K's Tragedy

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She was two months shy of her 42nd birthday. A single mother with three children, living on the East Coast.

I first "met" K on July 8 of 2011. She commented on a blog entry, then emailed me directly.

Wow, thank you so much—you are an inspiration!!! I could not tell if my comments were going through. My brain fog. I have read your timeline on your website about all that happened to you and the kids in Colorado and I am devastated for you and the kids. Thank God you have your husband to help you in this battle, because I am alone. I just don't know what to do and I want to leave the house ASAP because of my kids and their health. To think I am putting them at a cancer risk or other risk is terrifying.
K went on to describe her symptoms. All common with mold exposure.

In retrospect my health has been failing for years and now I have weird thoughts and psychosis/depression/wanting to commit suicide episode a few months ago. My psychiatrist who has treated me unsuccessfully for over a year said it was inflammation and sent me for Lyme testing. I found a great inflammation specialist but of course he does not take insurance. I tested super high for mold allergies. My kids and I are not having as serious reactions as your family but I am terrified. I have the swollen joints, weird thoughts, fatigue, neurological issues with tingling in the hands and feet, profuse panic and anxiety, depression, heart palpitations, brain fog, food allergies, frequent urination, inability to organize and make decisions, liver pain, every little thing makes me upset and stressed, and my cortisol levels are sky high.
She also described issues with her three children.

One has reading trouble and nervousness, another has dizzy spells, anxiety, bed wetting and a few seizure-like occurrences (that happened a few years ago). Another child has anger problems and swelling in the joints. If this is mold our exposure must be less in comparison to your exposure. I think we have a genetic predisposition because I have had asthma and weird rashes as a child. My asthma is better at this stage in my life which is perplexing. I look like the picture of health but I know something is not right and the frustration and stress are also making me sick with worry. I know I have the panic issue and it is so good to talk to someone and get some support.

I am 41 and I feel like my life is over. I was hoping to be remarried, have more kids, get my Masters degree and have a full life. Now I am devastated because what I can do now is limited and I have to take care of the kids. Can there be full recovery from this? Is it okay to exercise since that helps to remove toxins? In this world it is so hard to get the kids to stick to an anti-inflammation diet, and organic is so expensive. Can mold be fully remediated? I guess it depends on the mold. We live in a very humid area. I was always active and fun loving and now I'm not sure if I can even hold a job, and I cry so much. I have been out of work for over two years and when I go on interviews I am all over the place because of the brain fog and I do the dumbest and weirdest things. Really inappropriate and I am having trouble with anger. Should I go back on an exercise regimen? Did you move to Arizona because of the arid environment and to get away from mold as much as possible? I guess that is for the best to be out of a moldy environment because even the outdoor mold can be a trigger. The house is a mess because of my anxiety and disorganization. Is it safe to clean? Please pray God reveals if this is a mold issue as soon as possible and that the kids and I can find a safe place to stay for now until this is all figured out. Also my finances are in collapse because I have lost all my financial resources being out of work for so long and having to pay for testing.

This is so sad because my best friend and the Godmother of the kids lives next door and I hate to move away from her. I attached my resume in case you know of anyone to circulate to in Arizona.

I am going to call the insurance company and let them know over the years I had pipes leak in the house and the toilets overflowed a few times.

Thank you and God Bless!!! I will be praying for you too and I apologize for my upset, but I know you know I am overwhelmed having to fight this. I am trying to give it over to God.

Blessings to you and your family.
K and I spoke soon after this email. She was calm and collected. Kind. Smart. She didn't sound desperate, but in retrospect I know she was. She was willing to do anything to help her kids.

She and the kids left the home. I received this update on September 6:

I am struggling to find a mold-safe place to stay for me and the kids until I can get the house sold. My health seems to be deteriorating with all the stress. I was staying at a neighbor's and I started to have a reaction at her house. My tests for my house came back positive for lots of molds but nothing super toxic like what you have experienced. However with my allergic reaction and immune system it is super toxic. I seem to be most sensitive to aspergillus and alternaria, which are outside plant molds all over here in Maryland. I think God wants me to move to the desert and I am finally figuring this out. It is not healthy to live in this environment given my susceptibility, it will just keep running my immune system down since I am so allergic to outdoor environmental molds. Do you know of any network or anyplace I can stay in Arizona with my kids so we can get well and resettled? This is such an urgent situation and I know you understand this. Thank you and God Bless.
I can't recall if K moved back to the home, but I received this email on February 20, 2012:

Hi Andrea,
How are you? It would be good to touch base with you. I am still having these health/mold struggles. Has your phone number changed?
Indeed my phone number had changed. We connected and she asked if we could offer her and her kids a temporary home. Did we know of anyone who could help? Would I be willing to keep her youngest daughter to help her detox? This conversation took place at the end of March. I ached for her.

I did not speak with K again. Last week I received notice that she had taken her life on April 24. Her sister sent an email to all of her contacts.

I don't know all that went into K's decision to end her life. I do know that toxicity and depression/self-destructive thoughts and actions are connected. I've seen this in my own family. I also know that mold/health battles are lonely ones.

We need an awakening in this country to the reality of environmental illness and its link with mental health. I hope and pray K's story moves us toward that end.

Thank you for reading this. And sharing in the deep pain of this tragedy.