After exposure to severe mold in the workplace, I found myself unable to continue the life I once led. I was forced to quit work and give up many things that I cherished. At the time I became ill, I was a 45-year-old mother of two. The mold exposure sent me on a path of immune system dysfunction, severe depression and near financial ruin. I struggled with the loss of identity, loss of my independence and severe depression. In 2003 I began to write my book. I
felt others needed to know how devastating mold can really be. It has taken me nearly nine years to complete the book. Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope is now available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and signed copies will be available on my website for those in the US only.
It is my hope that my words will help others struggling with mold exposure or chemical sensitivity realize that they can still make a life for themselves, albeit a different life. It is also my hope that family members, friends, and those in the medical field will come to understand what life is like after mold exposure.
Congratulations upon the completion of your book. I’m so sorry for “all” you have had to endure. God bless you, Kathy!
Thank you. I am excited about finally getting to this stage but nervous as well as I am the one to promote and market it.
Yes, you’re amazing for sharing your story. So so helpful to others like myself. This is a link to my mould poem that I have now workshopped in my poetry class; it’s different and clearer (than when you last read it). My teacher said that it would not make sense to the average person, so now I think it will. Let me know what you think, as you are definitely an expert in the mould area!
The link isn’t in your comment.
Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I find your blog totally fascinating and enlightening and I learn new things every day from it, so I nominated you for this award. 🙂
Thank you so much for the nomination. I am flattered and glad that I am making a difference.
I agree that it is important for people with allergies to share their experiences. It makes things easier for all of us the more people are brave enough to share their stories. 🙂
to answer your recent(apologies-i am not well right now)comment…
hello and welcome k.m.- i use watercolor, ink-waterbased and some acrylic [no cobalts, pthalates…]when i can paint with open windows. i also own a high-powered .001micron filter air purifier capable of pulling VOC’s out of the room. It is made by IQAir and is the best room air purifier you can buy. I do not paint everyday or even every week and if i am showing any symptoms, i certainly don’t use the acrylic.
hope that helps…i know it’s not easy and am always happy to answer any questions.
be well. x
Thank you for responding. I don’t paint – can’t draw stick people very even. Another friend of mine who has environmental illness as well used to paint and I wanted to see what you used so that maybe it was something she could also use. I am sorry you are not well. I am dealing with one of my sinus infections right now. I understand not feeling well. Today I am pushing the limits in an effort to get my home cleaned before my daughter arrives and the holidays begin. Not that I have lots of company but it will make me feel better. Tomorrow I will be paying for it I am sure.
I’ve nominated you for Blog of the Year 2012. See my post at http://cookingforthechemicallysensitive.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/ or The Thought Pallette http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/faqs-blog-of-the-year-2012-award/ for the rules.
Thank you for the Blog of the Year 2012 award. I am honored and will work on my nominees, etc. in a few days when all the dust settles down around here.
Thankfully my allergies are not debilitating at present. I know that can change. My husband can go into anaphylactic shock if he takes penicillin. Mine are mostly food related plus hayfever. I saw my doctor for a chronic cough. The nurse in me worried about TB. I was surprised to find out it was allergic bronchitis. The Dr. did not feel it was worth it for me to go through all the testing to find out the cause. I thought about what I ate on a regular basis – Pepsi was the culprit. I never considered I was actually addicted to the stuff. You should have seen me on my 4th day deprived of Pepsi. It was similar to drug addition. By the 6th day I was fine and can laugh about the experience. I can drink one Coke and not have the same “side effects.” It takes 3 Cokes for that to happen. I stopped drinking cherry sodas when I was a teenager because it made me giddy and drunk. Now, I drink mostly water, green tea and juices.
When is your book due out? I believe there’s a serious lack of allergy awareness in the medical field. My dentist today asked me to include a dentist in one of my books, and I think I’ll do another one with allergies. (Each of my books will have a medical problem.)
Welcome to my blog. Thanks for joining.
I am hoping to have my book out this spring. Currently I am battling the book cover. Once I can nail something down and have it designed I am ready to go. I am looking forward to reading your posts.
I just developed a long list of allergies a few years ago. I still don’t know what triggered mine, so it’s so interesting reading about this experience of yours!
I am so sorry to hear that you, too, suffer from all these allergies and sensitivities. Thank you for signing on to follow me.
I’ve awarded you with the Liebster Blog Award! To accept, please check out this link:
Thank you Rachel. My brain is somewhat fuzzy from getting my LDA treatment and my concentration is not great. I am going to the link and will post it in my drafts so I don’t forget. I love how the treatment helps me but don’t like a day or too of the headache, itching and fuzzy head.
I love your blog! 🙂
Thank you Andrew.
Congrats on your book getting ready to come out. I can’t wait to check it out! Great blog, by the way. I think it’s great that you, and others like you, share your stories about allergies. A society that is more aware about food allergies makes for a better world for my allergic sons.
Absolutely! The more we promote awareness the better. With each post if we all can just reach one person, imagine how many would be more aware? I am learning so much by following other blogs that discuss allergies and sensitivities. As I have written before, this is not a cookie cutter illness. We all have various degress in the way we react and to what we react. I have several friends with multiple chemical sensitivity and yet our reactions and our what we react to varies so much. Thank you for commenting. I am now following your blog.
My son and I have pretty much the same story as you. Almost 2 years ago we were exposed to high concentrations of a severely aggressive toxic mold while renovating our new home. The spiral into chronic illness, allergies, food sensitivities, environmental sensitivities, weight loss and loss of all identity has destroyed us both and we now exist together in our own strange little world that everyone just doesn’t understand. We’ve both lost over 120 lbs each and can barely tolerate any foods at all. The insomnia has destroyed me as I only sleep abut 4 hours a night max and have become unable to handle interaction with people from the “outside”. I never realized it was Aspergillosis until our new allergies to all yeasts got overwhelming and even walking into a bakery set me off on weird spells of dizziness and feelings of persecution and hostility out of nowhere. I’d been getting hoarseness in my throat and lost my singing voice completely which spiraled me into a further depression. Once I started hacking up black plegm from my throat I knew this was out of control and if I swallowed any my stomach would get sick like food poisoning. My internist found my right maxillary sinus was solid with concretion and an obstruction. The antibiotics have only made me feel slightly better, but I can feel I push this pathogen backwards, only for it to surge forward and take a stronger hold. I wish we’d caught this sooner than we did as my son’s weight loss and paleness now worry me more than my own failing health and seeing him withering away with no way to help him has me on the edge of giving up. Thank you for raising awareness of this life destroyer. Maybe people will find their way to the truth through your posts and book. If I had found this 16 months ago maybe I could have save us both. At this point the ringing in my ears has become so sever I can barely think. Why didn’t we wear protective masks?…… I wish life had a do over button.
John – This saddens me to hear your story. It is one I have heard so many many times. All of us would like a do over button if it could have prevented our exposures and downward spirals. I had the black threads coming from my sinuses.
Have you seen an ENT to have your sinus cultured? You need both a bacterial culture so make sure that if you need an antibiotic you are on the correct one to avoid having to switch from one to another as well as a fungal culture done. While antibiotics are sometimes necessary they also can make fungus go crazy. I have been on an antifungal for a very long time. I always have to up the dose when forced to take an antibiotic for one of my sinus infections. A fungal culture can take six weeks for a result to come back. Having a fungal sinus infection and always getting it to grow in a culture dish is difficult. Despite the black threads coming from my sinus, it took several cultures before we had it grow in the dish and be identified.
May I ask you when the sensitivities started? Were they after you got out of the mold?
You ask why you didn’t wear protective masks. Hindsight is amazing isn’t it. Why didn’t I ask why they burned candles sometimes in the office I started to work in? Why didn’t a red light go off in my head that the candles were most likely masking something that wasn’t good? The answer for me was that I was so darn excited to start back to work after years of raising my daughters that I totally ignored it. You and your son were most likely very excited to renovate your new home and didn’t think anything negative would happen either. That is why I have written my story and that is why I have this blog. I write to let others know they are not alone in this battle and I write so that others may know what mold can do and perhaps save someone from getting an exposure.
I hope that you continue to follow and comment when you feel up to it. I have a great group of followers who have experienced chemical sensitivity from various sources including the mold as well as those with food and gluten sensitivities and intolerances. We are all here to share and support each other.
Hi Kathryn! I included you among my nominees for the “WordPress Family Award”. http://connectivetissuedisorders.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/wordpress-family-award/
Thank you for your kindness and support!! It means a lot.
Thank you so much Katie. I plan on announcing it in the next couple of days.
Thanks for sharing your story! Such an inspiration!
Thank you for stopping by and following me. I hope you continue to comment.
Hello- I always appreciate knowing I’m not alone! This is the third major health crash I’ve gone through and I’m being helped by a mutual doc who passed on your info.
With every crash, the beginning seems the most horrific and financially overwhelming. There are times you wonder whether you will truly live to tell about it!
Thanks for taking the effort to write about it all…
Cathie – Thank the doctor for sharing my information with you. It seems that each time we crash or have another health crisis, it is harder to fight our way back to any semblance of normal. I often wondered if I would make it through a reaction and live to tell about it. I am so glad that I have survived to tell my story.
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Thank you for sharing your story with us. I too worked in a mold infested classroom for a couple of years. But that was enough for me to get allergies and acute sinusitis. I’d love to read your book. Where can it be purchased?
Elizabeth – the book should be available in the next few months. I will post all the information here as soon as it is available. Sorry to hear about your exposure. It is a shame how many schools have mold. There were things I should have listened to when I started to work but the excitement to be back to work overrode what I should have been listening to.
Please let us know when it is out. I’d like to read it. About your exposure- I am sorry that you have to go through this. However, I am happy that you are sharing your story with all and thanks again for doing this. I think writing and sharing your story is a form of healing. I sincerely wish your health improves.
Thank you Elizabeth. I spoke with my check-in coordinator. Everything is being forwarded for evaluation and we will discuss all final items next week. The light at the end of the tunnel.
Writing in the form of journaling and the actual writing of the book have had a wonderful healing effect on me.
Hidi ho! Another award for you. Thanks for writing!
Thank you Rachel. I will respond to it this coming week.
Congratulations and Thank you for for following my poetry, your future visits and likes. Hope you enjoy 🙂
You are welcome.
Helly Kathryn. I enjoyed reading your blog, and I’m glad people are coming to your page to share information and get answers. If you and your readers would like to get additional information about the health effects of mold, please check out the Global Indoor Health Network at http://globalindoorhealthnetwork.com. Be sure to read GIHN’s position statement that discusses the diagnosis and treatment of illness caused by mold. And, we just added a new video “After the Flood.”
Hi Kathryn! I nominated you for both the “Rose of Kindness” and “Unique Leaves” awards.
Thank you so much for being so kind and supportive! It means the world.
Hi Kathryn, Thanks for calling by my blog as part of the IU block party.
Good luck with your book signing!
Thank you Mel.
Congratulations! I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award! This award is also known as the “favorite blog award”. And since I enjoy reading your blog and hearing how you live such a full life despite your illness that I just had to include you in my list of recipients! Check out my post to find out the steps to accept your award, and keep up the great blogging! http://joysturn.com/2013/10/20/honored-with-the-liebster-award-2-actually-woo-hoo/
Hello! I have nominated you for the “Most Influential Blogger” award! Click on the link below to find out more on this special award. Congratulations!!
Thank you Jenny. I hope to get my act together so that I can properly accept the last few awards I have been given. My brain and body seem to be going in different directions lately.
I have definitely been there before. I had to lasso my brain and get it to focus on getting the four awards posted, lol!
Hello! I have nominated you for a special award…the Dragon’s Loyalty Award!! Click on the link below to find out how to accept this beautiful award…
Jenny – I just realized that I didn’t reply to this comment. Thank you so much. I finally took the time and did this one. I don’t know if I will ever manage to go back and find the others and respond. But I can start fresh from now on.
You’re very welcome! 🙂
Hello! I have nominated you for the “WordPress Family Award” since you are an important part of my blog family. To read more, click the link below:
Thank you Jenny. My plate is pretty full as you will soon see in my posts over the next two weeks. I am going to make a note on my calendar to do this after the middle of the month. As part of my trying to be better about responding to these awards, I will begin drafting the post in between all the craziness that is coming.
That’s okay–you can take your time. I know how it is to have a lot on your plate. 😉
Dropping by to let you know that I’ve nominated you for the “Blogger of the Year” award. 🙂
Thank you very much Katie. I will respond to it as soon as I can.
Congratulations on publishing your book! I wish you all the best!
Thank you so much.
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Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry that this happened to you. I had no idea that such was possible. Thank you for visiting my blog. I am glad you enjoyed my post. Blessings, Natalie
You are very welcome. That is my reason for writing this blog and for writing my story. I felt compelled to bring awareness to the dangers of mold and what life is like with environmental and chronic illnesses. Bless you and thank you for taking the time to comment.
Your book looks so encouraging, inspiring.
Thank you so much Mandy. It is my hope to bring awareness through my story.
Hi – apologies for the fact that I have not yet read all your posts – I will do so over the next few days. From what I can gather you are suffering from Aspergillus and osteomyelitis. I have osteomyelitis of the jawbone and my health had been going downhill in a very depressing, debilitating way over the years, so I can empathise completely with what you and others who have posted are going through. I have had success with several modalities and I am sure they would help you and anyone else suffering similar problems (in fact any chronic condition). Although I haven’t yet tried this (having had a fair bit of success with other things) hyperbaric oxygen has given very promising results for both fungal and bacterial conditions, including bone infections and fungal sinus infections. Ozone injections have helped my jawbone tremendously – oxygen is a fantastic antimicrobial as you probably know. IV antibiotics are very bad for your immune system (as you also know, I’m sure) and I have never had them, despite the fact that my bone has been so badly infected a lot of my cheekbone has been eaten away (although you can only tell this from the CT scan). I am hoping to grow it back as well as getting completely on top of the infection. I have been very diligent (absolutely essential) and hardly have any sugar/refined carbs, drink wheatgrass juice when I’m not working away (Ann Wigmore from Hippocrates Health Institute cured a bone infection using this and a very clean diet). Brian Clement from Hippocrates recommended using Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) so I have been using that (you can rent these lasers in the States) and he also recommended using PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy) which is detrimental to infectious organisms but encourages growth of new blood vessels, tissue etc – including bone. I also take a range on natural antimicrobials (colloidal silver, oregano oil, high strength garlic, olive leaf) in rotation and my health has literally come on in leaps and bounds. I am also getting peptide therapy from Mexico and that has also helped, I am sure. I am feeling virtually back to normal after 14 years of feeling crap, basically. I am posting this to give you and others hope (I hope it does) because there is always a way. It is usually not through conventional means, unfortunately, although I am not against conventional medicine as such. The problem is that the root causes are rarely dealt with and/or they come back because treatment tends to weaken the immune system (ie most meds and definitely antibiotics). Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any help. I would like to be able to help as many people as possible since I know how frightening and depressing these conditions are. If I have jumped the gun and you are already trying similar treatments, then apoligies if I’ve wasted your time (and blogspace :))
Thank you for commenting. Some of the treatments I have heard of and some I have tried. I have used oregano oil, olive leaf, and garlic. I even tried the silver but I actually reacted to it and it didn’t help me. I haven’t tried the hyperbaric chamber. We had one in a local hospital but I think they have closed the wound healing center. It was in the basement of a very hold hospital and I couldn’t have tolerated the building any way. I appreciate all that you have shared and hearing what has helped you.
Yes, on their own, antimicrobials aren’t effective enough. I had to use quite a number of different things in tandem. Re hyperbaric oxygen therapy, it really does seem to be effective after just a short time, so maybe it would be worth pursuing. I know oxygen therapy has moved me on greatly and it cured my brother or MRSA in a week (he had had endless antibiotics orally and via a drip but they did nothing apart from make him sick). He had autohemotherpy (used widely in Eastern Europe). Here in the UK I have discovered that hyperbaric oxygen is used to treat MS and there are MS treatment centres dotted around the country with machines. It is a charity so not too expensive either. I don’t know where you are located – in the States it may be more difficult. I understand what you have said about PEMF but maybe it’s worth a try at a very low intensity – at least you would know if it is a viable option. It has certainly helped me and many others with sensitivities and all sorts of chronic conditions and you can build it up gradually. But obviously you have to feel comfortable about something to give it a try. Anyway, hope you find something that works for you and all the very best
Ah – I have just read a bit more and realise that you also have many sensitivities. This can also be helped by these treatments so the above still applies – especially the PEMF (a whole body mat would be the best bet) and hyperbaric oxygen, both of which will strengthen the immune system and help at the cellular level to get your body back to normal
You have to be careful with the PEMF if you have a tendency to have sensitivity to electromagnetic fields.
I thought I would just double check re PEMF and, as I thought, whilst you would have to take it slowly, it is an option for most people with sensitivity. The Dr Pawluk site is very good. Here is the link (I hope! Not too good with this sort of thing!!)
Will leave you in peace now 🙂
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