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.

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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.