There is no way for me to forget November 4th, 2016. For years our family had been dealing with illness. This story is about the home we thought was our safe haven. Little did we know it was killing us. Literally.
Our youngest daughter had started having some interesting vision challenges. We went to see Dr. Patrick right away. He did an exam and sent us to our optometrist. Everything was fine. But it wasn’t. Wednesday, November 4th we went back to Dr. Patrick to share our results. I’ll never forget when he finished adjusting our girls and sent them to go get one of their favorite xylitol suckers. After they left the room, he turned to my husband and me and told us he suspected something. He asked us to read a website and look around our home. I pulled it up on my phone as I sat in his room. Black mold. My head started spinning. No. We were in the process of selling our home and moving to Fort Worth, Texas. Mold would really put a wrench in that plan. No. I had never seen mold in our home. Find a new answer. Just no.
We left the office in a serious brain spin. Of course, I did what any momma would do. I started reading immediately, panicked and told my husband he had to drive us to the closest store. We needed to buy new pillows. Before bedtime in two hours. We tucked our girls into sleep mats and air mattresses on the living room floor. I had a hunch.
Searching for Toxic Mold
The next day I grabbed a flashlight and started searching. Months earlier, my sister and I had pulled out an area of the basement that had been transformed into a workout area before we bought the house. It had smelled musty and we thought taking it out would help resale value. Sure enough. In the floorboards above my head, right under the living room, I saw some of the tell-tale signs I had seen on the websites I’d searched the night before. I started scouring and disinfecting. I was going to conquer this. After all, I’m the momma and most of the websites made it sound like no big deal…except for the ones that didn’t. But I was hopeful, so I chose not to look at those too much. I threw Legos into bins of vinegar, sprayed tea tree oil everywhere and opened all the windows. In November. In Wisconsin.
We continued the same for the next few days. We had our middle daughter, Marina’s blood drawn to test for mold. When it came back weeks later, the blood markers were off the charts. She was having the most severe reactions with seizures we just couldn’t get under control, insomnia, chapped skin, and just all out loosing her spunky zest for life. Finally, on Saturday morning after Lauryn and Marina were having back-to-back petite mal seizures for nearly an hour, my husband told me to call my mom and find a safe place for the girls while we attacked the house. That morning we grabbed the girls, took them to my parent’s home next door, stripped them down in the garage and had them take a shower as soon as they walked into my parents’ home. My mom clothed the kids in spare clothes she kept at her home. That was the last time my girls would see their home. And most of their stuff.
My husband and I did all we could, used an ozone machine where we could, sprayed vinegar and tea tree solutions where we could, and prayed. We had to sell the house. We had to move. We did all we could for three weeks, working morning till night together on the weekends. I did what I could during the week. We had all been ill, however I hadn’t started to see how ill until we moved out. The aches and fatigue that had become a normal part of life were becoming more evident. Some days I just couldn’t move.
Finally, after having a couple inspectors come and look over our home, we had to face reality. They looked in the attic directly over our sweet girls’ bedrooms. Mold. Every night we tucked them in they were breathing in toxic mold spores due to condensation, freezing and thawing. It was beyond what we thought. It was on everything, in everything and destroying everything. And yet we had never seen even the slightest indication. It was beyond remediation. The situation was grim. To remediate the house, it would take tearing the house back to studs over three floors and hoping we didn’t miss a speck nor spore in the process. Most likely we’d also have to work some places from the outside in also. It would cost more than the house was worth. The house we were trying to sell.
Looking For Mold Answers
We called the insurance company. They did nothing for mold. We looked into government programs, nothing. We had been told to pretend we had a fire and leave everything. But there would be no insurance to cover our loss. The baby blankets. The stuffed animals the girls had each been given the day they were born and had first slept without the night we moved them to my parents’ house-even our then sixteen-year-old. Their American girl dolls. Their pictures. The quilts their grandmother had made for Christmas the year before. Our health. I was sad for what I had lost, but my precious girls; my heart broke for them. We managed to have laptops, cell phones, stainless steel cookware and our wedding rings remediated. The rest was left to rot.
I continued to read websites of other people’s stories and testimonies. So many people had suffered from the effects of the same horrible situation. The answers were the same. Insurance companies turned their backs and doctors wrote them off as crazy. The medical community considers mold a non-issue. There isn’t a protocol, there isn’t a pill to push, there isn’t an issue. Most people are given steroid creams for the skin issues and psychiatric drugs for the wicked mental effects mold plays in the brain. The joint and muscle pain is written off as in the head or maybe more meds are tried. But nothing will get to the root and start cleansing the toxic grip mold has on the body. The Wellness Way was our only hope. Dr. Patrick was confident and informed. We are so grateful he thinks differently.
Hope After Mold
One of our family’s mottos is “Where there is breath, there is hope.” We still had breath. Sometimes it was wheezy and shallow; but we had breath and we had hope. We started on a plan with Dr. Patrick. One thing I’m grateful he’s always told us, “Play the long game. You didn’t get sick overnight, you won’t heal overnight. You have to think differently.” After getting a plan in place we chose to continue on with our plan to move. We would continue with our Wellness Way doctors from a distance. We needed a fresh start. Three years ago, as I write this, we were driving to our new home in Fort Worth, Texas. Everyone’s skin has healed, everyone can breathe deeper, we have more stamina, we have fewer aches and pains, we have overcome anxiety and insomnia and so many food allergies. Inflammation has gone down and the girls have grown up. Are we all perfectly back to what I had hoped? Not yet, but we still have breath. And we still have hope. We’re playing the long game and thinking differently.
My hope for others is for them to think differently. Maybe insurance won’t cover it. So what. What’s the right thing to do? Maybe it will take longer than hoped. So what. Do the right thing. As long as you have breath.