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Downsizing and My Storage Room

It seems that as we have entered a new stage of our lives, we continue to need less and less of the things we used to consume. It is a time when we are no longer looking to acquire things. Now, we are looking to get rid of all the stuff we acquired. In an effort to downsize, we start by cleaning and purging the storage room.

Junk and a storage room

Once decided, we begin the task. Having lived in this house for over 40 years and raising 3 children, we acquired a lot of junk. The storage room has not been entered in years except when we were adding junk to the pile and closing the door really fast.

We begin by removing everything from the room so that we can inspect and decide on what will stay and what will go. I pick a comfortable chair and my husband starts pulling an item out to be inspected.

We did this on a hot day in August; it requires air conditioning to be on in the house. We were in the basement so it was quite cool and comfortable. However, since we rarely use the basement anymore, it is also quite dusty.

Dust in the air and on my hands

As items were being brought out, dust was flying and I was touching and feeling lots of items. It is uncanny that most of what was given real estate space was junk, plain and simple and needed to be thrown away years ago.

It took a good 5 hours to get to the bottom of the pile and to sort in piles of garage sale items and dump items. Some stuff stayed but most did not.

Sudden shortness of breath

As we were finishing up the room, it was tea time and I settled with my daily ritual. Suddenly, I became very short of breath. I was talking to my friend and began to gasp for air and could hardly put a sentence together or get any sounds out. I tried to catch my breath but it seemed a losing battle.

Now that the storage room is cleared out, my panic begins and I realize that I have made a huge mistake. It is another step in learning about this disease and how tricky the management of it can be.

Resting in bed after COPD was triggered

I quickly went to my room and sat on the bed with my BiPap on. It helps my breathing and quickly gets me back on track. I needed the rest of the night in bed reading a book with my BiPap to recover from the dust and debris that I encountered.

These are the steps that I decided that would have made my downsizing successful without running into danger from spores, dust, and other particles.

  • I should have gowned up. Disposable jumpsuits are easily available and reasonably priced. As soon as the job is done, the suit goes into the garbage and doesn’t spread dust throughout the entire environment.
  • I should have good gloves to cover my hands from any mold or dust being ingested.
  • The entire area should have been draped off with plastic to contain air born particles.
  • I should have worn a mask to protect my sensitive lungs, something with a filter.

No one with a lung disease should ever be exposed to things from a storage room or an attic. Dust, mold, and spores live there and are one of our worst enemies. Hiring someone to do this work is a huge asset if you can afford it.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    5 months ago

    We are too, Barbara and Kevin, in a similar boat! We’ve been here since 1988 (31 years), lived through three graduates, rebuilt following two hurricanes (Irene (2011) and Sandy (2012), and an 11″ rain event (2011 before Irene)! I’ve been in family-cave-basement-flooded water so many times, that most of our saved memories (and dust, mold, and spores, as well as junk, was treated and/or discarded already. But, the exposure to those conditions made me very savvy – gowns, masks, gloves, knee high boots, etc.
    But – it still takes it’s toll – being savvy keeps it from incapacitating me. (Plus having a wonderful wife and super helpful grown children!)
    We’re ready for the future although we hope these 100-year hurricanes stay away. A whole house generator, plus 2 sump pumps and 4 additional pumps should protect the basement moving forward.
    Next one, this ship will stay afloat!

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    5 months ago

    Wow Leon, You have been through it and back. You sound like a pro now after all you floods and hurricanes. It must have been a very hard time for you. My blessings go with. I just can not image. Barbara Moore (site moderator Author)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    5 months ago

    Thanks, Barbara – we had several years of very difficult times. My wife is as strong as they come and, with the assistance, support, and love of our (adult) children we were able to persevere and rebuilt and survive. We remain prepared for the future – whatever it may bring! Thank you for your blessings – they are very much appreciated. Leon (site moderator)

  • KevinDavitt moderator
    5 months ago

    Barbara – we’re in the same boat but we’re here 21 years. Still, last of 3 graduates June, 2020 and then our “clean-up” begins.

    Great stuff.

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    5 months ago

    It seems we all have to face it sometime. It is a bittersweet time for all involved. It was very sad for me to realize how many years had passed in the wink of an eye. Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi Barbara – I had an old, old friend (he was in his late 80’s when I was in my early 20’s – long story!) – he used to say to me: “Leon, before you turn around, the parade is over”. It always stuck with me, what my friend, Bill, shared after a very rich life – the fleeting nature of time! You’re right – we all face and realize this at some point in our lives.
    Warmly, Leon (site moderator)

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