My Thoughts: Yikes Another Leak

Feel tied-up, turned and twisted into a knotted ball. A ball that’s too heavy with life to bounce.

It gets that way when things go wrong. Today was one of those days where my inside felt like a knotted ball of fire. My rigid body and pounding head ready to explode. I kept thinking: Breath, breathe, breathe and know that life ebbs and flows like waves.

Another leak in the basement in the same location as the old leak. An area that was not repaired leaked again into the main basement area where the contractors left household items and furniture from upstairs. I called the insurance company, the insurance agent, the insurance commission and was on hold for for over 20 minutes twice, each time.  The person hung up on me.  No one seems to appreciate the urgency of the situation. gave me numbers to HUD as the ADA does not handle residential housing and the number to the State Attorney General’s Office for Consumer Protection. When I called HUD I was routed to the regional HUD office where I left a voicemail. In the meantime, it’s still leaking in the basement, and I will not injure myself to move heavy boxes and furniture.

I’ve lived in my home without a dishwasher, cooktop, or oven since the leaks last June (2017). It’s been a hell of a year! I  have a microwave and a refrigerator for meals, no dishwasher. Haven’t had a home cooked meal in a year. My house is in disarray with mostly everything packed in boxes in the basement. I can’t find anything, so I have to buy many things that are packed away which is expensive for someone on a fixed income. I don’t even have brooms or a vacuum. The central vacuum is not working because of the leaks.

Living in such a disorganized house is disruptive to my sleep and extremely stressful for me. Remember, I have severe sleep issues and head trauma with memory and organizational difficulties. Since my house was deemed habitable and environmentally safe to live, I have not had a good night sleep in my bed. Things have gotten so bad I am back on medications to stay awake so I can function during the day since sleep is a lost cause in this environment.  State Farm policies, as well as the entire process, do not consider people with disabilities who have difficulty with memory, organization or sleep.

No wonder life sucks. Wouldn’t it suck if you paid a mortgage and homeowners insurance to live under primitive conditions that aggravate your health? Medically deleterious conditions due to delay and requirements of an insurance claim process that does not make allowance for people with disabilities.

I gave myself a hug today because I needed one. It felt good but now I have to contend with a re-leak from the first leaks.  State Farm will want me to file another claim so I pay another $3900 deductible.  I still have to file a police report for items stolen during the time my home was cleared of mold and uninhabitable.  State Farm said I needed to file a claim for the stolen items that were stolen while my house was being repaired from a State Farm claim and guess what my house is still not fixed.



Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

19 thoughts on “My Thoughts: Yikes Another Leak

  1. Hi Angela, I am hoping if another reader can offer you advice that will straightaway deal with the leak. I’m unsure what to suggest.

    For a plan, I still think your better option is to move out and downsize. By having a smaller home you will have less to be concerned about. I would also like to see you living amongst good neighbours plus maybe in a complex with a warden or handyman available.

    As for the stolen items, I am shaking my head at the lowlifes that would do such a thing. This is another reason that we need the good people to out populate the bad.

    Anyway, here’s wishing you some useful advice, even practical help, to sort out all this….

    1. Pete, I don’t think of suicide as horrible anymore. The older I get I understand its importance in our lives. This is coming from a suicide survivor times two people lost to suicide.

      Anyway I feel this way because I am sleep deprived. I’ve had early morning awakenings and inability to return to sleep.

      Just made the association between my harsh living conditions and poor sleep.

      1. Hi Angela, I am reminded that when we first met you then also had insomnia. Eventually you had medicine that cured it and your life much improved. Since you had to change the composition of your medications, so I think see if your doctor can change that back somewhat. I appreciate you are yourself a doctor ahd I hope I’ve not irritated you with a possible simple lay answer; it’s just my opinion.

        Thank you Ruby for I believe good advice. I know from our earlier discussions, that even if you sold your home you would make relatively little money from it (after debts and fees paid). Therefore maybe cut your losses. That said, I also long ago suggested you got a lodger (boarder). I appreciate that you might feel the need to buy more appliances for them to be comfortable, but as so many Americans are victims of very high rents and forclosures, they may simply be grateful for a roof over their head. Also, you might be able to find a live-in assistant/nurse who will pay for at least their own food & drink.

        They’re my thoughts.

        I join Andreas in giving you a ‘virtual’ hug….

        1. The medicine never cured it. It worked for a while then stopped working. It’s an ongoing issue that my doctors are working on.

          For people with severe chronic insomnia sleep meds are not enough ( I have adverse reactions to most of them, I’ve tried all the major ones and the OTCs. ) You need what I call pep pills, an amphetamine like med. I was on two and having side effects when I passed out and was misdiagnosed by Tufts as an alcoholic.

          In any event, the head trauma compounded the problem that could be life-threatening with toxic stress. I did pass out, cracked my face and required surgery.

          As for the house, I have gotten so much advice that I appreciate. Can’t do anything until the house is fixed. Buyers have to qualify for loans and they will not with my house in its current state.

  2. Angela I’m not going to talk about what’s good or bad for you just a couple of things that might help. If you have steel cookware if not they are relatively cheap get an induction plate. They are pretty cheap too so you can cook. Don’t know what your mortgage situation is but might want to sell. You don’t need the headache of a home. I even thought about it myself but will hold on, but I have my health. I know easier said than done but their are several methods of getting out from under mortgage/house. You don’t have to reply I understand!

    1. Rudy, I have wanted to sell the house of years. For some reason or the other it never sold. It’s haunted. I’m never alone in the house even when I am.

      It’s not a matter of selling, it’s when will the house release me?

      Funny how through writing you make associations. Lack of sleep affects my thinking. I haven’t been sleeping.

  3. Dear Angela,
    I give you a big hug too! In all this mess that´s the only thing I can do. But I´m happy to see that your fighting spirit is comin back!
    Bug hug again

  4. Good morning Angela, I hope you got some rest last night. About your house the bank may let you do a “short sale” selling it for less then you owe. I’m assuming you’re current on your payments. But even that doesn’t matter from what I gather it’s time to leave that place by any means necessary if you know what I mean. You might have to stop paying your mortgage and save your money and let it go into foreclosure and walk away. Be better for your overall health and sanity! You’re in my prayers Angela!

    1. Hi Rudy, I am good with the mortgage. The value is more than the mortgage.
      The problem atm is State Farm! Just spoke with the new adjuster who told me the new leak was my problem. Would not help in recommending someone to look at the leak. Said it was not his problem despite the leak occurring where the old leak was repaired.

      This is so stressful to deal with. Now I will spend the next couple of days calling people to find a plumber. Can’t even remember the one we used for the first leak.

      The adjuster also expected me to move the heavy boxes and furniture to protect my property from water damage.

  5. Ok, Angela what ever you decide I’ll support you 100%. Try that induction plate so you can cook some hot meals. Always willing to listen if that’s what you want!

    1. Thanks Rudy. Today I am more rested I’ll deal with the leak. The problem is that filing a complaint with the insurance commission is pointless as they support whatever the insurance company does. Finding a good lawyer where I live that would truly defend me, I might be wasting money. So what do I do to get the insurance co to be honest and do the right thing?

  6. I had no idea you were living in such a situation. There is nothing worse than copper plumbing. Having built man buildings, all to BOCA code and maintaining six houses and as many large farm buildings for decades I can see at a glance what needs to be done. Also I lived several years in Bloomington Illinois, home of State Farm. A friend of mine was the night watchman and we marveled at the hundreds of attorneys they employed to avoid paying claims. We read into some of them and I am not aware of a worse insurance company. There is no hope unless you hire a professional attorney who works these claims on merit (he doesn’t get paid unless he wins) and that will cost a third of yoiur settlement.
    Your only choice is obvious. There are countless homeless men and women who have the skills and energy to repair your house. You must reach out and find 2-4 of them and organize a way of going about this. I cannot tell you exactly what the solution will be but the key lies in needs you all share that can be met by combining our energy. Talk to the people who deal with ex-cons and homeless people in your area. They will, know people who I have described above,.
    Once you meet them, put your heads together and in a year or so you might be living in a situation which makes your present one unthinkable. If you truly have only six more years, finding a family you can give the house to when you pass is another ikey. That will provide the motivation for them to work for no wages and even contribute money to the project. I see at least $25,000 in materials alone;.
    There is a solution and only you can find it. I am far away or I would do it for you. There are groups of retired people looking for useful roles, one of them might do that part. If you were here it would be easy for me to find the people you need. The Unitarian Church is another place to start or the Friends. Wallowing in this mess is going to accomplish nothing and the people who can help you are within 50 miles, not on the internet.,
    This is good advice, take it and save yourself.
    Bill Harwood 804 387 1958

    1. Hi Bill, if I may on behalf of Angela thank you for your really good advice.

      To add to the foundation that Bill has given us, maybe one of the semi-retired with such skills would do it as part of the ‘sharing economy’, whereby you do something in return for them. You’ll be surprised what they could desperately need and value. And as regards the homeless and ex-offenders, the vast majority were people who made one very bad mistake in their lives and are otherwise good people. Indeed, most American homeless I believe are because of foreclosure and also veterans.. As Bill suggests, they mutually prepare your home with a view to maybe buying it from you when their circumstances improve. They might attain a good job yet.

      Obviously check their references.

      Yes, seek help mostly in the OFFline world….

  7. ACTION PLAN (suggested) :-

    (01) Get a fit man to move your boxes etc away from the leaking water
    (02) Find a local repairman for a second opinion estimate and advice
    (03) Find a local attorney who ideally specialises in dealing with State Farm
    (04) Ask best friend to help you contact, brief and liaise with the attorney
    (05) Ask best friend to help finding & checking free/cheap repairman/men
    (06) Ask best friend to help sell anything that is junk to you for extra funds
    (07) Ask best friend to organise your best things to be placed in storage
    (08) Find a local relative/friend/hotel/motel to let you temporarily move in
    (09) Commission the free/cheap repairman/men to patch up the leak
    (10) With compensation money commission free/cheap/professional repairman/men
    (11) If no compensation then leave the house with the bank to manage it
    (12) If compensation money, or other good income, sell up and leave there
    (13) If no compensation money stay in temporary accommodation until can leave
    (14) Now with that burden gone enjoy your new life….

    Leave to where?

    I think return to your roots. Jamaica. And your US money will go far there, and could allow you to have a very nice home there plus maybe employ a visiting or live-in housekeeper/homekeeper and even nurse for you.

    And with the Web you can freely communicate on a regular basis with your family & friends back in the USA via Skype video phone whatever. Also, maybe each Christmas you visit them, plus when your grandson is in his mid-late teens, he could stay with you during his summer holidays/vacations and enjoy the beaches, water sports etc.

    Remember what I previously commented on, taking one task at a time and not worrying about the ones ahead. Be pragmatic. Be focused.

    The solution starts with the first step….

    1. This is a reply to Angela. There are many families whose financial situation is not sustainable who you might strike a deal with to rehabilitate your house so that you could all live together,. That would provide you with emergency help and working together you could forge a financial path which works for everyone. Working with the groups you mentioned, state farm, government agencies, etc is futile. You need to think on a more practical level, one in which individuals working together finds a solution. Whose idea was it to move your belongings to the basement? That is insane, the wettest, most vulnerable part of your house. Get your belongs as high in the house as possible. I have bought and operated three farms and built dozens of buildings, having grown up with a contractor. You need to think practical and that is the first thing to look for in a partner,

      1. Hi Bill,
        The contractors moved my items to the basement and the garage. That was after the mother of all leaks in my basement last summer. I wondered about that but trusted they knew better.

        In the process of moving my furniture back and forth from a pod that I had no access to, items and furniture were lost or went missing.

        Bill, are you suggesting I find a partner or family with construction skills and make a deal to get the house repaired? What do I do about my missing items and damaged contents from the leaks last year? Or the stolen items? And who bears responsibility for putting my furniture in the basement.

        Also, there were numerous other issues such as replacing the floor with red oak instead of yellow, so I have yellow oak floors upstairs and red oak downstairs. The contractor made a deal that if the color did not match after two months, he would do the upstairs red oak, now they don’t recall and claim the red oak will become yellow over time. In effect depreciating the value of the house.

        Called but your voicemail was full.

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