Encouraging Stories

The day we got our air tests back was the day I knew mold caused our illnesses. What I didn't know was how many others were suffering. Until I started this blog. Here are just a few of the emails I have received over the past several weeks. Used with permission.

1. "My daughter, who is now almost 3, was constantly getting sick with respiratory infections and was eventually diagnosed with asthma. And when I say sick, I mean sick. We were having to do breathing treatments every two to three hours, she was taking an inhaler and steroids just so she could breathe. She would be sick for 2 weeks, get better for 2-3 days and then would get sick all over again. I was at such a loss as to what was making her so sick. I am a stay at home mom, so she isn't in daycare; the only thing I could figure was that she was picking up viruses when we would go on our occasional outings to the store or park or at the church nursery. Then one morning I walked into her room to get her up and was blown away by a very strong "musty" smell. I had never noticed it before and really think it was a gift from God. The first thought that came into my head was mold. That night we closed off her room and moved her to the guest room. It was amazing how much improvement she made in just one night. It has now been nearly 5 months and her asthma is practically gone and she hasn't been sick since. That was also the beginning of our mold journey, although definitely not as extreme as yours. We have had several series (long story) of air tests done, along with interior wall samples that have come back with, among other types, aspergillus and stachybotrys mold."

2. "All 4 of us have been affected by our mold exposure, although my daughter and I were the most severely affected. I battled chronic fatigue, brain fog, chemical sensitivities, panic attacks, nightmares, muscle cramps, heart palpitations, racing heart, thyroid issues, etc. Our daughter developed autism.

We have dealt with this since August of 2004... I just want to encourage you that things can improve with time. Just this year I have begun to feel "normal" again. I have been able to deviate from anti-fungal diets without symptoms! I don't know if you have had any of your family's amino acid levels tested, but this was HUGE for me! Getting those back in balance has really helped me to feel so much better!"

3. "I was poisoned by mold while living in Britain for 13 years as a missionary teacher (4 years in Edinburgh Scotland and 9 years in Liverpool England). Everywhere in Britain is plagued with mold and when you take a desert rat that is not used to mold and plant her there - well guess what. Unbeknownst to me, I was collecting mold spores and didn't even realize it. I always tell people that I brought back 2 souvenirs from Britain - - (1) my English husband and (2) a collection of mold spores (believe me, that starts some pretty good conversations!) Looking back - I had all the symptoms of toxic mold poisoning and MCS but didn't realize it. In 1995 we immigrated back to the states and made Tucson our home and within three years I really started having trouble. Back and forth to doctors - nine in total - all admitted that yes, I had a problem, but tests were not helping them come up with any solutions. Sinus trouble, nosebleeds (some pretty scary ones!), brain fog, confusion, lack of concentration, forgetting the stupidest things, rashes (I was a beautiful sight at times), severe intestinal trouble and a metallic taste that would not go away. It was frustrating for both of us and at times really tested our marriage. But he has been a real trooper and adds a whole new meaning to the phrase "helpmate" - I sure could NOT have done this journey without him.

After being carted out of church one Sunday morning with yet another reaction to all the perfumes in the room (I didn't realize at the time that that is what I was reacting to - but every Sunday I was having to leave church and would be sicker than a dog for a couple of days). Finally a friend said, "I've been wanting to share something with you, but didn't know how you would react to it - but have you ever heard of MCS - I think that might be what you are suffering from." No never heard of it - but tell me more. I began my own search on the internet and one day yelled for my husband to "come and look at this" - "This is describing me to a tee." He agreed. The article was talking about MCS, its symptoms, what chemicals do to affect your body and health. I copied the article and made an appointment with my PCP and asked him to read the article and then we could talk. He then gave me a referral to the doctor who had written the article - Dr. Michael Gray in Benson, AZ. So in October 2001 I became his patient and right away he said that I was "a classic mold patient". He did a LOT of testing and on December 19, 2001 I was given the diagnosis of Severe Mycotoxicosis and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Turned out I had 13 different types of mold spores actively growing in my lungs and intestines. He said that I was slowly suffocating to death - using only a 1/4 of my lung capacity at that time. No wonder I was out of breath all the time!!!

Detoxification began right away (I don't even remember Christmas at all that year) and just as the doctor had predicted - I got worse before I got better and I had many days that I begged God to simply let me die. The battle was HARD - - and ever so lonely. Boy, I found out who my true friends were at that time. Many chose to walk away thinking I was crazier than anything, a classic hypochondriac, and the best ever drama queen. I was in quarantine at home for what turned out to be just over a year, only being able to go to the hospital, lab, or the doctor's office. I missed teaching opportunities, women's retreats, friends' weddings, funerals, church services, going shopping at the mall, going on a picnic, taking a hike or a long walk, etc. Very few people understood at all - even my own family were quite distant at that time. It was the hardest year physically, mentally and emotionally that I ever care to live through. BUT it was the most fantastic year for me spiritually!!! You see, I had to learn what dependence upon GOD was REALLY all about. I spent many long hours - just God and me. Often I was angry at Him, frustrated with Him, comforted by Him, challenged to grow because of His lessons. All in all I would never trade that time spent with Him. It changed our relationship forever thus I am truly thankful for toxic mold poisoning and MCS - yes, truly thankful!!!

Today - eight years later - I am doing SSOO MUCH better. I still have health issues as a result of MOLD. But I am still alive and kicking. I am able to be out and about a little more, but have to really monitor where I go and what I do. Still have times when my husband has to carry me out of some place due to reaction to some chemical. I insist without hesitation that people are totally fragrance free when they come to my home or they don't come at all. I have learned more about mold and chemicals than I ever wanted to know."

Handwriting and Environmental Illness

Now that our kids are back in school I'm seeing some changes in their handwriting. This time for the better.

Soon after we moved into our home in Colorado our kids experienced negative changes in their handwriting. Something I didn't connect with their environment.

One of our high school daughters lost confidence in her writing a year after the move. One of our sons began to print in all capital letters.

Our daughter with the seizure disorder could barely write at all. One of her 7th grade teachers commented to me, "I take a deep breath when I see it's your daughter's paper. I know it will be tough to read." Her home environment was far from our consideration.

At the height of our exposure another son turned to all capitals. Our 2nd grade son couldn't write at all. His hand was too numb. Our 4th grade daughter's handwriting took a dramatic turn. Her writing became miniscule. Here it is below soon after we left the home.

Dr. Doris Rapp, who is Board Certified in Allergy Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine, lists 5 considerations for diagnosing a food or environmental issue.

Behavior, Appearance, Pulse, Breathing, Handwriting.

On handwriting she says, "WATCH: your handwriting. If your handwriting or drawing suddenly deteriorates, your nervous system and brain have been affected. Ask why."

Dr. Doris Rapp Signs of Environmental Illness

I never thought to ask why. Now, in hindsight, it's obvious. My hope for this post is described by this anonymous quote,

"Mentor: Someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.”

Health Risks in Homes

The following article came out this week in USA Today. According to the National Center for Healthy Housing, 1 in 3 homes in metro areas could face health risks. Water leaks, peeling paint, holes or rodents are contributing to compromised indoor air quality in homes across the country. The top problem? Water leaks.

USA Today News Story

This line stands out to me.

"Efforts to address all health risks posed by housing — similar to steps taken to remove lead and asbestos — are increasing. Morley (Rebecca Morley, head of the NCHH) says poor indoor air causes up to 40% of asthma, which has nearly tripled among children since 1980."

More evidence that the tide is turning.

Lights, Camera, Truth

A series of obstacles have come our way recently.

I've found myself enveloped in a cloud of fear and timidity. Eager to run away from everything. Into the belly of a whale if need be. Anything to get away from the harsh realities of toxic mold.

Sunday morning it hit me. We were days away from a news crew coming to film our story.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world . . ."

A crew from CBN news came to our home yesterday as planned. We spoke candidly about our story. A large family whose home made them sick. Who made the difficult decision to leave and seek refuge and treatment in the desert.

Our reporter, to the left above, asked why the issue is so controversial. Why are there regulations for radon and asbestos but none for toxic mold? She went so far as to call it the "wild west" of environmental issues.

As we were talking I felt something rise up. A passion and conviction from the deepest recesses of my heart. A passion that springs only from suffering and sorrow.

I said it with confidence and without fear.

Toxic mold is hazardous. Period.

And God is bigger than all of it.

Exclamation point.

My Kitchen, My Ally

If avoidance is the first line of defense against toxic mold, then altering our diet has to be close behind. I take this from Hippocrates, who linked our health to the air we breathe and the food we eat. Known as the father of medicine, Hippocrates was the first to introduce the idea that illness had a physical and rational explanation. A far cry from the belief of his day that illness was the result of evil spirits. He went so far as to say,

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."

Before our exposure to toxic mold I easily succumbed to a world of fast food and sugar. Our pantry was full of Pop-Tarts and Fruit Loops. Our diet was our destiny, or so it seemed.

As it became clear that our mold exposure would not easily be reversed, the words of Hippocrates haunted me. I knew I needed to change our diet. The task was daunting to say the least.

I started slowly. I remember how foreign it was for me to shop in the health food section. The prices and labels were overwhelming. Little by little I introduced new foods and altered my grocery list. We eliminated gluten and cut way down on sugar. I felt lost, however, and kept trying to find "healthier foods."

Now that I understand what fungus does to the body, I know what I'm looking for and why.

Fungus lacks chlorophyll and therefore cannot make its own food. When ingested or inhaled it must have food in order to live. Its primary food? Sugar and carbohydrates. What happens when we cut out sugar and carbohydrates? The fungi and the resulting mycotoxins die.

Many of the foods that help restore health, therefore, have chlorophyll. The greener the food the more chlorophyll. Thus broccoli and spinach truly are "superfoods."

The best help I've found with diet is Doug Kaufmann's Anti-Fungal Diet. The Phase One Diet is comprised of meats, specific vegetables, specific fruits, plain yogurt, and more. If you have 3 minutes to spare, watch the Fungus 101 video on the homepage of the website Know The Cause.

We have seen significant die-off responses and improvements from Phase One. It's a lot of work, but I would rather be in my kitchen than another doctor's office. With the exception of insulin we have eliminated all prescription medications.

We have a long way to go. But every day away from a mold-contaminated environment and every stalk of broccoli puts us one day closer to restored health.

Mold and Mycotoxins

"Fungus is everywhere." If I had a dime for every time I've heard this statement I'd have enough money to pay for an air test for any of those who have said it.

My favorite use of this phrase came from a spokesperson for the FAA in regard to concerns about mold in the air traffic control tower in Atlanta. Another control tower with mold issues.

"Not to minimize the employees' concerns, but mold is everywhere, especially down here in the south."

It's true. Fungus is all around us. It's a wonderful addition to our creation. It naturally recycles plant and animal life. It's a gift.

Until it's found indoors. In high concentrations. Or in foods. In high concentrations. It helps to learn the basics of fungus in order to understand the dangers. Fungi are not plants. They are not animals. They are their own kingdom. A rather daunting realization. There are more than 1.5 million fungal species. In other words, we have a lot to learn about this kingdom. The fungus kingdom includes yeasts, molds, smuts, and mushrooms.

It's too much to tackle a kingdom in a blog entry, but there are two key characteristics of fungi worth mentioning. 1. Fungi lack chlorophyll. 2. Fungi cannot make their own food.
(This makes diet critical to recovery after an exposure and worthy of a later discussion.)

But here is the key piece of information. Fungi secrete and make a poisonous substance called a mycotoxin. Mycotoxins are toxic chemicals. Now, if we are in a building with little to no ventilation with mold growing behind the walls, mycotoxins are emitted. The fact that mold is everywhere in the world, especially the south, is no longer comforting.

According to the World Safety Organization, "The human body once exposed to a mycotoxin runs a triple risk to its toxic effects. The triple risk factors are direct toxic effect of the mycotoxin, acquisition of mutated RNAi from the mycotoxin's parent fungus, and creation of an internal biofilm, which will harbor a toxic soup of disease."

Here are some of the mycotoxins known to cause harm to mankind. Again, this is from the World Safety Organization's 17th International Environmental Safety & Health Conference & Exposition. (November 3 - 5, 2003)



Aflatoxin is one of the most potent carcinogens known to man and has been linked to a wide variety of human health problems. Aspergillus species fungi produce aflatoxin.


Ochratoxin is primarily produced by species of Penicillim and Aspergillus. Ochratoxin is damaging to the kidneys and liver and is also a suspected carcinogen. There is also evidence that it impairs the immune system.

T-2 Toxin

T-2 Toxin is trichothecene produced by species of Fusarium and is one of the more deadly toxins. If ingested in sufficient quantity, T-2 toxin can severely damage the entire digestive tract and cause rapid death due to internal hemorrhage. T-2 has been implicated in the human diseases alimentary toxic aleukia and pulmonary hemosiderosis. Damage caused by T-2 toxin is often permanent.

This is only a partial list. Other mycotoxins include: fumonisin, vomitoxin, zearalenone, gliotoxin. The mold stachybotrys emits tricothescenes.

I like what my friend Kristina said the other day when I told her we tested our air in our current home because of some slightly elevated mold counts. "Mold is always guilty until proven innocent." When we understand the biological warfare that accompanies the fungal kingdom, guilt is far better to presume than innocence.

Air Traffic Control Tower in the News

At the height of our exposure to toxic mold, I experienced serious memory loss and concentration issues. I assumed the problem was stress or age. I certainly didn't connect it with our mold remediation.

I was taking care of numerous sick children including a son with type 1 diabetes. I struggled with his doses and one time gave him our dog Pippen's insulin. (Pippen was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes soon after our move into the home.) I didn't notice the insulin mistake. Colin did. He saved himself from a sudden blood sugar drop. He was 8 years old.

Consider the risks involved when the men and women charged with directing airplanes in and out of a given airport are exposed to toxic mold. This story centers on the air traffic control tower in Detroit.

Detroit Tower Mold News Story

Just this week Congressman John Dingell released this statement.

It is no secret that I have long been concerned about the black mold issue at Detroit Metropolitan Airport’s Air Traffic Control Facility. Since the mold was first discovered in 2005, the Michigan delegation and I have pushed the FAA and the Department of Transportation to undertake a swift and controlled remediation that would not endanger the health of the facility’s employees.

While I appreciate the progress that has been made since February, I still believe that more must be done. Unfortunately, almost three years later, I continue to receive calls from constituents employed at the facility that have become severely ill as a result of the mold.

To that end I will continue to hold the FAA to their responsibility of remediating any remaining mold in the Tower in a quick and responsible manner. I have also requested that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health do an on-site evaluation of the working environment. In an effort to speed these efforts along, my staff was at the table with the employees and their union when the Chief Operating Officer of the FAA met with and toured the facility. I have monitored this situation closely, and I will continue to do so.

It has come to my attention that 13 other airtraffic control facilities are experiencing mold issues similar to Detroit Metro Airport. My experience on this issue over the last few years tells me this should serve as a warning bell to the FAA that the current situation is far from adequate. It is clear to me that there must be a zero tolerance policy on mold in our air traffic control facilities.

Further, I encourage the FAA to extend their recent progress beyond the state line. I have argued cleaning up the mold is critical to both the safety and well-being of the employees of the facility, and the flying public. We require our air traffic controllers to have an uninterrupted focus and they deserve the finest, safest facilities in order to handle their complex tasks; anything less is both irresponsible and dangerous. It is not too late for those overseeing the facility to heed these concerns and provide an example of the government living up to its responsibility to both its employees and the public.”

I see this story and, like I do all news stories that focus on toxic mold, I hope this is the one that wakes us up. Before we experience a devastating tragedy.


"This is the kind of mold report we hope for after a remediation," our mold inspector told us today. Our inside spore count is excellent. 10% of the outside count (or lower) in all of the rooms.

No aspergillus, penicillium, and, most importantly, no stachybotrys. Oh, and no chaetomium either.

The outdoor mold spore count is 1800. I remember when we had our air test in Colorado the outside count was 790. I'm not sure why I remember that detail but I do. Our inside spore count in one of the rooms was 320,000, which was 400 times the outdoor count. I just now did the math.

It's been a long road to find a safe haven for our children. A long road. We're now in a climate that suits us and within minutes of knowledgeable medical help. Many of you have walked this road with us. Thank you for breathing a sigh of relief with us.

I think I'll head back to the pasture now.

Mold Mystery Update

It's nice to be married to a writer. I would never start an update the way he did regarding our current travail.

"In our last thrilling installment of the Fabry Mold Mystery, we learned that the Fabrys were in mortal danger, spiraling downward toward another home disaster, sure that they were again hounded by the evil Mold Monster!

That’s how those old movies went. Just when you thought the hero would never be able to escape certain death, he pulled out a specially made weapon and zapped the villain.We don’t have a specially made weapon.

We only have the truth.

So, believing the truth would set us free, we called a mold inspector to do a test on the house we’re renting. It’s not cheap, but it’s what we tell people who ask us, “What can I do?”

He came and conducted the air tests and inspected the house visually.“Wow, this shower pan is really nice,” he said. “I tried to pour one a couple of years ago and I couldn’t do it this well.”

He looked the house over, up and down, and sideways while his machine was going. “If this place has mold in it, I will really be surprised.”

That was great news to us. We don’t have the tests back yet, but they will either confirm or deny the previous test."

You can access the rest of Chris' blog to the right of this entry, under the "My Favorite Blogs" section.

When our inspector set up the first canister to test the outdoor air, I was shocked when I started to cry. The last time I had seen such a canister was May of 2008.

Pain does that. It stays close to the surface. We don't know it's lurking until we're reminded.

Maybe, just maybe, we're grazing in our green pasture after all.

A Typical Day

Yesterday was just like any other day. I worked on my blog first thing in the morning while nebulizing my daily dose of glutathione. I made breakfast. Eggs (for those who don't react to them), bacon with no nitrates or preservatives, grapefruit and fruit smoothies. Colin checked his blood sugar. He was 90! A nice start to the day. We did our daily round of supplements (which I will detail in a later entry), did our nasal sprays, and began our chores.

Reagan came in with a nosebleed. He had just taken a shower. We racked our brains like we always do. A new mystery to begin our day. Mold in the shower? He would have a nosebleed every day if that were the case. New book? He got a new set of cards in the mail yesterday. They didn't have a chemical smell. It had to be his room. He shares a big room with Kristen and Ryan.

I smelled something as soon as I walked in but couldn't identify it. Was it something from outside? The cabinets still off-gassing? Ryan suggested the trash. I walked over to the tiny basket. Bingo. Major chemical smell. We didn't go through it to figure it out. It could have been an empty box that at one time was stored near a bottle of Round-Up. Who knows. I do know that the nosebleed lasted an hour and made me nauseous.

Colin's finger was bothering him. He had a cut the other day and put a Band-Aid on it. We thought nothing of it. Until he removed the Band-Aid and the area got red. Very red. Itchy red. Uncomfortable red. What would cause a reaction like this? Of course, latex. This is a new allergy for us. I'm just beginning my research.

Colin's rash on his stomach was spreading. Itchy. Very itchy. Must be the belt we bought him last week. His nickel allergy started when we were in the Colorado house. He was hoping he could wear a belt now. He told me yesterday to get rid of it. "I can't wear it anyway, Mom."

I put him in a hydrogen peroxide bath. There are three types of baths we do. Epsom salts and baking soda for general de-tox. Clay baths for de-tox. And hydrogen peroxide baths for itchy skin. We follow those baths with tea tree oil. We also have emu oil, neem's oil, and grapeseed oil, depending on the skin irritation.

Chris took some of the kids to the store. We were out of grapefruit and green apples. Megan and I decided to clean the floors with peroxide. We washed the shower curtains and changed all the sheets.

We sprayed hydrogen peroxide in our air. If outdoor mold is causing a problem indoors, this will help.

Chris got home at 1:30 p.m. Just in time for lunch. Every meal is a major event. When you take away processed foods, you take away convenience. I had a breakdown. One a day usually. He hugged me and smiled. He said something that made me laugh. Something about how little we knew when we said our wedding vows.

Kaitlyn had a rough afternoon. A meltdown and a headache. We spent some time trying to figure it out but decided to leave the mystery unsolved. We did a series of burber and pinella doses. Two herbs designed to help de-tox the brain.

Erin went out with a friend from college. She reacted to a fragrance. The exhaustion that comes from an exposure is hard to describe. "How am I going to live with this?" she asked. She's just now connecting fragrance and chemicals with the way she's been feeling.

Kristen had remnants of a sore throat she got after a haircut last week. Shannon took her to a nice salon to treat her. They both came home with headaches. Kristen's throat began to sting. She took a shower and washed out her beautiful new style. "I'm never going to a salon again," she said.

There were some highlights to our day. Shannon and Ryan went horseback riding. The kids worked on homework. A new bright spot in their day. Who would have guessed?

Reagan learned a new magic trick.

Chris made hamburgers stuffed with onions, peppers, garlic, and broccoli. Lettuce for the buns. And then the Ohio State football game came on. I used to see football as an escape. Last night the cheering and yelling were music to my ears.

We won't know if we'll be able to stay in this house until it is tested, but we have hope. We don't want to have to leave another house. Especially one that seems to fit us well. But this is our life. There is no escape. We only have respites: rest stops along the road to recovery. And I welcome each and every one.


We have talked to numerous mold specialists about our situation. We have decided to do further testing before we move. There is a possibility that our indoor air simply reflects the outdoor air given the fact that it is monsoon season. One specialist told me these are the highest counts of outdoor mold he's seen in years. Since the amplification appears mild we are more than content to wait. Our crisis illustrates, to me, the necessity for thorough testing anytime there are questions about indoor air quality.

A New Chapter

It's hard to believe it's 9/11. 8 years. I was holding Brandon in my arms in our living room, in shock and disbelief.

It was two years ago on 9/11 that Reagan called from school to say his ear was ringing. His tinnitus soon turned into vertigo and vomiting. Within two months we were carrying him to the bathroom.

Today on 9/11 we are faced with a new crisis. We heard late yesterday that our mold levels are elevated in this house. We don't know what type of mold is haunting us; we just know it's hindering our recovery. We also know that it's not limited to one bathroom.

The levels don't come close to our Colorado house. In fact most people would do fine in this house. At least for a while. But we can't afford to stay.

And so we begin a new chapter. The search for a new safe house. We've learned some important lessons. Experience seems to be the best teacher when it comes to toxic mold and its resulting health issues.

I think of the family members who lost loved ones in the 9/11 tragedy. I imagine that in some ways 8 years feels like a blink. One day it will be like that for our family. Today I'm going to lean on this verse:

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:17)

Last night the 11 of us sat in a circle and held hands. We haven't all been together since the tragedy began two years ago. As I listened to each one pray I knew without a doubt that we'll get through it. I believe with all my heart there's something bigger about every story. Including ours. And this new chapter.

Back to School

I have known for quite some time now that I cannot teach my children at home. I can facilitate their medical needs but cannot take on their education. For this reason I pursued help through the local school district.

This week our four youngest began school for the first time in nearly a year. They are being taught in our home by a gifted teacher provided by the district. We are so grateful and the kids are excited to be learning again. This is the letter our doctor wrote encouraging the homebound instructional program.

"This is to confirm that I am the attending, consulting, and treating physician for children in the Fabry family with regard to a series of problems associated with an unfortunate episode of residentially-related poisoning occurring as a result of their residence in a structure in Colorado that was damaged by water with resultant growth of bioaerosols in an amplified manner including toxigenic structural mold and their associated mycotoxins.

"As a result of a genetic susceptibility, the Fabry children are exquisitely sensitive to toxins associated with biological agents including a variety of bacteria and fungi and are intolerant of many volatile organic compounds, particularly aromatics, commonly found in public school environments. These things include, but are not limited to, cleaning agents containing phenol, pesticides of various sorts, and of course bioaerosols associated with water damaged materials and their associated mold and mycotoxin amplification. This confers to the Fabry children a prohibition on their being able to enter many public schools without experiencing adverse health effects.

"As a result of their inability to maintain their health when they are exposed to these environments and the fact that such exposures would have a direct impact on their cognitive functioning by impairing their cognitive performance, I am requesting that they be homeschooled in a chemically-mitigated environment, which their parents have facilitated.

"Assuming that they are not getting exposed to volatile organic compounds, toxins, and triggers to which they are reactive, they are fully capable of and should be engaged in full-time education, albeit primarily in a home environment.

"I do want to emphasize that any teachers that are attending to their education need to ensure that they do not wear fragrance personal hygiene products or clothing that has been laundered in fragrance laundry soaps or with fragrance fabric softeners. It is also contraindicated for these individuals to be smokers as they will carry the residue of sidestream smoke on their clothing."

A year ago I had only the Internet and my intuition telling me our mold exposure made my kids sick. I had doctors urging me to have my kids seen by a psychologist. You can imagine the relief when I ventured to Arizona to have them seen by a toxic mold specialist.

We continue to learn the hard way the extent of their limitations. I bought two composition books for the first day of school. Brandon had a nosebleed within the first hour.

Experience and a tutor. Two great ways to learn.

Pesticides in Schools

Pesticides are routinely sprayed in school buildings and day care centers around the country. I didn't give this a second thought until my children became chemically sensitive earlier this year. Since that time I have become keenly aware of the misuse of these dangerous chemicals. This news story addresses the issue by allowing us to view the application process at an Atlanta day care center. Watch how quickly the infants are brought back into the room.

Fox News Story

I asked toxicologist Dr. Jack Thrasher for his reaction to this news story. Here is his reply.

"I am speechless and horrified at the same time. This is what one should expect because of the attitude of the entire pesticide industry from the manufacturers through the applicators. The toxicology testing on formulated pesticides is inadequate.

"The parent ingredient is usually tested for its toxicity by itself. It is then formulated into a mixture that contains other ingredients. The other ingredients are called inerts while the pesticide is called the active ingredient. The mixture is almost never tested for its toxicity. The inert ingredients can be heavy metals, solvents and manufacturing impurities to name a few.

"What is not considered by those who apply these pesticides is that infants and children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical and genetic conditions are sensitive to almost all of the ingredients used in the formulation."

The good news is there are alternatives and organizations dedicated to education regarding this matter. This is the website I recommend if you are in the education field or a parent who would like to see your school district adopt less toxic options.

Alternatives to Using Pesticides in Schools. What is Integrated Pest Management?

The use of less toxic substances can be financially beneficial. This is one of those issues where everyone wins by adopting safer protocols. No testing. No remediation. Just different strategies.

Of course, if it were me, I would make mold testing mandatory at every school. And I'd put an air purifier in every classroom.

Then I would see what happens to our learning disability rate.

Changing Seats

I used to have assumptions about life. I didn't realize it, of course. I watched friends get cancer, went to funerals for children, and heard about unfathomable tragedies. Still, I had a seat reserved in the "smooth travel" section of life.

It wasn't just a seat, it was an entire section. All 11 of us were entitled to ride comfortably.

When we got hit by our house I began to see the truth. That life has no guarantees. There's no guarantee that our family will walk away from this with health restored. There's no guarantee we'll make it through financially solvent.

I no longer assume.

So when Ryan came to me yesterday and said he made me a CD, I knew I wanted to listen immediately. With him. "It will take you down memory lane, Mom. Your memory lane." He smiled. These were going to be old songs. I smiled back.

I wasn't feeling well. I had to lie down. Ryan brought in our little CD player, sat on our air mattress, and popped in the CD.

Ryan just graduated High School. The sudden death of my mom kept me from the privilege of watching him walk across the stage to receive his well-earned diploma. But, by that time, I had let go of my assumptions and was traveling coach. Standby.

Ryan was headed for the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts until he realized his health and lack of financial resources prohibited him from going. I think he's traveling coach now too.

And so we listened. Together. To Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, and James Taylor.

When I heard James Taylor's voice sing "Fire and Rain," the tears started to fall. Gently streaming down my face with my son watching. And knowing.

That fire and rain come to each one of us. The loss of a loved one or a shattered dream.

"I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end

I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend"

The rest of yesterday was hard. Very hard.

But I didn't miss James Taylor or Ryan. I might have. If I hadn't changed seats.

Fourth Hospitalization due to Toxic Mold Exposure

Our youngest son was admtted to the St. Louis Children's Hospital while on a trip to visit family last week.  He was diagnosed with pneumonia for a fourth time.  He was also diganosed with Moderate to Severe Persistent Uncontrolled Asthma which is what causes the pneumonia to form.  This nightmare started when he was exposed to toxic mold in a house we rented from the time of his birth until he was nearly two years old.  His first hospitalization and asthma attack ocurred when he was 18 months old.  He is now four years old and has been hospitalized four times. The type of toxic mold that caused him to have this severe form of asthma is called Chaetomium.  Please read through our blog to learn more about our story.  We hope that by telling our story, we can help other people.

(the picture above shows how much of a struggle it was for our son to breathe even while on oxygen)

Click here to read the full story regarding his most recent hospitalization.

Total Load Concept

In her book "Chemical Sensitivity" Dr. Sherry Rogers emphasizes the importance of looking at the whole picture of a person's life rather than the symptoms only. Remember the key words: conjugates (chemical groups like glutathione which detoxify the body) and xenobiotics (foreign chemicals). She also emphasizes there is a wide range of individual vulnerability.

"A person with chemical susceptibility can become depleted of conjugates if he persists living in an environment that overburdens his detoxication pathways. The man who has a headache and difficulty concentrating at work when using a particular solvent will be less likely to recover if he has recently painted or carpeted his home. His xenobiotic detoxication capacity may become overloaded and even exhausted."

Dr. Rogers further explains that a diet of alcohol and processed foods will hinder his recovery.

This is why the concept of total load or total body burden is so crucial to recovery and why many of us with severe mold exposure must alter our entire lifestyle in order to heal.

Dr. Rogers takes issue with the traditional medical approach. "You can readily appreciate how parts of the currently operational medical model or paradigm need to be changed in order to successfully treat the victim of chemical sensitivity. Chemical sensitivity does not follow the rules of drug-oriented medicine. Right now, drugs and surgery are the current mainstay of treatment for most diseases. But give a drug (a foreign chemical that is metabolized by the same P-450 system) to a person with an already compromised system, and you make him worse. The already overloaded system is further stressed and new symptoms emerge. So treatment of these patients frustrates physicians."

I love Dr. Rogers' conclusion in this book. It makes a great conclusion for today's entry.

Now is an "exciting time in medicine. For at no other time have patients, through reading and education, had such an important and crucial role in determining their wellness."

A Table and a Book

We bought a kitchen table the other day. Half price at World Market. We've been using a card table so we were excited to bring it home. Megan and I were careful to examine the "model" in the store. No chemical smells. Nice wood. Well crafted. And $175!

Ryan assembled it for us and excitedly we put it in the kitchen. Several of us, including Colin, sat at the table for maybe 10 minutes.

Something smelled. I vinegared it. Not advisable with wood, but anything to eradicate the smell. Olive oil didn't do the trick. Still a strong smell. I gave Chris the bad news. "I think we need to move it outside."

It took three of us to move it. We put the table on its side and needed something to cushion it.

Lo and behold, we had the perfect bolster sitting right there on the back patio. The book from the other day, "The E.I. Syndrome - An Rx for Environmental Illness."

Colin had an hour-long bloody nose within a few hours after his short exposure. The label on the table says "finished good is compliant with California section 93120 Phase 1 formaldehyde." Formaldehyde is tough to avoid, but after reading this article I'll be checking labels a little more carefully.

Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk

I think we'll stick with the card table for now.

Help for Coal Miners

When I started this blog 8 months ago we had just received our official diagnosis of mycotoxicosis. My hope was to raise awareness about the hazards of indoor mold. I did not know we would soon add the diagnosis of multiple chemical sensitivity. MCS often grows out of mold exposure because the toxic load becomes so high that the body is no longer able to detoxify any insult to the system.

I remember the day I first became aware of our chemical struggle. It was January 31st of this year. We were moving into a new rental house the next day. Chris and I had been apart for 6 weeks. He was driving a U-Haul full of new mattresses and other belongings from Colorado, to meet us in Tucson the next morning. We spent the day packing. We decided to go to the park before heading out to dinner. The kids rolled in the grass at the park. I'm not sure what game it was, but the 3 youngest were rolling in the grass.

Gathered around the table at Olive Garden, I noticed the kids' eyes redden. Really redden. Brandon looked pale and put his head on the table. Kaitlyn was groaning, and Colin had a severe headache. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Our spirits were high. Eating out was a rare treat, and Dad was coming! Finally, I looked at Megan and we both knew: chemicals on the grass.

Thus I now hope to bring awareness to the hazards of chemicals as well as indoor mold. Remember, everyone can benefit from lightening their toxic load. If you're in good health you will be in better health by using less toxic products and eating a healthier diet. If you are experiencing baffling symptoms and struggling with your health (or your children are), it may be worth a look at chemical and environmental issues.

My favorite resource on this subject is a tiny book titled "Chemical Sensitivity: Environmental diseases and pollutants - how they hurt us, how to deal with them" by Dr. Sherry A. Rogers. Dr. Rogers is board certified by the American Academy of Family Practice and the American Academy of Environmental Medicine and is a fellow of the American College of Allergy and Immunology.

I recently bought another one of her books, "The E.I. Syndrome - An Rx for Environmental Illness." Unfortunately I bought it used (online). I ought to know by now that we can't buy used books. Books attract mold spores and hang on to chemicals. I opened it last week, smelled it, and immediately and ironically tossed it onto our back porch. There it sits, a book on environmental toxins that I can't read.

Dr. Rogers' explanation of toxic overload is the best I've read. "Each of us has the ability to metabolize (or break down or get rid of) foreign chemicals (xenobiotics), a process known as xenobiotic detoxification." Glutathione is a big part of the detoxifying, conjugation process. (I nebulize glutathione while working on my blog each day.) Rogers continues, "It costs the body energy and nutrients in order to make glutathione. The bottom line is that the work of detoxification uses up, and loses forever, energy and nutrients in the process of detoxifying chemicals that we breathe and eat each day. But much of the time we are unaware of even being exposed to any chemicals."

This is why I'm grateful for our symptoms upon exposure. It helps us avoid things that could be harming us without our awareness. And it brings me back to our role as canaries. We can help the coal miners of the 21st century.