This has been a week to end all weeks. I’m not really sure what that means in a literal sense but I here I go.
It started off okay; I was expecting things to be nuts and it was but, as usual, mostly good.
Sunday there was a smell of paint in the house. Nothing strong. I found what I thought was the culprit: a paint can half filled with dried out paint that didn’t have a lid. I found one and put it on. Made some supper for Carly and I. She hated it of course because it was not one of the 5 things she will eat.
Monday at work was busy. I finished the last of the current grant applications last week and was looking forward to planning an event for the clients I work with. The federal grant I applied for our Multiculturalism Day was approved 2 weeks ago. I had lots to do before June 27. Clients are on board and doing their part which makes my heart sing. Funny little headache all day. Nothing major. I wasn’t hungry (??) so didn’t eat supper.
Tuesday I put in an 11 hour day. Our food bank had a good turnout. People were, and usually are, well-behaved with the exception of a few who try to take food that belong to someone else. Its food. Of course they do. People and food = survival. We handle it and so do the others. Nauseous. Blah. Long day.
Got home late (after 7). Carly had come home from school early today. She was in bed with a migraine and upset tummy. She had a horrible cough too, one she didn’t have this morning. My tummy was off all day. I started coughing and my nose felt raw inside. For the second night, I didn’t have any supper. I made Carly eat soup.
Wednesday was busy at work planning the event and getting the day-to-day stuff done. Good thing I have a volunteer who comes in 3 times a week. My co-worker, Sarah, calls my volunteer “Marie’s Personal Assistant” and you can just hear the caps in her tone. I think she’s just jealous. I was having a hard time maneuvering the stairs so I stayed upstairs as much as possible. Coughing worse and nose just hurts so much inside. Worse in the morning and before I go to bed.
Usually Wednesday I cook dinner and my son, Jason, comes over. He likes to eat first then torture his sister. I had to postpone because Carly and I were to go look at a second apartment. Jason did come over before we left to sign some papers so Carly and I could get the dream apartment we looked at last week. He reared back when he walked in the door and said how bad it smelled in the house. Carly was still sick and getting worse. My stomach was rolling and my eyes were burning. I couldn’t smell anything. I checked the paint cans again. Nothing to see. My eyes were getting blurry. Long day, I thought.
We got back from looking at the apartment (awful), both of us still not hungry and feeling really crappy. I made her eat soup. I was dizzy and noticed my words were slurring. I kept lurching. I thought I could smell gas on top of the paint smell. I got Carly out of bed, she grabbed the cat and sat on the lawn while I called 911 then joined her there, where we laid back on the cool grass with the evening breeze cooling my cheeks and feeling fresh in my nose.
The next thing I knew, a fireman was bent over me. I must say they look a lot better when their equipment is half off; like in the calendars. I literally staggered to my feet, I felt drunk. I explained about the paint smell but couldn’t smell it anymore but we were both sure we could smell gas. He went to the front door then and reeled back, much like Jason did. There must have been 6 firetrucks on our street. All of the firefighters were doing a job, mostly with little metres and gauges.
Meanwhile I noticed not one neighbour came out to see what was happening. I felt so loved. Oh wait, there was a woman from across the street, talking to a firefighter. She spied me and scurried over, rambling about my cat and her ducks. Apparently the ducks that were on my lawn a few weeks ago had nested in her backyard and laid eggs this very day. She didn’t ask a thing about us or the house. I was tired listening to her rantings and deciding not to be accommodating like I usually am. I saw the ridiculousness of the situation and turned my back on her and went back to my daughter and cat where we huddled together on the lawn, very, very frightened.
The supervisor came out. No gas. He was holding a dripping container of thinner that had been in the basement. There were six other firefighters with him and they all looked angry. The supervisor immediately started yelling at me about the collection of paint cans, sealers and thinner downstairs and how he should just condemn the house right now. I calmed him down and promised it would all be gone before he came back in 2 weeks and told him the crap came with the house when I moved in. He couldn’t understand how Carly and I lived with it the fumes for so long. I sleep with a mask and filtered air so I didn’t get it as bad as poor Carly, who kept coming home because she was so sick and then sucking in more fumes.
So, still sick but at my grocery store job, I continued with my week. Got a call from the feds that they want to hire me part-time. Bye bye grocery store. Too old for that place. Jason came over for his belated supper and took one look at us, sniffed the still toxic air and opened all the doors and windows with orders we were to leave them open all night and the next day. We all ate Tacos. MMM.
Wrote an email to my landlord about what happened and that we needed a place to go and the cans removed by Friday.
My landlord had all the cans and containers out today, Friday. All 209 pounds of them. There was also the offer of a hotel for us and the cat but I didn’t have money for gas with work on Sunday and all next week. Carly is staying at her friend’s.
In retrospect, I can see the progression of the symptoms but at the time I really was not able to function properly or think straight. I almost had 2 car accidents and the stuff that was coming out of my mouth (I mean words) was ridiculous. Falling over, sounding drunk, coughing, headaches. The symptoms seem so obvious now.
I want all of you to please stop putting off disposing of the hazardous waste in your home. So what if there is only one can of paint. That thinner ate through the container it was in. Your judgement and half your senses go out the window; I could have killed my daughter and myself.
From one can of thinner.