Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What The Heck Happened?!

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Maybe you were all wondering what was up since I haven't written anything in a week. Well...I knew as soon as I wrote that Just An Ordinary Day post last week that I was really setting myself up for something.

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After Disneyland last Wednesday, we had a full next two days. On Thursday, we went to Huntington Beach to meet up for friends for lunch (Mexican...yum) and then went swimming all Thursday afternoon.

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Friday, we went to the Aquarium and had a wonderful day- all of which I was going to write about on Friday night.

But then...

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When we got home on Friday night, a letter was waiting for us. It was from the Department of Health. It said that Ginger had tested on the borderline for lead poisoning. We were shocked, horrified, and very scared.

Long story short, we moved into the new house in March. We had Ginger's well-baby visit in May, at which time they did the blood draw to test for lead. We didn't get the letter until this past Friday night (three months after the test) because they sent the letter to our old address, and it had to be forwarded on. Why it took three months to get the results...I don't know!

Anyhoo- at that point we began freaking out because the more we read about lead poisoning, the more we learned how awful and tragic it is. It causes permanent, irreversible brain-damage. It never goes out of your body. Once it has caused brain damage, there is nothing that can be done to reverse its effects.

When we had the initial test back in May, we'd been living in the new house for about two months. We didn't realize it until we started researching lead posioning, but a lot of older homes have lead paint...and ours was built before 1950 (which apparently is much worse than if it is built after 1950). No one ever told us about lead paint in the house (it was never disclosed to us). But now we realized that there was a very real possibility that the lead exposure could be coming from the house itself.

Since the initial test was three months ago, that meant that Ginger (and Paprika) had been exposed for three more months...breathing in lead dust, picking up particles onto their hands and then eating food afterwards. A baby or young child will often not show any symptoms of lead poisoning- it's the type of thing that doesn't show symptoms until a child reaches school age. You can imagine the nightmare scenario that began to unfold in our minds.

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Bright and early on Saturday morning, we all went to the doctor's office (and then to the hosptial) to have our blood drawn (three vials a piece) to get tested for lead poisoning. Because it was a Saturday, it took forever. That, and no one wanted to draw Ginger or Paprika's blood...getting that much blood from a little baby and a four year old is not something that everyone knows how to do (or wants to do)! We probably should have gone to a pediatric hospital, but we just wanted to do what would be the fastest and get our results most quickly.

The funny part was that Paprika was totally unphased by the blood draw and thought it was kinda neat. Ginger did great- but mostly because I did the Jedi-trick of nursing her during the blood draw while covering her eyes, rocking her and singing to her all at the same time. The phlebotomist at first thought I was totally nuts for nursing Ginger during the procedure, but when Ginger didn't make a peep during the blood draw, I think she was convinced. ;-)

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On Sunday morning, Paprika went to her friend's birthday party - Mr. Mustard took both girls, and I stayed home and packed up our stuff. Since Friday night, I had been unable to sleep at all, thinking about the possibility that lead dust or lead paint might be poisoning our girls. It made me absolutely sick to my stomach.

So, while they were at the birthday party, I packed up some things and by the time they got home from the party, the car was packed with enough stuff for us to go live with my mother-in-law, Pat, in Santa Barbara...indefinitely.

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Mr. Mustard started working on the new season of DWTS on Monday, so he caravaned up to Santa Barbara with us on Sunday, helped us get set up (and brought an extra carload of stuff), and then went right back down to Los Angeles (a three-hour drive, each way).

Meanwhile, we just had to sit and wait for the new test results. I started researching everything having to do with lead poisoning...and now I can say that I know way more than I did a few days ago (when I knew nothing)! We started making plans to move out of our house, get rid of all of our furniture (due to lead dust contamination), and contingency plans for what we would do if one or both girls had high blood levels of lead.

In the meantime, I was totally distraught and accidentally locked my keys in the trunk of my car. And, wouldn't you know it, my car has a security feature that makes it impossible to unlock the trunk without the key (you can't pop the trunk without the key).

Since we couldn't go anywhere since my car key was locked in the trunk, I took the girls for lots and lots of rides in the wagon that they got for Christmas last year (but we didn't put together til yesterday!)

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So, we waited and waited and waited for the test results to be sent back from Washington. And this afternoon, we got them.

The results? All four of us have very low levels of lead (wayyyy below the level of lead poisoning) in our blood. The first test was a mistake, a simple lab error. (We can be pretty sure it was the first test that was the mistake, since it was a fingerprick test, which has a high rate of error/false positives. Our second lab tests were venous blood draws, which have a very low rate of error...plus since we all tested low, that makes me feel even more assured).

Knowing what I know now, we will be testing the house for lead anyway and making sure that Ginger and Paprika's lead exposure continues to be minimal.

Whew!!! What a whirlwind. I was sooooo sick over it, I couldn't do anything except focus on taking care of the girls and dealing with the whole mess. It's like this giant cloud has been lifted.

So, now I am just waiting for an extra set of car keys to arrive via FedEx (Mr. Mustard Fed Ex'ed me his keys this morning). Once they get to Santa Barbara, we will be headed back to our lives in Los Angeles.

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I am soooo glad and grateful that Ginger and Paprika don't have lead poisoning, and that we don't have to move, or get rid of all of our belongings, and a million other things. My current mood is: exceedingly grateful.

And now it's time for a good night's sleep. I haven't had a good night's sleep since before we got the first test results. So, I am really looking forward to it!

8 comments:

Southern Gal said...

What a scare! I'm glad, too, that it was a false alarm. Better safe than sorry.

noswimmers said...

Oh wow...how scary!! I can't imagine how that would feel. I am SO GLAD the lab made a mistake, what a relief!!
Big hugs. xoxo

FourJedis said...

I'm so incredibly relieved you guys are ok. What an emotional nightmare. I'm glad you've gotten to become more educated on lead though. I need to do that. Scary stuff. You've been missed, but I figured you guys just had a really busy week, which you did... I definitely would never have guessed what you went through. <3

becca said...

Praise the Lord that you all are ok! Wow, what a whirlwind indeed! I Twittered Devon last night to make sure you were ok! ;) I knew something had to be wrong since it'd been so long since you'd posted. Hi, my name is Becca, and I stalk your blog! ;)

Cristy said...

That's GREAT news! How scary. I'm' glad you'll be getting the tests done again though because you want to make sure it was the first lab that had the errors, not the second one.

I LOVE the picture of the little one hugging her big sister! Adorable!

Wendy said...

I'm sure you read that paint and blinds are the main culprits of lead poisoning in children. Glad you received good results. Hope you were able to sleep and good luck on putting everything back in your house!!

McCryssy said...

UGH! Lead poisoning scares me! I'm so glad all of your levels are low. Definitely get the house checked and clean up any flaking paint and repaint with the safe stuff. Whew.. glad things are well!

m&msmommy said...

Oh my goodness, that is SO scary! I can't even imagine the sickness you felt over it all. I am SO happy to hear that it was an incorrect test.