You may not have heard, so let me catch you up; there’s a pandemic afoot.
The whole world has gone mad for toilet paper and handshaking is becoming an archaic greeting of days past. Basketball and Baseball have been cancelled, and Tom Hanks is in quarantine with Wilson. Schools are closed and workers everywhere are discovering the bliss of working from bed in their underwear. Italy is a red zone and Europe has been effectively cut off from the USA. Many Americans are now living in toilet paper forts with hand sanitizer moats. What even is normal anymore?
Here in the mountains life is much the same, until the last few days. With the spread of the virus taking over, the pandemic is even becoming evident in our tiny little community of Blairsville, GA. All local schools have been shut down and parents seem to be bulk buying liquor and wine. On a trip to Home Depot earlier this week to get some basic DIY supplies for the camper I was met in the parking lot with panic buyers toting supply carts piled high with mega packs of toilet paper – a behavior that is terribly puzzling to me.
I left Home Depot to get some gas (now hovering around $2.00 to the gallon, the silver lining of all this) and get a couple of bits for dinner from the grocery store. It seems people had lost their minds there, however, as upon arrival I found the parking lot slammed full of cars and a long line of cars waiting to get in. The gas pumps were no different and I had to wait 10 minutes to get gas. With a hungry baby in the back seat and lunch time fast approaching, I decided it was best to abandon the grocery run in the interest of not compromising the kid’s nap time, which I have come to hold dear to my sanity.
In the last few days I have watched as other full time RVers across the country have been posting about the eviction notices they’ve received from the RV parks who are closing due to the Corona virus and State parks have now shut down in several states. This has been cause for concern for us, as we never factored such occurrences into our plan when we set out on this adventure 6 months ago. While we do have options – mostly because the very nature of our existence is mobile and therefore we’re easily relocated – it’s still unsettling and would interfere with Chris’ business and our overall plan.
But c’est la vie. It could always be worse.
And for a while there it was worse. After Christmas, as previously mentioned, Junior and I caught the flu. This was a dark period in the history of our RVing adventure, and one which we hoped would pass quickly.
But as the weeks went by I struggled to recover. I suffered with significant congestion, blinding headaches, exhaustion, chest pain, and brief periods of losing my voice. It was endless and relentless. It made no sense. Chris wasn’t getting sick, Junior had a runny nose but otherwise seemed ok. I’m generally a healthy person – I eat well, I drink lots of water, and I’m usually pretty active. But this thing was not shifting.
I won’t lie, there were moments where it had crossed my mind that this could be the infamous virus that was afflicting me. With the CDC having sent out faulty tests for COVID-19 for so long, there was no real way of telling where the virus had spread to, and there have been a number of confirmed cases in Georgia and recently one death from COVID-19.
Then one night Chris and I were lying in bed watching a movie. I stretched up and ran my hand along the back of the mattress and a chill ran through my body. I felt the blood rush through my belly and I sat up.
“Get up” I said to Chris. He looked a little puzzled. “I mean it; get up.”
“What is it?” He said wearily pulling himself up out of bed.
“Damp.” I said flatly.
We stood up and pulled the mattress off the platform of the bed and there, clear as day, was the answer to that incessant question: why can’t I get well?
Mold. Every RVer’s worst nightmare.
As mentioned in a previous post, moisture is the enemy of all RVs. It destroys a rig fast and, as we learned the hard way, can destroy your health even quicker.
Oh my god, I’ve been sleeping on it. EVERY NIGHT.
Everything made sense. I had been telling Chris that when I came outside I often felt a little better and the congestion would at least ease up. But there were so many days where I woke up feeling so terrible that I didn’t feel up to even stepping outside for a cigarette. Chris had even had to do the daycare run for me when I was really unwell. Now it was clear that it was a vicious circle whereby the worse I felt and the more I rested to try and get better, the worse I would feel because I was resting on the very source of my illness. Chris hadn’t been getting sick because he was allergic to mold like I am, and he wasn’t spending even half of the time in the RV that I was.
I felt nauseated looking at it. But I felt relieved that now we knew and maybe I could finally, FINALLY get some relief.
We spent the next few days and a few hundred bucks getting some supplies to tackle the issue. We had naively believed that running the dehumidifier 24/7 would be enough to rid us of any chance of mold growing. It turns out that was a costly mistake.
We scrubbed the mattress several times with rubbing alcohol and propped it up daily to dry with the windows open and fans running. We ordered 3 vent covers for our roof vents (like plastic skylights). The vent covers allowed us to crack the vents open, even in the rain, without the risk of rain coming in through the vent. This seems to have made the biggest difference to the air quality inside the camper. I spent an afternoon up on the roof, with the help of a maintenance guy from the park who is a friend of ours, installing these on the vents.
We also got a Den Dry mattress underlay. It’s about an inch thick, made of spun plastic, and sort of resembles bubble wrap in its shape. The purpose of it is to lift the mattress off the platform and allow airflow between the two to prevent condensation from getting trapped and creating a breeding ground for mold.
Lastly we purchased an air purifier. This filters out the mold spores, dust, pet dander, pollen, and all other yucky things from the air so I can breathe a little better and sleep a little easier.
It’s been about 2 weeks since all this happened and I am almost back to normal now, with only mild congestion and a lingering cough. It feels wonderful to finally have my energy back and be able to do things with ease again. It certainly makes life as Mom to Junior much more manageable – it takes a great deal of energy to keep up with that kid nowadays.
Once again it seems we had to learn valuable lessons the hard way. While the mold, the endless rain, and the looming threat of invasion from the corona virus has certainly placed a significant black cloud over the winter of 2019/2020 for us – our first winter in the camper – we have still managed to weather this storm intact as a family.
Chris has worked hard through the winter and come home each night to take over baby duties and look after me. We have addressed the issues within the camper and learned valuable lessons on how to proceed through the winter in a rig. If COVID-19 does displace us then, even in the worst case scenario, we will embark on an adventure to Tennessee and take the opportunity to spend some time with family. The beauty of our situation is that it allows us to adapt more readily to whatever life throws our way. If things fall apart in Georgia we can fall back on Tennessee. If things fall apart in the US then we’ll haul our home up to Canada. With just a day’s notice we can relocate ourselves wherever necessary and make an adventure of it.
For now though, we’ll take a deep breath of clean air, stick with a normal amount of toilet paper, and proceed with business as usual until we hear otherwise.