If you’ve been keeping up with our journey on this blog, you’ll know that Rachel and I have been going through a very difficult time in the few months leading up to her birth (which she is due for in 2 weeks). We have received much tender-loving-care from our family and friends, who have helped to provide prayer, resources, a lot of grace, and temporary places to stay. We thank you all! For those of you who have opened up your home to us and accommodated my enumerable requests, I especially thank you for your patience and just pure love you’ve shown in taking care of me.
I’d like to give a brief update on our situation, which I’ll cover in subsequent posts, as well as a specific experience in one of the places we visited in search of a perfect place to stay.
We tried staying in several places (paid, free from friends/family, and places that are not houses at all) over the whole of October and the whole of the U.S., even going as far as Dallas, TX. Through all this stress of literally driving and flying everywhere, we still managed to sneak in a baby shower for Rachel as well as a great deal of preparation for her birth by attending her prenatal appointments at our local birthing center called Special Beginnings. Rachel’s health has been stellar, and many have said of her that she “looks terrific” and to be “the cutest pregnant woman ever.” I couldn’t agree more.
We have always made sure that she is warm, fed, and taken care of, as she can tolerate most buildings and can sleep inside when it’s too cold or uncomfortable in the car. She is my angel, and she has really been able to amazingly take care of me by cooking and doing innumerable random tasks (even driving at one point when my legs stopped working). Know that I’m doing everything possible and always step outside of my comfort zone whenever I see a way that she needs to be served. We’re really taking care of one another (at least I hope I am). God really designed marriage beautifully to work in this way. I am sad that I’ve been the weaker for so long, but she has shown great understanding in this.
Finding Safe Housing
Anyway, back on track. When you’re allergic to everything, finding a house can be extremely tricky. It’s not always as easy as just checking out a bunch of rental places (though we have done and plan to do a lot more of that). The problem with this is that for an EI (environmentally ill) individual, most problems have to do with sleep (whether that happens or not). The best hack for this is to basically find a way to “test out” places.
The whole experience has kind of made us feel like this song.
“Testing out” places to stay isn’t as easy as it might sound. It’s very hard to sleep in random places for a short stay and on short notice these days other than hotels, motels, cabins, Airbnb’s, friend’s houses, sheds, and cars :-/. Most people who rent houses will not offer this option, for obvious reasons. For that reason, we’re in a very tough spot trying to find a place. This place in Dallas, the Regina Caeli Inn, where we visited first and will be reviewing soon(!), has a terrific option for daily rates (like a very healthy hotel) or long-term stay. That way, you can stay 2 or 3 nights, like we did, and ascertain how well you sleep there.
Walking in Memphis
View more photos here
The best place we’ve stayed, by far, was in Memphis, TN (specifically, Brighton, TN). My wife and I stayed at this built-from-the-ground-up house for a few days, and I would like to share some of our experience staying there. First, know that it was very far away, we are about to have a baby, and it was very impractical for us to move such a long distance in a short time. I also was having complications from exposure to antibiotics that made me very susceptible to any and all allergens. In short, though, it was the best place we have visited yet in our search for safe housing since we’ve been dealing with this problem.
Let me get into the details a bit. I am very mold-sensitive, and I am sure that mold isn’t an issue there. She has not done a mold test, but I didn’t detect any strange moldy smells. Some things worth noting are the ventilation system, which is very useful for eliminating any smells that might be introduced from new stuff you bring in. It works in every room and can be controlled from either side of the house. This feature should cover any time you might accidentally compromise the air quality.
We are so grateful that we had a chance to stay here a few nights. If you’re interested in checking it out, Pam (the landlord) is offering a $50/night situation not unlike the Dallas housing, where they charge a lot more (though there they have furnishings already in place).
At Pam’s the floors are made of an inoffensive (if unforgivingly solid) material, ceramic tile. Anyone with sensitivity to wood floors or chemicals in carpet, laminates, and other not-so-safe flooring would be lucky to get to stay here. The bathrooms are very nice (no mold), and the water comes through a complete filtration system.
The kitchen has electric stoves, which is great if you have a sensitivity to gas range stoves. EMFs are nill—completely nill—here. I am extremely EMF sensitive, and I can assure you that the wireless routers from neighbors do not penetrate these walls (or really even come close to you because the houses in the neighborhood are so far apart).
There is so much space! If you take on this house on your own, you’ll pretty much be living in a mansion. It’s that simple. It seemed really empty with just us there, lol. We had like two bags and a cooler. No furniture or even a bed, though Pam was kind enough to lend us hers! Sadly, I reacted to the natural latex (which has never bothered me before) mattress she lent me, and her sheets because she has dogs at her own home. Yes, I realized while I was there that I am at least temporarily allergic to dogs, probably because my gut was so compromised from the antibiotic exposure I had recently suffered (which reoccurred incidentally). So I recommend you bring your own bed and bedding if you go to stay even for a short while.
The price is really where it counts here. At $800-$1200/month (depending on how many people you’re sharing it with), you’re getting pretty much the best housing deal—not just for environmental sensitivity—but for any rental. To boot, this house is the embodiment of luxury as far as I’m concerned. And it is no small thing that Pam is the most accommodating person you’ll ever meet. She really has a heart for service and is full of love. She is a blessed person and would be a blessing to your life as a landlord. Please try to be a blessing to her as well if you end up staying here. She deserves it.
Why We Didn’t Snatch it Up
I’ve had some discussions with Pam about the difficulty an environmentally sensitive person has in choosing a new place to stay. Even if something was 100% perfect for their needs, there is still a fear that they have of change, and they can always convince themselves that it won’t work. Sadly, it’s the nature of the condition, because although the symptoms are very real and physical, the symptoms also affect one’s psychological state.
I was so sure I wasn’t going to have any problems at this place and not be like all the other people who have turned down such a great opportunity. However, I had a lot of other factors holding me back from enjoying the benefits completely:
- Time before my wife’s birth
- The need to move an entire business
- Losing all access to all of my friends and family
- Fatigue symptoms I experienced from driving across the country without stopping
- Preexisting stress from all of the restless wandering I’d previously done
On top of this, I never had a perfect night there in the 4 nights I stayed, due to the symptoms I experienced from exposure to the dogs (that I didn’t know would be a problem) and the latex mattress (ditto). I do not believe at this point that there were any issues with the actual place that I was reacting to, because once I moved the latex mattress to another room, they started to resolve just walking around the house. I did have to use one of her blankets that night (which had exposure to dogs), and that is why the last night (when I finally figured all this out) was not a symptom-free night.
I think it’s also important to note (for me anyway) that at this house, I did not have a night sweat at all while there. Night sweats, in my opinion, are a sign of worse detox than other things, because I’ve only had them in places where there was a definite source of mold or a very strong scent I can detect somewhere.
Considering all the difficulties I was experiencing, I was the most sensitive I’ve ever been at the time when I tested this out. I know 2 or 3 people from Dallas who’d be even better guinea pigs than I, but I was pretty high on the all-star list at that time. A lot of us are really bad off for sure. My reactions were very low and better than any other building I went in around that time period.
In any case, considering this, you should know that this house is a great place, and it would be a perfect solution for anyone who lives in that part of the country. It’s decently close to the city (~30 min.) too, and there are lots of towns nearby as well as wonderfully kind neighbors all around (we went to several yard sales the Saturday we were there).
Please do yourself a favor and get down there right away! She’s about to list it on the open market, and it would be a great tragedy for this to not go to someone in need! Trust me, we’d be down there in a heartbeat if we lived within even a 4-hour drive.
You can contact Pam through e-mail <jenniesdanes(at)gmail(dot)com>, and view more information about this house on one of many postings she’s placed around the Web in search of a tenant who would most benefit from these accommodations.