The following interview appeared in the May 2014 newsletter of Samaritan Ministry. Samaritan offers a Biblical, non-insurance approach to medical care, and after six years of pursuing health via nutrition and other alternatives, we are excited about the unique program offered by Samaritan. (Read more about Samaritan here. Read more about our decision at Our Decision to Opt Out of Health Insurance.)
Thanks to Brittany Klaus of Samaritan for all of her work in compiling this interview.
Chris and Andrea Fabry and their nine children began experiencing puzzling health problems after they moved from Chicago to Colorado. They saw dozens of doctors and specialists for the next eight years, but their health continued to deteriorate. Despite the insistence of medical professionals that the family members’ illnesses were unrelated, a determined Andrea put the pieces of the puzzle together in 2008 and was finally able to identify toxic mold exposure as the culprit. Below, Chris and Andrea give a brief summary of their family’s ordeal.
Chris Fabry (CF): We moved to Colorado in 2000. We bought a dream house—5,500 square feet. We thought we would grow old and die in that house. We almost did. Behind the walls, unseen by us, were two leaks that were in the original construction.
Andrea Fabry (AF): In the first year of moving into the home our 6-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a seizure disorder, another daughter developed food allergies, and another a mood disorder. Our dog developed diabetes, a bird died, and we found ourselves at the doctor constantly for viruses, colds, and respiratory problems.
We made no connection with the home until we found black mold seven years after moving into the home. We hired the wrong remediators who tore open the walls and blew toxic spores into our ventilation system. Within six weeks of the remediation our 7-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and within three months our 11-year-old son developed ringing in the ears, and ultimately a serious balance issue. He was wrongly diagnosed with Meniere’s disease. Our 9-year-old daughter was diagnosed with convergence insufficiency (a vision disorder), our 6-year-old showed severe behavioral problems, and the list went on. After one year of the most serious illnesses we found mold again and finally made the connection.
We saw more than 60 doctors in 2007-2008. Not one doctor suggested the home might be contributing to the myriad of illnesses in the family. In fact, they were not interested in the other illnesses. They focused on a particular child only.
CF: Most of the medical professionals just wanted to treat the symptoms of the individual kids. What we learned was that a good veterinarian, when he sees that you have multiple animals that are sick in the barn, will ask, first, “What are you feeding them?” and second, “What’s going on in that barn?” But none of the doctors asked, “What’s going on in the house?” It was just, “No, it’s not related to that. We don’t think it’s that.”
I was very resistant. I was totally convinced that it wasn’t the house. I was the biggest apologist for the other side, thinking that if we just get the right medication, we’ll get this thing cleared up. Then when it all came together for me, I realized that if there’s anybody out there who really believes that this is a problem, we’ve got to find who that is. And that’s what my wife did—she did all the legwork and found the doctor down here [Arizona].
AF: Only thanks to the Internet did I figure out the connection. Once I started to research Stachybotrys (our prevailing type of mold) did I see how many of the illnesses were related.
After corresponding with a leading toxicologist in the field of toxic mold we made the difficult decision to treat the home like a fire and leave everything behind. We chose to start over. Once we did this and we were still symptomatic we sought medical help from a mold specialist in Arizona. As I was having difficulty functioning with a severe brain injury and liver problems, I suggested we seek refuge in the desert to try to turn our health around. My husband agreed to do whatever it took.
CF: We did a regimen of prescriptions and detoxing for several months, and we realized that we were reacting as much to the medication as we were to what we still had inside of us from the mold. That’s when we tried to figure out the best way to combat this in a natural way, and that’s when we went more toward an approach of less drugs and more alternative methods: What you eat, what you put into your body, exercise, living as naturally as you can. We stayed away from processed foods and pesticides. I lost 70-80 pounds in the next 16 months from the diet change and exercise, so this ordeal has, in a way, made me healthier than I’ve ever been.
AF: We developed severe chemical sensitivity several months after leaving the home. This commonly occurs in individuals exposed to high levels of mold. The detoxifying capability of the body is compromised and therefore is unable to cope with normal, everyday toxins such as pesticides, fragrances, carpet chemicals, etc. We used activated charcoal, clay and other supplements to detox, and during the initial phases we became much worse. As we stuck with the radical dietary changes and continued with alternative treatments, we noticed improvements. It took several years of patience.
Before, our kids could not work or be in school. Now, all are able to participate in life again. The chemical sensitivity has improved dramatically, and my brain function has improved. There are still lingering effects from the mold exposure. Our son has Type 1 diabetes. Mood issues are still present. Post-traumatic stress plays a role. Our son’s ear ringing and vertigo can reappear. Rashes still exist (though vastly improved). I still struggle with memory problems.
CF: It’s still controversial because the mold diagnosis is not accepted in mainstream medicine. I get emails and people will write these nasty comments on things that we’ve posted that say “This is crazy” and “You guys are all making this up.” The only thing I know is that I’ve lived through it, and I saw what it did to my body, I saw what it did to my wife, to my kids, to the pets that we had. So, for us it was a very real thing that we had to figure out. Our home insurance and our health insurance didn’t cover any of the damages, but our family and the body of Christ came alongside in unbelievable ways. Until recently we had health insurance, but we don’t go to the doctor much anymore. We’re eating healthier, exercising and allowing our bodies to repair themselves as much as possible.
When we first got out of the house, it was all about mold, all the time. Mold’s bad, mold hurt us, mold stole our house, mold stole our life. We were going to write a book about the experience, but the longer we’ve lived the more we’ve realized it isn’t really about the mold. It is in the sense you have to deal with the problems and struggles, but the deeper issue here is about what God is doing inside of you, what God is drawing you toward through whatever you’re struggling with. He’s bringing you to a new place in your life, and you can either make it about the bad that you’re trying to get over, or you can make it about moving toward Him, and moving toward life. That’s what we’ve seen with the level of losses we’ve had. This is the purpose—He came to give you life and give it abundantly. I don’t know that I would have stopped eating the way I did. I probably would have heart disease and die a lot sooner. I don’t know if I’d be spiritually where I am today, if that hadn’t happened in 2008. It’s just a fact of life—when you go through that kind of struggle and you lose just about everything, it does something to you, it does something inside of you.
This interview first appeared in the May 2014 newsletter of Samaritan Ministries.
- 46I am the wife of Chris and mom to 9 children. I like to think outside the box and encourage others to do the same. I have an incessant curiosity about environmental health, one of the many outcomes of our family's encounter with toxic mold. (Read more here.) I am certified…