When did you move into your current home?
We moved into an old farmhouse in June of 2011.
How many years have you lived there?
We lived there until October of 2012.
How soon after you began living there did you begin to feel sick?
My family of 7 moved into the farm house and one week after moving in we were all vomiting. Two weeks after moving in my symptoms started.
What were your symptoms?
I developed chronic daily headaches and migraines after moving in. After a month, more debilitating symptoms followed. I developed chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, headaches/migraines, hair loss, dizziness, insomnia, light sensitivity, multiple sinus infections, memory issues, mood swings, static shock, blurred vision, tinnitus, ear infection, chronic sinusitis and mild to moderate chemical sensitivities. I also developed hyperthyroidism and graves disease.
My children developed a variety of symptoms ranging from headaches, muscle cramps, bloody noses (5 to 6 nights a week), depression, eczema and the auto-immune disease alopecia.
Mold gave me a variety of symptoms that made no sense to any doctor and that’s how I fell through the medical cracks. I didn’t respond to typical treatments from the multitude of doctors I’ve seen. Mold gave me many symptoms but what it has taken from me is proving to be the worst symptoms of all. I have five beautiful children and my passion in life was being a mother. I had no greater joy in life than raising my children with my best friend, my husband, by my side. Mothering went from being my passion in life to being the hardest and most difficult part of my life. My kids ask me all the time, “When will I have my old mom back?” This is the most heart breaking part of this illness. There are so many water damaged buildings and homes that I can no longer enter because of my bodies reaction to them which means missed volleyball games, missed orchestra concerts, missed play productions etc. It pains me to miss not only the mother I was but the activities of our every day life. However, this gives me all the motivation in life to heal from this illness. Every day is a struggle but I have the best motivation of all, my husband and children.
I am also blessed in so many ways through the support of my family, friends and our church. I could not do this without their help. It has been difficult to rely on others for the things I used to do on my own but having such a strong support system has truly been a blessing to me and my family. God truly gives everyone gifts to use and when those gifts are intertwined in the midst of believers that’s when miracles happen. I am true testament to that and have been blessed to witness it.
How many doctors did you consult with?
I consulted with 2 primary care physicians, 2 ENT’s, 2 Allergists, 2 neurologists, 4 physical therapists, 1 holistic doctor, 1 naturopath doctor, 2 chiropractors, 1 pain clinic, 1 weight loss clinic, 1 endocrinologist and finally ended up at Dr. Keith Bendtson’s office with Park Ridge Multied. Dr. Keith Berndtson is a mold certified doctor.
How helpful were the doctors you consulted with?
Each and every traditional doctor tried to control and treat the symptoms but never tried to discover the root cause of my symptoms. My holistic doctor put me on a mold free rotation diet and ordered vitamin IV’s which were helpful. However, no doctors knew how to treat it until I discovered Dr. Keith Berndtson.
Dr. Berndtson was an answer to prayer and just the doctor I needed. He is not only knowledgeable on rare illnesses like mold but is also empathetic, listens to his patients, spends time with his patients and has a strong desire to heal those who are suffering from unexplained symptoms/illnesses or mis-diagnoses.
Did any of your initial doctor visits consider mold or air quality as the cause of your sickness?
The only doctors who considered the environment were the allergists I saw. One allergist treated it as a mold allergy instead of mold poisoning. Therefore, all treatments were ineffective. My second allergist knew about toxic black mold and advised leaving my environment but had no idea how to treat me. Unfortunately, at that time I didn’t realize mold allergies and mold toxicity were two different things and that is why typical mold allergy treatments were ineffective.
When was mold identified as the cause of your sickness?
A friend of mine heard an advertisement on the radio about mold and the effects it could have on someone’s health. She called me right away and that’s when I researched online and realized mold poisoning was the cause of my symptoms. We called in a remediation company and found black mold climbing on the walls in the basement, a different mold was covering all of our belongings in the basement and asbestos was found around some piping near the furnace. We later discovered mold behind wallpaper, in the walls/ceilings and under carpets. We spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on remediation ONLY to discover the home remained too toxic for us to live in symptom free.
What treatment are you currently under?
I am currently being treated by Dr.Keith Berndtson. I am on the Shoemaker Protocol. I have both mold HLA susceptible genes. The treatment works but unfortunately I end up being re-exposed and having to start all over. A lot of my severe symptoms are gone and I am able to function on a day to day basis. However, I still struggle with daily fatigue, headaches, facial pain and fibro symptoms. It is a constant battle staying ahead of mold. I recently found out my current home has a mold problem and was taken off the protocol until I can find a safe place to live again.
How long do your doctors think it will take to recover?
If I’m in a safe place the healing process should take 3 to 6 months. However, it could be up to a year until I feel the most benefits from this protocol. The trick is to STAY AWAY FROM THE MOLD! This is proving to be a difficult task with many bumps in the road.
Not everyone has the genetic susceptibility to mold but anyone can be affected by mold in some way. If you suffer from a variety of symptoms, chronic fatigue syndrome or Fibromyalgia, mold could be your problem! Mold sufferers are often the patients who fall through the cracks of the medical field. Keep pushing and searching for answers!
If your health is being affected by mold or you suspect it is, it's important to find the RIGHT doctor who will order the proper blood work. You can find this lab sheet on Dr. Shoemaker's Surviving Mold website and all lab tests should be ordered through Quest and/or Labcorp. Once the proper blood work is drawn and read by a certified doctor you'll know if mold toxicity is your problem.
If you'r interested in testing your house I've had great success with www.mycometrics.com. The ERMI test has provided accurate results when testing my home.
If you'd like to follow my journey, a friend of mine started a page called, "A mission for Mary" on Facebook. Under the "more" tab on this page a drop down menu will appear. If you click on the "notes" I have links to books, websites, podcasts, YouTube videos and more. There's a lot of misinformation on the web and it's vital to find the most accurate information. Please feel free to message me if you have any questions. If I do not know the answer, chances are I know someone who will.
If you currently know someone or are dealing with an individual with an invisible illness please remember these rare illnesses are real and above all else you are dealing with a human being! People who suffer day in and day out should not have to deal with your doubt or intolerance for their illness. If you have doubt please work to educate yourself first and ask questions to help better understand the individual's illness. Negativity has never healed anyone and when you're dealing with a rare illness, a long journey and often hopeless situations, it's important to be part of the healing process instead of contributing to the problem.