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Family Situations, Unsanitary Houses, Pots


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I'm sorry to post this here. I have posted about this situation briefly in the Dysautonomia part of the forum because my health does AFFECT my decision, but then I realized it was probably in the wrong place. I really hope that I can use this forum to bounce this info off of people because I have no one else to talk to. My father isn't really involved in his kids' lives and my mother always ends up crying or is no help at all. I have recently lost most of my close friends because of relationship issues. My parents live in a tiny community where they both work for the government in various aspects and would be humiliated/in trouble if I spoke to my mentors/friends/their friends in town. I don't really belong to any other forums and my school has really terrible counseling services.

For those of you that don't know me, I am a 20 year old college student who was diagnosed with pots about 6 months ago but had been suffering with pots and arthralgia for about 2.5 to 3 years. I currently attend school out of state and am a full-time student. I live alone. My pots keeps me from going out with friends, having a relationship, joining groups/clubs, and working. I spend all my time working on schoolwork, doing chores, and being sick. It is making school very difficult as I continue to have fatigue and increasing pain/cognitive symptoms.

I am studying to become an anthropologist. I am also currently working on a degree in spanish and a minor in american indian studies. Working in a Native American community or with a tribe one day is my dream. Oh, and I am not like some crazy overachiever either--- I had a lot of college credits through my high school and would have had to take a whole bunch of random courses to get my degree unless I decided to choose a second major. Plus, my scholarship -- which is essential to my paying for school dictates I have to take 15 credit hours a semester-- which is killing me.

I am about 30- something credit hours from graduating. However, I am very dissatisfied with the education I have received thus far. The school has systematically downsized my department and eliminated many of the reasons I chose to go there in the first place. I have one teacher that I love who is willing to try to work with me to find outside opportunities-- but most of these require a ton of time and energy in writing projects/grants/proposals only to be rejected. I feel the education I have recieved is not equal to my peers at other schools and I am completely underprepared for such proposals and/or graduate school. I also don't have a ton of energy/ability to write extra proposals for opportunites that I was supposed to just be able to sign up for, nor can I just jump on a plane and go spend my summer in some of the conditions my non-pots colleagues can.

I was accepted to a local college where my parents live that seems to have a much better program in what I am interested in and is well conected. I would have to take about a year of additional course work, but would graduate with three majors and I feel I would be much better equiped to go into my field. However, there are downsides to this school.

First, I would have to live with my folks (we will get back to that). I would have to commute about 30 min to school two or three days a week. I would be moving from a mild climate to one with snow-- like you have to plow your yard to park-. It is also at a higher elevation although that doesn't see mto affect me horribly (only when I go up to about 9,000 ft, where my grandparents live do I feel horible).

My pots is currently untreated and hopefully I would be able to be better treated in this area as I have a doctor there and I would have other people around to drive me to the ER if something goes wrong.

However, after going back to my parents house-- which I have only visited in the summers/Christmas for the past 2.5 years I am concerned. Currently they are heating only with a fireplace insert that burns 24 hours a day and they have a fan blowing to keep it from overheating and catching fire since the internal one burned out last winter. The majority of the house has only 1970s mdf subflooring. My room has laminate that slides around. Two other rooms have carpet that is disgusting and literally falling apart. There are small piles of junk stacked strategically-- mostly in normal quantities. I dusted the electronics tower and a shelf with keepsakes on it when I got home which had a thick, thick layer of dust on it. Just a week later the layer is almost back. The kitchen is covered in splattered food and dirty handprints and oily dust. I had my brother pull out a drawer for me and we found mouse droppings behind the cabinets. The garage is entirely full of boxes of stuff covered in a thick layer of dust and dog hair with some deer blood and mice droppings mixed in. The bathroom has mold. My room was recently treated for mold (it hasn't come back) and the entire crawlspace has a water and mold issue.

I am hoping and praying that the mold can be taken care of this spring and the fireplace as well.

Unfortunately, we aren't just pigs. With the exception of the kitchen all the other problems came with the house. We can't really afford to make it livable or to buy anything nicer. However, it is creating a lot of tension in my family. I have a younger brother who is a teenager but still a minor and he feels neglected because of issues with my mom stemming from problems with the house. I am extremely worried that his could permanently damage their relationship because at this rate nothing will be resolved before he graduates and leaves. My mother is very unhappy with it but it is almost impossible to keep clean, especially since she has a bad back. She also has lung issues and I am sure all the dust/mold isn't good for her-- although I am the only one in the family that has mold allergies-- although none visible to the mold in our house.

I am really just lost as what to do at this point. Do I stay at the school I dislike and live alone although I am not sure how much longer that will be possible? Do I move home and live in it the way it is and concentrate on my health and my school? Do I take a semester off and find a way to pay for health insurance and live by myself and concentrate on health or move home and help them with the house? Do I go to school near my family and try to help them and do everything?

When I first started thinking about this and talking to my family it was all about me and making it easier for me to live with pots, get treatment, get healthy, go to school with the least stress (only 3 classes a semester vs. 5, ect), and get a good education. This past semester I really struggled with the minimum course load and living alone and pots. However, now I feel that either way it is a bad situation and feel responsible for helping my family, especially my brother. I feel like there is no way to make this right.

I am sorry for the extremely long rant. I just feel very alone. I just want my body back, my future back.

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Hi Elfie,

I'm sure you've considered all of your options, but are there any other family members or friends you could stay with during the additional year of schooling? I also wanted to say that you have an extremely kind attitiude toward your family, and it is honorable that you want to help them while you are sick. Do what you can... but keep your health and future in mind, too. Sorry I don't have better suggestions.

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I think your parents will be happiest if you do what is best for you, because they want you to be happy and sucessful. If your brother has good freinds- he will be ok too- IMO.

As to what is best for you - don't know - I think the colleges have a person

in place to help you with that decision?

good luck

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Can you talk to some people working in your particular field and find out what qualifications you need? I graduated from college years ago and did lots of "extras". Looking back, many of those extras were not necessary to be sucessful in my career. And they took a lot out of me, where I could have been dating, socializing, or just plain relaxing. This was all when I was healthy! Since getting POTS, I try to find the simplest path. Three majors and an extra year sounds like a lot of work, which you should think about carefully. And there aren't too many fields which would require that.

You aren't happy with your school, but it sounds like living with your family would be stressful too. Not only the living situation, but the health risks and the commute. Are there any other options - can you live on campus? or go to another school with a good program where you don't have to commute or live at home?

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My 2 cents.... I think Black Mold had a lot to do with me developing POTS. I was exposed to it when I was expecting my first child and have been sick ever since.

I am sorry that you are in this tough situation... I am allergic to dust, mold, pollen and other things but MOLD that eats paper (like drywall)... I would not go near. I had a huge flare last fall after a "hay ride" that went near moldy hay. I never have "allergic" reactions to mold ... I just get very sick.

Please stay away from it. I know I sound like a crazy lady but i just don't think science/med knows enough about mold yet (some types are even helpful). I thought it was pretty interesting when I was reading some of the really boring books of the Old Testament when the Jewish people were told how to live. Instructions were clear about mold. Some kinds of mold meant that the item had to be burned (Leviticus if I am thinking clearly).

Another thought... I hate to say this but my grad school is ranked #2 in the country in my field and in the real world no one knows this or cares. You can teach yourself anything that you are not learning in your classes now. What people do care about is the paper you get when you graduate.

You are so close now and I would be tempted to stick things out and finish. You can always go back (I also did this) and get a degree somewhere else later. Sorry if I sound so cynical but I had to work with someone who called themselves "Doctor PhD". and they never took the SATS GRE or other test to get into their program. I imagine this goes on in most fields of study.

Also your health is so important. I was blessed with an excellent ed-du-juma-cation ( important to my parents because my mom was a teacher and they could afford the best schools for us) and still I cannot figure out a tip, spell, or even read some days. YOU HAVE TO PUT YOUR HEALTH FIRST... yelled in love!

Best wishes to you...You will be in my thoughts.

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Another option is a sensitive one, but could be a big help in the long run. Maybe your parents would like the place cleaned out and you could sit down and talk about the situation and what you see going on. Now I don't know where you live as I just looked to see but I had to simpilfy and I'm still doing it as we speak. After 3 kids and 2 men I've aquired a lot of stuff. Being bed bound is not a good way to clean either.

Last Christmas my friend was going to give me 1-800-junk as a gift. I was so angry and mad. So, I did it my way.... but maybe that would help them as they come in and quote how much to clean out a place and it's done. Here's what I did. First I took what I could and had a yard sale. ( I did end up in the er after falling off my bed fainting after it ) but it was worth it. LOL! Then, slowly progress was being made, I took all my things I no longer wanted and gave them weekly to my case manager who takes them to a place where people get to have them for free. ( after everything is all washed and made to look like new ) This made me want to give more stuff away. Then I became eligeble for help in my home for 7 hours a week due to my Pots and I have someone helping me clean. Now the upkeep is so much easier.

I also housed a family with extra furniture and gave them a Christmas with a lot a new stuff I had in my house mixed in with usuable old stuff. When I hear someone was looking for something I'd give it to them. This was a fun new game and my home was getting cleaner. Once you get the ball rolling it's easy and it feels so GOOD. If I wanted to they would come in and do a big clean out. I'm not ready for that yet. Maybe at some point. I feel more in control this way. I'm not dirty, (Virgo here clean + likes control) I just have toooo much stuff. I had to learn what papers to keep and throw away. I don't want someone to thow away something on me. LOL!

So, it's just a thought and if you approach them be prepared for them to want to cling onto everything covered in mold. Maybe your mom might be eligible for help with her lung condition. Are you in Mass by any chance? If so contact me as I might be able to figure something out for you.

Maybe this could be the best thing for all of you to get all of this taken care of once and for all and saving your family relationships is precious.

There has to be help and an answer out there.



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Guest tearose

I hope you will NOT move into a mold area. It caused one of my worst relapses!!! I had never been sensitive to mold prior to that and now, even past the relapse, I am very sensitive to it.

You have good reasons to want to leave and get a "better education" can you enhance your studies with online college credits? Can you find a roommate near a better college? Can you take a year off and intern in your field and save some money?

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  • 1 month later...

Regret and displeasure about attending a certain school or choosing a certain major are not uncommon. My son just graduated a semester early from a top-tier school because he was so unhappy there. The classes were so big he never got to know profs in his dept. and he discovered his major didn't prepare him for a career that he wants.

Would your scholarship and school allow you to do a semester exchange? You could look for a school in a healthy climate with a stronger anthropology program. See if you can find one that offers field work if that's what you're interested in. That way you can find out if you enjoy that part of the field and whether you physically are able to do the outside work.

You also could contact people (through the internet or ask your favorite professor) involved in anthropology to see if there are jobs in anthropology that would allow you to use your skills without draining you physically.

You might want to check Occupational Outlook Handbook (it may be online or it'll be in your public library) to see what jobs are available in your field. Another source which might be helpful is The Book of Majors. Your college library should have it or they'll get it through Interlibrary Loan for you. If I remember correctly, this book will provide info about different paths you can follow with specific majors.

You could drop one of the majors. Once you are looking for a job, fluency in Spanish may be needed but a degree in it wouldn't be. Another option is to keep the Anthropology major but drop the other two to minors. I always believe people should follow their passions, if possible, when it comes to careers but you need to be realistic about your choice. POTS patients usually do very poorly in hot weather. In looking at your majors, I would think you would want to work with western tribes (very hot). If you have allergies to dust you probably would have serious problems working outside. I don't mean to discourage you I just think you need to investigate.

In college, I decided that I wanted to work on a reservation and help develop library services and improve literacy. After reading up on it, I learned that Native Americans preferred to develop their own libraries and have Native American librarians. I meant well but I was naive.

I agree with everyone else. Your health must be your first priority. As much as you want to help your family, living in that environment could be dangerous to you. The allergens would cause serious problems and even something as simple as shoveling out your car in the winter may not be physically possible for you. I am sure your family knows you love them and only want what's best for you.

My short-term advice would be for you to try to meet people at your school. You can meet them through church, temple, etc. Join a club or group that doesn't require a big time commitment. Attend free lectures or concerts and try to meet people with similar interests. Maybe there are one-time volunteer opportunities (so not a big time commitment) that might interest you. Depression and loneliness can drain you of strength. Talking to a counselor in the health center (I think their counseling is usually free). It might help you make decisions.

Keep in mind that you have a great future ahead of you and eventually things will sort themselves out.

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Hi everyone,

I greatly appreciate all the advice that everyone has given me. I thought I would post an update. I have decided to stay at my current school this semester and finish my degree and one minor. My family will be working on the mold problem in the house this spring-- it has to wait because we have frozen ground and about 4 feet of snow at the moment. Then I am considering moving home and spending a year there where I can pick up another degree.

I am still very dedicated to my major, I just feel as though I am missing out on opportunities that most school's offer because our program has been cut. The year after I arrived they had an unexpected loss of the president of the university and there have been several changes of power who all implemented their own programs that led up to it. I am trying to be more involved with what the school and area has to offer.

RIFainthearted, it is nice to meet you. I really appreciate your advice. My mother is librarian and works with children teaching information literacy, so I am familiar with what you do. I have lived in the West my entire life and would like to continue living out here. If you stay out of southern AZ, NM, NV, and CA much of the western states have similar climate issues, hot summers and cold winters. I am lucky and don't have any dust problems or any allergies that aren't related to chemicals. I used to work maintenance and did a lot of landscaping prior to POTs. I understand what you are speaking about with tribal hiring and programs. I grew up in a reservation community.

Thank you all for your advice.

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