By Mama Amy in Missouri
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Our lead nightmare began in March 2007 when we had our 15 month old twins tested.
I had no idea about lead at the time, so I wasn’t particularly concerned with the results of that particular test. My daughter, Gracie’s test result was interpreted as “slightly elevated” [a misinterpretation of the CDC’s old “Action Level” set at a Blood Lead Level (BLL) 10.0 at that time] – with a blood lead level of 11.9. Her twin brother was also considered “elevated” at 13. We were told that that this was nothing to worry about. So we went about our lives as normal.
We spent the entire summer outside. We spent everyday riding bikes, playing in the dirt with the monster trucks and cars, flying kites, etc. Our next lead test was October 2007, just as a follow up test. The results were absolutely shocking—Gracie tested at 56.9 and Roberts test came back at 23!
We were told to begin vitamins, wash hands, increase vitamin C, etc. It was after this lead test that we put it all together that Gracie had been showing symptoms for a couple weeks. She had been very irritable, more restless, an upset tummy, and very bad breath from the upset tummy.
I made a call to my uncle, who is a nurse practitioner, and he told me to work as hard as we could to get their lead levels down, because this could cause serious brain damage. He said with levels this high, Gracie’s brain may not be functioning properly! The health department was out to the house within a week and began testing. There were no lead hazards inside the house. They also tested our soil. The soil samples taken were 5 times the allowed limit for lead. Our yard was remediated very quickly, and lead levels began to drop.
Fast forward to July 2009,,,
We bought a house. Our twins were now about 3.5 years old. We spent a lot of time outside again with the kids. A few months later, we had another lead test and their levels were elevated again, Gracie’s higher than Robert’s (she sucks her thumb) but not nearly as high as before. The health department came to the new house and did all their tests. There was no lead in the house, but parts of the yard again had lead! Our new yard was remediated and lead levels began dropping again.
Our youngest daughter, Lillee, was born April 2011. She was a healthy 7 lbs 8 oz. We were sure that we had nothing to worry about since the house had been tested and the yard had already been taken care of.
At Lillee’s one year check-up, there were concerns with her growth. She hadn’t gained any weight or grown any in height in 3 months. The doctor ordered a series of tests and diagnosed her with “failure to thrive”. When we received results of tests about a week later, the only thing was lead! Her lead levels came back at 13! We immediately began thinking, “where could this be coming from?” We had spent a lot of time at grandmas house! Grandmas house was tested, along with the yard. Her yard tested elevated for lead. And so the remediation of grandmas yard began. Her lead levels slowly started dropping.
As of June 2014, (ages 8, 8, and 3) lead levels are now: Gracie 6, Robert 3, and Lillee 5.
What the lead has done to my children:
- Robert has anger issues—he is easily angered and has sudden and unexpected outbursts.
- Gracie has combined ADHD, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), and Selective Mutism. Her doctor thinks she suffers from depression and she has symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder. Gracie currently sees a counselor for anger and anxiety. She has occupational therapy for her sensory issues. She will soon be tested for learning disabilities.
- Lillee is still very small. She only weighs 26 pounds at 3.5 years old and is in the 4% for weight for girls her age.
It’s been a long journey and it’s not over yet!