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May 2001 update - compiled by Helane Shields - prepared for WWW by ESRA

The Story of Someone That Does Not Existcontinued from previous page

I once again called Desiree Lopasic to complain. She told me that she would check the site out. She offered to come over and 'talk' to me, but I said that it was not necessary, just go and check the sludge site out. She never did. Later on in public meetings, she told the Board of Supervisors that no complaints were ever filed. She also stated in letter to Anne Peterson of the VA Department of Health that I 'refused' her coming over to my home. Once again, turning the burden back onto me as the guilty one.

On Christmas day night, I kept coughing and coughing. Something felt as if it was tickling my throat into my windpipe. It was almost like an allergy. I thought that maybe something was growing, until I realized that things don't bloom in the winter. That night I awoke in the middle of the night unable to breathe. I literally was 'choked' awake by something in my windpipe. I was choking and gasping for air. It was a scary feeling not to be able to catch my breath. This continued every half-hour (looking at the clock). I almost knocked my husband awake to take me to the emergency room, but I really did not want to awaken him. After a few hours of this terrifying experience, I fell asleep and woke up as if nothing had happened.

The next week followed with what seemed like a cold, but stayed in my lungs. I had a persistent dry cough, tickling windpipe and the feeling of mucus when there was none. I thought maybe that I had caught a cold. I continued my outside activities as usual.

Then I had the worst case of diarrhea for days. Nothing that I ate would stay inside. My husband also had this for a longer period of time than I did. I was stunned on how I could possibly have gotten so many illnesses back to back in such a short amount of time. By now I was losing weight.

By mid-winter, the smell was not as bad during the daytime. However, whenever the night fell, the atmosphere was just right for the smell to rise up and sit thick in the air. I would continue to choke if I went outside at this time. I remember gagging and trying to breathe when I would break ice out of the watering stations that winter. By this time I would just cry, feeling totally defeated.

One night after one of our daily rides in the field next door, the dog and me came down with a 'stomach' flu-like thing. Pain, diarrhea and nausea were present in me and the dog was having severe diarrhea and had to be taken to the vet. He was blowing his coat and lethargic. In another day or so, my husband also was sick again. I thought maybe I had passed something on to him, but to the dog, I was not convinced. I now had developed painful swellings in the lymph glands under my arms that would come and go frequently.

Now is when we really started looking into the sludge on the Internet. We got as involved as possible with the neighbors. We found out that we were not the only ones sickened by the sludge and the smell. It was scary when they told us that they had the same exact symptoms at the same time. We were not interacting before now, so it in no way was due to contact between us.

This time is when we also began to speak with other victims of the sludge dumping industry. We learned that some people are affected more than others, some are not outwardly affected at all. However, we felt that if it could make even a few people ill, then something should be done to correct it.

We fought as hard as we could by going to Board of Supervisors meetings loaded with information. We were told that 'it is legal, so you will have to live with it.' Our pleas fell upon deaf ears. The local paper would not run a story. The reporter at the time was told 'not to make waves' and was not allowed to write anything up for me.

By now, the cough was constant. I was beginning to wonder what was going on with my body. I had not suffered respiratory troubles in the past. When springtime came around the farmer began to till the sludge in to the soil. This threw a cloud of dust up into the air twice the height of the tractor itself. My symptoms worsened. When I went outside, my eyes would swell shut. I would sneeze and cough uncontrollably. It was like and attack of the allergies from hell. I do



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