Recovery Day 1

I’ve been picturing this morning’s breakfast for more than a month. Really I’ve been picturing it for more than 18 months I just didn’t know it.  Our four youngest children woke up today to a nebulizer, supplements, nasal sprays, hot breakfast and a swim. It's the first day I am confident I am truly helping my children.  For months I have sat in doctors' offices, vision therapists' offices, surgery waiting rooms, rehab units, emergency rooms and specialists' offices wondering if the outcome of the procedure/treatment would in fact help.

We reached Oro Valley a few days before Christmas. The journey here was by far the most difficult, pain-filled season of life I could have imagined. It began in May of 2007 when I pulled up carpet in my daughter’s room. An innocent discovery led to a spiral of tragic and mysterious events which I will post later. In short, all 9 of my children became ill from toxic mold. The symptoms varied greatly but let me mention a few. Vertigo, migraines, seizures, type one diabetes, skin rashes, ringing in the ears, depression, short-term memory loss (this is my biggest and most debilitating symptom), abdominal pain, chronic colds, and balance disturbance. Again, these are just a few.

Three months ago we were advised by two leading mold experts to vacate our 5500 square foot home filled with clothes, furniture, baby books, and memories. We left on October 4th with the clothes on our backs and quickly disposed of those. After an outpouring of love and support from am amazing community we began a new life in a rented home close by all 4 schools. I honestly believed we were going to be different. We would not have long term medical issues. My kids would do fine in their respective schools and not struggle with multiple chemical sensitivities as was suggested. We wouldn’t need medical testing to determine damage to our systems. Life would be better, I thought, because we were out of the house.

13 days after we moved out we rushed our 8 year-old to the emergency room with an “exploding head” and “pounding chest”. This was a common occurrence with Colin so I assumed it was nothing and life would , in fact, soon return to the normal I once knew. Our 12 year-old continued to appear ill and spoke of the chronic dizziness that had plagued him for the last year. I still couldn’t wake him up in the morning without numerous shakes and prods. The rashes that had plagued my 7 year-old were still there and my 10 year-old daughter still complained of headaches and motion sickness.

Still, I reasoned, my rash disappeared within days of our move as did my black tongue. Colin’s rashes on his hands slowly moved from the backs of his hands to his knuckles and finally his finger tips. "Surely, things are getting better", I thought. But deep down I knew. We needed medical help. I had been laying the groundwork to get insurance to cover a trip to Arizona to see Dr. Michael Gray. The toxicologist, Dr. Jack Thrasher, continued to recommend him. Dr. Gray had talked with us at length the day after we moved out of our home and I was stunned at his knowledge. I trusted him.

As the days wore on and I continued to see the lack of progress I knew I had to take a risk. I could no longer wait for insurance to come beside me. I made appointments for Colin and Reagan on December 2 and 3. We packed our bags and Colin experienced his first plane ride ever to see a doctor in Benson Arizona. Dr. Gray’s office was not what I expected. A small adobe building overcrowded with patients in the middle of the desert. I would come to learn that Dr. Gray's medical practice is a not-for-profit organization run by a board of directors. He is salaried and is one of the few doctors in the Tucson area to see medicare patients.

I felt a deep sense of anxiety in the waiting room. Once we saw Dr. Gray it took all of 3 minutes to know without a doubt he was the help we were seeking. He diagnosed Reagan with labyrinthitis…an inflammatory ear condition…he talked about his bone conduction and air conduction remaining as he has little hearing remaining in his left ear.He took a UV light and found numerous fungal colonies embedded in his skin. I never felt rushed and he answered all of my questions. In fact,we went to dinner with him and another family suffering from mold exposure. After months of deep struggle I was getting answers and things began to make sense.

The treatment protocol prescribed by Dr. Gray was extensive and daunting. It took 2 weeks to get all that I needed to begin but the reality of combining the regimen with “normal” life began to sink in. I felt so overwhelmed I could barely function. I knew that all of my kids would need to be treated as well as myself. I wondered about Chris and his office and unseen effects. I needed to take more kids to see him before I began the treatment. The holidays were approaching and the snow was keeping us indoors. I was losing what little bit of sanity I had left.

A church in Tucson offered us a house free of charge for 6 months.