Catch Up Mondays: Mold Spores, Mycotoxins, and Cross Contamination

I originally posted this on August 27th, 2012.  As I read or hear from more and more people about being contaminated by mold, I decided it was time to share this post again.  Mold is insidious.  It gets into and onto everything including those things that we hold most dear like a favorite stuffed animal from childhood, a well-loved book, and our precious photos.  Some of you have heard this talk from me many times about giving things away.  I have heard from some that all I needed to do was place my things out in the sunshine or wash them in borax or vinegar.  For me the decision was my things or my health.  I had gone through so much by the time I was told that it was best for me to give up my things.  I didn’t want to go down that road again and risk another contamination.  I offer what I and some others have done but ultimately the decision is up to the individual.  Some have managed to keep some items and not others.  This is such an individual illness.

Many of you living in the US have seen the commercial on mesothelioma.  It talks about if you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos either directly or indirectly  you could experience this form of cancer.  It has taken years for asbestos and the damage it can cause to finally come to the forefront and for these cancers to show up.

When trying to explain cross contamination from mycotoxins and mold spores, I ask if the person I am talking to has seen this commercial.  I explain that it is very similar.  I was exposed to mold spores and mycotoxins where I worked.  I wore those clothes home and sat on my furniture, walked on my carpet, lay down on my bed, sat in my car and those same spores were spread into the air as I walked around the room.  Those aerosolized spores then were sucked in to my computer fan, my refrigerator fan, my air conditioning ducts and anything else that has a fan or takes in air.  I was constantly being re-exposed at work and then through cross contamination in my home and car.

After getting the results from my urine tricothecene test, I was told that I needed to get rid of my things (clothes, computer, cloth furniture, papers).  I was told this just as I was about to make my second trip to the Environmental Health Center-Dallas for testing and to have major surgery.  I ordered new clothes and was told that until I left and something could be done with regard to my furniture that I could cover the furniture with sheets to help protect whatever new I had bought.  I had no idea that I would be in Dallas for most of 2003.  When I came home my husband had built me a new house using safe products, tile floors, etc.  Before coming home I ordered new clothes again and would only come home with the clothes on my back and toss them and shower before coming into my house.  I was determined not to cross-contaminate my safe place.  I did not bring my computer, refrigerator, television, cloth furniture, papers or clothes.  I literally started over.

When I tell those who have asked me questions or sought advice about such things that they need to basically start over, it is overwhelming and hard for them to comprehend.  I remind them that they are just “things” and their health and recovery is more important than “things”.  I understand their pain at getting rid of their belongings.  I understand their fear of re-contamination.  In my book I wrote:

On February 11, 2004, I wrote in my journal, “I hate this aspect of my life. It causes the paranoia. I am so afraid of re-infecting myself that I wonder: even if the allergies get more manageable, will I be able to go out anyway because of this fear of mold and mycotoxin? It has already taken so much of my life away.

I also wrote:  I saw Rick toss out my old stuffed Scotty dog that I had had since I was very little. I saw him toss out my favorite old teddy bear. I saw him pack up old blankets, cloth Christmas decorations, baby clothes that belonged to the girls, baby clothes that were once worn by me. It was devastating!

This illness goes beyond the physical pain of reactions and extends to the raw emotions of getting rid of cherished belongings, being told you are crazy, being told environmental illness and multiple chemical sensitivity does not exist and of learning to deal with isolation and a new way of living.

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