Could Mold Be the Cause of Your Health Problems? One Family’s Unbelievable Story

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{In have “known” Andrea Fabry for a long time. She and her husband are radio personalities and I have listened to them on an off for [ahem] many years. We even went to the same university (but at different times).  One of the most memorable stories I have heard is Andrea’s - of her family’s battle with black mold symptoms, how they found out where it was all coming from, and what they did once they knew.

Now you can hear it as well.I hope this helps someone out there get the relief they need.}

We were a relatively healthy family prior to moving into the home of our dreams the summer of 2000.

It was a 5500 square foot home, triple the size of our first house. We could see Pikes Peak from the upstairs window.

The home was perfect for our family of 10.

We knew little about medical problems.

We had been to the emergency room only once in our 15 years of parenting.

Within six months of our move, however, things changed.

Here’s how:

- Our 6 year-old daughter was diagnosed with a seizure disorder
- another daughter’s food allergies escalated
- a bird died
- our dog developed diabetes
- I felt some slight neurological changes.
- Respiratory illnesses, fevers and ear infections became routine.
- Our ninth child was born in 2001 and immediately placed in neonatal intensive care for lung issues.

We thought nothing about the increased health challenges.

After all, health is random. Some people get sick and others don’t.

At least that’s what I thought.

The Mold Discovery

Two days before Mother’s Day 2007. I found a spot on carpet in the corner of my daughter’s room.

We pulled up the carpeting and found black mold.

It was also growing behind the bathroom wall, though we couldn’t see it.

We called a mold remediator and he assured us that mold is harmless, and admonished us not to heed any of the mold “hype.”

We believed him.

Without testing, without masks, without any type of containment the workers tore into the wall, exposing massive amounts of mold – well beyond what we anticipated.

Fans were blown directly on the exposed walls.

Black Mold Symptoms Progressed in Our Family

Six Weeks Later

- Our 7-year-old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
- Three months later our 11- year-old developed debilitating tinnitus in his left ear.
- His tinnitus soon developed into full blown vomiting and vertigo.
- By November he was in a wheelchair.

Six Months Later

Six months after the remediation:

- our 10-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a serious vision disturbance.
- The convergence insufficiency led to intense headaches.
- Her personality changed.
- She could no longer read and was forced to withdraw from fourth grade.

Soon all of our children, my husband and myself were struggling. Our issues included:

- Brain fog

- Digestive problems

- Migraines

- Abdominal pain

- Rashes

- Memory loss

- Mood alteration

- Peripheral neuropathy

- Fatigue

- Joint pain

- Nosebleeds

- and even Black Tongues

In all, we saw 60 doctors in that one year.

I begged for help – especially for my son with the vertigo.

(Read Reagan’s unbelievable story here.)

We tried pediatricians, neurologists, ear specialists, ophthalmologists, and gastroenterologists.

As specialists they showed little interest in my other children’s symptoms.

My role as a parent was questioned.

I heard statements like:
- “Your child needs tough love.”
- “She needs attention.”
- “Your child is just stressed.”
- “Don’t make your child’s illness about you.”

I was fighting for my sanity as well as my children’s health.

Something was terribly wrong.

A friend asked if I was familiar with the term, “Sick Building Syndrome.

The thought began to nag me.

I called an environmental hygienist. He dismissed our symptoms saying mold only causes respiratory problems.

The New Spot

In May of 2008, one year to the day after our first mold discovery, Colin, who was 8, pointed to a spot on the ceiling and asked, “What’s that?”

It was a water mark in a completely different part of the house.

Unknowingly and still believing our declining health was unrelated to our home, we called the same mold remediation company.

The workers tore open the ceiling and blew fans on the mold yet again.

I began to feel increasingly unsettled.

My husband, drowning in escalating medical bills, agreed to my request for a second opinion.

We called a new remediator who was shocked by the fans and the exposed walls. He encouraged us to call a hygienist to test the home.

We got our air samples back and found:

astronomical levels of stachybotrys or “black mold.”

I knew nothing about “stachy” (pronounced “stakee”) but I now had a specific term to research.

It was immediately clear our symptoms were consistent with mold poisoning. At last the dots were being connected.

We called a qualified company to undo what had been done. They wore masks and contained the areas properly.

We replaced virtually everything in the home, anticipating an end to this horrific chapter in our lives.

- We sought alternative health strategies.
- Our bodies responded.
- We were able to wean our 14 year daughter off of her seizure medication.

A Mold Inspector in Protective Gear in the Fabry's bathroom

A Mold Inspector in Protective Gear in the Fabry’s bathroom

More Problems

However in the fall of 2008, when we turned on the heat, our health deteriorated again.

I made contact with a leading toxicologist in the field, Dr. Jack Thrasher, and he explained that even with remediation, a systemic mold problem like ours was virtually impossible to eradicate.

On October 4, 2008 we vacated our home. As advised, we treated the home like a fire — bringing nothing with us.

Andrea Fabry's home - before they evacuated

The Fabry’s living room as they left it on October 4, 2008.

We found a smaller rental home close to our vacated home and started over.

While the loss of our home and possessions was devastating, I felt renewed hope.

- The kids would be back in school
- We would return to our life of activities, graduations, school plays and sporting events.

No more worrying about another trip to an emergency room.

The Fabry Family - one month after evacuating their home

The Fabry Family – one month after evacuating their home

Two months later, that dream died and our most challenging chapter began.

To be continued in a future post.

Make sure you are subscribed so you don’t miss the next installment – Could MOLD Be the Cause of Your Healthy Problems?  - Part 2.

Would you like to read our family’s story in full? See Timeline of Events

Interested in learning more about toxic mold? See A Beginner’s Guide to Toxic Mold

{From Adrienne, you can also get more information on Toxic Mold in this book.  The links are affiliate links and if you click on them and make a purchase, I might make a commission. Your support is very much appreciated and helps keep this free resource up and running.}

Toxic Mold

Do You Suspect Mold Could Be the Cause of YOUR Health Problems or
Have You Had an Exposure to Mold that Affected Your Health?

Andrea Fabry - A woman dedicated to detoxifying her family for health's sake.Andrea is a former journalist and the mother of nine children ranging in age from 28 to 12. Following a toxic mold exposure, Andrea and her family discovered the wonders of natural living. Andrea is the founder and president of momsAWARE, an educational organization designed to empower others to live healthy in a toxic world. You can follow her family’s journey at It Takes Time. She is also the owner of Just SoNatural Products.

Shared at Real Food Forager, 3 Boys and a DogKelly the Kitchen KopGluten-Free Homemaker, The Nourishing Gourmet, The Prairie HomesteadFood Renegade, and We Are that Family.
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  1. Erin Calvo says:

    I was living in an apartment that we found mold in and black stuff coming out of our air vents. I became very ill at the end of my last pregnancy with problems breathing. Nightmare doctor and ER, even ICU visits when I was without insurance, and steroids were the only thing that seemed to help. Epipens, antibiotics, nothing else worked. After about a year, we finally got insurance and I got myself to an allergist. After we lost power for a week after a hurricane, I realized that I was doing better than I had in a long time. As soon as the A/C came on with the power in the evening, I was in the ER again the next day. Our landlords didn’t do anything, despite several calls, and my newborn baby ended up in the hospital once with a respiratory infection. Once I went to the allergest and tested negative for any allergies, including mold allergies, they referred me to a rheumatologist, which I had seen one before in another hospital. ENTs, GIs, Rheumos, heart doctors, lung doctors and lots of testing later, we discovered that the problem was not in my lungs but rather by my epiglottis. My airway is now almost completely closed with scar tissue, and I was diagnosed without a biopsy with a very rare autoimmune disease called relapsing polychondritis. I don’t have the normal symptoms, though, the ears and nose. I always suspected the mold and that black substance was the issue, but could find nobody here in Louisiana to help me. I moved away and have been doing ok, but am now having issues with pseudotumor cerebri, GI problems, neurological issues, and everyone is baffled. They are questioning my diagnoses now and are trying to send me up to John Hopkins. I need to know who I can turn to in order to get some answers. I even contacted the city and made an anonymous report about the living conditions in the building, as my apartment was not the only one who had mold, and other kids were getting sick a lot as well; those who never had health issues before. Please, I’m desperate. I’ve been through chemo, steroids for two years now, and nothing is helping.

    • Wow. What an unbelievable story. I am so sorry to hear that you are suffering from that.

      Maybe Andrea has some ideas for you to get some help.

    • I’m sorry to hear this, Erin. You’re not crazy to associate these symptoms with a prior exposure. There are lots of factors at play,of course – but I assure you there is hope. There are a number of physicians around the country who deal with mold specifically. Feel free to email me directly.
      andrea@it-takes-time.com

  2. Oh my, what a story! I feel for this family. I’ve had mold issues myself and this really makes me want to dig deeper into my own home. Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. Thanks for sharing this and reminding everyone to look for solutions to their health problems in many places, including in mold around the home.

  4. This is a great article….and so important. We experienced some similar problems that were not nearly as severe(mainly ongoing respiratory issues and coughing, ongoing “viruses” that just never seemed to leave, brain fog, headaches, fatigue, etc – and realized the sickest of us were the ones at home most of the time)…. and traced the culprit to our front loader washing machine! They have odor problems and mold problems. The company’s answer is to buy deodorizers, etc, to cover the smell…. and you spend more money. We finally started adding ammonia to every load of laundry and that helped tremendously (by the way, you NEVER NEVER NEVER use ammonia and bleach together-very toxic – we have allergies to bleach so we don’t use it, so I feel safe with using ammonia)…. and we try to stay very vigilant in being careful with this machine. If you have a front loader washing machine, you could also have mold/mildew issues…. in the seal, in the bottom drain, even behind the drum. These are common problems…. the design is not great. Our health was really being affected and dealing with the mold helped greatly, but you can’t let your guard down on it – and the health problems don’t start all at once… a bit at a time – a just “not feeling well”, etc. If you call the washing machine company, they are aware of these problems, but will minimize them (or even deny them) and advise buying special tablets to clean the washer, deodorizers, and more…. if you can find repairmen who are honest and open, they will confirm and expand on your suspicions as they see these problems a lot. Realize they have to be careful as their jobs can be at risk if they are too open with you, so it is good to be respectful of the precariousness of their position. Also, there is a LOT online about the subject, so that you realize it isn’t just you… and you are not imagining things.

    • I applied to a lawsuit regarding our machine but haven’t heard back. I should contact them again. How much ammonia do you put in each load? Have you told the company you want your money back? Thanks.

      • Jo Gregory says:

        I was really saddened to read this. I live in New Zealand and was renting a house for several years that we eventually discovered had extremely high amounts of hidden mold under the anaglypta wallpaper. Both my son and I suffered dreadful depression, and he started displaying quite unusual health problems. The doctor couldn’t find any one thing wrong, and put it down to hypochondria! Some of his symptoms were chronic nausea and diarrhea (suggested lactose intollerance), bouts of uncontrollable itching and burning of his skin (suggested heat rash!), itching and burning of the anus (suggested worms and/or hemorrhoids), sudden onsets of puffiness of the face and particularly the eyes (no suggestions there!), and the list went on… After years of trying to figure out the issues and trying to heal him via natural diet, we sought the assistance of a rife clinic who was horrified at the volume of different mold species active in his system. So much so they had to seek assistance to expand their software to chart his results accurately! From here, we spend some years trying to heal him through diet and supplements, but were really flying blind since both the rife practitioner and I couldn’t understand why he was making no progress. Finally, our local health food shop directed us to a microbiologist. After sighting his bloods under the microscope, the horror became obvious. His blood work showed the condition described as what would be expected from a 77 year old male in failing health. At this point, my son was 19 years old! Further investigations revealed his system was shutting down. His main issues: leaky gut, irritable bowel, exhausted liver, yeast imbalance, pre-diabetes, histamine intolerance and a complete state of adrenal exhaustion. With her help, we stripped his diet of wheat, grains, dairy, yeast, nightshades, and all moderate to high histamine foods such as almonds, cashews, pineapple, citrus, etc. On top of this, he has a large number of various supplements to help build up his system once more. Obviously, we had to move house also!

        Sharing this is not simply to alarm, but to point out that doctors don’t always know, nor do they always have the time to dig deep enough to ask the right questions. The good news is that with the right enquiries, amazing progress results. After 9 months of his very strict diet regime, as well as avoiding chemicals as much as possible, his latest blood screens showed that he is recovering well and making amazing progress, and anticipate that within another 18 months he should be feeling like a fit and healthy young man! Sadly the whole episode lasted just over 10 years and robbed him of normal childhood activities like sports, school, social life, working, etc but there is light at the end of this tunnel! The human body is an amazing thing – strip out anything that will put unnecessary strain on it, introduce healing foods and it will start to recover.

        My advice to anyone who has that “niggling feeling” that something just isn’t right… listen to that feeling. If you don’t feel “heard”, go somewhere else. Don’t be afraid to be the nagging, overprotective parent/patient if you have to be. Be proactive. Don’t wait to be told you need a special diet – start giving your body a fighting chance – small changes can make a huge difference. If at all possible, find a microbiologist who can examine your blood on a cellular level to see what’s going on underneath it all.

        • Oh my. That sounds horrifying. It is hard for me to see things I’ve missed due to health issues. But I think the best thing to do it to remember that all things do happen for a reason. I thank you for sharing your story.