Being Exhaust-ed

2016 was a rough year for me.  My health deteriorated pretty dramatically.  I was frequently sick and felt run down all the time.  My quality of life declined as my time spent in bed increased.  I missed a lot of family time and work days because I was just too weak to get out of bed.  I've been blessed with pretty good health, so I knew something was wrong.  Unfortunately, I was the only one that believed it.  My symptoms included:

  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • frequent headaches
  • extreme fatigue

The problem with those symptoms is that they can be attributed to many things.  So, trying to pinpoint a cause required a trial-and-error approach.  I made several trips to the ER, countless trips to doctors and got tested for everything under the sun.  Frustratingly, everything would come back negative.  Maddie would say things like "mommy sleeps a lot" and "mommy is always sick."  My relationship with Mike got strained because he was frustrated that I was always "sick" with no diagnosis. 

Fast forward to last week when I got a life-changing text message from my coach.  It turns out one of his other athletes had a health decline similar to mine.  It turned out we both own newer model Ford Explorers.  That's when she shared the news that there is a pending national class action settlement with Ford due to exhaust being directed into the cabin via the air conditioner.  I looked at the symptoms for carbon monoxide poisoning and checked it again a list I had made of symptoms I experienced over 2016.  There was quite a bit of overlap.  So, I made an appointment with my doctor to get tested and received the shock of all shocks when the test came back positive.  The concentration of carbon monoxide in my blood was 150% higher than the upper limit for "normal."  After my abnormal test, we made the tough decision to get Maddie tested.  Having to pin down your 5 year old as she screams and cries because she's getting blood drawn (two separate sticks, one to get blood from an artery and one to get blood from a vein) is heartbreaking.  Lab results show her concentration as slightly elevated.  Not terribly surprising, considering she doesn't spend as much time in my car as I do (I commute an hour, each direction, to and from work). 

I share my story for a couple reasons.  First, to bring awareness to this problem.  Ford is currently fighting this very doggedly, trying to sidestep a recall.  In its place, they have issued "Technical Service Bulletins" (TSB), which are a series of notifications to dealerships on how to repair the issue.  However, Ford does not contact the customer to let them know their vehicle could be affected. They leave it up to the customer to bring the vehicle in with complaints of exhaust smell.  Given my severe sinus issues and nearly nonexistent sense of scent, I couldn't tell you if my car was on fire, no less an exhaust smell.  And that brings me to my second reason for sharing my story.  This kind of action (or inaction, in this case) is unconscionable!  That Ford knowingly allowed people to be potentially poisoned and suffer the deleterious effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and did NOTHING to warn their customers is downright criminal. 

If you own a 2011-2015 Ford Explorer and are experiencing any of the same symptoms I did, I urge you to contact your Ford dealer.  They can check your vehicle ID number and let you know if your vehicle is flagged under the TSB. 

I'm at the beginning of my journey to get this issue resolved, so I will update later with my experiences and the final resolution.

 

The culprit?

 

HELPFUL RESOURCES

The proposed settlement for the nationwide class action suit can be viewed here.

The attorney representing the Plaintiff in this class action suit is John J. Uustal of the firm Kelley/Uustal.