In January this year we all got a bit ill. Dizzy, and in Shaun and H’s case, some sickness thrown in too, although I thought H’s might be an ear infection. I thought mine might be too, so made sure to put drops of coconut oil in our ears as I’ve heard it helps, and I wanted to avoid antibiotics and most importantly not miss any work.
It didn’t shift though. But I’m busy. We had loads of after school things going on, and loads of real life other stuff so I muddled through as you do, until all of a sudden it appeared to be April.
Our Letting Agents called and said we were due our annual Gas Safety Check, which I was too busy to think about scheduling, plus I felt dizzy and occasionally sick. Most mornings I dizzily staggered to the train, thinking about going to the doctors, although it almost always subsided by the time I got to work.
I got the check organised anyway. After checking a few things he asked to go into the loft, and came back down instructing us not to use our heater.
Our heater is crap, you see. It’s one of those awful hot air ones – with vents in the wall upstairs and downstairs where the heat goes out. Very 1970s I suspect.
The flue which leads from the boiler and the vents in our house had come away in the loft, which meant it has been leaking – and we’re talking carbon monoxide here.
The penny dropped after a while. We’d made arrangements to go out so did our usual too busy to think about it kind of day and it was only after really thinking about it, and having one of those “ohhh… ” moments that it started to hit home.
So you start with the confusion. Then once the heating has been locked off, you suddenly realise you don’t feel dizzy any more. Then things start making sense. You feel a bit less jumbled in the head too. It’s like some kind of weird clarity. Then you get a bit angry and upset about it. Because, let’s face it, carbon monoxide isn’t something we choose to expose ourselves to.
Then you have the moment you realise why your child may have been sick all over your bed that time, because our bedroom is right next to the loft.
Then you start to kick yourself a bit because HOW did you miss the signs? Oh, that’s right. Because we were working, we’re busy at work and just put it down to a virus. One that hadn’t shifted in four months.
Then you get a bit upset too. See, when you asked the boiler man “what’s the worst case scenario” you meant just to get it fixed, but he answered with the brutally honest “death”. Fuck. But you didn’t really register that at the time.
So the landlady is getting it sorted. We’ll either get a replacement flue. If that happens we’re moving out. We’re never going to live in a house with this type of heating ever again. It’s rubbish and it doesn’t work very well anyway. If we get central heating we’ll put up with the disruption for a week because it will be better, it will be a good thing. However, it costs a lot more. But in my mind it gives this house more value – plus it will be warm.
Then I kick myself, because it would never have crossed my mind to get a carbon monoxide detector put in the loft, because I didn’t think. Neither of us did. The fumes have to go somewhere.
So, if you happen to have the awful hot air heating which comes out of vents, please please please get yourself a carbon monoxide detector in the loft as well. Because the worst case scenario doesn’t bear thinking about. We have a detector, but it’s downstairs next to the boiler itself.