This is part 3 of 7 in series “Background: Getting to More About our Adventure.” You can find the rest of the series here.
It took me forever to figure out mold was what was wrecking my life. When my family moved out to the country the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade, I had no idea what was in store for my health. The house had been repossessed by the bank and no one turned the water off so the pipes froze and burst, flooding the basement. Of course the bank wasn’t interested in doing a bunch of mold remediation, so it was never properly fixed. I was chronically ill, had debilitating allergies, was always tired, and healed very slowly. Because I didn’t feel well, I stayed inside more, which was the worst thing I could have done. I remember in high school feeling like I was watching my life instead being in it while walking down the hall at school. I also rightfully earned the name klutz because I was so uncoordinated. Little did I know that mold was at the root of all of these issues.
During our last term in chiropractic college, we could do an internship. I chose Dr. Noel Taylor to do my internship with in Columbus, IN. A couple he knew graciously offered to let me live in a finished Morton building on their property that they had lived in while they were building their house. They kept it as a ministry where they helped people out when they needed a place to stay and show the love of Christ in a tangible way. I remember the day Noel asked me if I had fibromyalgia, to which I replied no because I didn’t believe it was real, just something they label you with when they don’t know what’s wrong. I spent a lot of time outside the apartment between work and training a pony sized blood hound. I must have had a sense that there was mold because Noel brought me a ozone generator to help the apartment. That made it better for me so I stayed because everything else I was finding was similarly moldy in that area. I do remember feeling better when I came back to my parent’s house after living in Brown County, IN.
I moved to Williamsburg, IA to start my practice and unknowingly bought a building that my body didn’t do well with. My health took a major downturn, and within a few years, I’d run tests and diagnosed myself with Hashimoto’s. I learned functional medicine thinking this was the primary issue- an autoimmune disease. I realized that mold was one of my triggers while reading the book Mold Warriors. Talk about one of those did someone just put my life story in a book moments!?! I knew I was dealing with mold and because I could stay functional doing my functional medicine protocols, avoiding being inside, taking my thyroid medicine and LDN, I continued on until I pushed too hard in 2015. I talked with the manager at Sundown Mountain about joining ski patrol and was skiing 2 days/week to evaluate if my body could handle the activity and travel. Because I was skiing with patrol, I was spending quite a bit of time in the patrol room. Based on the appearance of the ceiling, I guessed it was full of mold, which was confirmed by a friend when they remodeled it. That may have been the real reason I crashed so hard, not the travelling (although travelling has a notorious way of crashing my body). That ski season ended with me falling off the energy cliff and being stuck, broken at the bottom unable to get up. I dropped my chiropractic license to part time because I couldn’t function more than that anymore.
This is when I tested for Lyme and got indeterminate as my answer. I took it as a positive, and stated treating it. I primarily used sauna, biofeedback, and herbal tinctures. I got quite a bit better, and in fall of 2017, I did a nearly complete gut job on my office to remove areas of past water damage even though the mold remediation company’s test showed that the air was pristine. I was better in the space for a short time, but like most people, once a building makes them sick, it’s rare they do well in it even after remediation. I decided to leave Williamburg, move my practice to Coralville, and join Seva Center for Healing Arts.
Once I moved to the Coralville area, I started looking for a place to buy. I had some of the most horrible mold reactions looking at real estate. I remember coming home one day and announcing that I thought I was dying after looking at some properties. It was so bad, I even called the listing realtor to tell them that that condo had severe mold issues, but because it wasn’t visible, I wasn’t taken seriously and some poor person is probably dealing with their health destructing because of some unknown reason. I moved into a new apartment building, got a sauna at home after my gym (where I was using the sauna) went bad for me, and I learned a new mold symptom- my tongue going numb and my body going numb in waves.
I remember asking my community group to pray for me to figure out where I was being exposed to mold. I could tell I was getting molded, but couldn’t figure out where until I saw the puddle in the window at work one day. The top of the window was leaking and the water was running down the windows into the wall cavity. Mold remediation didn’t fix it good enough for me to be healthy again, although the BetterAir 1000 probiotic diffuser did help enough that I thought I could finish my lease as long as I stayed out of the remediated rooms. When the dishwasher leaked in our apartment and I was dealing with mold at home and at the office, life became unbearable again. We moved apartments and that helped. COVID made time for us to deal with this transition, and we got back to a functional place. Fast forward a few months and we went to Montana and Idaho for vacation and I learned a huge thing- there are bad places outdoors (aka Location Effect). I’d heard of this, but hadn’t grasped it until going to Yellowstone. I was weak and lethargic, and when I look back, there are many times that happened in Iowa as well, but I’d assumed it was because of mold exposure earlier in the day. We came home after vacation and I was back to how I was at my worst in Williamsburg- sleeping 14 hours of a day to drag myself through the day to go back to bed with low level brain function the hours I was awake. I also had severe joint pain that made walking hard and my wrists became hypermobile again, which isn’t a great thing as a chiropractor. Wesley can’t focus his eyes outdoors here and neither of us are doing well mentally/emotionally anymore. So is mold in buildings a problem here? Yes! Can you have good buildings when the outdoor air is super toxic? I have given up on that possibility, so westward we go to find an area that doesn’t have horrible outdoor supertoxins. I’ve never looked forward to a tent and air mattress so much. There’s much to figure out, but huge advances in health on the horizon.
If you haven’t read it already, you can read Wesley’s story in the previous post.