are on the outside of the abdomen in a sac), and was missing a kidney. My third baby, also born while we lived in that house and who lived there until he was 4, has Asperger's syndrome and ADHD. My first and second children had no abnormalities. SO I believe you may be correct about the connection. We will certainly keep your family in prayer.

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    1. THanks Kerry- your story is sad :( It is just wrong when our houses 'betray' us

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