The day was November 13, 2014. My daughter had just had surgery the day before and was resting fitfully on the couch. I was next to her, trying my best to ease her pain. Our cat made his way out from behind the couch and jumped up to snuggle.
And that simple act was the beginning of the end…
You see, my cat smelled like mold. Horribly. I can’t describe how moldy he smelled but it was terrible. Gag worthy. I got a pit in my stomach because I knew. I had suspicions for a long time but the moldy cat sent me into hyper-overdrive. I knew we had a mold problem and I knew it was a big one.
I immediately pulled the couch away from the wall and the smell was overpowering. I seriously almost tossed my cookies. It was so bad. I got down on my hands and knees and felt the carpet. It was damp. I sniffed the carpet. I almost passed out. Not kidding.
And then, I had a moment of panic. I knew that I needed to test for mold and fast. Luckily, I had become online friends with another blogger, Andrea, from It Takes Time. She went through a horrific toxic mold experience years ago and I had followed her journey. She had a list of “where to start” type resources on her website so I immediately looked up the company that could do a vacuum dust sampling (called an ERMI). I ordered the test kit after an hour long conversation with the microbiologist and owner of the company. 10 long days later, I was sampling my living room, which I knew had an issue, and my bedroom, which I was positive from totally free and clear.
I will never forget the day the mold test results came in.
Monday, December 8th. I opened the email with the report and glaring up at me were numbers in the tens of thousands and lots and lots of names of various molds. I knew the report was bad. I just didn’t know how bad.
I emailed Andrea the report. She has seen hundreds of reports. She knows what she is looking at. She advised me to not return home. Yes, the mold in our home was bad. Beyond bad. We were teaming with high levels of toxic mold. We had an ERMI score of 19.04. A score of 20 is the worst case scenario. Did you read that? We were a 19.04 out of 20.
I got off the phone with Andrea, took a deep breath, then freaked out while at my daughter’s horseback riding lesson. I knew what this meant. I had been doing mass amounts of research ever since discovering the issue in the living room. I knew what was coming. Or at least I thought I did. I thought I was prepared for the worse.
Since December 8th, my life has been one giant nightmare.
The blows seem to keep coming and coming. Bad news piles upon bad news.
Mold literally ruined my life and that of my family.
Since my then husband and my father were convinced there must be a mistake, I hired a hygienist and also a toxicologist (who is also an immunologist) to come in and do further testing, inspections, and evaluations. I knew there was no mistake. The mold problem explained the years of health issues my daughter and I have been battling. They explained the recent health issues that were honestly debilitating me. More on that later.
The hygienist found water damage in our living room and bedroom. Yes, the bedroom. MAJOR water damage. And here I was convinced that this room was the one that was totally cool. The water damage wasn’t from a recent event either. This was something that had been happening for a long time.
The toxicologist (Dr. Jack Thrasher – one of the nation’s leading mold experts) did further ERMI testing which also looked at the breakdown of mycotoxins being produced by the molds present. While costly, and I mean COSTLY, this test helped us better understand our exposure and what this might mean for our long term health, both from a treatment perspective but also from a permanent damage perspective.
Basically, our home is overrun with the mycotoxin Trichothecene. It is what is used in biological warfare to give you some perspective. 0.2 is considered “toxic”. We had levels as high as 5.97. That is deadly. Plain and simple. Our home was killing us.
Dr. Thrasher also tested for moisture throughout our home. Every single wall in our home had high levels of moisture. Every. Single. Wall. And yet, there was not an iota of visible mold. That scared me. How did we not know that our house was literally a breeding ground from top to bottom?
The most eye-opening portion of Dr. Thrasher’s initial visit was the preliminary neurological testing he conducted on my husband and I. My husband pretty much passed which wasn’t a surprised to Dr. Thrasher. Since Rasta Daddy isn’t home 22 hours a day like my daughter and I are, he wasn’t breathing in as many mold spores.
So what about me? Well, I failed the test. It wasn’t the worst failure Dr. Thrasher had ever seen but he did give me a hug and tell me that he was very worried about my long-term health. He pulled no punches and warned me that I may have some permanent neurological damage. Folks, this means that there is MOLD IN MY BRAIN!
We did not test my daughter but the assumption is that she is at a high risk for severe issues as well. After all, she has been living, growing, and developing in a highly toxic environment since conception.
My heart sank. My job as a mother is to protect my daughter. And here she was living in a toxic pit. Here I was living in a toxic pit.
There was a lot that happened in a one week period once we met with Dr. Thrasher and we really got an understanding of the situation. It was a whirlwind of phone calls and meetings. Of decision making. Of tears. Of frustration. Of anger. Of worry. Of blame. Of regret. Of denial. Of confusion.
So here is a quick breakdown (with more details to come in future posts to help you all understand the severity of toxic mold) of what has happened to us and where we are headed in the future:
- On December 12, 2014, my daughter and I vacated our house, leaving our pets and Rasta Daddy behind. Since our health issues were the worst, we needed to leave. We left with nothing. We even took off our clothes we were wearing and threw them away.
- We invaded my parents’ house as a temporary shelter.
- I quickly purchased a couple of days’ worth of clothes and some other essentials.
- We made an appointment to see one of the few doctors in this country who specializes in mold. Sadly, she can’t see us until early March.
- I opened a claim with our homeowner’s insurance. It was denied. Mold is not covered in California unless it is due to a natural disaster. Ours wasn’t. Structural issues with a home are not covered in California unless they are due to a sudden event like a fire or flood. Ours wasn’t. So we have no, ZERO, financial assistance by way of insurance.
- We looked into a lawsuit against the builder. We met with one of the best attorney’s in our area. They were very honest with us about the likely outcome as well as how much money we would need to invest on the front end to even get a lawsuit off the ground. Unfortunately, the guy who built our home was just some local small-time plumber looking to flip a house. The likelihood that he even had anything to go after was slim. Plus, we couldn’t invest $50,000 to do what it would take to have a real lawsuit. So there is no chance of financial recourse via a lawsuit against the builder.
- We began remediating our pets. We started with our new bunny. We literally only had her a few days when we vacated our home. So Dr. Thrasher felt that she only needed a special bath and grooming which we did. Our cats however are a much more complicated and expensive story. Getting them “mold free” requires that they are all completely shaved, nails trimmed as far down as possible, orifices scrubbed, skin cleaned with a funguscide, etc, etc. It is very expensive. We have one cat who is now remediated and living with us at my parents. We are not sure what we can do about the others. Money is an issue as is our living arrangement.
So what about our house? What about our possessions.
Well, technically we are homeless right now with next to nothing. We have a very short term place to stay and a few things such as clothes and toiletries and a few toys for my daughter but really, we have nothing.
Our house basically needs to be torn down and rebuilt. It has structural issues that are not an easy fix. The house cannot simply be remediated. We have to fix the structure itself. We are already upside down in our house due to the downturn in the economy. Therefore, we already owe more than it is worth. You do the math. We obvious have no choice when it comes to the house. It make no sense to sink several hundred thousand dollars into rebuilding.
All our earthly belongings? Gone. All of them. Important tax records have been sealed up and put into storage but beyond that, we had to leave it all. Mold is a nasty living creature that intrudes upon and in every crack and crevice. It can lie dormant for 50 years. Even if you do not have the right conditions for it to grow, mold spores can continue to cause all kinds of health issues. The mycotoxin levels in our home alone preclude us from taking anything. It would be disastrous for our health. Dr. Thrasher along with many other leading toxicologists and microbiologists have made it clear that we are to take nothing.
My heart is broken. Stuff is just stuff. I could care less about our couch, our desk, clothes. But it’s the sentimental stuff. The journals I wrote in every day since the day I found out I was pregnant. The photographs that aren’t digital. The baby clothes. My daughter’s baby blanket. My dog’s ashes. My daughter’s beloved stuffed kitty that she has slept with and carried around forever. Her artwork. The things we will never ever be able to replace. Loosing memories breaks my heart wide open. It would break your heart open too.
Walking away from a mold infested home is worse than a fire or natural disaster. There is insurance coverage in those circumstances. There are public assistance programs that can help you rebuild. We have nothing. No help. We have racked up a huge debt just doing all the testing on our home. We have medical bills in our future that are going to be mind-blowingly high. And somehow, we are expected to move on with our lives and rebuild with nothing to rebuild with.
Close your eyes and put yourself in my shoes for five seconds. Can you feel my pain? Can you feel how impossible this all is?
There is however one light at the end of the tunnel and that is our health. For the past six months I have been feeling increasingly lousy physically despite doing a ton of work to heal myself. If you will recall, I had an intense surgery in January 2014 and I committed myself to healing ALL of me once I was through the first six months of recovery.
For the past few months, I had been experiencing feelings that I can only equate to being drunk. I was having horrible headaches all the time. Headaches that never went away. I was moody. More than moody. I was an ass. The mold explains everything.
In case you are skeptical, I haven’t had a single headache since leaving our home. I haven’t felt drunk. When you sleep closed up in a mold infested room it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that you wake up with a severe headache from mold exposure. All my goofy heart issues this past year? Mold related. My daughter’s severe behavioral changes? Mold. Her sleep issues? Mold. Her allergies? Mold. I’m even guessing that my onset of ulcerative colitis in 2010 is attributed to mold. Sudden onset of autoimmune disease is a known side effect of toxic mold exposure.
I have a two page list of oddball health issues that I have been plagued with for the past 6 years. I guarantee that most, if not all, are related to the mold. I’m not pulling any punches. Had we stayed, I am quite sure I would have died far earlier than I was supposed to. My daughter? Probably not a great outcome for her either.
We had some very specific lab work run that looks at the levels of mycotoxins in our bodies. My daughter and I have extremely high levels although mine are worse. Simply put, we are in very, very bad shape with a long road in front of us.
Getting out of a toxic environment that was basically killing us slowly is a blessing. But we have a lot of work to do before we are healthy again. My daughter and I are no strangers to hard work and dedication when it comes to our health. So I am up for the challenge no matter what it takes and how far we have to travel to get help.
Rasta Daddy might not need as much help as we will health wise. That remains to be seen. However, he is starting to have some insight into what he thought we “small” health nuisances. He realizes that he does indeed have mold related health issues.
Our biggest struggle right now is building a life from nothing. I homeschool. I need stuff to do that with. I have to cook 100% of what I eat from scratch. I have nothing for a kitchen. We have no beds to sleep in. No table to eat at. No blankets. No towels.
I lost my entire library. It was extensive with a lot of unique and rare books. All my resources for this blog are gone. All of my natural health resources were ripped away from me.
My humble little apothecary – gone. I have nothing to keep my family’s immunity up and this is when we need to most.
How do you decide what to spend money on? It’s hard. Obviously we need a place to live but we don’t even have the resources to make that happen yet. How can we get all the other things we need just to survive at a basic level?
I have an entirely new appreciation for a large percentage of our population. The population that is homeless, between homes, coach surfing, living on public assistance. The population that gets by on the bare minimum and sometimes not even that. The population for which real food isn’t an option. The population for which natural health alternatives are not within the realm of possibility. I feel deeply for this population. I am part of this population although to a lesser degree. At least I have enjoyed some of these benefits over the course of the past five years. I had these luxuries and yes, real food and natural health alternatives are 100% luxuries.
Things are probably going to change on my blog. Possibly permanently. I don’t know yet. I have a small stash of posts that are already written which ought to keep things going through February. But after that? I don’t know. I have a lot of work to do related to disposing of the contents of our home as well as dealing with our health. No one will do that for us. And then there is the major matter of getting my daughter back on track with school. We are going to be at least 6 weeks behind if not more. But right now, my priority is donning a biohazard suit and getting the house emptied out so I never have to step foot in it again.
Thanks for sticking it out through this rather long story. I plan on writing more about the mold testing we did in the event that you ever need those resources. I also plan on sharing more about health issues related to mold as well as why we couldn’t save any of our possessions. This is the area that most people just cannot wrap their brains around. But it is important NOT to take anything from a home with toxic mold. So it is worthy of its own post.
Please pray for us on this journey. While words can’t ease our pain, prayers and positive energy can lift us up when we need it most.
Hi Jennifer, I don’t think I have posted a comment on your blog before, but my heart is heavy for you and your family. I live in California and can’t believe that the mold issue wouldn’t be covered under home owners insurance. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Don’t give up hope and stay strong. Food for thought, I know that the IG community does a lot of fundraisers through ‘swaps’ maybe this is something that you can look into. Blessings to you and your family.
Hi. Jennifer .. my name is barbara. I no exactly what you are going through.. we lost our house and all of our belongings.. from really bad mold.. and have been doctoring for over 20 years now. My phone number is.. 260..443..1071 feel free to call.. my prayers are with you and your family..
Thank you Adriene for your support and warm words. California is just a joke when it comes to mold. It makes me so infuriated for anyone living here. Thank you for the IG idea! I guess it is time to get on the IG train. 😉
Hi Jennifer, I have never posted on your site before but I feel for you so much. I will donate as soon as I can. Can you give the two page list of “oddball health issues” that you have been plagued with for the past 6 years? My wife has allergy problems and I would like to compare them and see if there is a possible correlation. I will pray for you and your family. My email is [email protected] TY, Bill:(
Hi Bill! I am working on getting those typed up for you. I sure hope that your wife is not suffering as a result of mold. It is not something anyone should have to go through.
My heart goes out to you and your family. I can’t even begin to know what your struggle feels like, but I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
Thank you Priscilla! That means so much!
Thank you SO much Jennifer for shedding light on such an underappreciated tragedy!
I too suffer from mold illness, and we lost our home also. I spent most of the last two worst years of my illness bedridden, unable to drive, work, take care of my children, etc. I also had Lyme, which I successfully finally treated, and it is common for people to have both. I am getting so much better. I can drive, I can sometimes pick my kids up from school and I am going back to school 2 days a month. I follow the Shoemaker protocol, and people can find treated physicians on this website also. http://www.survivingmold.com/. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and wish for you strength and fortitude for you.
Hi Lori! I still owe you another email. 😉 But thank you so much for reaching out. I feel blessed to have connected with you.
Sorry about all the hardships you’ve been experiencing. At my house we’ve had some mold issues too, have had to throw away lots & lots of clothes, furniture & a mattress pad that my toddler & I had been sleeping on because of immense amounts of mold, but fortunately we learned some ways to keep it under control (I know it’s too late to for your current house, but in the future this should help!)
We now use a dehumidifier in the bathroom after we shower, & also if water spills anywhere that can’t be easily dried, I put silica packets in bottom drawers that are prone to dampness, I squeegee down the shower walls to reduce the moisture, & anywhere I can let the sun shine I do (open windows/blinds). Our house does have some water damage, so that was a contributing factor, also one of the rooms is very dark, which mold loves. So basically mold loves m oisture & darkness, so anything that keeps the house dry ,sunny, & vetillated is good for fighting mold. Hope things get better asap for you & your family!
Thank you Sheila! These are GREAT suggestions. Silica packets are a great idea. I had not thought of that! I also need to look into the dehumidifier. I am noticing that we really need one at my parents’ house too.
Linda J Solomon says
I’m sad for you and your family for all that you’re going through. I have my own financial challenges and health problem with MS, but chose to help even though it’s just a little bit. I’m sincerely hoping that there will be some light at the end of the tunnel for your family and that light will become brighter as you’re able to pull your lives together once again. My daughter who has been gone 20 years this month, would want me to care about you and your daughter as I do.
I wish your family well and hope someday soon you will be able to enjoy life again.
Linda J Solomon Haslett, MI
Oh wow Linda! This really touched me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your generosity both of spirit and of financial support restores my faith in humanity. I know that there is a light out there waiting for us…it will just take some time to get to. But I can’t wait until we do! Blessings to you!
Sorry, but I forgot to say also, mold loves dust, so if there’s dust hiding in furniture or carpet or under furniture, the mold can thrive off of that too.
Hi Sheila! I am a super huge clean freak and our house rarely has dust. In fact, the inspectors were all shocked at how dust free things were. Having said that, in the future, I will definitely have fewer dust collecting items in my house. Bare minimum! I am not taking any chances of this happening again.
Cathy Harper says
My heart goes out to you and your family during this terrible time, and situation. I am wondering if you could contact both The American Red Cross for help, and Habitat for Humanity (they do more than just build homes for those in times of need, so it may be worth asking them). I am not an Attorney, however, if you had a “home inspection” at time of purchase of your home and they did not catch this water leak, etc., you may be able to go after them for damages, and I would go after the Plumber too, regardless of your thoughts on his ability to pay (he may have insurance). Please, don’t worry about your blog during this time. Your fans will always be there when you are able to return. In the meantime – put your face into the wind and deal with what you can to remedy your emergency. <<>>
I like that Cathy! Put my face to the wind! Feels like a tornado but hey…I’m doing it. 😉 The legal issues are quite messy here and sadly, after a gazillion meetings, we are without a case. The builder had no insurance as it was not required in an owner-builder situation (which is what this was). It is really unfortunate. The home inspector is protected by all kinds of legal loopholes too. It make no sense but I am learning that more often than not, the person on the bad end of the deal is the least protected. Thanks for all your kind words and support! It means so much.
I cannot even imagine how hard is your life now. Keep fighting, you find the problem and that’s something. My heart is with you and your family. Life may give you something much better after this. Big Hug.
Thank you Alma! That means a lot. I do hope life does give me something not quite a challenging in the future. And you are correct – I found the problem and that makes it worth everything we are going through.
Oh sweet girl. My tears flow for you and your family. I have no words. My prayers are with you and your family in this time and will be with you as you travel this road. We, our readers will not leave you and neither will the Lord. Tho I am sure there are times you may feel like he has….He is there. God be with you.
Thank you Becky! I know that there is a plan and a reason for everything and while it is hard to see what that might be right now, I trust that I am on the path I am supposed to be one. Who knows what the future brings. Thank you for your kind and loving words. They really do help.
I can’t even imagine what you are dealing with…my heart is with you as you journey on this path!
Thank you Heather! That means so much.
Andrea Fabry says
You’re such a good mom and so very intuitive. You’ve done a great job getting through this. Thank you for sharing your story.
Thank you Andrea. If it wasn’t for you, I might very well not be writing this story. I am grateful beyond words that you shared your story.
As I read your story, I know exactly how you feel. How the mold robs you of your energy to fight while you watch yourself lose everything. Our family also went through this. We are still picking up the pieces and will never be the same.
I will pray for you and your family.
As I read your story, I know exactly how you feel. How the mold robs you of your energy to fight while you watch yourself lose everything. Our family also went through this. We are still picking up the pieces and will never be the same.
I will pray for you and your family.
I am so sorry Alyssa. While it helps to know that I am not alone, it makes me so sad that so many other wonderful families are suffering too. How long ago did this happen for you?
Jane Lowe says
I feel like you just wrote my story word for word, however, we are further down the road. In the five years since we lost our house, we have had to file bankruptcy, we have been renting ever since and the place we rented ended up having mold issues, so the little we had accumulated since we lost our home had to be thrown away again. We haven’t been in a position to seek professional medical help, and of course the local doctors don’t believe mold is an issue. We have been trying to get healthy on our own and through blogs such as Andrea Fabry’s.
I feel all of us that are dealing with these mold issues need a miracle!!!
Hi Jane! Oh this breaks my heart. 🙁 I worry very much about our future living arrangements. I can’t imagine this happening all over again. As for medical help, stay tuned. As I go through whatever protocol is in store, I will be sharing everything! My hope is that it can help others. I have no idea how we are going to make it all happen financially but I am determined to at least get this consultation and see where things go from there. Knowing I have mold in my brain spurs me on. You are right – us mold sufferers do need a huge miracle.
Im sorry for the hard time you are going through.. I cant imagine losing all the memories. Maybe you could have someone take pictures of your daughter’s drawings and photos, and print them as memories
Thank you for the support and yes, I am looking into ways to preserve some of the photos and drawings. It is a lot of work but I might have some help.
Alena Belleque says
I’m going to comment below, and I realize that two years later this might be a moot point, but still…? We’re on day two of this horrible journey, and my daughter’s art is heavy on my mind. I’m going to photograph our favorite pieces and upload them to the Cloud so they can be printed later in a safe environment. There are awesome photobook companies out there at a variety of price points, and I thought I’d just make a bunch of books, and save everything digitally, too, in case this ever happens again. A photography tip for you: If you lay out the art on a black background, when you have it on your computer you can use Photoshop or even the PicMonkey free website to intensify the saturation and shadows a little, and it will make the art pop while deepening the black to make it look like an art background. I hope that helps.
That is a really good tip! I actually have a lot of people email me and ask about this so I can now pass this along. Thank you!
Dear Jennifer, I am a very new subscriber to your blog and I am so very sorry to hear of your problem! One of my best friends went through such a thing herself: http://www.moldmisery.com/ Her name is Ingrid Naiman and she’s up in WA. I give you her site as she might have some ideas about remediation of some of your belongings and your pets. She herself has birds. As you may know, birds can be very sensitive to all toxins. She still has her birds so she might have some protocols that might be less expensive and better than your have yet found. I wish you luck and grace during this particularly difficult journey.
Thank you for sharing this Christina! Ingrid had not come across my radar yet. I am absolutely going to get in touch with her! And thank you for the support and well wishes. They mean a lot.
Jennifer I am so sorry for your problems. My husband and I lived in California for many years but after he was diagnosed with MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities) 30 years ago we ended up in the mountains of NM. About 25 years ago we purchased a Sonozaire 115A ozone generator. If you check on Amazon (the units are not as powerful) but if you read some reviews owners have used ozone to kill mold and odors. Our unit is available from http://www.jondon.com for $960 and will produce enough ozone for 15,000 cu. ft. This ozone cannot be breathed so the rooms it is used in must be vacated. You may not be able to help your entire house but you surely could decontaminate many of your personal belongings. I realize the price of the unit is high but it is effective. We use it in our 1200 sq.ft. garage whenever we drive a car in. I hope this information is helpful and can give you a little hope.
Thank you for sharing Judith! I have been reading more about Ozone generators (both for mold and also for treating water). Interesting stuff. There seems to be mixed reviews on how effective it is at actually killing mold spores but I will continue to look into it. Thank you for sharing the one you use specifically. That is the most difficult part – finding one that really works.
So sorry you are going through this. I wanted to tell you that you are not alone!! I am starting my blog and saw this from a blogger friend on facebook. I have had acute on chronic mold exposure and lost my home (am living with friends, though need a new place to get our dogs back ~ farmed out to 2 friends of friends ~ and we are not really able to eliminate the cross contamination of gluten exposure here and the ability to cook from scratch is not always available). My son and I went to family and there was mold there, especially in the room where we slept and spent much of our time. My son got very sick and I got severely ill. I knew I could not return. I had chronic mold exposure at my old home, and like you, pushed it to the side when there was nothing I could do about it and no one believed me. This is probably why I was never able to really move my situation forward. I’d start working on income and then get sick or my son would and my mental clarity would evaporate and all my momentum went back down the mountain I was climbing. My estranged husband stopped paying for the house and we lost it. My heart goes out to you. Feel free to email me…..it would be a win-win since I need someone to talk to who understands it all, too! Someone who appreciates those who make alternative decisions…….such as cooking EVERYTHING from scratch, homeschooling, holistic pet care, walking lightly on this earth, etc. Blessings on your journey and I hope we can connect! You and your family are in my prayers and keep us in yours!
Thank you for sharing all this Nina! Yes, I will email you for sure. We are also dealing with the gluten cross contamination here at my parents’ house which is really really tough. It is causing a whole other set of issues. I am so very sorry that you too have gone through such a tragedy. It is just not fair you know?
Sorry you are going through such a hard time right now. wish i could help but im on state aid and dont have extra money on hand. but i know what its like also to not have a place of your own. i live with my inlaws so i know its tough but. im glad to hear someone say that they can feel what its like not to have averything that a person would normally have. my advice to you is hang in there things will turn around for you and your family. your doing a great job as a mother and just BE YOU BRAVELY and i will keep your family in my prayers. turn this from a tragady to a triumph what doesnt kill you makes you stronger
Thank you for your encouragement Rebecca! It means so much. And you are right – any tragedy can be turned into something incredible. It just takes time, patience, and strength.
I am completely stunned. Financially I can’t help at this time, but will when we get paid. I have never read your blog before, but was directed here by a friend. What homeschool curriculum do you use? Maybe we could find some things like that laying around in someone’s library. Also, I don’t know the laws in California, but due to health issues our family had to take a large part of last year off. We made up for that by continuing to work throughout the summer so maybe she won’t be as behind as you were thinking. I am going to follow you and would love to encourage you to keep posting as you can to keep us updated on how you and your family are doing and what we can do in addition to sending prayers and donations to help.
Hi Michelle! Thank you so much for your support and prayers. They really do help and mean a lot. I will absolutely be continuing to post about our journey. This story needs to be told because it is more common than we all think. As for homeschooling, luckily is it only kindergarten although I had already began stocking up on things for 1st and 2nd grade. We are using a Waldorf curriculum which is “arts/crafts” heavy of course. Thankfully California doesn’t care too much about KG so I am optimistic that we will manage to mostly catch up.
Alena Belleque says
Now I’m super curious. Which curriculum? As I said above, we’re on day two of our horrible journey with mold (more in my own comment, eventually). We were supposed to start homeschooling kindergarten TODAY, but obviously that isn’t happening. I actually haven’t bought my curriculum yet due to funding coming in late, so I’m relieved that at least we won’t lose that – I’m going to order it once we figure out where we’re going to live, and we’ll just go into the summer if needed, this year. We’re going to be using the Waldorf-inspired Oak Meadow curriculum. I can’t wait! But I’m definitely suddenly relieved that we haven’t ordered it yet!!
I love the Oak Meadow curriculum! I have used some of it. My main curriculum is Earthschooling! Amazing Waldorf curriculum!!!!! https://earthschooling.info/thebearthinstitute/about-earthschooling/
Good morning, I am from South Afrika. I am so sorry to read about what you and your family are going through. I pray you and your family get through this with better health. May GOD keep your and your family strong through all you have been through. I hope and pray that things will go better for you and your family . GOD BLESS.
Thank you for the support and prayers Maria. They truly do help.
Leslie bush says
I feel all if your pain. My four youngest and I were homeless here in Alaksa last year. We had been exposed to osocozy mold already as my health went straight down, even mental health. We are now forever not homeless yet I had to make the check to tackle the toxic mold myself. It’s all I could do. If I could have find another place that will be our forever home then I would have! So I handed my beloved four babies to another person so I could deal with the three levels of mold in a very old abandoned cabin! I have health problems now, lys of then. However ad I tackle the mold the symptoms are not as extreme.
I am so glad you made the choice to leave the toxic site!myunhave ine lucky daughter! I hop daddy rasta can get out soon to.
Oh Leslie! Your story makes me so sad. I wish mold wasn’t such the major issue that it is. How is your health today as well as that of your children?
Betsy (Eco-novice) says
I am so sorry that you and your family are going through this. It absolutely sounds like a complete nightmare. To have something rob you of all your possessions AND your health. I will pray for your family’s health and happiness on the road ahead.
Thank you Betsy for the well wishes and prayers. They truly do help!
Anna @Green Talk says
My heat bleeds for you. My prayers are with you.
Thank you Anna. You have been a huge support!
Our story is sprinkled throughout yours. I feel your pain, your discouragement, your fear, and even your hopes – as you press on! Blessings!!
Hi Ruth! I do not at all like that your story is anything like ours. That makes me so sad to hear. I wish that mold wasn’t the issue that it is. I do hope that you are in a better place now. I will probably contact you down the road as I would like to compile some stories to share with my readers. I think it could be of great benefit.
Deborah Franzen says
I’m soooo sorry to hear of your situation. on one hand how wonderful that you finally found what’s making you and your family sick but how absolutely HORRIBLE it had to be mold. It is super horrible … maybe lightening can strike starting a fire and then insurance would be able to help. I think it’s terrible that insurance can claim nope that’s not covered… why on Earth would we purchase our policies thinking things were covered only to find out, though we didn’t tell you, you need a special rider for each and every thing that may possibly go wrong. I can only imagine what you’re going thru and I’m bawling like a little baby. My prayers to you and your family. Are their any federal governmental programs to help out… like a FEMA type thing? There must be some type of assistance… What about Red Cross or one of those type nonprofit groups? If they help fire victims I can’t see why they can’t help you out in some form… I mean you have to get your husband and the rest of the pets out of there ASAP …check with the pet things too like ASPCA/ Humane Society,etc… they must be able to help out with monies to get your pets out of there and back with you. I sure wish I had monies to give you. Don’t give up hope. I will be praying. God Bless you and your family!!
Thank you Deborah for those encouraging words. You are right – the home owner’s insurance industry is a bit of a joke. I am still baffled by it. I am continuing to look into available programs but apparently mold is not really seen as a “disaster” yet. I could spend all day on the phone getting no where with these agencies. It is very frustrating but it also has ignited a desire to do something about this. Once I am back in action I absolutely plan on advocating for those who suffered a loss due to mold. I believe it is more common than these agencies realize.
A possible homeschool solution:
(from the website) “We exist to help families homeschool. We enable families to homeschool who thought they couldn’t because of a lack of finances, a lack of time, or a lack of know-how. Others join EP just because it’s easy and fun and they’re confident of the quality of education. EP seeks to free families from the burden of pursuing the “perfect” and encourages them to let it be “enough.” Each family and each child is different and we seek to provide the resources to enable your family to be who you were meant to be…And yes, it’s all free. You’ll need paper, pencil, etc. and some minor supplies if you choose to do the experiments and art projects, but all of the reading materials, etc. are all free and online.
My hope is to enable families to continue homeschooling no matter their life circumstances.”
Also, an encouragement we received when we started homeschooling 12 years ago was that “all you need for a quality education is a math book, a library card, and the Bible.” We have kept this in mind, especially during the years we couldn’t afford to buy curriculum for 3 children. We concentrated on the 3-Rs: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic. The years we did this were the least stressful and we continue to be amazed at the knowledge the children possess from all the reading they do. This year, my 15 year-old is now studying pre-med material.
Praying for you and your family.
Thank you SO SO much for this TaLeHe. That was a huge help and I will look into it. Also, thank you for reminding me that you don’t need much to homeschool. I’m learning that through all this. My daughter is still managing to learn despite everything. I really appreciate your sage words and prayer.
Hi Jennifer. I am so sorry to read this! I am friends with Andrea as well and saw that she posted this on Facebook. My family has experienced the same thing, unfortunately 🙁 If you care to read about it, you can find our story here : http://ourlyme.blogspot.com/2014/04/weve-been-poisoned-out-of-our-house.html?m=1 Please feel free to email me if you’d like! Rba718 at Hotmail dot com 🙂
Hi Rachel! Thank you so much for sharing and WOW. Yes, we do share a similar story which is unfortunate. I wish no one had to go through this. I will definitely be getting in touch as I would like to create a list of resources and personal stories to share. I think that would be very valuable for those suffering from mold exposure.
I have appreciated your blog and all the wonderful information and charm and wit you deliver it in for several years. I have used wonderful recipes you have listed and in a few of your books. You have given and enriched many lives. My heart aches and is also heavy for you and your family at this time. I am thankful you did find out and further exposer is stopped to you, your little one, husband and hopefully all the animals. You are already an amazing person!!! My prayers and much love and hope is with you. I know this time is devastating and you have suffered terrible losses. I wish all the love and good energy and help you have given over the years to be manifested and abundantly given back or full circle to you and your loved ones. my prayers will be with you all. keep hanging on and have faith things will turn a new direction for you all. God Bless you and take good care of all your needs.
Thank you so very much Megan. Your words mean a lot to me. I get uplifted from the support I receive from afar. 🙂
So sorry for what you are going through!! But I’m glad you found out now rather than even later. I hope you and your family are able to heal quicker than expected. I would be absolutely heartbroken to be losing my sentimental stuff, too! I’ve lost a lot to a flood and then to a hurricane, but never EVERYTHING. I can’t even imagine. 🙁 Can you photograph or scan the journals, artwork, etc while you are in there cleaning?
Hi Charissa! A flood and hurricane is just as devastating. Any time you loose something it is difficult, no matter the circumstances. I am looking into ways to possibly scan the journals and photos. I have had some volunteers to help with this which makes me so happy.
Christy V says
Oh Jennifer. I’m so sorry for everything you’ve had to lose. I wish I could give to your fund. I’ll talk to my husband about it and see if we can, even if it is later this month. Meanwhile, I’ll be praying for you.
Dear God, I pray that you heal Jennifer and her daughter, as well as keep her husband safe from any damage the mold would do to him. Bless them with help, financial and physical. Bless their health, heal them and bodies entirely. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Thank you Christy! Prayers are more powerful than money. I honestly feel uplifted by this community. Distance healing can go a long way.
I’ve never posted before, but I wanted to be another voice to say how sorry I am this has happened to you and that I really hope you have a long healthy future, and lots of opportunities to make new photos.
I have moved from a mold infested flat before and I remember waking up for the first time in our new beds feeling like I could leap out of bed, rather than the general achy tired “I want to roll over and go back to sleep” we had in the previous place. I am really looking forwards to your future postings, as although we did through some things away, we kept most…. And our new flat is now starting to grow mould in unreachable places 🙁
…but I live in England, so damp weather is unavoidable.
Hi Laura! I think I need to collect all these stories and put them on my site. People could benefit from others’ experiences. I am so sorry that you too had to go through a mold infestation and that it is returning. That is the part that scares me the most. And you are right – it is tough when you live is a very damp or humid place. It make it very very difficult.
My family got out of the military on February 1, 2012. We have been living with my grandparents since we left. A lot of people don’t understand why we got out since there are eight kids in our family. Even though I don’t have my own room or a lot of stuff I’m content. We don’t need stuff.
I don’t know what it’s like to live in one place for a long time but I do understand the stress of leaving. I may not understand completely how your life is changed but I will pray for you. I pray God will send people into your life to help you. 🙂 God bless
Thank you Chloe! You are right. We don’t need stuff. We just need each other. And wow – 8 children. That is pretty amazing. I am an only child and truly am in awe of how large families make it all work. But I know you do. 🙂 Thank you for the support and tons of love to you on your journey!
I think you should investigate Dr. Close’s work with mold and remediation from it. Much, much less expensive. http://www.naturesmoldrx.com/p/non-toxic-solution-to-toxic-mold.html
He has his PhD in environmental engineering and is one of the most brilliant individuals I know. He has done his research, studies, and actual work with thousands of people. It would at least be worth the read.
Hi Terri! I do have that book and am giving it a second read. It is really quite fascinating. A bigger issue for us is the house itself. The structural issues are so bad that it just needs to be torn down. Remediation, in any form, won’t solve anything long term because we will still have massive water intrusion issues. Plus, we have no visible mold. It is all IN the walls and under the carpet. This adds a level of complexity. Sigh…I wish it were easier. But you are right. Dr. Close is brilliant. I really respect his work.
Thank you to EVERYONE for your positive vibes, support, love, and understanding. And thank you for sharing your stories. I will respond to each and every comment as time allows. It feels good to have this community embracing our family!
My sympathies. I know how awful this is. I lived in a couple really moldy homes in Olympia, Wa. And have dealt with so many health problems since then. Just recently I learned about Body Ecology Diet and Candida Diet– and am about to go on a journey of ridding myself of systemic yeast/ fungus. Wish your family a total recovery.
Hi Kate! I am from Washington and mold is a major issue there. I am so sorry that you had to deal with it. I am curious to learn how your healing process goes. Please do share your journey if you feel so inclined. I think that it will only help others.
I am sorry to hear what you and your family have gone through. I actually am an attorney in California and real estate law is my specialty. Some law firms will take your case on a contingency basis so check around. Also, I’m surprised the builder would not have insurance to cover this (most do). This is something your attorney could find out for you. I’m sorry your insurance policy didn’t include mold, but it is possible to get a policy that does. I recently had a case where the plaintiffs were able to have their insurance pay for the abatement and repairs and living expenses, including a hotel stay for 6 weeks until they could find alternate housing. I wish you all the best as you go through rebuilding your life again.
Hi Elizabeth! What part of CA are you in? I have had a tough time getting an attorney who is interested in taking the case period. I can give you more details offline if you would like. Please let me know what email address I can use or you can shoot me an email at jennifer at hybridrastamama.com and I can reply back. Thanks so very much!
So sorry. I was thinking that you might be able to take digital pictures of your non digital pictures and journal pages. I realize it could take hours but if they are precious to you it may be worth it.
Hi Nancy! I am looking into some options. Right now, I can’t do this myself but I have had some people offer to help so I am going to see what I can pull together. Any sort of record is better than loosing everything.
Jessica Rose Carpinelli says
What a story! I will be praying for you and your family as well as take a moment to donate. What an awful truth you had to share: “real food and natural health alternatives are 100% luxuries.” Amazing that eating food in it’s most pure form, unadulterated by chemicals, is a luxury.
Good luck with rebuilding! I will be keeping an eye on your journey.
Thank you Jessica! Your kind words and prayers go a long way. I appreciate all the support from afar.
Where can I order the specific home mold test? We are dealing with the same thing! Just had to move 3 weeks ago but we carried everything with us and had no clue not to. I need to test the place we are in . My 11 month old has been in Critical care and I’ve been sick beyond measure. Hubby and daughter are well as far as we know . What is the blood work? My doctor doesn’t know what to even test for . Thanks
Hi Raquel! I have a post in the works with ALL that information but can send it to you sooner. What is the best email to reach you at? Or you can email me at jennifer at hybridrastamama.com (Use @ and not the word at) and I will reply back.
Hi there.. Jennifer. Just wanted to tell you about the natural product .. that we are on and is helping us very much.. it is detoxing the mold from our bodys.. it is called reliv.. my phone number is 260..443..1071.. and my email address is… [email protected] feel free to call or txt or email me anytime.. we care and understand.. we know exactly what you are going through .. me and my family went through the exact same thing .. I think we could write a book a couple miles long .. about all the health issues we had n still have some .. it’s a mess .. it’s nerve recking.. no place to go.. no one there to help u .. like there is when someone has a fire .. ur left with nothing. But each other.. ur very sick on top of everything else.. know that we are praying for you and your family..
Hi Barbara! Thanks for taking the time to comment and to share a product that has helped. I will shoot you an email this weekend for sure. Thank you! I am so sorry that you and your family know firsthand what this is like. It makes me sad to see so many mold sufferers.
Your animals need to be taking charcoal twice daily. I was not exposed at home, but we still had sick animals with the toxins being brought home on my clothing. My current dog was exposed, too, and she takes charcoal twice daily as well as my putting Amphotericin B (.06% liquid) in her food daily. As far as you and your daughter, be sure to stay on your physician’s protocol when you get in to see her, but I would suggest at least doing Zeolite Clay (it’s fairly cheap through http://www.luckyvitamin.com) and charcoal. I have been on this protocol for quite a few years now, and I will get worse if I deviate, and/or I can tell when I have had a new exposure; so doing the sequestrants is important, just as is staying out of the environment. And please don’t listen to those who say that the sequestrants will deplete the vitamins from your body; at least I have had no problems in all the years I have been doing it, and neither have others who have been on them long term – or those I know, shall I say. Good luck, and God bless.
Thank you Jill! That is great information about the charcoal for my cats. I love activate charcoal as well as clay and have used it for various reasons throughout the years. Both are incredibly powerful. Even though I know how well they work, I still get surprised by how amazing they are!
Hi Jenifer, I expectet to see that someone died or something very bad happened…Im sory, but I realy do not understand your nation…do you have any idea haw many people in thisworld are living wth mold in their howses for years, for a lifetime? And dey cant just live their homes! I am one of this people, mold in my howse iseverywhere, iven in the cubbord, even our clothes, and towels are always moldy, smelling terrible…but gwes what, we dont live in America, and have to stay in the house, and we have no one to complane about our problem, and we are living with it…I have tri children, the last one is a year old, and she is living there, and she is healthy….so….please, next time learn something more about this world, before crying for such a strange thing…there are a ral ragedyes in this world, but not in your country…
First, let me say that I am sending prayers and positive energy for you and your family during this impossibly difficult time. This is my first time reading your blog. I was innocently reading your post on the Morrocco Method site, and when I saw your link to your story with toxic mold, I had to click. We are dealing with a similar situation, but have been hiding our heads in the sand for a while (years really). Just yesterday I was reading the It Takes Time blog and considering mold testing. The Universe is definitely telling me not to ignore this anymore. My son is sick AGAIN today, I suffer from chronic pain and autoimmune illnesses, my husband and two daughters have some health issues, and we know that mold is a problem in our home due to the fact it is built on top of a seasonal stream. I’m afraid the mold is everywhere in the house. We find in in all kinds of places, esp. in summer. We remediated the crawl space several years ago, but it didn’t help the rest of the house. But, like yours, our house is way underwater and, of course, with mold problems there is really no way to legally sell or rent it. Reading your story – although scary – has opened my eyes. I will find a lab and test asap. When it comes to our health, all the “stuff” and the finances don’t really matter. Best of luck to you.
barbara Schwartz says
Hi.. Meredith. My name is barbara. I’m 19 years old .. and I also have autoimmune illnesses. scleroderma … I have a tumor in my head.. and lots of other health issues.. me and my parents and 2 sisters were in very bad black mold. My parents were in it for around 21 years and us three girls were in it from babies to teenagers almost adults. Until we found out that the mold we saw on our walls and every were else was causing our health issues. We were all very very sick.. and still are sick. We have a long way to go to have our health restored .. but we are on this natural product called reliv.. and is detoxing the mold from our bodies .. it’s helped us more then any other product that we have been on.. feel free to call or text or email me.. phone number is. 260..443..1071.. email address. [email protected] may god’s healing hand be over u..
Hi Meredith! I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to you when I say GET THE HOUSE TESTED ASAP! As huge of a blow as this has been financially, it is worth loosing everything to regain our health. I really hope things do not end up that bad for you but if they do, reach out! There are so many of us out there. In fact, I am planning on putting together a support group on Facebook. I think it is very much needed. Please stay in touch and let me know what happens. I am more than happy to help you interpret any reports as well.
Thank you so much, Jennifer! I hope you and your family are doing better. I have ordered my ERMI and can’t wait for it to arrive. Thank you for your offer of help to read the results. And a support group on fb would be great.
I wanted to add that I also homeschool my three children (17, 14, 10). I guess the irony is that as homeschoolers, we probably spend more time in our homes than most families, which makes it even worse when the environment isn’t healthy. I think your daughter is still pretty young, no? Don’t worry too much about missing school. Healing yourself and her is so critical, and anything you do with her or she does independently is learning, in my book!
And to Barbara, thank you for your reply. I wish you and your family wonderful health. I will keep that product in mind.
I have read your blog for some time now, getting recipes and tips for my family. I have even shared it. I find it concerning that this is the second time you have been on a “go fund me” site.
You are more than welcome to come view my home, take samples, and confirm every thing I have written in this post if you are concerned. As for my surgery last year, I have all kinds of documentation should you truly be that worried about the authenticity of my health history. I did not ask either friend to run a fundraiser on my behalf. They did it because they knew I needed help. You would need help too if you were in my shoes. I appreciate the concern. You do have to be careful these days. My advice – don’t donate if you feel like something is fraudulent.
Your animals do not need expensive remediation, they only need to be washed/groomed. They also need to be seen by the vet to check them for any health affects living in a mold infested home may have caused them. Shaving them, and any sort of expensive remediation treatment being fobbed at you makes very little sense. Did you need to have your hair shaved or did you just wash it? They are no different than you. I am very sorry that this bad advice caused you to put two of your animals down already.
Lindsay Williambrown says
Hey RM! I hope you are holding up over there. I have been homeless and tooootally get it! I have a few blogs in similar spaces you play in so if you need some support on writing to fill in gaps and stay consistent, please don’t hesitate to ask. I know from being a blogger that sometimes knowing you aren’t gonna be emotionally as available for a while plagues one with guilt about not getting the blog done, which is the last thing we need when we are moving into the wind (as your wise friend said above). Visualizing you sitting in the eye of the storm with everything reorienting around you and all your cells recalibrating quickly and elegantly. So appreciative of your work – I am in some major launches myself right now so I’m with you, lady, and sending strength over to ground us in our inner Priestesses.
I’m easy to find online – if you nee ANYTHING, please don’t be shy. I’m located in L.A. and am in the Bay area fairly often as well.
Hi Lindsay and thank you! You obviously get it – all of it. I checked out your site and future projects and am totally intrigued! So yes, I would be very interested in having you do a guest spot. I will shoot you an email too. 🙂
Can I ask you what test Dr. Thrasher did to find out your neurological issues? My older daughter has been exposed 3 separate times now to toxic molds, with 7 1/2 yrs being black mold. She is now highly sensitive to molds and chemicals and I’m guessing she has the “dreaded genome”. Her brain fog is severe and not improving since getting out of mold for the past 6 1/2 months. I was considering getting a QEEG test done…do you know if that’s similar to what Dr. Thrasher did? I need to know how her brain has been affected, but I would prefer not doing a Spectra scan so as to avoid any dyes put into her.
Thank you for your help!
Hi Jen, another Cali mom here. Same thing happened to us in 2014…lost a home to mold..had to walk away only to get to another moldy place…i know Andrea as well..
Cali is very very moldy, i think we will have to leave. I homeschool too, my kids (8/10) are very sick, they developed Mcad from mold, my son now has anaphylactic reactions to foods, water, supplements etc..also EDS,POTS, many many allergies…
We spoke with Dr.Thrasher too. We were exposed to Stachy too..our Hertsmi was 24, Ermi was 14. we were exposed for 10 years, kids pregnancy -now..horrible.
I feel your pain.
Hi Eva! I am so sorry that this happened to you as well. I’m on move #7 since we initially walked away. Finding a safe place seems like a pipe dream unfortunately. 🙁 Sigh. California is very moldy and I doubt I will ever move back. I wish you all the best as you continue your journey of recovery.
Mold also goes after thyroid, adrenals, hormones, causes maalbsorbtion, metabolic issues,leaky gut, brain injury,liver issues, PKU, High histamine, worse if you have the MTFHR mutations (cannot really detox from mold till corrected) and other
Danielle Sherrick says
Hi Jennifer! Thanks so much for posting all of this information on your horrible mold experience! It makes me feel better to know that I’m not alone in this.
I moved out of my parent’s house in May of 2015, then started getting severe anxiety, upper respiratory infections, sinus infections, UTIs, and kidney infections. All of a sudden I had blood sugar/blood pressure drops. Hypnic jerks at night, twitching, vertigo and debilitating fatigue. Moved out in October of 2015 as soon as I found out about the mold.
I didn’t know I needed to change my diet or detox, so my life the past year has been up and down and up and down. I’m back at my parent’s house, the house I was in before the mold. I started detox in August of this year and then started feeling so much worse. My eyes tear and so do my ears and now I have blurred vision, light sensitivity and feel like I’m constantly moving back and forth, I was getting skin rashes but those have gone away, I feel like I’m slightly better than I was in August, but still struggling. Do you think it’s possible there’s mold in my parent’s house?
Should I test just in case? I haven’t gotten any infections, but still so worried. I’ve definitely thrived in this house before the really bad mold exposure in 2015… I’m just so scared… Mold paranoia…… Help!
Hi Danielle! I am so sorry for the late response and I am ever sorrier to hear about your situation. I am sending you lots of positivity and hope that you are doing better. To answer your question – yes, I would get your parents’ house tested just to rule it in or out. I will share that I have some serious ups and downs with recovery. It could be your body’s way of detoxing which isn’t fun, I know. It could be how you are going about detoxing as well. It might be too much for your body. If you can provide me an update, I can possibly make some additional suggestions.
Jenna M says
Wow! My heart aches for you. My fiancé are going through this exact same thing. We just left our house and uprooted back to our home state. The doctors I saw diagnosed me with may different health issues (MS, blood clot, heart attack, anxiety, depression, etc) but I never got a clear answer until we woke up the day after New Years with water pouring in from our roof. We are still recovering and it’s going to be a long process.
I am curious, what blood test did you have done to see if you had mycotoxins in your body?
Hi Jenna! I am so sorry to hear this! It is such a nightmare. Here is a newer posts to check out that might help: https://hybridrastamama.com/need-to-detox-from-mold-exposure-heres-how-i-did-it/. I did not take a blood test. The mycotoxin test is a urine test. https://www.realtimelab.com/clinical-test-panel/mycotoxin-testing/ This is the link to the company that does it. It was VERY helpful!
I just found this page after living almost the exact same life as you for the past 8 years. My life turned upside down the same year as yours, down to the month. I write this as I breathe through the shock of again, discovering mold and what that means. This will be move #31. In 2010 I had windows and siding replaced on my beautiful home on my 8 acre organic farm. They forgot the flashing. 4 years of water entering every window wall cavity and traveling around every room perimeter into the inner hallways. 26 windows and 3600 square feet of mold. Same insurance issue as you, although I am still fighting this in court to this day. A single mom, I was diagnosed with 12 medical conditions over those 4 years. My 4 sons also became increasingly ill. Finally discovered the mold, lost everything. Had to live in tents for 6 months I was so sensitized. I am much better now but this is for life.