I’m fifteen. I like to read, write, act, and have adventures. I’m also a daughter of the King. Of God. As I’ve recently experienced sickness for a long period of time, I’ve noticed many people around me who are also physically hurting. When we aren’t sick, we tend to take it for granted that most people are healthy, but that isn’t true. There are a lot of people who are fighting some kind of sickness. And my heart goes out to them. I know how clueless my family and I were, and we learned many things the hard way. God thankfully provided for us and guided us, but I want to share what I’ve learned through this: both the things of faith, and the practical things in dealing with Toxic Black Mold, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and Lyme. Yes, faith is a apart of it. I wanted to help people with my condition, but I couldn’t leave faith out of it. God has used this to teach me so much, and I can’t resist sharing!
You would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
My Mold Story:
A Brief Background
My family and I lived in the rainy state of Washington, in a house we were renting. Unknown to us, the house has toxic black mold in multiple places growing in the attic and walls. We had been there two years, just fine, and then…
On July 23rd, 2014 I walked out of my bedroom to the kitchen in the morning… and turned right around to go straight back to bed. Which, at that point, wasn’t a normal thing. I loved to go for long runs, spend days outdoors, and be apart of life. I quickly developed a high fever. Soon the right ride of my neck and face swelled up to the point that I could not swallow. Even saliva. We went repeatedly to the doctor, and they did a variety of tests including Mono. After a few failed tests it strep came back positive. That, and a tonsillar abscess. By this point, since I couldn’t swallow, I was extremely dehydrated as well. Bad. They immediately put my on IV steroids and antibiotics, as well as some oral ones to take for the next ten days. I immediately began to feel better. I could now swallow saliva, liquid, and food… victory!
The Response that Doesn’t Make Sense
The victory was short-lived. Within a week I began to go crazy. It was scary in a way that I can’t describe with words. Apparently this is a reaction to steroids that occasionally happens. Okay. So I stopped taking them early, and my sanity slowly began to return. Within a few days I was fine it that regard. But things were happening that shouldn’t have been. My skin was extremely sensitive to touch. Primarily, though, my stomach began to swell until I looked like I was pregnant every time I ate. And then it would go down. And then it was time for dinner, therefore after eating, it would swell back to strange proportions. And it hurt. So we went back to the doctor. “This is happening… why?” They didn’t know, even after consulting each other. They were hesitant to believe that it was happening, and they didn’t know why or how to help it. They did not say it outright, but they basically comincated, “Umm…we have no idea, go home, you’re just embarrassing us”. Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mean disrespect!
Now, before I go one, let me explain to you what we didn’t realize until later was happening. When I had the heavy IV antibiotics they wiped out everything in my system: both good and bad. The doctors told us this, and recommended some probiotics, which was good. However, before having the antibiotics, my body was in a perfect, but fragile, balance that allowed it to deal with the mold that I was exposed to in our house. When I had the antibiotics, it knocked my hands from the narrow ledge, and I couldn’t get back up again. The balance was disturbed and my body could no longer handle the mold toxins. I had fallen, and wasn’t able to reach the ledge of stability again unless something either pulled me up, or stopped pushing me down. Which was causing my bloating, among other symptoms as you will see.
We went home and tried to figure it out on our own. We decided that I had an autoimmune condition. So I began to eat to the AIP (Auto Immune Protocol) diet, taking out additional things that I recognized made my stomach hurt and bloat. It continued, but with much less intensity.
As fall rolled in, we began to close the windows that we’d left open in the beautiful Washington summer weather. Though at the time we didn’t connect the two, I began to get sicker then aswell. My joints hurt, they were loose, and stiff. I was fifteen! Not seventy-five! Most times that I stood up from sitting or laying down I was strangely dizzy, and things would go black for a few seconds. And my energy… I sure didn’t have much of it. I spent my days in bed. My family helped me with my part of the chores, with doing my hair…. school became hard, as I couldn’t write without such pain.
Again, let me explain for you what we didn’t know until later: the reason the windows being closed were an issue was because the house was no longer being aired out. The density of the mold in the air just grew. A friend suggested another doctor to us, he was a naturopathe. He began to give me supplements that helped, but again, didn’t get rid of the problem.
Brain Loss is Scary
Christmas came and somehow I managed to unwrap my presents. I missed out on all the treats, though. After Christmas break, we started school (we homeschool)… and I sobbed through the first day. Why? Why could I simply not remember anything? Why couldn’t I do school? What had happened? I couldn’t make my brain remember things I should know. I didn’t understand why I didn’t understand! What was happening to me? Oh, that was scary, when I realized I couldn’t think, couldn’t remember things I should have. Thankfully, from all her research, my mom had suspected this would happen and she reassured me. We continued with school, but we adjusted it to try to accommodate my brain fog. It got to the point though, that my brain couldn’t even focus on a book that I’d read a dozen times before.
We didn‘t realize it was the house, but the longer we stayed in it, the worse I was getting. The next thing was further loss of my brain. I suddenly couldn’t handle sounds, movement, or lights. Even the sound of something cooking in a skillet was enough to drive me crazy. My eyes also began having problems, I couldn’t read the words on a page in front of me. It was all blurry and I also began having floaters everyday.
The night before another visit to the naturopathe, my dad turned to my mom:
“Do you think it’s mold?”
God gets the credit here. Mold was totally off our radar. My dad’s, most of all. The thought came out of no where…. well, not no where, it was God! My parents did a few quick researches that evening, and it became clear that this was something we needed to investigate. At the doctor the next day, we presented our theory to him. He did a few tests there, confirmed our theory was likely, and took some blood so that we would know for sure once they came in.
Instead of going home from there, my mom dropped me off at a friend’s house. She brought me clothes and food that I could eat, and went home to begin the process of moving. We knew we couldn’t live there anymore. By the time we moved out, we’d discovered many locations in our house that were homes to mold, including coming through the wall in the closet in my bedroom where I’d spent months in bed. That was the beginning of spending five months living out of a suitcase for me. The first month of which I spent at my friend’s house. I never did go back into our house at all. When my lab results from my blood came in they confirmed it. Eleven out of the fourteen highly toxic molds that I had been tested for showed up extremely high on the tests. Later we found out that my family had even higher levels, they just weren’t showing symptoms that we were aware of at the moment. My family over that month got rid of the stuff we couldn’t keep because of the mold the invades everything: furniture, paper, books, etc. They packed up all the things left without me and a month later we were headed to the next place: Montana. We had friends who had a ministry there, and our intention was to say with them for six months to a year for while I got healthy, and then we would return to Washington. Well, there we discovered the horrors of outdoor mold, plus some rather old buildings. I lost all the health that I’d gained by being at our friends house. We could find no safe place indoors for me to stay, and I ended up living on an air mattress in the car for a long as we were still there, going inside only to shower every so often. All combined, that sent us packing again. Destination: Arizona. In Arizona we lived at a friend’s house for three months or so while we house-hunted. They had experienced similar things, having moved nine times in three years with the three little children to escape mold. The welcomed us graciously, and schooled us in lots of the things about mold, MCS, and Lyme that we didn’t, but needed to know. Monsoon season hit, however, and it becasue of some complicated details their house began to get bad mold-wise. Just as things got desperate, God provided us with the perfect house, that was built in such a way specifically for people with MCS or Mold…. Thank You, Jesus! Now that we were out of the mold, I am beginning the long process of healing. However, I am pleased to say, that I have already improved dramatically. My eyes are almost completely back to normal, with only the occasional floater. Dizziness is no longer a problem. While we were staying with our friends, we discovered that Lyme often walks hand in hand with Mold. It is quite a complicated topic, that I will have to expound upon elsewhere, but as we realized that it was an issue, we were able to begin treating it. And MCS? Well, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity we also realized around that time. The explanation is that, while my body could usually have dealt with new paint chemicals, perfumes, cologne, etc., with my body so overloaded with toxins from the mold, I just couldn’t take those anymore and began to react to those as well.
…Now, this was the condensed form of our story. There was so much more to it, but I hope that this gives you a glimpse of the seriousness of mold, and also hope that there can be healing. And that you are not alone in your experience.