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The Day We Lost Everything (Part 2)

admin September 1, 2014

 lost everything (part 2)

If you haven’t read part 1 yet, hop over and do that now, so that this one makes sense.  The Day We Lost Everything (part 2) is the second part in a multi-part series.

It’s been almost a week since we left our home now (as of this writing).  It’s a bit surreal still, especially because I’m actually sitting outside the house now.

We left our kids with my parents (they aren’t allowed in the house at all) and came today so that my husband could go into work for awhile, and I could be here for some cleaning and professional assessment.  Our “mold guys” are coming today to test the house and see exactly what we’re dealing with.

When we arrived, I had to run inside to grab some stuff quickly.  I wore a respirator so that I wouldn’t breathe in the junk.  When I opened the house and walked in, even with the respirator on, I could smell it.  It smells so very strange.  It isn’t stale air, it isn’t trash, it isn’t even just musty (although it is musty).  It’s…just extremely odd.

And I think, we lived in that for months.  And we didn’t know.

The Pieces of a Puzzle

Looking back now, all the pieces seem to fall into place.  But let me tell you, it was incredibly frustrating and depressing to watch it all happen when I had no idea why.  Several of you have asked me what our symptoms were, how I figured it out — what happened to us, basically.  I’m going to describe all that to you today.

Truthfully, something has always been off about this house.  I was never sick when I lived with my parents — even eating SAD — and I started to get sick as soon as I came here.  A bad stomach virus hit me in May 2006 for the first time in 13 years (on the day that the new carpet was installed and filled house with nasty chemicals — no coincidence there) and have continued to get them 1 – 2x annually since then.  I knew that wasn’t right!

We went through periods of improvement, where no one would be sick for months at a time.  Usually in the summer or fall, when we could open the windows.  I always slept better with the windows open and fans blowing the outside air in.  I know (now) that we had a major indoor air quality issue long before the mold got started.  Indoor air quality is huge, you guys.  We’ll talk more about that later though.

But this stuff.  This definitely-mold-related stuff.  Let’s get back to that.

It was mid-February when it really started (to be noticeable).  Prior to that, there were more subtle signs that I now know were likely related.  For example, I struggled a lot with anxiety and weight gain after my youngest was born.  I could not seem to get my hormones re-balanced (which I have now heard is possibly related to mold exposure — some kinds of mold can mess with your hormone receptors, especially progesterone, which is what I suspect was off).

January

At the beginning of January, my anxiety got bad.  Like, I felt like I could barely breathe or move sometimes, like I was paralyzed by the feelings.  I could make myself function, but it wasn’t easy.  I thought it was just my postpartum hormones trying to get ‘normal’ again but now, I think that seems wrong.  I had been better nourished during my fourth pregnancy and postpartum than ever before, and I was having a harder time.  

I was at my highest weight and unable to lose it.  You can read my whole postpartum journey here.  But, the anxiety was so crushing at times that I developed this tea to help (which took the edge off — I still have not found the mechanism that makes it work).  The really odd part about it all was that unlike in previous postpartum times, it wasn’t all cyclical and predictable.  After my third baby, I would feel tired and nauseous a bit around ovulation (or when my body was trying to), but that was predictable.  It was clearly related to hormones and sorted itself out after a few months.  But this?  Sometimes the worst anxiety would be around my period, sometimes mid-month, sometimes at totally random times.  I kept looking for a pattern, and there was none.

My acne also flared badly for the first time in years, and for the first time, became a problem along my cheekbones.  Previously it had been minimal and only around my chin, and clearly hormonal.

(Well, there was a pattern to all this — but it wasn’t hormones.  And I only found the pattern this past week.)

February

The anxiety continued.  The kids were lower in energy but it had happened so slowly that I hadn’t really realized.  And they hadn’t rebounded after the brief stomach virus in December (which my daughter and I “had” but only kind of).  That is what I had seen in previous years — some lower energy, a brief illness, and bouncing back.  But they just hadn’t.  

I was absolutely exhausted most of the time and had no energy, and slept a lot.  I started sleeping in while my children played in their rooms in the morning and I rarely woke up rested.  I could not figure out why.  I assumed it was because I’d been getting up at night with babies for more than 6 years, but…why then?  My 5-year-old slept much worse as an infant than my 1-year-old does and I was never this tired then.  I thought it had caught up to me, but that just makes no sense, that it would “suddenly” bother me….

Mid-month we got hit with a bad cold, the first in more than 6 months.  It lingered for a couple of weeks, and I remember it surprised me.  A stomach virus was going around, and I prayed it wouldn’t get us.

But it did.

March

The norovirus (see our experience here) hit on the last day of February, starting with my now 5-year-old.  It took about 10 days to run through the whole house, with the littlest one getting it twice (a week apart).  After that, I never felt like my gut actually recovered.  I could feel pain in the upper part of my intestines often.

My husband began to experience muscle soreness a lot, especially in his legs, but also in arms, neck, back.  His supplements, detox baths, and going to the gym 4 – 5 days a week were not helping.  He tried specific stretches and exercises for six months and his arms and legs didn’t get any less painful nor any stronger, so he stopped lifting and stretching and just did cardio.  He also had yeast rashes on his foot and legs that would not go away — we tried clay, tea tree oil, coconut oil, etc. and they would get a little better, but never really stopped.  He also felt depressed most of the time and didn’t sleep well.

I hoped that we would heal, after the stomach virus — that it had “cleared us out” and we would finally get better.  But we didn’t.  My extreme exhaustion continued.

April – May

In these two months, I got every respiratory infection known to man.  I constantly had a sore throat, junk draining, coughing, stuffiness, fevers.  I realized that I had a chronic sinus infection, because even when I wasn’t “sick” I was still congested.  I had what I think was mumps (it was going around in my area), and very often had swollen glands.  It felt like I was sick every other week.  I started to get very depressed because I could not figure out why this kept happening, even though I was doing more “right” than I had in a long time!

My husband’s depression, yeast rashes, and muscle soreness continued.

The kids would get sick every few weeks, too.  Not usually all of them (so each was maybe getting sick every couple months), but someone would.  There were vomiting episodes from three of them, fevers in two of them, and various coughs and sniffles from all of them.  It got increasingly often as the spring advanced.  The kids began to complain almost daily of minor stomachaches and headaches.  All of our appetites dropped.  I started eating only 1 – 2 meals per day because I simply didn’t feel like eating.

I began to feel seriously brain-fogged.  I felt like the future was slipping away from me and I didn’t know why.  There was nothing to be happy about most of the time.  I did have the energy or desire to cook meals or take my kids on outings.  Everything seemed hopeless.  I felt like my world was shrinking, smaller and smaller, and it made no sense.

I thought once we could get outside more, get some sun and vitamin D, it would stop.  But it didn’t.

June – July

At some point in June, absolutely exhausted and depressed by the increasing illnesses — which would not respond to our efforts to detox, eat well, exercise, get outside, take cod liver oil, or any of the usual stuff — I brought my concerns to my chiropractor.  He suggested mold in the house.

I had known there was likely mold in the basement and beneath the kitchen sink for awhile, but I hadn’t realized just how bad it actually was.  I did not know it could make us so sick.  In fact, most people still believe that mold can’t do this.  They believe that mold may cause some respiratory symptoms, but that’s it.

I shut off the a/c immediately and opened up the house.  All the windows (that work) and I put fans in the windows.  The respiratory symptoms decreased noticeably after this, and sleep became more restful, but things didn’t really get better.  We were still depressed, low energy, low appetite.  The kids continued with their occasional illnesses.  I started begging my husband to get out, but he felt at that point that we should stay and try to clean up the house and then leave.

August

We started to clean out the house.  We found a lot of mold.  In our final week or two there, it was very surreal.  I could barely think or see.  I no longer cooked.  I barely cleaned.  I had absolutely no energy, no desire.  I bought simple foods and fed the kids a lot of plain cheese, fruits, and vegetables (we were going through 4 – 5 lbs. of cheese a week).  They had massive sugar cravings and despite having fruit, cheese, and meat available to them, they would get the sugar jar out of the pantry and eat it with a spoon.  I craved sugar, and I craved vinegar.  My anxiety was all over the place.  

The boys all developed yeast rashes on their bottoms, even the ones who are potty trained.  All the clothes smelled musty.

In the final days I stopped cooking entirely and we simply ate at Chipotle or wherever we found ourselves.  I just couldn’t.  The house felt dirty to me, it felt like death.  All I could think about was leaving.  We had to get out.  I had to save my babies.

Our Actual Symptoms

As you can see, things progressed over a period of months from occasional illnesses to frequent illnesses, and increasing depression and mental confusion.  That was rough.  I’m going to break it down here, though, by simply listing the different symptoms that we each experienced, so that you can see at a glance what is possible.

  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Brain fogginess
  • Mental confusion
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression/irritability
  • Muscle aches/soreness
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Swollen glands
  • Stomachaches
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Acne
  • Yeast rashes
  • Fevers
  • Poor, non-restful sleep
  • Frequent illnesses
  • Itchiness

There may have been more that I’m now forgetting, but that’s a pretty long list as it is.  We did not experience them all simultaneously, but many at once and constantly over time.  The very hardest thing was not knowing what was happening, and feeling like I was kind of going crazy — doing everything I knew to do for health, and watching us get sicker.  It just made no sense.

Of course I know now that we were slowly being poisoned by the mold in the house.

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What’s Next

We are out now, and that’s the most important thing.  We have even seen some amazing improvements, given how short a time it’s been so far.  I am so thankful for that.  I am so happy that I have the knowledge that I do, and now that we’re not being exposed daily, we’re improving.  We’re getting healthier.  Finally.

Next week I will share with you what we are doing to recover from all of this.  I don’t expect it will be an easy road, but I know it’s worth it.  I will also share, in the coming weeks, what to do if you suspect there is toxic mold in your home — how to find it, how to test it, and how (or if) you should remediate.  For right now, just know this — do not attempt to remove the mold yourself, especially without any protective gear!  Please just don’t.  We didn’t listen and it made our situation so much worse.

We Need Your Help…and We Have Something For You

I mentioned last week that the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is coming soon.  Today I can tell you exactly when!  The sale dates are Sept. 10 – 15.  But they are capping the sales at just 30,000 bundles, so if that number is reached before Sept. 15, that’s it.

Here’s the thing: we really need your help.  Losing our home and basically all our possessions and having to move and start over isn’t cheap.  I don’t want to just ask people for money, but…well, we need money.  I am an affiliate of the Healthy Living Bundle, and I think this is the perfect win-win situation.  If you choose to buy through me, then I will earn a commission and this will really help us out.  Plus, you will get an awesome — seriously, I cannot overstate how awesome — collection of resources and free bonus items.

If you are even thinking about purchasing this bundle (I can’t tell you yet what is in it or what the bonus offers are, but I will tell you that when I saw the bonus offers I almost started dancing — I want all of them!  And they are worth almost 10x the bundle purchase price), would you please enter your email address here?  You will only get a handful of emails — right before the bundle starts, and a few while it is live.  Then that’s it.  You will not get a regular newsletter or anything.  Heck, you can unsubscribe as soon as the bundle is over (though if you don’t you’ll get notified of any future bundles).  This ensures that you don’t miss out on the bundle.

Plus, if you do choose to enter your email address, you can actually get prizes for referring friends.  And all they have to do is enter their email addresses, same deal as you.  If you refer one friend, then you get $5 off the bundle.  If you refer 5 friends, you get one of the bonus offers for free!  And if you refer 10 friends, you get the whole bundle free.  So this is actually a pretty awesome deal for you, too.

We would really, really appreciate your help with this.  And I promise you that it’s absolutely worth it to you.  This is a bundle that, if I weren’t an affiliate, I would buy.  I would buy 5 if I could redeem the bonuses that many times (we’re not supposed to do that though).  I would give it as gifts to others — heck, I might do that anyway.  I did the last time we sold a bundle.

(I so wish I could tell you the details now so that you can see what I mean.  It’s amazing.  But come back on Sept. 10 to get those.)

I want to make this extra awesome.  So, here’s what we’re doing.  Our (realistic) goal is to sell 500 bundles.  Our (crazy) goal is 1000 bundles.  With over 100,000 of you reading this site each month, I know we can make it.  I know that 1% of you could benefit from this.  I know 100% of you could benefit from this!!

During the sale, I will keep you updated daily on our progress towards our goals.  I will tell you how many bundles have been sold (under my affiliate code) and how close we are.  If we make our goal of 500 sales, then we will offer a one-day blow out sale on ALL our books and Tradishen membership — everything 50% off!  And if we make our crazy goal of 1000 bundles sold, we’ll offer a 75% off sale on everything!  If we somehow make it beyond that, I’ll think of an even better way to reward you all.  I will.

Would you help us meet our goal?  You can help by getting on that Refer-a-Friend email list.  You can help by buying a bundle for yourself when it goes live (and I really promise it is amazing) and buying bundles as gifts for friends.  You can help by sharing our affiliate link with your friends and asking them to buy from us, too.  

Each bundle is not a lot by itself (money-wise).  But it is an amazing resource that can help you become healthier, and your purchase makes a big difference to us.  It really does.  We appreciate you even considering the purchase. 🙂

Big News!

On Wednesday, Sept. 3, I will be appearing live on the TODAY show!  I’ll be talking about vaccines and why some parents choose to opt out.  The goal is to stop the anger and the bullying that goes on, and help get respect for all choices.  I’ll be on sometime in the 9 o’clock hour, so don’t miss it!

You can help spread the word by using hashtag #VaccineChoice on any social media, leading up to the show, during, and after.  I want this to be the start of an important movement — true mainstream acceptance of all different choices.

If you’ve dealt with mold, what symptoms did you experience?

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14 Comments

  1. The apartment building we just moved into has black mold growing on one of the walls leading down to the basement (but not in our apartment). Whenever we leave our front door and walk through the hallway to get outside we breathe the same air that the mold has. That wall seems prone to water damage whenever there is a heavy rain, and the carpeting underneath it ends up soaked and is most likely moldy too. How concerned about this should I be? The furnace that controls our heat & AC is located within our apartment, so it isn’t pulling from the moldy air.

    Reply

    • Hi Jessica,

      I would be pretty concerned about that. I’d be worried that there is mold elsewhere too and that the landlord isn’t taking care of it. I’d ask him or her to take a look.

      Reply

  2. I don’t know what to respond to; there are so many topics in this post! First, where are you living? You’ve said both your husband’s and your family are not local to you, so how are handling living arrangements?Wherever you are, does your family need anything that readers who are local to where you are could help with? Second, have you thought about setting up a “Go Fund Me” account for readers who are not local? So many of us who would like to help your family could contribute! The bundle is a good idea too, but I’m always amazed at how much “Go Fund Me” accounts raise. Lastly, good luck on the Today show! I hope you get plenty of air time to share the views of the non-vaxers! God bless you and your family during this difficult, uncertain time!

    Reply

    • Hi Elena,

      We are actually living with my parents now. They are 2 hours away so my husband has to telecommute with work, but until we can get an apartment this was the best option for us. We are okay right now because we have help, but we may need help once we are actually on our own again (lucky my parents have beds, towels, blankets, etc. that we need right away, while we’re here).

      We’re really hoping that the bundle does well — we SO appreciate all the offers of help and would love to be able to “give back” by offering a great deal instead of just asking for money. 🙂 But we do really, really appreciate the offers and suggestion!

      Reply

    • I support your effort to help, but we should be concerned about the thousands of others who don’t have these options, who only options are staying or being homeless, or find a way to make landlords to fix places, I posted in the previous post about this problems and what happened to me, and may be happening again, I’m not asking for help, but I think people need to be aware that this is not an isolated problem, and there are so many people out there that don’t have a voice and we need to help them too, not only the people who can voice what is/has happened, these people are among lucky ones they have a voice, Sorry to go on but I get so frustrated when only a select few are given help, even though there are so many out there that need it more. We need to see the big picture, not just what fits in our little world.

      Reply

  3. So glad you posted about your mold problem. I’m sorry that you and your family had to live through this, but you are helping us all by making us aware of mold.
    I had large leaky windows replaced last week. I figured we had water damage due to the water pouring and I mean pouring in this past June. We found mold and I ripped all the mold covered Sheetrock out of my house. It wasn’t very much PTL!
    Now that the windows are in, I’ve left off the areas where we took out the sheet rock and trim to air out. The sills and all the wood is fine. We were so lucky.
    Due to your writings, I had mold in the back off my mind and told the workers.
    I feel so much better. Our house is only 12 years old. What a waste watching those windows being ripped out.
    I’ll keep you in our prayers. Does you house hold insurance cover mold?

    Reply

  4. So sorry you have to deal with this! I suffer from a very serious mold allergy, so I know exactly what you are describing. Because my allergy is so severe, it only takes a few minutes in an even slightly mold infested location before I develop symptoms. For me, it starts with nasal congestion/scratchy ears and throat and progresses into serious asthma attacks. It also makes me extremely fatigued and brain foggy. I’m so sensitive that I can smell even the slightest hint of mold the moment I enter a building. I’ll walk around every new house, hotel room, apartment we rent and make sure it’s safe. If the air inside of a home smells even slightly musty or feels damp, clammy or humid, that’s a warning sign for me. Due to my health history, I’m going to insist on a mold inspection before we purchase a house. I’m so sorry you’ve experienced so much illness. When I was a kid, we lived in series of older homes and apartments and had issues with mold. I was always sick, every winter, with serious respiratory infections and asthma attacks. I finally came down with pneumonia, resulting in a hospital stay. We moved into a new home the following year and I didn’t another serious respiratory infection for the next 15 years. Even then, it was nowhere near as serious as before. Mold is no joke!!! I hope you and your family are back to good health again soon and that you can find a better housing situation quickly!

    Reply

    • I’m really allergic to it too after having been exposed to mold for years. But my first symptom is my hands turning bright red. People always joke about having me be there mold inspector. Does that ever happen to you?

      Reply

      • No, I’ve never experienced that before! Mostly, I can just smell it instantly. My husband laughs at me when I we move houses or stay some place new, because I’ll walk around sniffing the air, trying to see if it’s safe. If I have to stay somewhere that I know is damp or musty, I try to sleep as far away from the ground level as possible (water accumulates near the ground) and take my allergy and asthma medications before I go.

        Reply

  5. This is totally scary. We have some similar issues and a potential leak in the house we’re renting that has not been addressed. I’m almost scared to have the owner fix it at this point. 🙁 We absolutely cannot afford to walk away from our house, our things. I have the Windows open now and am praying. 🙁

    Reply

    • Hi Susan,
      With what you are facing, it is so hard to know what to do. My husband, two boys & I were living in a church parsonage that was found to be contaminated with toxic mold. We made the heart wrenching choice to get rid of everything we owned & get to a safe place once we realized the seriousness of our situation. It was the best choice. After 2 years of detoxing, we are still struggling with residual health issues. Your health will only get worse the longer you are exposed to the mold toxins. When I see posts like yours I just feel an urgency & want to scream, “Get out, before it’s too late.” It’s so hard, though..I know. I will be praying for you.

      Reply

  6. We have to sleep with the windows open at least a crack year round, so we don’t get sick, we are like you we rent and the landlord won’t fix it, but we can’t afford to move. we live paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes it can be hard on bad months, fortunately we live in a rather dry climate, or it used to be till this summer. I hope it’s dryer this winter, or else we may be in trouble, as it’s harder to keep things aired out.

    Reply

  7. We are currently out of our home as well due to mold, and have endured the same health problems. I’ve heard charcoal is good to give to help rid the body of mold. Do you have any suggestions?? My 2 year old seems to be the most sensitive and has also been battling eczema. Any helpful remedies would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply

  8. I know exactly what you are going through. We are a family of four currently displaced due to mold. We’ve been out of our house for over a month now. We have driven ourselves into debt trying to fix our house because we can’t afford another one. We are currently out of money and still have several walls infested with mold that need replacing. I’m thankful to have my family but it is so distressing not having a home or our belongings. My 3 year old keeps asking when we will go home. I hope you all can get everything taken care of and be back on your feet. I can relate to you all 100%

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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