The following is another story of toxic mold exposure. It's the story of a woman who, like so many hit with the mysterious and unexplainable symptoms, began to question her sanity.
Up until August the symptoms that I had been struggling with, and somewhat managing, were headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin. Every morning I woke up feeling like I was coming off of some weird drug, like anesthesia. I would stumble out of bed. This feeling would usually wear off by mid-morning, except on the weekends it never went away. My right ear was sensitive to certain sounds, one of the main reasons I’d become a recluse. Each morning for the first few hours I would clear freakish amounts of mucus from my sinuses. This increased so gradually that I became conditioned and sadly didn’t give it the attention I wish I had, because this was a symptom that possibly would have put me on the path of discovery sooner. After numerous medical appointments, I gave up trying to seek answers from doctors. Plus any medicines given only made me feel worse. My dog was also having weird breathing problems—she would often hyperventilate, and the vet had no idea why.
These symptoms would wax and wane—common with mold, because the spores can go dormant and then when disturbed or moisture conditions become just right, they again release toxins in the air. Because of this pattern I thought I was going crazy, and I‘m sure others thought so, too.
When my symptoms were bad I’d simply tell people "my migraines are back," referring to all the above rather than giving details. As I became sicker I left the house less frequently, so a vicious cycle developed. The more I stayed home, the sicker I became.
It never occurred to me that my house could be making me sick. And even later on when others began to make the connection, I dismissed the idea. It sounded so far-fetched. Like most people, I thought that mold could only cause allergic/respiratory type symptoms. I had no idea that it could cause neurological symptoms and damage the central nervous system.
Then she thought about her toilet that had overflowed onto her bedroom carpeting. She tested her home and found high levels of aspergillus/penicillium in her bedroom wall and carpet.
The spore count (even with my five air filters running) was off the charts. A spore count over 650 is considered unsafe, and mine was in excess of 200,000. Maybe I’m not crazy after all.
Before these test results she contemplated the possible causes of her mysterious symptoms. She entertained all sorts of possibilities, such as:
a) I'm losing my mind.
b) Post-traumatic stress from my head injury (5 years ago) is making me create somatic symptoms.
c) Aliens are abducting me nightly and drugging me. This explains the way I feel every morning.
d) The Klonopin I took for migraines two years ago somehow damaged my brain and central nervous system during the withdrawal.
e) The woman who died in this house before we moved in is haunting me and making me sick.
f) Someone is poisoning/drugging me.
g) I’ve turned into a hypochondriac.
Or the final option:
h) It was all from the mold and now I finally understand what is going on with my body.
Her story continues to this day as she struggles with residual health issues. She struggles to find safe housing as well. Still, life has improved. And like most of us impacted by toxic mold, she has gained immeasurable amounts of knowledge.
Knowledge she hopes to impart to others by sharing her story.