WARNING: This is Really LONG!
Hello Friends, I am popping in to share with all of you what I have been up to this month. Trust me when I say it has been nothing fun! This August has been one of the most trying months of my life personally and physically. It all started off with a visit to the ER and an overnight hospital stay. I wish I could say that my trip to the hospital "fixed" everything and that I felt better. Just the opposite, I am not sure I can feel any worse. It seems that each day brings it's own new set of problems and symptoms. I guess I should back up a bit for those of you that don't know what has been going on since January. . .
In January I remodeled my studio, I was so excited and it turned out beautifully! I was so happy with it and couldn't wait to start creating in it. It had what I though was that "new smell" but figured it would soon go away. I through myself in there and worked like crazy and had so much fun. By February I was having the strangest headaches. I have had migraines since I was 9 years old, but these were different, and I just couldn't get any relief from them. I hate going to the Dr but they were so bad and so constant that I finally went. They had no idea what they were and decided an MRI was in order. That weekend, I was standing in my shower praying that God wold make them go away or help me to know what they were from. And it came to me - they all started with the remodel of my studio! I got out if the shower, checked my calendar (I write everything in my calendar) and sure enough that is when the headaches started! I called a friend that loves research and we both got online and started researching the new building materials I had used. They were full of FORMALDEHYDE!!! So I headed to the Home depot to see what I could do to seal the offending gas in. I bought the products, emptied out my studio again and the next day Gary sealed the new built in shelving. Whew. . . I am home free I thought! Back to work I went in the studio. I cold still smell that "new smell" some but figured it was from the sealant and the paint. No worries, I had a beautiful space to create in and I had taken the steps to correct the problem and my headaches went away.
Fast forward to May when we shut up the house for the summer and turned the air conditioning on. Now the smell was back even stronger. It was not even just a smell but more like fumes now. I could feel them in my mouth and my chest every time I went in there, but no one else really did. My Daughter, Bryanna said she could smell it but she was the only one. I realized that I had added the same materials to my existing bookshelves when we did the remodel and Gary had not sealed them. But I was busy so I just kept working in there. I had lots of upcoming classes to prep for, a big birthday party that I was making things for and some personal projects I was working on and of course I have the girls everyday. I kept telling myself that when I got all caught up I would tear the studio apart again and get the bookshelves sealed. Then there was 2 trips to California, the birthday party and a couple more classes. The trips and the party added about 3000 photos to edit and so I locked myself in there for about 18 hours trying to get them all edited and uploaded before the 9cent sale at Costco photo was over. The whole time I was in there I could myself getting sicker and sicker but I really thought everything would be okay. Two days later I ended up in the hospital!!! I thought I was having a heart attack! I had been having these chest pains and the shortness of breath for a couple of months but not to this degree. After a battery of tests they decided my heart was fine and that I just needed some Zaniex and sleeping pills!!! I knew this was NOT a panic attack or anxiety related, there was something wrong with me and I knew it was from my studio. I made an appointment with my regular Dr, but first I did more research on formaldehyde and typed up some of the info and a document with a timeline and all of my symptoms etc since the studio was remodeled. She was very happy that I had done this for her an I love this Dr - she is able to admit when she doesn't know something. She told me she didn't know much about formaldehyde but wanted to keep the papers I had typed up for her and gave me a referral to a pulmonalogist. She also instructed me to tear EVERYTHING out of my studio that added during the remodel and dispose of it and to stay out of the room!
Meanwhile, I ordered a formaldehyde tester for the room and am waiting on the results from that test. Bryanna came and emptied my studio of all of it's treasures, Gary got the backs off of the bookcases and disposed of them, the room has been sealed off from the house and the windows have been kept open to allow the offending gasses to escape. and I have still felt like crap! There are some days that are better than others but I certainly never feel "well" any more. The headaches are back and my chest still hurts. And now I even have this strange new cough that lasts for about 10 minutes at a time - it is more like a bark - it is nasty!!! My house is all tore up with all of my treasures everywhere. I am working on an ancient laptop in a 2 foot area on my crowded dining room table. I am able to be online and to do Word docs on this computer and that is about all. I have done LOTS of research on formaldehyde these past couple of weeks and it is NASTY STUFF!!! It seems I unwittingly built my own little "FEMA trailor" in my studio. Part of my research brought me to a paper that NASA wrote about plants absorbing the formaldehyde out the air and out of a room. So Sunday I took my list from NASA to the Home Depot and bought myself a forest! My studio is now full of plants recommended by NASA to help clean all of this up.
It has been a very frustrating month for me and sadly I am not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel. Yesterday was an especially hard day. I could not sleep at all the night before because my chest hurt so bad and I just couldn't breathe. When I finally came out of my room I was just a mess and could not face my day with my Grandchildren. I went out on the patio and started to pray and just ended up sobbing. I am just so tired, feel so bad and just at my rope's end. Mom took the girls to their house and I stayed home making phone calls to Drs, clinics and poison control. I also made a teary phone call to Gary at work telling him I wanted the big built in (the sealed one that I was hoping to save) torn out TODAY!!!! Over a week of sealing the the room off from the rest of the house, removing the unsealed products from the room and a couple of days with a forest and the room is still as full of the damned formaldehyde gas as ever!!!! I was done yesterday - I wanted it all out of there and seems all I could do was sit and cry. I have no strength or energy to do anything, I can't be in that room without being even sicker so I have to rely on others to do things for me (totally NOT my style). Gary was a good hubby and came home early yesterday and tore apart my beautiful studio and in order to keep it out of the rest of the house, threw it all out the window and is hauling it all away today. Then he just sat on the couch with me all night watching tv shows that I like (that is really something) and playing backgammon with me. There was no dinner last night - just a pop tart as I just couldn't do it.
Today I opened the door of my studio to see what it looked like in there now - wow - what a mess! It is just so sad to see all of my dreams for a beautiful room to create in all turned to rubble! But the worse part is that all of the building materials have now been removed, the window was open all day and night, there is a huge forest of plants in there and yet still the gas is so over-powering! I do not know what the answer is. I do not know how long all of this is going to take to clean up. I do not know what the long-term effects are going to be on my health. I just don't know.
I have added some links on Formaldehyde here for you all in case you are curious about it and what products it is in. Sadly it is in just about everything! Not just in our building materials but in our cosmetics, clothing and day to day things we all use. There is no way to completely avoid this chemical and it is listed under several different names. How many of these names would you have recognized as formaldehyde?
Formalin, Methanal, Methyl Aldehyde, Methylene Oxide, Oxymethylene, Bfv*, Fannoform*, Formol*, Fyde*, Karsan*, Methaldehyde, Formalith*, Methylene Glycol, Ivalon*, Oxomethane, Formalin 40, Formalin, Formic Aldehyde, Hoch, Paraform, Lysoform*, Morbocid, Trioxane, Polyoxmethylene, * denotes trade name.
You might want to check some of the items in your house for these.