The Saints Rise Up

It’s hard to believe the Super Bowl has come and gone again. Last year we watched Arizona play Pittsburg in our new rental home. As the Cardinals succumbed to defeat, so did we. (My post from last year describes this in detail.)

Chris had just made the 13-hour journey from Colorado to Tucson with a U-Haul full of mattresses and radio equipment. I had just moved out of our vacation rental where we had lived for 6 weeks while Chris tied up loose ends in Colorado.

We were reunited at last and prepared to officially begin our de-tox together. Life was going to get better, we felt sure.

By the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, Feb. 1, 2009, it became clear that the rashes, nosebleeds, and breathing problems were not dissipating. We had been in the home 24 hours and we were sick. Very sick. We moved several of our mattresses outside, hoping by morning the house would feel different and we could move back in.

Little did we know the homeowners had just sprayed for termites inside the home.

Little did we know we were chemically sensitive, a common occurrence for victims of toxic mold exposure.

Little did we know we were going to lose many of our possessions once again.

I don’t remember the ending to the game. Chris does. He was convinced our adjustment to the home would pass quickly. I had a sinking feeling that lasted well beyond the 4th quarter.

By 4:00 the next afternoon the children and I packed a few clothing items and drove off in search of a safe hotel. Chris stayed behind to work out the details with the homeowner. The homeowner did nothing wrong. We never asked him if he had sprayed for pesticides. We didn’t know to ask.

It’s a haunting memory.

Life did not get better as hoped. It got harder. We spent two weeks searching for a safe home and longer recovering from the exposure. We couldn’t get the pesticide smells out of the mattresses, so we abandoned them. We learned that the type of pesticides that were used, pyrethroids, attack the lungs and the brain.

The next home was much smaller. Eight of us slept in one room, on air mattresses. We lived in that home for 6 months, hoping to return to Colorado. By summer we knew that recovery--if there was to be a recovery--would require much longer than 6 months.

We’re still in Arizona. We’re in our 5th home since vacating our Colorado home 16 months ago. We continue to adjust to our new “normal.” We now comprehend the harsh reality that life will never be the same . We’re even beginning to see the beauty that comes from the ashes of suffering.

I guess that’s why this year’s Super Bowl impacted me more than others. If the Saints, representing people and an area devastated by disaster, can rise up, maybe we can too.