It has been nearly seven years since we vacated our home. We treated it like a fire and brought nothing with us. (Read our toxic mold saga here.) It seemed like a radical move at the time.
Had a toxicologist and medical doctor not advised us, we would have brought our belongings with us. After our recent experience, I’m glad we listened.
“Treat your home like it was on fire,” Dr. Jack Thrasher advised. His reasoning made sense – enough to do the drastic thing and replace everything. (See Why the Dumpsters?)
I thought nothing of my eyeglasses. I was wearing them when we left and I continued wearing them without a second thought.
In the winter of 2010, eighteen months after we left, I noticed some bumps on the ridge of my nose.
The bumps had been there all along but for some reason I suddenly noticed them. Was my aggressive detox impacting my brain? It felt like my brain was waking up!
Immediately I threw away the glasses. Within a few days, the bumps were gone.
While I had no concern about cross contamination from the glasses, I had a newfound respect for the advice to leave everything behind.
The only other items we brought from our home were important documents and scrapbooks. These have remained in our garage sealed in bins. (See The Bigger Picture.)
In 2014, our oldest son successfully transported one of the scrapbooks to an office store for scanning. He kept the book wrapped in plastic and the book was transferred into digital form. He used the digital photos to create a wedding video for my daughter and her new husband.
I decided to do another book – this one for our daughter’s upcoming birthday. My husband carefully retrieved it. I set off for the office store.
I transported the book in a garbage bag. I walked into the office store and decided not to worry about handling it.
After all, I reasoned, it’s been many years. There’s no sign of mold on the book, and I’ve come so far. Surely I’m beyond that level of sensitivity. My chemical sensitivity has greatly improved, why would I need to worry about this scrapbook?
I casually pulled it out. I paged through the book, putting post-it notes on the pages I wanted to be scanned.
Immediately my nose started running and my chest tightened. I was shocked. I haven’t felt that chest tightness for years!
It could be psychological, I reasoned. I’m open to any possibility when it comes to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Touching the books brought back so many painful memories, it made sense that my chest could tighten simply from the emotions.
Nonetheless, I felt a renewed clarity that leaving everything behind was a good decision. We will enjoy our scrapbooks digitally.
The respiratory issues hung on for a few hours. I thought nothing more of it.
The next day I was fine and forgot about the scrapbook incident. It was the back-to-school week at our house and I was busy filling out paperwork, buying schools supplies and helping the kids transition into their new schools.
Two days after handling the scrapbook I noticed a rash on my hand. I had not seen this rash in more than four years. (View some of our rashes during detox here.)
In fact, one of the biggest benefits of my improved health has been the absence of rashes. My skin has been the softest it has been in my life. My high-fat diet seems to have done miracles for my skin.
I didn’t make an immediate connection with the scrapbooks. I was baffled. The rash was itchy and familiar. Then it dawned on me: the scrapbook!
I can’t say for certain that handling the scrapbook caused the rash. There’s always an element of mystery when it comes to symptoms like these. But I’m willing to assume there’s a connection. More recently my husband paged through some of the scrapbooks and noticed the return of numbness in his wrist.
Our experience reminds of Superman and his vulnerability to kryptonite, the fictional radioactive ore that threatens his power. In popular culture, kryptonite symbolizes a person’s perceived weakness, irrespective of its nature. It’s a problem for the superhero only.
I don’t worry about someone else touching the scrapbooks. They don’t have the same vulnerability and are unlikely to have an inflammatory response.
But after this incident, I’m leaving the kryptonite alone.
- 31Perhaps you’re reading this because a family member has tried to convince you that your bizarre reactions to environmental triggers are psychological. Perhaps you’re the person who feels crazy while everyone around you is frustrated and perplexed. By far the best explanation of this illness is found in the book…
I have been suffering with the following symptoms – a terribly itchy rash from head to toe, low grade temps, swollen face, swollen lymph glands in my torso, and neck ever since cleaning and painting a rental three weeks ago. I saw mold when cleaning and can’t convince doctors that I inhaled or absorbed mold through my skin. These symptoms are affecting my work and just life in general. Help!!Who do I contact?
Andrea Fabry says
You’ve made an important connection, Laurie. If you no longer are exposed to this rental then it’s possible you will detox this slowly on your own. Keep listening to your body and your instincts.
Lana Christian says
15 years after fleeing a mold-infested house that was built improperly, I finally had a doctor say, “We need to pull mold toxins out of your body.” Testing showed 6x what’s considered a toxic level in the body for two categories of mycotoxins. I can’t begin to describe the h*** that has caused our entire family, but I was affected the worst. It cost me my marriage. I’m in a good environment now but will lose it soon (a rental that the owners don’t want to rent anymore). I’ve been getting treated for it for 1.5 years and am finally starting to get better, but my doctor is losing his battle to cancer so am losing my MD and my housing within the next 3 months. Any suggestions for MCS-safe and mold-less housing? I’ve been looking nationwide.
Andrea Fabry says
Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so glad to hear you’ve made progress. It’s tough to find safe housing. I don’t have any specific resources to suggest – just keep listening to your gut instincts as you search.
I’m aware of at least a half dozen people who were able to recover from toxic mold-related ME/CFS without throwing out all their belongings, just FYI.
Andrea Fabry says
Yes, it’s very individual isn’t it, Marcia?
Cat LeVasseur says
Andrea I just found your site today. 6 yrs ago we realized we were living in a house with black mold. It was hiding behind a book shelf and behind our washer and dryer. We only found it when we moved out due to Lyme Disease and other health challenges. As a family we have many health concerns. Can you naturally detox from mold over time? How do you determine if you do have toxic mold issues? My son and I have detox issues and for now have to be very careful how we go about detoxing. I would appreciate any thoughts you or others may have. We are in a new home in a very sunny place. Our food and household products are clean and green. We are addressing stress and lifestyle. We are presently taking supplements to address MTHFR issues and Lyme bio films. Thanks!
Andrea Fabry says
It sounds like you’re doing great, Cat. I’m glad you make the connection with the former house and feel good where you are.
Here is my detox routine that I still keep for the most part.
Here is some basic information on detoxing that may offer some additional insight.
Overall, time has been my friend. Once I let go of a timetable and relaxed, I found myself embracing the process. I hope this encourages you.