Let me take you back, 2.5 years ago, when all this first started happening. In August 2013, we were living in a rental and the owner sold the home from under us and told us we had 45 days to move. We found another rental, and while it wasn’t exactly what we wanted, we really had no choice. At the same time, I moved my business to a new location and planned one of our biggest events, our Love Your Body Event. This all happened within 3 months of each other.
By November, I was feeling really sick. Bad cold, upper respiratory issues, sinus problems and I looked awful! I was also not sleeping. Averaging 3-4 hrs per night, 5 on a good night! My hormones were a mess as well.
I decided to see an acupuncturist (who I actually MET for the first time at our LYB event). She started working on my sleep issues right away and then we did some testing. Hormones, adrenals and neurotransmitters (GABA, Serotonin, Dopamine, etc) were off. So we kept up with the acupuncture along with some supplements. My sleep started to improve some and I started to feel a little bit better. Still didn’t have the energy I wanted or the “nice, easy” cycles that I heard other women talk about. I was also starting to gain weight, even though I was eating as healthy as I had in my life and was working out diligently. 8 Months later we re did the tests and they were improving but not much. I was sleeping better and feeling somewhat better, but still not where I wanted to be. I know for sure that if I was not seeing Stacey Donaldson for acupuncture, I would be a whole lot more sick that I am. Thank goodness for her!!
This past summer, my chiropractor and friend, told me that she had mold issues in her building and was telling me all about these health issues she was dealing with. The sounded so familiar! I ordered some mold testing kits from MoldCheck.com to test our home and my business. The business came up with normal levels of mold and the home was very high. That is when I started doing more research, learning more about what it can do to your body and health. Here are two very good resources of information to learn more: www.survivingmold.com/ and www.survivingtoxicmold.com/
Through this reading, I learned that I was having other symptoms that I really wasn’t realizing. Itchy scalp and skin, brain fog, forget-fullness, even of the simplest every day words! I was breaking out in hives randomly. Red, itchy bumps on my skin, achy muscles and joints, burning eyes. I had developed so many food and product sensitivities, I was running out of things I could eat and use on my skin without having some type of reaction. I also came to realize that all of these things get worse in the winter, when the house is closed up and moving all the mold spores throughout the home. I don’t get outside as much either, which made me feel worse.
At this point I was convinced that the mold is what was causing my issues. To rule other things out, I also went in to get tested for allergies, did it twice, and both times came up negative. I also did some genetic testing that showing that I had a predisposition to mold.
That is when I bit the bullet and made and appointment with a Dr Dorninger in Boulder, someone a friend referred me to, as she was also dealing with mold issues. I had about 30+ vials of blood drawn, took urine and stool samples at home and had them mailed in for testing.
6 weeks later, I met with the Dr Dorninger again to go over my test results. The stack of labs was about an inch thick and it took him 2 hours to over all the results. I made my husband come with me so that he could hear the results and hopefully start to believe everything I already knew to be true.
He diagnosed me with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.
Let start with some basic ideas: this illness is not an allergy. It is an inflammation within the body which is caused by an immune system that has gone haywire. The term “mold illness” is a subcategory of biotoxin illness called Chronic Inflammatory ResponseSyndrome (CIRS). The proper definition of CIRS is:
“An acute and chronic, systemic inflammatory response syndrome acquired following exposure to the interior environment of a water-damaged building with resident toxigenic organisms, including, but not limited to fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes and mycobacteria as well as inflammagens such as endotoxins, beta glucans, hemolysins, proteinases, mannans and possibly spirocyclic drimanes; as well as volatile organic compounds.
What Happens in the Body?
Many patients “don’t look that bad.” But those people are struggling with an illness that causes them to lose their quality of life. These patients don’t know that they have a genetic susceptibility to develop this illness based on their immune response genes (HLA–DR). They don’t know that the inflammation that makes them ill comes from within: it is due to an assault by their own unregulated innate immune system responses. Because of exposure to the interior environment of a water-damaged building (WDB), these patients will have a series of abnormalities in innate immune responses that will not self heal; will not abate in severity [actually increase!] and will continue to cause illness from blood- and tissue- based inflammation as well as alteration of the regulation of fundamental genomic activity. At the core of why one person becomes ill from this exposure and another doesn’t is their gene susceptibility (or predisposition) – what is built into their DNA.
The genetics are clear: occurrence of specific HLA types are found in about 25% of the population. It is in these people that we find the sickened ones almost always (nothing is 100% in biology). In these people, the antigens stay in the body, and our own defenses bombard our body in response to those antigens. What you now have is a person who is defenseless against new exposures and is suffering daily from inflammation.
It is a vicious cycle – the foreign antigens (substances) stay in the body, causing the immune system to constantly fight back. This causes so much inflammation in the body that it leads to chronic illness, and the occurrence of many symptoms. Our entire being suffers from friendly fire from our own innate immune system.
He said I was not in peri-menopause as I had originally thought, but that the toxins in my body were causing all of my systems to go crazy. A lot of things were off, and some vitamin levels were low, but we could supplement for those. It was the mold that we really had to get rid of with something called Cholestyramine. He said that almost 50% of the homes in Colorado have some form of mold in them. Who would have thought??
Hearing all of the things he had to say was very overwhelming. It was also very emotional. First, hearing that I was not crazy for all the “issues” I had was so great to hear, almost like a sigh of relief. Being able to tell people that there was something wrong with me was empowering in away, but also sad. I really didn’t want to be “right” that I was sick. Plus to try and explain it is hard. A lot of people don’t understand how dangerous mold can be.
I go from being sad that I have to go through this, to mad at the owner of this home for not believing us or taking care of the mold problems the way they should have been taken care of. Then I feel sick to my stomach thinking that I work so hard to be healthy in all areas of my life and then I find out I am sick from living in this house. It’s been a real roller coaster this past week.
If that is all not enough, we have to move. Obviously this house is making me sick and I won’t get better living here. We also learned that because of the mold spores in the home, we will need to leave most of our possessions by getting rid of them or throwing them out. Pretty heartbreaking. Even though they are just things, it’s still hard.
If this whole “adventure” has taught me anything, it’s to listen to your body. If you are not getting the answers that you want about issues you are having, keep looking. You don’t HAVE to be sick!! You don’t HAVE to feel awful! You just need to find the right person to help you get the answers you need!
I am so ready to move on, start taking the medicine to help clear all the toxins out of my body and be healthy again! Fresh start for all of us! Here is to the healthiest 2016 ever!! (Still might make my goal of being in the best shape of my life by 45!!) 😉