While Hannah was away at Zoodlers Monday morning, I was on the phone with Polk County. As un-nerving as it is for me to have the county involved in anything, I know that they have the information and help that we need. The nurse who works with families, could not have been more friendly and helpful. Actually, they were both very nice and not at all judgmental or full of blame. She said that because of Eliza’s elevated number, the county would be paying to have a lead inspector visit our home. I said, okay…can you come tomorrow? I’m anxious to get this under control and taken care of.
So, yesterday morning we had a lead inspector and Carolyn, the nurse come check out our house. The inspector guy had this handheld scanner/gun type thing that he used to pull readings from walls, floors, doors, cribs, everything. I was a mess on the inside. I know they are here to help and we’re doing the right thing, but all I could think was how I had somehow failed. For the county to be in my home, testing; I have failed, I have done something wrong and they have to come clean up my mess. I know that isn’t at all true, but it’s still how I feel. Every time I heard his little scanner/gun beep, my heart sank just a little bit more. And all I could think was, Fuck Fuck Fuck.
Turns out, the interior of our home is relatively lead-free, but there are some glaring areas that need immediate attention:
• The girls’ playroom upstairs will need to closed off for now. His scanner gun pulled lead levels from the floor, ceiling, and windows. They play out there just about every single day. Fuck.
• We’ll need to not open any windows. Any. While the previous owner replaced almost every single window in the house, she didn’t do anything with the window troughs or sills. So, every time a window is opened, lead dust from the trough and sill is foofed into the air. That will be particularly enjoyable when summer hits and we have no central air to turn on…
• Our front porch is also a big lead-infested mess, and we need to keep the girls off it. Luckily, we have never actually sat on the porch or even used it.
• The stairs to the basement are also painted with lead paint, so each time I run down to do laundry I track lead around.
• The entire outside of the home is painted with lead paint. That was kind of a given though, we knew we’d have to paint the exterior of the house at some point because our last house was painted with lead paint too. That’s just how old houses are. The concern comes with the areas of the house that are chipping and peeling, which unfortunately is kind of all around the outside of the house.
The inspector went through his report with us, room by room, and offered up suggestions as to how to cover the lead or remove it entirely. No small task. And certainly no cheap task. Carolyn talked to us about a county-funded program, to help those that qualify, address the lead in their home. I have gathered all the paperwork and will be meeting with them today at 2pm to discuss that possibility. She also told us that we’d be contacted by a Dietician and a nurse from Early Access. Apparently, if your child doesn’t consume the proper amounts of vitamin C and Calcium and all the other good things, their system is much more likely to absorb the lead in the environment. Which, in turn, leads to developmental delays and all the other things I am freaked out about.
Right now, we’re doing what we can to make it safe for the girls. We’ve closed our windows and won’t open them again. We’ve closed off the playroom. I’m laundering and cleaning everything I can get my hands on. We’ll continue with the plan of re-painting Eliza’s room, including her window sill and trough to seal any traces of lead in. But, inside, I am completely freaked out. I had a pretty significant melt down yesterday after the county people had left, and I know I’ll have more. I know how to keep it together when I have to, but during those times the children are in bed and Lance is busy, I melt. I melt just about all the way down.
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