When did you move into your current home?
My family of four and I have since left our moldy home. It will be four months out of the house on the 12th of April 2015.
How many years have you lived there?
We moved into our moldy rental dream home the first of June 2012. I was eight months pregnant with a son and had a 6 year old daughter. I was a stay at home mom and my fiance installed flooring. It was a big beautiful house on five woodsy acres. We left December 12th 2014. We lived there just over two and a half years. Our dream of purchasing the house long squashed.
How soon after you began living there did you begin to feel sick?
For the first two years, everything seemed mostly okay health wise. We all had a few things going on which progressively became worse and worse, but nothing we attributed to the house itself, and nothing that completely stopped us from enjoying life, at first… Our symptoms came about like a domino effect, flaring up worse and worse and increasing in number after each remodel or deep cleaning was made on the house, most of which were done the last six months.
There was mold when we moved in which we did not think was a problem. There was visible mold in the mudroom and a musty smell in my daughter’s room. She was the first to have symptoms as well as my cat. The carpet which was on a concrete slab also had a damp sticky feel to it all throughout the house. I had a baby on the way so we called Stanley steamer out twice to address the musty smelling carpet. The smell or stickiness never left. We figured we’d eventually just replace the carpeting.
Constant flooding occurred from the time we moved in from the drain in the laundry room. The septic tank was also always backing up. The water would come out all the way into the living room. Numerous plumbers, hot water guys, boiler guys came out. The landlord never came over to see the damage and nothing ever got fully fixed. The hot water heater still had a slow leak and standing water when we moved out.
We were going to be having a friend stay with us for a while in 2013 so we replaced the carpeting for her in my daughter’s room a couple months before and my daughter moved upstairs into her brother’s room. The room became a temporary playroom until my friend moved in. My son developed what the doctors called hands, foot, and mouth disease and when my friend moved in she immediately got very sick.
No one else continued to spend time in that room. By the time 2014 hit, the flooding had caused even more mold to spread from my laundry room to my bathroom. It was basically covering the entire back side of the house which was four feet underground and the house sat at the bottom of a hill. The mold was four feet high and completely covered my bathroom wall behind a movable island. It crept up my laundry room walls and even across the cement floor.
We researched mold on the Internet, and it told us to clean it with bleach which we did and yet it grew back stronger. It was taking over. My friend had since gotten on her feet and moved out and got better, and my sister moved in after her along with her family as she was having some hard times. This was all in July.
We let the landlord know again that the flooding had caused mold and it wasn’t stopping. He said his insurance did not cover mold and he would have to pay out of pocket and would make some calls. We ended up with a cleaning company who came in at the end of July, 2014 and opened up a small amount of drywall from each room and removed maybe 50% of the visible mold using no masks, gloves, suits, or containment. Despite the fact that there were five to eight kids running around. They set up fans when they were done to run for three days. I had heard a thing or two about black mold in the past so I mentioned it to one of the guys. He said there’s a lot of misconceptions about black mold, no worries. I believed him. A second guy said that we probably still had mold and that we should reconsider buying the house, which confused me. We had really wanted to fix it up and buy it despite the mold and the bats in the roof.
I then thought maybe we should reconsider. The third guy who picked up the fans said if we had been feeling sick we would feel better soon. This really confused me because at this point we were mostly okay and the first guy clearly said it couldn’t make you sick. Well it did. The symptoms began to rage in not only us four but my sister and family as well as the kids I often babysat for.
It was a crazy couple of months. We went on vacation for nine days at the end of August and had our last great time for a while. My sister and family moved out in September.
On November 1st as an early Christmas present, my fiance replaced the carpet throughout the living room, dining room, stairs. This was when we, but mostly my kids, and I began experiencing new and scarier symptoms every day. I was worse off. I had no idea what was wrong with me and I began to lose my mind.
My friend suggested perhaps something was under the carpet. I then started searching the Internet again. I researched for about a week and then had a mold sample/testing company come in and test the still visible mold. I knew at that point just from the little research I had done that if it was stachybotrys we were leaving. It was at very high levels. We left taking nothing the day I got the results. I felt like I was dying and was worse for a few weeks before I started slowly getting better.
What were your symptoms?
My fiance’s symptoms: nosebleeds, dizziness, fatigue, confusion, brain fog, athletes foot, joint pain, muscle pain, agitation.
My son’s sudden onset symptoms: chronic diarrhea, ADD, insomnia, night terrors, skin discoloration, dark eye circles, violence, loss of balance, strange veins, zappy feelings in feet, head itchiness, ear itchiness, feet discoloration, excessive sweating, agitation.
My daughter’s symptoms: muscle pain, headaches, lack of appetite, fatigue, sensitivity, over emotional, spots in her vision, strange veins, bruising, skin discoloration, itchiness, hard bumps on her skin, slipping grades in school, agitation, ear ringing.
My symptoms: rashes, MRSA, impetigo, yeast infection, UTIs, tooth infections, skin abscesses, numbness in fingers and toes, strange veins, zappy feelings in feet, chest heaviness, blurry vision, crawling skin, itchy skin, dermatitis, ear ringing, insomnia, nightmares, rage, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, OCD, diarrhea, frequent urination, loss of balance, weakness, dead muscles, muscle pain, dark eye circles, rapid weight loss, rapid hair loss, ear pain, sweating out debris, painful swollen veins, twitching muscles, fatigue, food sensitivities, random stabby pains, stomach spasms, hallucinations, constant rapid eye movement, thrush, burning skin.
My cat’s symptoms: open sores on skin, loud snoring, fatigue.
My dog’s symptoms: anxiety, rashes on skin, hair loss.
My friend’s symptoms – vertigo, dizziness, rashes, fatigue, insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, depression, weight loss, hair loss.
My sister and family symptoms: athletes foot, anxiety, rage, rashes, fatigue, sensitivity.
How many doctors did you consult with?
Many. I was in the ER about ten times. I saw my primary care a few times, and an immunologist. My children saw their Pediatrician twice. We finally saw an environmental doctor/toxicologist, yet we could not afford all of the tests or any of the treatment. We now see an ND.
How helpful were the doctors you consulted with?
The ER doctors prescribed antibiotics and steroids which did not help and made me feel worse. All Doctors insisted something was wrong my immune system. Cost was an issue too because I did not have enough insurance. The last ER doctor I saw insisted my many symptoms were all due to anxiety as my cbc was in normal range. Breath into a paper bag. You’re fine. My kid’s Pediatrician also dismissed their symptoms with a normal cbc. Although my daughter had high eosinophils. I was tested for a bit more with my new primary care and he discovered deficiencies in C4, C3, and IGE but the immunologist he referred me to said I was fine.
Did any of your initial doctor visits consider mold or air quality as the cause of your sickness?
Not at all. We figured it out for ourselves. An ER doctor said I was crazy and so once I had had the house tested and I knew what was making us sick, my primary care Doctor agreed that we should leave the house. Unfortunately, this Doctor also said that we needed no treatment and we’d be just fine soon. My kid’s Pediatrician said after seeing our mycotoxin panels, that you could only get tricothecene poisoning from war not mold. She told me the CDD said so even though I had read otherwise. I mentioned what the CDC really said and she replied As far as we know, mold can’t poison you. She then said she hoped more research would be done.
When was mold identified as the cause of your sickness?
Mold was identified after the mold test done on December 12th. We then flew to see an environmental Doctor/Toxicologist in January. We had a mycotoxin panel done and tested positive for tricothecenes and ochratoxin A. We couldn’t afford anymore testing or treatment. He diagnosed us with toxic effects of molds and mycotoxins and wrote us a summary letter.
What treatment are you currently under?
We are currently being treated by an excellent ND local to us.
How long do your doctors think it will take to recover?
She believes it will take us about a year. I may take a little longer.
As a mother, we are aware of danger when we bring a child into the world. Instinctively, we try to keep our children away from danger. Unfortunately, I did not realize that mold could be a danger and it had a dramatic impact on my family’s health. If I had known this, my family would be healthy. We wouldn’t have experienced all this trauma that I would not wish on my greatest enemy. Worse, Doctors who you are supposed to trust, said I was crazy and wouldn’t help. If I had listened to them my family and I would continue to be sick and get even worse. It angers me that the Doctors said it was all in my head and that I should breathe into a paper bag to deal with my anxiety because in their view my sickness was all in my head. This is one of the worst tragedies that can happen to a family and it can be avoided with awareness.