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"How I Survived Toxic Mold"

An encounter with toxic mold is life-threatening and at the very least life-altering. The following people have experienced the devastation of illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, respiratory ailments, neurological impairment, and much more. Their stories reflect the reality that while effects may linger, recovery is possible.

Andrea Fabry

Andrea Fabry - DumpstersOur family of 11 moved into our dream home in June 2000. Symptoms started immediately. It took a botched mold remediation to make the connection between our illnesses and the home. We vacated in October of 2008. We left everything behind.

Within a few months it became clear that it would take more than leaving the home to restore our family's health.

Read more ...

Lisa Petrison, Ph.D.

Lisa Petrison

I became ill with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (aka Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) in 1994. By 2007, I was near-comatose all the time, with dozens of symptoms.

Finally I learned about toxic mold and did a trial away from my home and possessions. After that, I reacted violently to both the house and its contents. The house did have black mold hidden in it.

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Erik Johnson

Erik JohnsonIn 1986, Dr. Paul Cheney asked me, "How would you like to become a prototype for a new syndrome?"

I refused, saying that my improvements due to staying out of moldy buildings would distract from his theory that our illness was caused by a virus.

But Dr. Cheney insisted. So I became a participant in the study group that led the CDC in 1988 to recognize the illness that they named "The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome."

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Janis Bell, Ph.D., N.M.D., R.Y.T.

Janis Bell

When I was 13, my family moved into a house with a basement that flooded regularly. I developed endocrine and immune symptoms.

At age 32, I moved to a town where mold was ubiquitous. My office was in a sealed building that allowed the toxins from animal cages and molds in the basement to spread through the central HVAC. I watched my health decline despite visits to many doctors and was disabled at age 44 with the diagnosis of ME/CFS.

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Heather Plude

Heather Plude

My son went from normal kid to disabled kid in about six weeks. Starting when he was 11 and for about nine months, he was having trouble walking, playing, eating, drinking, and sleeping. He was in terrible pain and couldn't go to school.

Our whole family was sick. Finally I read the book Surviving Mold. An ERMI test on the house came back high in toxic molds.

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Kelly Batic

Kelly Batic Hazmat Crew

Our family of six lost our home to toxic mold. While in the home, we lost a baby to miscarriage and had a two-year-old with asthma who was in and out of the hospital every two weeks. Other symptoms included brain fog, yeast infections, and frequent colds.

We tested our home and found four different toxic molds. The sewer was backing up and flooding. We were unaware of the mold and bacteria growing.

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Ryan Shellenberger

Ryan Shellenberger and Family

We built our home in 2003. We wanted to grow old and die there. The home tried to speed up the process.

During construction, roofers cut corners. As a result, water slowly leaked into the ceiling and walls. We never saw it, but there was enough to start mold and bacteria growth. By the time we learned of the problem, our family had paid the price.

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Christa Upton

Christa Upton and Family

"What is that smell?" I asked my friend when she visited our newly purchased 1970s house. I'd been working on getting the smell out of our carpet for three months.

"Christa, I think it's mold."

We ended up spraying and "killing" a massive amount of mold that was hidden under the carpet, behind baseboards, etc.

Eight months later I was bedridden and very ill, and no one knew why.

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Beatrice Latherings

Beatrice Latherings' Trailer

I survived because of two people on the Internet, plus the support of friends and family.

The first Internet person nailed my problem as mold and persisted in convincing me. I thought I had Lyme disease and had never heard of mold illness.

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Anonymous

Desert View

I had both Lyme disease (from a tick bite) and environmental illness/mold hypersensitivity.

After losing most of my belongings and having trouble finding an apartment that I could tolerate in the humid Northeast, I decided to try what Erik Johnson had described regarding mold avoidance, and I moved to the desert.

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Kristina Townsend

Kristina Townsend - Virgin Islands

I was exposed to high levels of toxic mold while in the Virgin Islands in 2007. I was there for my job and was housed in a building that had been condemned two years earlier.

The key to my survival was the testing offered by Real Time Labs. The tests confirmed a diagnosis of mycotoxicosis, which helped me understand the nature of my illness. It also helped me address the real issue and get the medical help I needed.

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Betsy Anderson

Betsy Anderson's House

I fled. We had sudden, extreme exposure when our landlord tore up floorboards, releasing a toxic mess from the crawlspace and spreading it through the house with a fan. Fled to a tent in the yard within days, then fled to hotels. Searched for a year for a safe place for my family. Ultimately, fled not only the house and all belongings, but the country (England) for a drier climate.

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Kelly Connor

Kelly Connor

After 10 years of CFS/CFIDS, I began to remember mold exposures from the time before I got suddenly and increasingly ill in middle age. I realized that I had been having a Stachybotrys toxin reaction. As I remembered mold in various former dwellings, I began to get rid of possessions from those times. Gradually, I gave away treasured books, plants, rugs, clothes, and papers.

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Giles Meehan

Giles Meehan

There wasn't any connection that I could see between mould and my debilitating ME (CFS), acquired after graduation from the University of Cambridge in England. Rest and various treatments (chiropractic, diet, supplements, etc.) had helped somewhat. I lived near the sea in Felixstowe, long renowned for its fresh air.

I made some videos, then Erik Johnson commented that some people with ME don't experience those awful "crash" symptoms after everything they do, if they are really free of mould. So I started looking into that.

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Nikki Sharp

Nikki Sharp's House

Our family of five started getting sick in 2008. We finally discovered toxic mold in 2012. The entire back end of our house had to be remediated. But I didn't figure out that the illnesses and mold went hand in hand until the end of 2013.

Our children suffered the most from food allergies and chemical sensitivities, with our youngest needing a gastronomy tube as he had given up eating. Everything made him ill.

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Jessica Grow

Jessica Grow

I visited a homeopathic doctor just as I was beginning to feel ill. Within 30 minutes of interviewing me, she said, "I believe you have biotoxin illness."

Later the blood tests would confirm her diagnosis. I had become bedridden from extreme fatigue, nausea, memory loss, severe depression, body acne, and painful joints.

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Grateful Grandmother

Grateful Grandmother

I bob and weave.

In 2008 I realized our home of 32 years was full of hidden toxic mold. I was too. My husband wasn't. The more I tried to save our home, the more ill I became, and our marriage as well.

We moved to a hotel for six weeks and remediated the entire house, but not me. The house was clean, tested by the best. We disclosed everything, threw away everything, and sold the house.

Read more ...

Gregory Muske

Gregory Muske

Tearing apart moldy kitchens and bathrooms was just another day at work.

My health declined over decades. Eventually, I completely broke, in part because of being steeped in mold spewing from our new front-loading washing machine.

Conventional medicine had no answers. I spent two years thinking I was going crazy, while researching on my own for 40-60 hours a week.

Read more ...

Jodie Williams

Jodie Williams

Having lived a healthy life abroad for many years, I returned home to Australia and began a new elementary teaching position in a water-damaged room—a tiny, windowless classroom underneath a flat roof that was crowned with a small brick fence; an open invitation for mold.

Read more ...

Quotes

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"...at age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

Dedication