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 the 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).
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.)
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.
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.
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.
- Low energy
- Brain fogginess
- Mental confusion
- Short-term memory loss
- Muscle aches/soreness
- Sore throat
- Swollen glands
- Loss of appetite
- Yeast rashes
- Poor, non-restful sleep
- Frequent illnesses
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.
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 from 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. 🙂
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?