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Toxic mold is a fact of life and can be completely debilitating to some people. If it smells bad, it probably is bad. I have entered a lot of homes with suspect growths on them. I work with investors who buy homes like this, I now carry masks in my car. I entered a home that was particularly bad one time and for a few days afterwards I suffered with mild flu like symptoms but there are some who will suffer like Debra and some who may even lose their lives. Toxic mold is a real threat, especially to Realtors, like us who show these homes. Do not take this lightly.
This is a post I have been wanting to write for weeks but couldn't find the courage because until today I didn't know what was going to happen to me. Reading Jay Markanich's post A Very Sad and Dangerous Inspection made me realize I shouldn't wait any longer to write it. Co-incidentally between last night and today I have had a break through so it makes it easier for me to write.
Several weeks ago I was out showing houses with a new buyer and having a great time like I usually do. I love my job, I love new clients and I love helping them find their dream homes. We had been to 4-5 houses when we pulled up to the next. Just another house on another street in another neighborhood. I was feeling great that day. In fact it was funny because it was the best I had felt in weeks so it made the day even better.
I unlocked the door of this next house we were previewing which was vacant. Now as a reminder this was the week after Hurricane Irene so alot of the roads were still closed, still alot of flooding etc... When I opened the door we could smell something bad but in this business that is NEVER unusual so in we went. It smelled wet inside but we couldn't see any standing water and I didn't visually see any mold.
Within 30-40 seconds after going inside I started to gasp for air and started choking and coughing. I immediately ran outside figuring as soon as I got fresh air I would be fine. After all, you go in houses all the time, sometimes they smell but I have never had any type of problem. The buyers were coughing too but seemed to be fine once they were out for a few seconds. I locked up the house but continued to cough and choke. So much so I couldn't speak. It felt like a person had sat on my chest and they still hadn't gotten off.
We looked at one more house as it was close by and then I had to call it a day. I still had not stopped coughing and could not get enough air. Here is where I made my mistake. I should have gone straight to the hospital or called a Dr. But it was a Saturday, I hate hospitals, I hate Drs. like most people and figured if I went home and laid down I would be fine.
I did call the listing agent though. I WANTED THIS HOUSE OFF THE MARKET. If someone like me who has never had a breathing issue in their life had a problem, what would happen to someone with allergies or asthma? With a breathing attack after looking at that house would they make it to the hospital? I didn't think the chance was worth the risk.
The next morning I still felt like someone was sitting on my chest. I could not take a breath without coughing or choking. But now it is Sunday - getting a call back is near impossible and you can spend hours in the emergency room. Again I should have gone to the hospital.
First thing Monday I called the Dr. and went right in. I told him what happened and I was given a steroidal inhaler to use for a day or two and "I would be fine." Almost immediately I started getting much worse. I lost my ability to talk because I didn't have the breath for it. He called in a regimen of sterioids for me to start immediately and I had a chest xray which was normal. (I figured it would be)
After taking the steriods for 4 days I was worse so I went to see another Dr. He didn't take me seriously and because of all the coughing from the shortness of breath told me I had a cold. I tried to explain that I only coughed if I tried to talk. He told me to drink tea with honey and see an allergist.
In the process of making an appointment with another Dr. I wound up in the hospital because it got to the point where I just couldn't breathe at all. They injected me, gave me breathing treatments, changed my meds, added more and I went home with a nebulizer so I could do breathing treatments at home.
At this point I thought good! I will finally start to get better and can move on. I got worse. Each day that I thought my breathing couldn't possibly get any worse it did. I hadn't really spoken a normal sentence since that Saturday. I began to realize that no matter what was being done I wasn't getting better. When you start to realize something like that you see things in a whole new way. I started to think - what do I do first? I can't talk so anything I do I will have to write down. How do you write in a letter what you feel when you are sick and you aren't getting better and how can I write so many?
I have a whole new appreciation for people with asthma and shortness of breath. Things you would never even think of. How you don't even want to be hugged too tightly because you can't catch your breath. How you never want to be without your inhaler because it is your lifeline. How looking at stairs can be intimidating and frightening if you are trying to get away from someone. That is just scratching the tip of the iceberg.
Finally not to keep dragging this out. I saw another in a long line of Drs. on Tuesday. This lung specialist I think finally took me seriously enough and really knows his stuff. He said that I definitely got exposed to something. He is leaning towards toxic mold (or possible a toxic chemical) and again changed my meds extremely aggressively. I am still on the machine, taking the meds and have an inhaler but for the first time last night I could actually take a small breath and a few more today. This is the first change in over 3 weeks with none at all with all the other medicines so I am sooo grateful for his help.
The point of this story? When you see a house like Jay talked about or something does not smell right - GET OUT. If you are affected somehow don't wait to get help. No matter how trivial it may seem (like it did to me) you can never be too careful. It looks like I may have dodged a bullet finally (thank you GOD) but would it have been better if I had gone to the hospital that day?? I will never know.
If you are Buying, Selling or Relocating to the Hudson Valley area and need help from a professional REALTOR®, I would be happy to assist you! Please visit my Hudson Valley website for property searches and to sign up for free listing alerts and other information.
If you are thinking of buying or selling an home in Maryland give me a call at 410-292-0100 or start your search here and we'll talk about the market conditions and what your home could possibly be worth in today's market place if you are thinking of selling. If you are considering buying a home, there is no better time than now to buy. The tax savings and wealth building alone is worth the plunge into todays market. Century 21 New Millennium is part of the largest nationwide relocation company and can assist with your move here in Maryland or anywhere in the United States or abroad. Ask me how.
In keeping with saluting our heroes, during 2013 I am waving flat fees for active duty military, retired military and the families of fallen military, as well as policemen, firemen and emt's. If you enter into a contract by the New Year's eve I will waive the flat fee at settlement. This is a $395 savings. If you are thinking about buying or selling a home give me a call and receive full service real estate assistance from an experienced agent. Our office is open 7 days a week and we can be reached at 410-730-8888 or I can be reached directly at 410-292-0100.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.