Dec 24th 2014. This was the day we moved into our new home. We were so excited. This home had everything we dreamed of having in a home. It was a rambler, it was on small acreage, it had privacy, and that was only a tidbit of what matched our dreams. My husband is a city boy and always wants to live in town, close to amenities and work. I’m a county girl and wanted a place to raise our children in a natural environment. Raise them teaching them the value of hard work and growing your own food in a garden, raising small farm animals. This home provided all of that and so much more. It was a home to grow old in. When the kids are grown, a perfect home to come back to grandma and grandpas and so on. All our dreams were finally coming true. We found the perfect home to spend the rest of our lives in…Or so we were led to believe…
We did everything right
We hired a home inspector. We had the septic pumped and inspected. We even did a walkthrough of the property and the home with the previous sellers. We were so excited to know this home passed everything with flying colors! Later to find our we were lied to and an act of fraud was committed against our family.
In Feb of 2016, I’ll never forget that first Friday. It was the day all our dreams came crashing down. Everything was ripped from us in an instant, but we wouldn’t know the gravity of the situation until months later. Our daughter was diagnosed with a horrible and incurable and fatal if not treated autoimmune disease called PANS. Her antibodies went rouge, traveled through the basil ganglia and into her brain and attacked her own brain whenever her immune system was triggered. The result was near constant encephalitis. We had to see specialists, who of course don’t take insurance. The cost of care for our daughter, just to keep her critical brain inflammation down quickly began to cost us $700 a month.
I had just started my own preschool business out of my home earlier that year but I was forced to close because of the care my daughter needed. Which meant we were then a single-family income struggling to pay the mortgage and keep the power and water on, as well as keep our daughter alive. We did testing and testing and more testing. I think we had enough blood drawn for labs from our little girl to supply another child with a lifetime supply of blood. We were looking for her triggers. The only hope she had at decreasing the tax load of inflammation on her brain. But during the mean time her brain inflammation was getting worse. What previously cost us around 700 a month quickly jumped to 1000 a month just in supplements and medication alone. And this is mostly out of pocket. Hardly any insurance coverage at all. And that didn’t include labs, doctor visits and the new expensive restricted clean diet we had to go on. By this time, we had maxed out all our credit cards just to keep the power on and keep our home. And we had a mountain of unpaid medical bills just from our daughter. We couldn’t even afford to take ourselves and our son to the doctor when we all started showing signs of health problems. Not to mention our pets as well.
We found it
Her triggers. We found her Triggers. It was in August of 2016 that we finally started to put the pieces together. Our day to day lives were so consumed with our daughter and her health that we didn’t at first see the connections of everything piling up health wise for the whole family. Our daughters case was so severe, it took every ounce of energy and every waking moment to care for her and make sure she was ok. I thank God that we found her main trigger. If we had not, and if we continued to live in that house, I don’t think she would be here with us today.
It was mold. Toxic Mold
One of her blood tests came back that she was fighting a fungal issue. We started by eliminating more foods. That didn’t seem to help any. I decided then I was going to deep clean the house, pull everything away from the walls, deep clean the bathrooms etc. because I found mold growing on one of the toilet tanks. I figured this must be it, mold. So to not risk exposing my daughter to anything else I might find, I sent her to stay with my parents for 2 days. During her stay with my parents she lost almost all of her symptoms. This was baffling. In my search of the home as well I found mold growing in obvious places, the bathrooms like the showers and the toilets. We began purchasing new toilets with the intent of replacing all of them thinking she was just really super sensitive to mold. We began considering remodeling our bathrooms to remove any mold hiding behind the walls.
When my mother brought her back home, I was so excited to see my daughter again, she was talking! My mother even dropped her off in underwear, something shad had not been able to wear for months!! But it was short lived. Within 4 hours she regressed completely. She was raging and screaming, wet herself, and was back again on complete hiatus. I called my mother back over to come see how she quickly changed. That’s when It hit me. IT WAS OUR HOUSE! SOMEHTHING IN OUR HOUSE. We immediately temporarily located to my parents’ house so we could investigate what was causing her issues with our home.
A deeper Investigation
Since the only lead, I had was fungal, I hired an expensive Mold Inspector. For a little over 7 hours this guy crawled over every single inch of our home. Took detailed photos and notes. He showed me what he found as he found it. Our house was contaminated top and bottom with mold. We had the mold tested and it was found to be toxic mold, with very high spore counts. We hired a second mold inspector because I wanted a second opinion just on the testing. This inspector was also a remediated. So we also wanted a bid for him to remediate the job so we could get our home fixed and move back in. We thought this man was our saving grace.
When he pulled up and got out of the car in the driveway he looked very confused. Almost like he was having a dejavu moment. He then told me in the driveway before even entering the house that he has been here before, and it wasn’t that long ago. He described the attic to me, the leak in the roof that the previous owners were fixing when the house was listed for sale, he described the two previous owners perfectly down to even the type of home run business they had and how he was handed their business card. He knew already before going in that the attic was full of mold.
We thought at the time he was our saving grace! The previous owners knew of the toxic mold, but they did not disclose this in the sale of the home! His testing also came back conclusive with the previous inspectors. Our house had a high spore content of toxic mold.
Our next step was to find a lawyer, here we had an eye witness of the toxic mold growth, and that the previous owners knew about it. And shortly after this man visited their house and notified them of it they listed the house for sale cheap, to us. We also had the home inspector to go after. He did not do his job at all. Not only did he miss the amount of mold in the attic, he missed that the entire attic was sealed shut. All the ventilation was closed off. There was ZERO air flow. And ALL of the vents were vented into the attic, some even buried under insulation. Under the house, he missed that there were two VERY old leaks, one on each end of the house and a ton of dry rot, which guess what, they grew mold. There is also mold growing on all of the floor joists, and floor boards. He also missed the fact that half of the house doesn’t even have vapor barrier under it.
We thought going into this we had a sure fire case, we were bound to win some compensation and get our home fixed. I spent a couple of months talking to and consulting with several several lawyers. I was told we have a fraud case. And I was told we had a good shot at winning. Then every single lawyer turned us down. Because the pockets were not deep enough of the people we were going to go after. And our pockets were not deep enough to afford a toxic mold case. We were quoted it would cost us out of pocket, win or lose for a contingency toxic mold case in the ballpark of 20 to 50 thousand! Then we would have to give up half of our winnings on top of that! I tried pro-bono lawyers, but apparently pro-bono lawyers don’t handle cases as severe as ours. Devastation number 1.
During this time, I also began collecting bids for the remediation of our home. Since the roof was installed wrong and it was the worst off with all the mold growth, it needed to be replaced. The entire roof and all the sheeting. We planned on trying to treat the rest of the roof with a remediator. At this same time, we started trying to salvage things from the house. We remediated them using the same protocols and supplies that the professionals would use. And to be on the safe side, I put them through the process more than once. But it was all worthless. We can’t seem to neutralize the toxins. We would take thoroughly cleaned items and place them in the room at my parents’ house, 8ft or so away from our daughter and she wouldn’t even know they were there, and she regressed fast. She flared. Which told us the toxins must off gas, and we can’t neutralize it.
Our bids all came in during this time also. To remediate the entire house, (not including gutting it) the total was around 80 thousand! Then on top of that we would have to gut the entire house since the mold had been growing, to what we found out, in the attic since 2002.
Upon further research into mold and consulting with remediators and families who had gone through the expense of remediation, only to still suffer health issues from the toxins that remained, we knew we couldn’t sink 80 thousand into a “possibility” of this all happening again. We already lost everything we owned and had to start all over without even one set of clothing…so it just wasn’t a possibility. And, after learning that mold spores can travel through drywall…. well…not even the bones of the house would be safe enough for our family to move back into. Nor any family for that matter.
Other Health Issues
Our daughter was not the only one that suffered health issues from this dang mold. We did also. We just didn’t even recognize it because we were so focused on our daughter. She ended up reacting the worst from being immune compromised. Something else we learned along the way.
Our son, 2 years old at the time, had a lump at the base of his skull that we were constantly going to the doctor for. We were in face just about to pursue a biopsy to see if he had cancer or tumors. He also suffered from eczema so bad that he would scratch his skin until he bled. He would remove any clothing we would put on him, and it didn’t’ matter how short we kept his nails cut. He would just constantly scratch. He was seeing the doctor for this as well. And we were trying to narrow down the reasons with food elimination, allergies etc.
My husband would constantly suffer from migraines, anger issues, stomach issues, frequent illness and severe brain fog. It was like literally as soon as he walked in the door he left his brain outside. We argued and fought over this constantly, with that and the added stress of our daughter’s condition. We went to counseling, and tried hard to resolve our issues and our stress in positive constructive ways. But it was literally impossible when we got home to communicate effectively. I would have to constantly repeat tasks to him. He then regressed into falling asleep 30 min after he got home and sleeping all the way until bedtime. This also made us argue because it forced the care of the household and our children solely onto myself 24/7
My issues I also did not immediately relate to the house and the mold either until we had been away from the house for some time. But I was going to the doctor as well. I was suffering from thyroid issues, rapid weight gain, despite eating practically just plain lettuce, and using the treadmill for 2 hours a day. I was gaining and not losing. I went from 165 to 220 in the 18months we lived there. I was constantly breaking out in Hives all over my body. I was on anti-inflammatory meds and supplements, Add to dictionary and allergy meds around the clock just to get periods of relief. I also began to suffer from insomnia, yet I had constant fatigue. I had OCD issues, control issues and then shortly before we left I was admitted to the hospital for what I thought was a heart attack, but ended up being a sever panic attack. My limbs even went numb when I had it. I began to continue having panic attacks that would come on suddenly out of nowhere, and for no reason. My heart was constantly racing and I was having skipped heart beats. I also began suffering from anxiety. And finally, me and/or my husband are now infertile and can’t have any more kids. We have been trying for our 3rd ever since we moved into this house. This is the most devastating symptom of all for me.
Our pets sadly did not escape suffering from the mold either. When we moved in we had two cats and a loving loyal dog. One cat died of complete organ failure halfway through our time living in the house. The month we left, our other cat started having grand maul seizures. Our dog grew anger issues against us in the family, anxieties, leg, hip and joint issues and began ripping all his hair out. Not only were we trying to pay for treatment and medical care for ourselves, but also for our pets. When we left we also vacated the animals to the back shop. Our one cat recovered completely and has no issues anymore whatsoever. Our Dog has also been able to now be off ALL medications. He has calmed down, is less anxious, doesn’t suffer from anymore joint issues and his hair is growing back.
One more thing about our daughter’s health is that she now suffers with the poor ability to detox. And she also got recently diagnosed with Lyme and 3 co-infections. We have no idea how or when she was exposed, but since her immune system was already compromised in the beginning, and then further compromised by the mold, the Lyme and co-infections went rampant in her poor little body.
If we go back into the house for anything, to retrieve something, turn the power on or off, etc. We react to it. My husband gets an immediate stomach ache and migraine. For me any skin that is exposed to air I break out in huge welts that later turn into hives all over my body. I also get a huge immediate headache. And it takes about 24 hours for my re-exposure symptoms to go away. If I touch anything in the house with bare hands I immediately get sore and achy and tired enough that I need to sleep. This also takes about 24 hours to go away.
Our Life Looking Forward
No matter where we end up, we don’t trust the system anymore. I am afraid to buy another house. Afraid to trust someone else’s opinion that the house is mold free, that it is safe. And not only that, we must have a house that is low toxin emissions. One that doesn’t have a duct system, one that has to have more expensive products that it is finished off with so we don’t have formaldehyde, or VOCS. No matter where we go we must either remodel a home completely in order for it to be safe for her to grow up in, or we have to build our own house someday.
We also can no longer accept anything used or second hand. Because she is so sensitive to mold, and we can’t guarantee that items are mold free, we can’t have them.
Renting somewhere is also out of the question for our family. We can’t guarantee the place we rent from will be mold and toxin free and never have had those issues before. We also have no credit and if we get a foreclosure or bankruptcy on our credit, good luck even finding anywhere decent.
What we have done to reach out for help
I started a crowdfunding campaign when my daughter started needed monthly medical expenses, we got lots of donations and exposure from this, but as soon as the need became greater, such as needing to rebuild the house, all exposure, and giving stopped. So, I gave up on that.
We tried lawyers as I mentioned before, no help and we can’t afford it.
Insurance doesn’t cover our situation because it was not a natural disaster that caused it.
We contacted Rebuilding Thurston County, and they would love to help but our project is too big for them volunteer wise and budget wise.
We contacted Habitat for Humanity and they do not have a rebuild program in our county and we were advised it was because they don’t have the funds, or volunteers to do such.
We contacted and reached out to Red Cross, FEMA, salvation army and was told they could make us things like sandwiches but that was about the extent of their ability to help us.
We contacted the VA, but was told they can’t help us, and I happened to talk to an ex lawyer who told me the info I got before was wrong and gave me a bunch of leads. I spent half a day calling all her leads just to be turned down and then given the numbers to all the places that turned us down already before.
I tried to Get Jesse, but never got a response. I tried Ellen, no response. I tried Extreme Makeover Home Edition, but they canceled that show in 2011. (there is a fake website up though)
Lastly, I contacted our bank when I had determined that I had exhausted all other resources and leads. They have been deliberating on helping us now for a month. But just got a call back on the 19th that they are leaning towards a NO. But we will get a definitive answer on the Feb 2nd, which will most likely be a NO.
That leaves us with Foreclosure or Bankruptcy. Both options which leave us in financial ruin for several years and no ability to buy another home for several years as well.
I refuse to give up. I refuse to lose hope. My family was frauded in the worst way possible. Our health was severely affected with lifelong complications. We lost everything we own. I refuse to lose our hopes and dreams and financial security. My family needs help. We need volunteers. We need donations of building materials. We need help tearing down our house and rebuilding a new one. This is our last stand, our last-ditch effort. But we can’t do it alone. We need God to move in BIG BIG ways for our family.
I have one last plan I would like to try. I would like to try to qualify for the local nonprofits to accept our project. We were turned down before because of the programs lack of funds and lack of volunteers. My plan is to work my butt off trying to fill in those gaps so we can be helped by them. Our home needs to be torn down completely. And it needs to be rebuilt completely. I don’t care if it’s the same footprint and the same exact house. I don’t care if we modify it. However, I am sure the bank will want us to build something the exact same or better since they still technically own the house by holding the mortgage. Obviously, I have dreams of what the perfect house would be like, but overall I just want a safe and healthy place to raise our daughter in. We want our home back. We want to be able to still have our faith, hope and dreams. If the mold was any way our fault at all I would not be out here requesting help. But a fraud was committed against us. And we are unable to hold anyone accountable for this selfish and uncaring act done to our family.