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Family Story: Mama Tiffany in Wisconsin


By Mama Tiffany
April 8, 2015

I was eight months pregnant when I waddled into our County Department of Health. I had a squirmy toddler tucked under one arm and a massive diaper bag on my opposite hip. We were getting our Nutrition and Health Assessment as part of a Well Family program. The nurse poked my son’s finger, and then mine. She looked at the test in her hand and then looked up at me and casually said, “he has a lead level of 6.2; anything above a 5 we are required to act on.” I was still smiling as I looked at her. Still not processing what this all meant. Then I looked up at her, dazed, “so what can I do?” Eat more iron she said—and test again. That was it. She sent me home with a lab order, a lead test kit, and a nutrition pamphlet.

I got home and ran around the house looking for chipping paint. I found an exposed area on my son’s windowsill and rubbed the test swab on it. Within three seconds it lit up bright red—we had lead!

Suddenly it all made sense:
– He had been in speech therapy almost four months (we hoped he was a “late bloomer”).
– He had developed PICA, where he craved and consumed non-food items—like dirt, paper, and paint!
– He was withdrawn.
– He never played.

I began looking back at old photos and videos of him. It was staring me right in the face…we had moved to our home when he was just one month shy of his first first birthday; we had this giggling, happy 11 month old, and then there it was picture by picture— evidence of my son “drifting away”.

Our pediatrician brushed off his 4.2 blood lead level from the re-test, so I decided to see a private-pay “out-of-network” physician. We couldn’t afford it, but we borrowed money and busted our buns to get there. The new doctor ordered labs—and I think I called them twice a day every day until the labs came in.

I was devastated to finally hear that my son’s level rose 2 points in the last two months.

This is the turning point, this is where we are right now.

We are clearing out of our home and moving forward. If I stop to think about how much lead found it’s way in to our poor boy over the past year and a half since we moved here, I will fall apart.

We are investing every penny we have in getting our son better. We live a frugal, simple life. Heck I’m typing this on a laptop about as old as I am and in a nursing bra so full of holes you could sift sand with it! We don’t need nice things. We need a son who is HEALTHY. We won’t give up.

Tiffany and her family need help with their transition to a new lead-safe home.  Any contribution amount is welcome. Our initial goal was just to help pay for a few nights in a hotel so they can figure out “next steps” from a safe space, but there are so many other things they will need, so we would like to raise at least $2,500 in support of this family (we will post updates as we know more about their specific needs).

If you are able to make a tax-deductible designated contribution to help her click HERE.  If you have questions about how our direct family support program works click HERE. [Funds raised are paid to vendors / businesses helping the family’s transition – not to the family directly.]

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