Could Mold Be the Cause of Your Health Problems? One Family’s Unbelievable Story – Part 2

Could Mold Be the Cause of Health Problems .jpg

{More on mold toxicity. Last week, Andrea Fabry shared with us the beginning of her family’s story of mold poisoning from black mold. If you missed it, you need to go back and see what they went through.

Her story continues here.}

When we vacated our home in October 2008, due to an overwhelming presence of black mold, I felt certain life would return to normal. (Read our story in this previous post.)

We finally connected the dots with our deteriorating health and the decision to vacate would make everything better.

Or would it?

I failed to realize that while our external environment had changed, our internal environments had not.

Two months after vacating, I frantically searched for answers.

– Why was our 8 year old still suffering severe headaches?
– Why the continued dizziness for my 12 year old?
– Why did my memory loss seem to worsen after we left?

I was in utter despair.

I contacted a doctor in Arizona who specialized in environmental illness. Two of the kids and I traveled to Arizona for the first of many appointments. Our insurance refused to pay for the out of network expenses.

However, I saw a ray of hope as the symptoms matched perfectly with a toxic exposure. We weren’t crazy after all!

The warm desert air felt like a balm to my weary body. I began to think, what if we relocated through the winter months and tried to heal?

My kids and husband agreed, and by December 22, I was in a vacation rental with five of the kids. After a brief visit for Christmas my husband returned to Colorado to tie up loose ends.

With impaired brain function I struggled to learn the detox protocol and find my way around a new city. I was increasingly isolated from friends who couldn’t relate or understand why we were taking such drastic action.

I cried often and fought the ongoing depression. I still felt that hint of hope, having now identified the trigger for these serious symptoms, but overwhelmed by the road ahead. It was clear this was not going to be an overnight fix.

Big Life Changes

It was also evident that we were going to have to radically alter our diet.

No more McDonald’s.

No more Doritos.

How would my kids possibly adjust? They were raised in the drive-through lane. (See the perspective of one of my children in My Real Food Story.)

– Alone in a new city
– facing monumental tasks and decisions
– with severe health issues

I couldn’t see how we would possibly dig out of this hole.

But there was no turning back.

I no longer doubted our decision to vacate the home. That part was clear, as I was now able to comprehend the toll the home had taken on our bodies. My husband was completely on board, despite his initial reservations. (Read his perspective in My Wife is Crazy)

A Bump in the Road

On February 1, 2009, my husband, Chris, drove a trailer full of new mattresses and belongings from Colorado to Arizona to move into a home we agreed to rent for three months.

Together again, and united in our determination to forge ahead, we began a new chapter.

But…Within hours symptoms appeared.

Nosebleeds, breathing issues, headaches, rashes and more.

Something was clearly wrong with the home.

Most of us slept outside the second night, (though it was February) perplexed by our response to the home.

I had done my homework before moving in – researching the history of the home and performing a preliminary mold test – what could be wrong?

After a bit more probing we learned the home had been sprayed for pesticides several days before our move. It had been sprayed indoors and on the carpets.

This was my introduction to the issue of chemical sensitivity.

We could no longer tolerate chemicals. (Hyperreactivity to chemicals is common following a toxic exposure. See the American Academy of Environmental Medicine’s article Chemical Sensitivity for more information.)

Moving On

We left the home and traveled from hotel to hotel in search of safe housing. I began more and more to notice plug-ins and other artificially-scented cleaning products.

I thought back to a recent visit to a local park where several of the kids rolled in the grass. No wonder they had headaches and red eyes – they were reacting to the chemicals on the grass.

We needed a mold-free home with no chemical smells or recent pesticide treatments. Truly, we were looking for a needle in a haystack!

By February 21 we settled on a new 3 bedroom home with all tile. We now had a majority of our kids with us.

Eight of us slept in one room on air mattresses.

I was stunned how quickly life had changed. Six months prior we were living the “good life” in our luxurious 5500 square foot home.

And now — air mattresses.

Detox

Our detox began in earnest. The kids were adapting to our slow transition away from processed foods. They nebulized glutathione and took supplements.

This had to be the turning point.

Because of the protocol our symptoms escalated. We started getting nosebleeds from being around each other. A friend felt sick after walking into our house simply because of the toxins coming from our skin.

Each child had unique symptoms.

I was struggling to function.

My husband was trying to work from this tiny house and pay our massive medical bills due to the lack of insurance coverage for out of network providers.

We tried alternative therapies like energy medicine and acupuncture. The therapies helped, but continued to drain us financially.

The Next Move

In the summer of 2009 we moved to a larger rental home. We had space to breathe again.

Our oldest daughter moved in with us to try to recover from her continued health decline, and I began to study the impact of diet on health.

I noticed changes from our improved diet and I began to feel empowered that perhaps we wouldn’t be beholden to office visits, lab tests, and expensive treatments for the rest of our lives.

GAPS Diet

On August 1, 2010, all 11 of us began the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) Introduction Diet. (Read more about our family’s GAPS journey here.)

GAPS didn’t fix us but it did empower us to let go of medical intervention and move forward.

The GAPS Diet is fully covered in this book.  The link to the book is an affiliate link so if you make a purchase after clicking, a commission might be earned. Your support helps keep this free resource up and running.

Gut and Psychology Syndrome

Slowly I watched as my kids moved back into the world. Some started school. Others got jobs. Still others embraced the journey and worked hard at the detox protocol. The chemical sensitivity was improving.

I started an intense detox protocol for myself and began to function again. (see my article Healing as a Lifestyle.)

After an almost four-year long journey, four months ago our oldest daughter got married. The day represented a milestone not only for her and her husband, but for our family.

Andrea Fabry - family wedding photo - mold toxicity story

Fabry Family Wedding photo – March 2014. A fresh start on the other side of mold toxicity and detox.

Lessons Learned

As painful as it is to reflect on this season of my life, I am grateful for the lessons learned. I hope these encourage you wherever life has you right now.

1. When you’re doing everything right with diet and still fighting a health battle, always rule out the presence of hidden water damage. Toxic mold can hold a person back from recovering their health.

2. Mothers have a God-given instinct – especially when it comes to a home. Moms are nesters by nature. They sense what their family needs. Moms, trust your gut – even if it’s buried in confusion.

3. The next step is enough. When it comes to large battles it’s easy to get mired in the uncertainty and overwhelming nature of the journey. Don’t look too far ahead. Take it one step at a time. It really is enough.

4. Symptoms will instruct–if we listen. Our current medical system tends to focus on suppression of symptoms without considering the cause. What is your body telling you? It could be a food sensitivity, hidden allergy, or environmental issue.

Don’t be afraid to ask why.

5. Sometimes relinquishment (doing nothing) is good medicine. We can work hard, try new things, and ask hard questions. We can take drastic action. We can seek justice and we can try to convince others. But there comes a point when the best thing is to let go. Wisdom is knowing when that time comes.

Andrea Fabry - her family's story of dealing with mold toxicity.

Andrea – looking to the future.
Loneliness is part of this new journey – but so is richness and hope.

Our lives have become “normal” again, but not the normal I once imagined. It’s a new normal –

filled with richness and hope.

 

Have you had an experience with mold or another toxicity issue?

What changes have you had to make / what’s YOUR new normal?  Please share any lessons learned to help others.

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.

These comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whole New Mom.

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  1. I definitely believe in the power of detox (some of my story is here: http://www.familyhomehealth.blogspot.com/2014/06/food-as-medicine-for-incurable.html). I think you have alot of knowledge about detox, and I want to learn even more! I went to your site and read your detoxing routine. How much improvement did you see with that routine? Did certain things cause certain symptoms to lessen or disappear? How did you know you were on the right track?

    • Going on GAPS probably caused the most die-off. My first acupuncture treatments also caused die-off for me. Coffee enemas gave immediate relief. Overall, I relied on my instincts to guide me. I learned not to push and feel free to back things up if I felt it was too much. Over all I had a strong sense that moving forward did not necessarily mean immediate results. I continue to tweak my protocol as I listen to my body’s needs. One thing that I know without a doubt having 11 of us in the family – each one is unique. There is no one treatment or regimen that worked for all.

  2. My family moved to the Big Island of Hawaii in ’97, and didn’t realize what an impact it would have on my highly asthmatic mother. After five years, my parents packed up their things, and moved back to the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. She was tested for many many ailments/diseases like COPD, and Tuberculosis. None of which were positive. Finally finding the right doctor (a DO) , made all the difference in the World! Turns out she had spores growing in her lungs, and has been on antibiotics for over a year now (which has helped a lot!)! Its scary, how many times she has gotten sick over the past few years! Bronchitis, pneumonia, etc. I feel for your family! What a scary situation that must have been for You, for SO Many Years!!

  3. Somewhat similarly, I had a host of symptoms that slowly got worse over a six year period. Right before we caught the cause, I had bacterial bronchitis for the 15th or 16th time, I couldn’t breathe well enough to walk across a room, I was lethargic and unwilling to eat, and I abruptly developed a full body itching rash, head to toe, in my hair, on the palms of my hands and soles of my feet, in my mouth and on my eyelids.

    The rash caught the attention of a pediatrician who was filling in at Urgent Care when we came in making the next desperate plea for help. She treated the symptoms and bronchitis, but she sent me to an allergist.

    Undiagnosed wheat allergy. It had been slowly killing me for years. At my sickest I could no longer work and was living on my friend’s couch. Drowning in the swelling and inflammation and bronchitis in my lungs.

    It took well over two years to (mostly) recover, and I’m wheat free now. The occasional slip up is fine in small amounts… my allergy is NOT anaphylectic (sp?), although I do carry an epi pen. Just in case.

    My point being, KEEP TRYING to find the cause. My trips to urgent care (because I had no insurance and no primary care doctor) treated the bronchitis symptoms, but they didn’t find the cause. It took the right person at the right time… a pediatric doctor who was used to seeing food allergies in children.

  4. I lived in an apartment, before the we knew that mold was a problem. We had just had our first nasty storm, in this apartment. The closet in the master bedroom started smelling really bad. I walked in there, and was just about overcome, it was so strong. It was also wet. I then took all the clothes out, and started working on the closet. I sprayed a mix of bleach and water. Then turned on a fan. This was before I knew of natural things. I started having many more allergies, weird sicknesses and problems. We moved, and the problems started getting better. I am still not completely better, years later.

  5. Hi, so glad you are finally all on the mend. This happened to my friends in the past two years. Their house was infected with toxic mood after a water pipe from their hot water cylinder was broken in the big earthquake we had in 2011. No-one picked it up until they were all sick. They had to drop everything and move out. Everything they owned that wasn’t metal or glass was dumped. They are a home schooling family so all their books went too. On top of all the health issues, they had to battle our earthquake commission and insurance company to cover their costs. Now finally after two years of homelessness, living in tiny flats, Church buildings, and a caravan they have a nice new clean, dry home and they are healing on an all natural diet. All the best for your continued health improvements, Jill.

  6. Omg this article was such an eye opener for me! I have been having problems with severe memory loss and brain fog for the past couple years and no Drs will take me seriously because I’m only 33 (to young i guess) , last year i paid to have an expensive blood sampled food allergy test done, which showed I am allergic to over twenty foods (all are delayed reaction allergies), I’m tired all the time, and frequently sick. My ten year old son has had Mono and pneumonia, constant ear infections and colds/ allergies. About five years ago we rented a home which had a lot of black mold in the basement, we then moved and the new house also had it, now we are living in another home that is 100 years old and i suspect also has black mold in the basement. I cannot believe I never knew about the dangers of this stuff! I have got to get out of here! I’m going to be bringing this up to my Dr. right away. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  7. PLEASE PLEASE HELP ME !!!!
    I’m a mother and MY SON is not getting better – neck and joint pain, migraines, pimple-boils, HLA B27 activated, small amount of Candida D., Lyme Borellia chain 39 /41 -SAME AS ME , LYME DISEASE CANDIDA D. stool culture, m. Pneumonia, Enterbacter -sputum, hla gene activated. And C4 C25 sky high along with everything you need to diagnose yourself from toxic mold. (And a positive aspergellius penicillium mold test in water damage house) CADMIUM TOXICITY AS WELL !!! We set metal and smoke detectors off. I’m afraid of driving the days my head is spinning and my body is “floating” can’t think, don’t think just react, exhausted, swollen, neck has a ripping sound, MY hands our SO swollen EVERY SINGLE DAY, few of my fingers are now crooked and THE TWO DOG’S WE BOTTLE FED ARE SICK TO. Other things I WON’T scare you with , and now findings BLACK ?? SHAVINGS IN THE TUB WHEN I GET OUT. I HAVE TRIED TO FIND A DOCTOR NO LUCK – it killed our pet rat, and my house the water now smells like metal. Were ALL tasting SOMETHING NASTY ALL THE TIME. PLEASE HELP ME BEFORE IT KILLS ANYONE ELSE IN MY FAMILY!!, I’M PLEADING BEGGING FOR SOMEONE’S HELP. If things don’t get better soon afraid of giving up. PLEASE

  8. O yeah were also allergic to dust mite and dust NOW

  9. Thank you for this blog.

    What can you suggest for recovery in memory. From my Mold exposure it feels like it cut off part my personality.

    I feel guilty everyday day cause my child’s personality changed she went from having a photographic memory to sporatically being attentative.

    I’ve come to accept things won’t be 100%. But I need to take a step.

  10. Hello,
    My husband and I are looking to purchase a home and start a family, and mold is a scary factor for us! I worked at place that had mold in the building and it made me very sick. We made an offer on a lovely home, it had just rained a lot that week and I noticed NO smell or wetness anywhere. However, the original HVAC unit from 1989 is still in the home and the inspection revealed that it is riddled with mold. We think this is because it is located in the basement along with the laundry hookups and little ventilation and has not been cleaned or replaced in 27 years. The house has all new carpet and paint and a new roof and water heater, there are no signs anywhere that they were problematic other than age. Would you feel comfortable purchasing this home if we had the HVAC unit replaced, put extra ventilation in the basement, and had a mold test done in the home???? We don’t know how common moldy HVAC units are, how easily it is dealt with, or how serious it is. Any advice you can offer would be welcome.
    Thank you

    • Yes, I just did that. Have it removed and replaced and have the ducts cleaned out using negative air return. Our whole unit wasn’t the problem, but it was the humidifier. If the follow up mold tests come back clean I would be comfortable. I hope it works for you!!! Please let me know!

  11. Andrea, thank you so much for your story and site. I have a question. Are you or any of your family able to eat semi-“regular” food now? I’m not talking about eating McDonald’s and potato chips all day. But do you everyonce in a while have an ice cream or donut?

    After 8 months in a moldy home I’ve been doing GAPS for about two months now and am improving, besides lots of detox reactions . But I wonder later on, if I eat some toast or go out for a drink if it will mess everything up.

    What’s been your experience?

    • Hi there. You are welcome.

      We didn’t really veer off of our plan, but I had to get a tighter diet due to autoimmune issues. We pretty much don’t eat that food. We have some samples at Costco sometimes but I found I was even overdoing that and had a flare of candida.

      I guess I figure it isn’t good for my anyway so I don’t plan on doing it.

      • Thank you so much for your quick reply. I agree, it’s not for you anyways. I am also having what I believe are autoimmune issues, but have not been able to find a doc or anyone to help me through it. Was some one able to help you? How were you able to know that’s what was going on?

        I am hoping to eventually have quinoa or other wheat free options added to my meat and veggie only diet. Are you able to do that?

        • Yes, I eat some but not much. I need to watch it. I worked with 2 practitioners and now am seeing a homeopath. This one first: http://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/thyroid-disease-hypothyroid-what-causes-hypothyroidism/

          https://meghanbirt.com/

          and if homeopathy interest you I can share that as well. Please do tell them I referred you if you contact them. oh, Meghan is great but will be on maternity leave.

          • I’d love to know your homeopath. I currently live in Ecuador, where the mold house was, but am coming home to the States to hopefully figure some things out.

            It’s hard to decide where to live. Ecuador where healthcare and healthy eating are cheaper, or the states where family is and docs who speak the same language and know American diseases are but much more pricey to eat and live healthy.

            I am very honored to speak with you. I am dealing with mold effects, rashes, itchy skin, depression, whacked out emotions, swollen glands, seizures, dizziness, muscle cramps, and so much more. But that’s just me. I have no clue how you went through all that plus your family on top of it. You are a strong woman!

          • I just emailed you. Sorry for the delay. I completely understand your dilemma. I wish there were a perfect country…..ours used to be better. Blessings and hope you feel better. I am not always strong….it’s hard :).

  12. Last year towards the summer my Grandmother (my dead fathers side), moved out of her trailer to live with my aunt due to health problems. She offered it rent to own-didn’t give use a contract- and my mother jumped on it.Early September to Novemberish we had no choice to move out. The roof mind as well be a colander, their was an infestation of cockroaches (Including in our beds and furniture) and black mold. The main reason we were so eager to move we didn’t ask about a contract was because theblast place had issues with water leaking and mold (an inch of water in a bathroom with the turned off (and had been off for at least six months)Our tap water was orange on good days, on others it was black sludge). My grandmother knew I was having health issues, knew what condition our current residence was in and knew that hers was worse.

    Over three months out of that property and I am in danger of not only failing to graduate but in danger of expulsion for being out sick so much (keep in mind this is after failing a grade entirely and then not only repeateing it but catching up).

    I have the following symptoms:
    Ulcers (including one thats apparently the same kind as the one that killed my granpa ( if Bad Gmas to be believed).Treated twice for Hpilory virus.No longer have it)

    Diahrea that is chronic and random (It might be every ten minutes one day, once the next, and seven times the next)

    Nausea

    Asthma like symptoms ( The doctor I was seeing while uninsured had to prescribe a percription for both breathing treatments and a breathing machine)

    Panic attacks

    Confusion

    Depression

    Anger Issues

    And (at one point) I forgot how to read (note that it was attributabed to an allergic reaction to the meds I was on.Given that we ruled it down to one, that was recently prescribed(With no allergic reaction), The allergic reaction has probably been ruled out.

    Strep throat every couple months ( I was tested last week to see if I carried it).

    Ill ask if mold could of caused it at the docs next time I go because I need to get these problems fixed so I can actually understand the school work. (Ps.On phone, its late but I cant sleep, and I don’t have the energy to edit. )

  13. Emilie Chiozza says:

    Hi Andrea! We just found out that my husband tested positive for all three types of mold toxicity. I have a question…When you left your house, did you leave all clothes behind as well? we are probably going to have to make that tough decision soon and have been reading other people’s stories. Glad your family is doing better.

  14. danielle says:

    Hello my family and I are getting very ill in a moldy house and no one believes us! doctors say old can’t hurt you
    and people think we are nuts. My husband is having it worst because he grew up in a moldy house and he is having a very hard time… please email us if you could we need help

    • Hello- I am so sorry. I would see if things on Andrea’s site can be of help. My current practitioner is on maternity leave. I could put you in touch w/ my homeopath if you would like. Also there are some good mold Facebook groups that can offer insight.

      Please take care. Most in the groups would say to get out if you have mold. Please seek medical care.

  15. I just read this article & am afraid for my parents. They live in a house with mold. They discovered mold behind some wood paneling in the family room after the chimney had a leak. After opening the paneling it showed mold that was black. My husband & I refused to let our kids over there until it is properly cleaned. They had several companies out & no one tested it. I’m not sure all of them were qualified to deal with mold. Most of who came out said it wasn’t black mold. They went with a handyman who did not tent the area but sprayed it with something & replaced the insulation then closed it back up. I’m nervous bc I’m not sure it was handled properly & was never tested. My parents are in poor health & think I’m a kook for not coming over. They think I’m ridiculous to suggest mold could be causing at least some of their problems. I told them I would not bring my kids over until there’s an air quality test. Are the test kits you get at the hardware store sufficient? This is really dividing our family & I am being seen as the bad guy for not being ok with this. I realize this post is a couple months old but any resources for air quality testing or other resources are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • This sounds bad. Of course, just b/c the mold looks black doesn’t mean it’s stachybotrys. I would check out Andrea’s site and get one of the tests she has there. http://www.momsaware.org/mold-testing.html I know how it feels. We’ve been ridiculed for our food allergies and other things……like how we avoid medication. It’s very tough but you are doing the right thing. Bless you.

      • Thank you for taking the time to reply!!! I bookmarked the link & if I can get my dad to allow me to test his house I’m ordering the kit mentioned.
        I feel like the black sheep of the family at times but also know I am an advocate for my children. I am their protector & only voice right now.
        Thank you so much!!!

        • I so hope it works out for you. You are right – it’s a big juggling act. You are called to care for your kids. bless you and feel free to come back.

  16. Ellen J. says:

    Thank you for this forum and research. It is research to me. I have always been passionate about the right way of life and natural health since having my first asthma attack at age 13 while playing with my dog in the backyard one day during a bad air quality day in west Los Angeles. My family had a genetic predisposition to asthma but only I seemed to inherit it in my immediate family of four siblings. When I turned 18 I moved north to NW California and my asthma slowly went away.
    However mold in Humboldt County, the 2nd wettest coastal area in the country, was an exposure that became extreme. I moved from back and forth from northern to southern California, wet to dry climates, between 1997 and 2012, but 2009 to 2012 I was blasted with black mold in a 130 year old house and also from dirty well water. My roommate and I had a weak immune system from the mold and fell sick to something in the water during the large rush of rains over the cow pasture during the rainy season in 2009.. We were deathly ill for 3 days, had caught something I believe, and within the following 2-3 years our teeth rotted out. We were in our early thirties. I had major dental work and two molars pulled out before he was told all his upper front teeth were rotten and needed pulling. I moved out of the house after he did, after three full years of exposure and within three weeks was in an apartment in Placer County with a black mold problem from a long history of bad plumbing. My landlord proceeded to have my doors assaulted with pesticides more than others because he saw me washing down my stoop with water a day after a spraying. The mold destroyed my health and pesticides, etc were impossible to deal with. I had anxiety, depression, another case of skin lesions that permanently scarred my face, neck, shoulders and arms, as well as numbness and falling asleep of limbs, more dental problems, digestive problems, food intolerance galore, memory loss, confusion and nervousness… and probably more!!. Luckily I didn’t get sent to the nut house for refusing bad diagnoses and medication that would make my health worse.
    I decided I had to become an expert, I was my only hope.
    In June 2013 after 5 months in the moldy apartment building, I moved to my present duplex. I suffered during the summer with another bought with skin lesions to add to my health problems, which made me look like a freak. The heat and weak immunity made me and my dogs sick with what felt like pneumonia, but colloidal silver and Himalayan rock salt lamps saved us, among numerous other natural food and remedies, until we got final and major relief in September 2014 from consuming food grade diatomaceous earth. Nothing has helped more than that, nothing. I started on 1/8 tsp. the first day in water., 1/4 tsp the 2nd day, 1/2 tsp the third day and then I woke with roughness inside my cheeks. It was dead blood. There had been something living in my cheeks causing the facial lesions and the dental problems. I became constipated and had to stop the D.E. until it improved a few days later and then I started the D.E. again. It helped me detox various other parasites and quickly allowed me to feel normal and healthy again over the last 1.5 to 2 years.
    I brush my teeth with it, feed it to my dogs, sprinkle it on them when they have fleas to kill, wash my face with it- and my fiance who I met August 12, 2014 has done the same almost as long as I have. He swears by it too.
    So that’s my story. I am only sharing this story because I hope others will try food grade diatomaceous earth. It saved my life. Happy healing to you all.

    • Oh my. I can’t believe all of this. Really?

      I have heard of people using diatomaceous earth, but haven’t used it myself. May I ask what other benefits you have seen? You say you wash your face with it and brush….how about your fiance? Thanks for sharing! So you know what is doing the helping?

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