This time we would like to share with you guys something that was shared with us. This client has a cancer patient who happens to live with the client. As part of the recovery of the disease, the client’s relative has some breathing problems and an ongoing cough that seems to last forever.
Here is the recollection of the client:
“I bought a home a few years ago. It is an old house, but it looked strong and sturdy for a small family of 6 members: Three humans and three dogs. Since it is an old house, some remodeling was necessary. For the following two years, we remodeled everything that we desired around the house; one of such things were the doors and the windows of the entire house.
We changed them from a metal-rim to double aluminum. Doing that we were sure that we would isolate the house from outdoor noise and also would provide us with some benefit to keep the indoor weather adequate.”
However, things did not go as planned.
“The first year after we completed the renovation, we did not have any problems. Most likely because all the materials were new and whatever potential problems were “solved”. As soon as the first rain came by, we noticed a couple of small leaks on one of the kitchen windows. As it was the kitchen, we did not care that much. It would be ok if we just accommodate some rag to sift in any couple of drops.
As time passed by, each day we would notice a few more things that were not as “adequate” as we had requested them. The city where we live is seismic not only because of the earth itself but also because the soil is unstable as there are many factories around. When the factories are working, the ground where the housing complex our house is built on shakes as well.
So, the windows sills, and joints to the house moved, not much. But enough to allow a small air current to flow inside. During the hot days and hotter nights of summer was ok. It did not matter much, as the AC was still uninstalled. We were all sleeping with the windows slightly open, so there was no actual change there.
Problems began when the rainy season came about. We would close the windows and there was still a noticeable temperature drop inside the house. Every one of us, even the dogs, was moving about with sweaters on. It upset us, cold, and financially exhausted.”
“Then, temperatures dropped. The coldness of autumn was noticeable and with that, since we have a cancer patient, we needed to keep the indoor temperature at a specific level. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are excellent tools for getting rid of cancer tumors and malignant growths, but just as they are proven tools for success, they also cause havoc in the patient’s body.”
Chemotherapy on cancer patients works with a wide variety of medications. Some of them have dangerous side effects such as high fever or respiratory issues. From what our client shared with us, their patient had both of them after they administered a specific medication.
“During those days, it was very important that the inside temperature, especially in the room where the patient laid, was steady and leaning towards the warmer side of the thermostat. The first thing that you do to ensure this is to provide additional heating power to the environment. Lighting up the heaters will make a room warm and dry, so you need to add moisture to the area; and so, you create a semi-tropical ambiance.
That is how we realized that the house had no insulation. After just a few weeks of using the heaters, we started to pick up the faint “scent” of wooded areas, a musky smell. However, caring for a person 24/7 will cause you to sweat profusely, as you run back and forth doing your own stuff AND providing for the other person’s needs: Water, help walking, checking their health status, medications, food, etc. Therefore, it is not rare for hair to smell “moldy” when it has been sweating profusely non-stop without drying out.
When we stepped into the patient’s bathroom for cleaning about 2 months after we started picking up that “scent”, saw in horror that there was a heavy mold growth inside the wooden cabinets in the bathroom. Cancer patients often feel without energy and reject bathing for days at a time; so it wasn’t the normal use of the bathroom shower that caused the mold.
The next action was to inspect the room. And we did that. We found out that inside the room’s closets there was a faint smell of mold. This room has an organic vibe to it, so inside the closet, there were wicker baskets and other natural fibers. They were all grey and fluffy.
It was terrible. Of course, we needed to remedy all these problems. Mold and mildew health problems are headaches given in healthy adults, but when the adult’s immune system is compromised by an illness, the problem and the headache multiply. We checked the rest of the house. There were rooms where there was no problem at all and others where there was a mild situation.
All the bedrooms (for our pleasure) had a problem. The best areas were the kitchen and the living room which, of course, were the areas that had bigger ventilation. Moving the patient to these areas was out of the question; so we moved the patient to one bedroom with the smallest problem and did the insulation ourselves.
For most clients, the idea of not spending additional money is very enticing. When it is a situation just like the one our clients are referring to us right now. We cannot stress enough the importance of proper insulation and of insulating in the proper way.
If insulation is not done properly, condensation from the normal living inside the home will sift to the inside of the walls. This will undoubtedly create mold and mildew to grow from inside the walls to the outside of them. With the additional problem that it can easily reach electrical and gas installation, which is a fire hazard.
Therefore, it has to be stressed the importance of being able to recognize whether you can tackle insulation installation as a do-it-yourself project or not. While it is not a difficult task, it requires attention to detail, a slow process, and dedication. If, like our client, you have a person who needs special care, then you should not tackle the insulation installation yourself.
For a moment or two, we thought we could do it ourselves. Our patient was recovering and our dogs were adults. Fortunately, we were wiser than that and hired professionals. They, the professional, took three weeks to take care of the insulation as they had to do preventive repair to the already damaged inside wall.
Having crew working in your home while you have a patient in bed is no picnic. My first thought was to dispose of everything in the room and replace it with new stuff: linen, furniture, fixtures… But the patient kept whining that there were precious mementos inside the room and that we could not “just toss them out”. So furniture had to be repaired and accessories too.
Washing clothes and other linens required three or more turns at the washing machine. Mold and Mildew embed themselves in the fabric so deeply that it is nearly impossible to extricate them After the third wash and the matching time in the dryer, every garment was carefully inspected and discarded if there was even a small spec that looked suspicious was black.”
One of the worst things when you discover mold is the realization that it has contaminated everything in sight. From fabrics to furniture and even wiring. Once a room has developed mold, it is wise to also consider a check-up on the electrical wiring, gas, and water installation.
Many modern-day homes have PVC pipes instead of the metal ones that were used in the past century. Yet this material can also fall prey to mold and decay. Such decay can also lead to leakage and other problems.
That was quite a process for this particular client. It is also expected for a house that has never had insulation or that has poorly managed or outdated insulation. Maybe in the household there are no individuals with a delicate constitution or a health issue,
In your everyday life, you can notice the problems of insulation if the fabrics that -should- be dry to the touch feel “moist” after a night’s sleep. That is a telltale sign that there is something wrong with our insulation.
This client tells us what he went through. Mold and Mildew health problems are not easy tasks to sort out and can cause a headache for caregivers when they present problems in patients with respiratory affections.
Of course, it is not a matter to go about opening up walls all over the house every year or so. Yet, if you plan to buy a house, it will be convenient for you to check with the real estate agent when was the last time they did any work on the house’s insulation.
While most times, whether a house has insulation is not a deal-breaker as a good rule of thumb would be to replace the insulation of the house as soon as you acquire it. Unless, of course, the real estate agent or the owner informs you that such a change has recently been done.
Therefore, having a properly insulated home can provide you with an important tool to maintain the right indoor temperature for a convalescent cancer patient. Cancer patients will feel achy, sad, furious, feverish, cuddled, and annoyed at different times or all at once.
If added to that you have the sour stench of mold, the difficulty to breathe that their spores cause, and the humidity and lack of temperature in which it strives, your job as caretaker or theirs is a survivor will be harder.
Contact us for guidance as to the best insulation products for your home or room.