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From Mama Avis in Texas

Written by Mama Avis in Texas

We never suspected a routine finger-prick could change our lives tremendously, but it did…

In October of 2014, my son went to the doctor for his four-year-old check-up. I always dread appointment days—because it’s so exhausting taking our kids out in public…this particular appointment was a doozy…I had both of my kids with me (my then 2-year-old daughter, and newly turned four-year-old son); the visit was full of meltdowns and sensory overloads, but we survived it (not “gracefully”—but we still counted it as a “win”!)

When I heard from the nurse the same day, I instantly knew something was wrong…she explained that our son’s lead test came back elevated, but she chalked it up to an “error with the machine”. As a precaution, we went back in the following day to do a re-test, but this time with an intravenous blood draw. The next day, when the nurse confirmed my fear that his levels were indeed high, my heart dropped! I didn’t waste any time getting an appointment for my daughter. We had recently been in to the Doctor’s to deal with her developmental [speech] delay and new behavioral issues she was having—one of which is Pica. I couldn’t help but think her levels would be elevated as well—she’s always putting non-food items in her mouth, trying to eat them. Sure enough, hers came back even higher than her brother’s!

That was easily the worst week of our lives up to that point—but I had no idea how hard it would get! I have never in my life felt so overwhelmed and so helpless (still do most days)! Our son’s levels never got higher than a blood lead level 27, but our daughter’s would steadily rise over the next few months.

In that time we were able to get our house tested from top to bottom; nothing came back positive—so it was a huge mystery as to what the source was!

Our daughter’s level started out at a 39and by Christmas, she was already over 45! January 2015 rolled around really quickly, and our daughter was referred to a specialist to start chelation. The treatment was long, but luckily we were able to do it at home. Weeks later – after chelating – her levels dropped to 24—and our son’s levels were dropping on their own—so we assumed the (still unidentified) source was “gone”…

Avis3So here it is months later, and we have been having monthly trips three hours away monitoring both of the kids’ levels. Our son has made great progress with only the help of a healthy diet, but our daughter’s levels are slowly creeping up again! So round two of chelation it is, which we are currently still doing. Still no identified source—nothing has tested positive for lead..the mystery remains! We are faced with a huge question: where do we go from here (do we stay in our home that is supposedly “safe” or do we move (which is basically impossible for us, financially))?

Last year I thought life was hard when we were faced with both kids having developmental delays and behavioral problems; this year, while things are even harder, they now “make sense”: there is a reason our kids are the way they are! That question was answered, but it created a bigger, scarier one: how did it happen—what/where was/is the source of their [substantial] lead exposure?!


This is yet another case where as little as $3,000 could help relocate this family for an extended period of time to give them the space to determine where their children’s elevated lead levels are coming from.  If you would like to help Avis and her family please donate HERE.  Thank you.

6 Responses to From Mama Avis in Texas

  1. Marissa June 19, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

    Do they live near a fracking site? I’m so curious what could be causing this awful problem for this poor family! Blessings to them.

  2. Linda Block June 20, 2015 at 4:08 am #

    How can it be that two children have these super high levels and no source can be found? My website had a”where lead hides ” document. Perhaps something in that list is being overlooked? My hopes are with you.

  3. John Cullen June 20, 2015 at 7:06 am #

    I am so sorry to hear about this and can relate from first hand experience to the fear and frustration. I am so glad you discovered the elevated lead and moved urgently to test your daughter and treat this with the attention it deserves. That does not always happen (in fact it is, sadly, rare). Your children are so lucky to have you! There is nothing more powerful than an empowered and educated mommy!

    Lead Safe America put out a call to professionals in the field via an email list serve, asking for help on suggestions to be left for you as a comment here. May I ask a couple of questions to see if there is advice I can offer that may be helpful?

    What areas were tested, and what was the method (e.g. XRF electronic tester, wipe samples, soil tests, only painted surfaces)?

    Are there areas outside the home where the kids may be exposed?

    Do you have (or can you request from doctor) older lead blood levels for the children that may narrow down a time range for exposure?

    I will keep an eye out for your response and try to help however I can. Hang in there!

    • Avis October 1, 2015 at 11:18 am #

      I just discovered there were comments on our story ! They used XRF on all surfaces of the walls and floors furniture my husbands work clothes dishes and toys. They state also tested the soil in two different places! The county later came and retested the soil and said that’s all we can do for you. We still haven’t found the source and abandon the majority of our things and home!

  4. Joan Ketterman June 22, 2015 at 6:38 am #

    There was a local child with a similar issue – they had swallowed a charm and it remained lodged in their stomach. Once it was removed the levels went down.

    • Tamara June 22, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

      Thank you for commenting, Joan!

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