Category Archives: Cross Contamination

How Do You Celebrate The Holidays?

It is amazing being in the “spotlight” with Rave Reviews Book Club.  Today I am honored to be hosted by Loren Weaver.

Today, I have the honor to welcome Kathryn Treat to my blog for a word about her book, Allergic to Life. Kathryn is a Rave Reviews Book Club member and author. So, join the fun with Kathryn and me.


I am sure that most of your holiday celebrations do not include your family looking like this.

Kathryn Treat Holidays

This was my first Thanksgiving after returning from Dallas and moving into my safe home. This looks more like a group of people at a painter’s convention than a family sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal. My family has done its very best to do whatever it takes to keep me from having reactions. Even if it meant wearing these lovely one-size-fits-all Tyvek suits (that one size being XXXL). These lovely Tyvek suits protected me from anything my family’s clothing might contain. to read the rest of the blog post, please visit Loren’s website at the link above.  Please take a moment to thank her for hosting me.

Just Put Me In A Potato Sack

I am excited to announce Day 8 of my “Spotlight” Author blog tour with Rave Reviews Book Club.  Today I am happy to be hosted by Kenneth Kerr .  I am enjoying basking in the “Spotlight”.

Just Put Me in a Potato Sack

I was becoming more and more depressed at the fact that I had no nice clothes to Wear—or a need to wear them for that matter. In August (2004) I wrote, “I feel bad that I have no need for nice clothes. Hell, I could almost wear a potato sack I used to love to look nice—nice outfits with my jewelry, shoes, and hair done nicely and make-up on. Now I dress shabby, my hair is a mess, I don’t wear my pretty jewelry, I don’t wear any to read more of my guest blog post, visit Kenneth’s blog and take a moment to leave a comment.

Spotlight Author

I am excited to announce that I have been chosen the “Spotlight” Author at Rave Reviews Book Club.  One of the many exciting perks is a blog tour.  Today I am featured on jinlobify.  Please visit the blog and follow with me on my fascinating blog tour.


I was excited to open my email and discover that a review of Allergic to Life had been done by Alex Jones and placed on his blog.  Alex also suffers from new found chemical sensitivities and did an excellent job reviewing and highlighting my book.  Please visit Alex’s Psykoscribble Blog and read my review.

I first met Alex through Rave Reviews Book Club where he is an active member, supporter, and reviewer.

Catch-UP Mondays: Cookie Baking and True Friendship – revisited

While Christmas has past and so has my Easter cookie baking, I wanted to share this with all of you.  There is nothing like true friendship and a friend who will do “whatever it takes” to be in my house and participate in normal activities.  Thank you Victoria for being such a dear and faithful friend throughout all of my ups and downs.

Hello Everyone

I have talked many times about friendships and what it takes to be my friend or the friend of an environmentally ill person.  I have also talked about Tyvek being this mold survivor’s best friend because it allows others to come into my home without risk of bringing mold in on their clothing or fragrances from their laundry products.

Today my dear friend Victoria came over for a yearly ritual of Christmas cookie baking.  We bake all day and then give away most of the cookies.  It is the friendship and the tradition of baking cookies that we love.  We talk and chat over the roar of the mixer and the oven timer going off.  It is the one day we have no other agenda than to visit and create something to give away.

Several years ago Victoria gave up her daily routine of putting on her favorite perfume before heading off to teach her classes.  She wanted to be free to stop by and visit me anytime she wanted and wearing her favorite perfume restricted her visits.  I am so thankful for this kind of friendship.

I digress a little to tell a story about going to her home for an outdoor party during the summer.  Everyone was told not to wear perfumes to avoid getting me sick.  One friend of hers forgot.  I thought I had sat far enough away from her when the coughing began.  The horrible gut wrenching coughing that does not stop.  We had to get me the heck away from her.  I was moved far out into the yard and had to take both my inhaler and a histamine injection.  Of course Victoria’s friend felt horrible.  What did Victoria do?  She sent her friend upstairs to shower and then gave her clothes to put on that didn’t have perfume on them.  This friend of hers always brings that story up when someone asks if I am really that sensitive and tells them about the day she almost killed me.  And she has never forgotten about the perfume since then.

Ok, back to my baking story.  Victoria and I baked 12 dozen cookies today (brown sugar shortbread, sugar cookies with sprinkles, angel crisps and butter cookies).  We had attempted another butter cookie that was supposed to go into a cookie press (it came out in a mess).  The recipe also suggested a pastry bag, it wouldn’t go through the decorating tip.  We decided to just make balls and bake them.  That didn’t work very well either not to mention that we had the bright idea of adding food coloring to them to make them pretty which for some strange reason the red dye turned the dough this ugly orange.  As much as I hate to waste food, the dough was tossed and chalked up to an experiment.

My half of the cookies are all boxed up and will be given out or frozen for company if we should have any.  Below are pictures.  Note that I can be seen in my jeans, shirt and Christmas apron and Victoria is wearing the latest in Tyvek fashion.  How many of you have friends that will go this far to be able to bake with you in your kitchen?

Victoria and I baking in my kitchen.

Victoria and I baking in my kitchen.

Our strange colored dough.

Our strange colored dough.



When are things just things?

I have talked many times about the heartache of giving my things away, of standing idly by watching them being thrown in the garbage bin, and the grief that came along with it.

I have posted about having to choose my things or my health.  I have told others that you have to choose between your health and your things.  Yes they are just things!  But we hold a certain attachment to things as human beings.  They are reminders of our past; the good times and the bad times.  They remind us of the special day we had shopping with our grandmothers and the beautiful doll or beads she bought us.  There are rarely any photos of these things we hold dear to our hearts and souls.

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet via Skype a woman who found me through searching the words “Allergic to Life”.  Somewhere in our conversation the subject of purging or letting go of our items in order to lower our load and possibly gain some headway in our health came up.  I mentioned it is like going through the grieving process when you have to let go of your things.  She said that as humans we need attachments to things in our lives.  We talked for some time about letting go and the stages of grief.

I have said it was easy to let go because I was so very sick and just wanted desperately to get well.  In reality it wasn’t easy to let go.  I thought of taking pictures of things as my husband tossed them into the garbage bin.  I wanted to place them softly in the bin (I don’t know why because once at the refuse they would be piled into a pit with all sorts of garbage but they were my friends from childhood.)  It was my Scottie dog (yes it was shedding a lot of its coarse hair) my big teddy bear (even though it was one-eyed – the other eye lost many years ago) and my little stuffed dog with the ears worn so thin from rubbing that the bells had long ago fallen out them.  It was crafts that I had made to fill my home with Christmas cheer and handmade witch dolls that adorned our home at Halloween.

I watched sadly as my mother removed dresses, skirts, coats, and shoes from my closet and placed them in big black garbage bags.  They sat in piles around the bedroom floor that was already bare from having the carpet removed because I was reacting to it and needed a safe place to sleep.

Bags of Clothes, Shoes, Purses

Bags of Clothes, Shoes, Purses

A few days ago I was in the shower and began thinking about my losses.  Yes I missed the loss of my nice clothes (I would not be able to wear them today.  I was so thin and sickly when I purchased them.) but that didn’t seem to cause any great deal of emotion.  Soon I was thinking of my stuffed animals and missing them.  They weren’t anything that I would have played with but they used to hold a prominent position throughout my home, an homage to my younger self.  The memories flooded me and I felt saddened.  Fortunately for me the sadness quickly passed and I was back in the present.

So as easy as it is to say, “Things are just things.”  They truly aren’t.  They are a connection to our life and our memories.  It is a struggle to let go and know they are lost forever.

What things do you hold dear to your heart?  What would hurt you the most to give or toss away if you had to choose it over your health?


Catch Up Mondays: Why do I still hold on to this? Emotional reasons? – revisited


I first posted this on February 3, 2013.  How many of us hold on to things for emotional reasons?  The item has not value.  It may not even be safe.  But it has that special memory that tugs at your heart.  In my case, it was a special memory of a time long ago.  I time before illness and sensitivities to fragrances and other chemicals.  Just reading this post saddens me but it needs to be said for all those out there in similar circumstances.

I have tossed out so many things since my mold exposure at work and subsequent cross-contamination of all my belongings at home.  I have tossed out books that I loved, tossed out all of my clothes and shoes, watched as my husband tossed my old one-eyed panda teddy bear and Scottie dog from childhood, gotten rid of my computer which was less than a year old and placed all my photos away for future scanning by someone other than myself. Yet I still have this little tiny bottle of perfume. Have I ever worn it? No. Is it a small vial of a very expensive perfume? No. Do I even know what it smells like? No. Then why am I holding on to it?

When my husband and I got married in 1976 I had chosen the perfect gown. It was a candlelight color and I fell in love with it. I had gone to the bridal salon in plenty of time to get fitted and order the gown. My mother and I had been told the gown would be ready in eight weeks. Eight weeks came and went and my gown was not in. Finally twelve weeks after I ordered the gown, I received a call at work. I was so excited. The gown was in and ready for me to try on. I phoned my mom and she met me there. The dress was taken out and given to me to try on. It was more than a size too small. They had misfit me or inadvertently ordered the wrong gown. What was I going to do? It was barely over eight weeks until my wedding and this gown had taken twelve weeks. They offered to place an other order and said the gown would be here on time. I told them to do whatever they wanted. Tearfully I walked out to my car. What was I going to do?

That weekend my mother and I drove out-of-town in search of a gown I would like that we could purchase off the rack. We searched and searched and I “settled” on a gown. It wasn’t the gown I wanted but time was running out. We purchased the gown and the woman gave me this lovely little  bottle of perfume to take with me. I didn’t wear the perfume on my wedding day but this little bottle has been sitting on my dresser or table in my bedroom and moved from house to house with me all these years. Why haven’t I gotten rid of it? I honestly don’t know. I have never opened it, never wanted to wear it and now could never wear it. I guess there is something about it that brings me back to a happier time.

Sentimental Value
Sentimental Value

Today as I was talking with a friend about loss of belongings because she has found some mold in her house and is worried that she, like I, will have to get rid of clothes and other “things” (things that hold memories of a time long gone). I told her about my piles of black garbage bags that sat on the floor as my mother pulled all my clothes and shoes out of my closet (pictures will be in the book), etc. Then I mentioned the lone little vial of perfume that I have sitting in my bedroom on my dresser. Suddenly, after all these years a horrible and earth shattering thought came to my mind. Why do I have that in my bedroom? Yes it has never been opened and no fragrance or chemicals are being emitted from it. But what if? What if for some unknown reason, that innocent looking little vial of perfume were to fall on my hard tile floor and shatter. All those chemicals would be thrown into the air of my safe bedroom. How could I not have thought of this before? It is amazing what giving up possessions and memories can have on a person and make them totally “INSANE”.

It just looks pretty.
It just looks pretty.
So what happened to that beautiful little bottle of perfume that held so many memories?  My younger daughter took it outdoors far away from me and dumped out the perfume.  She then gently packed it up in a bag with paper towels and took it home with her to Texas.  She will be the guardian of what means/meant so much to me.  At least it didn’t have to end up in the refuse dump with all my other treasures from what feels like a life time ago.  I need to have her send me a picture of where it now resides.
What are you holding on to?  What about it makes it so painful to let go?

Critical Day 3: The aftermath

Hello everyone.  Critical Day 3 ended yesterday.  No more lamb required.  I can go back to eating normally with the exception of the foods that I have gained through the LDA (low dose antigen) process.  I still can’t have my almonds, lettuce, tomatoes, oats, etc.).

I got up this morning to the thought of NO MORE LAMB!  However, there was still some ground lamb left.  At $9.00 a pound I wasn’t going to throw it out so I had a patty with an egg.  The egg was delicious – the lamb just didn’t do it for me today.  Unfortunately there is still a good amount of lamb stew left over.  It doesn’t freeze well and I can’t throw food out.  My husband and I will both have stew for lunch.  Tonight will be beef, chicken, pork, or anything but lamb!

I am still dealing with a headache and being discombobulated.  I also still have itchy arms.  More information about my LDA this go around can be found here, here, and  here.

I hope you are all having a good day.  Me, I need to go and rest and let my head calm down.  I came into the office to do a little bit and have been in front of the computer far longer than I thought I would be or needed to be.

Catch Up Mondays: I was feeling better when I left the moldy place. What happened? – revisited

I first posted this on November 16, 2012.  This topic is one that is hard to grasp but I have been asked more than once why this could be happening.  The toxins in the mold, mycotoxins, cause a great deal of damage to our systems.  Only after we remove ourselves for a time do we truly see what has happened and it is not what we are ever prepared for.

How many of you who have suffered from a mold exposure and asked this same question?  What happened?  Why am I more allergic and feeling worse?

The simple and yet not so simple answer is that it can take 2-12 weeks for your body to get the toxin and load level down enough after removing yourself from the constant exposure to recognize all the allergic responses the mold has caused.  You feel better immediately because you are no longer being exposed.  Then the allergic response kicks in and you suddenly realize that things that were never a problem before suddenly are.  The mycotoxins have done their damage and now you are becoming aware of what those damages are in the increased sensitivities and other illnesses that crop up (fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic sinusitis, autonomic nervous system dysfunction and severe depression to name a few).

I stopped working in the moldy environment and thought I was feeling a little better but then I was placed in a new school building where construction was going on and dirt was being moved everywhere for landscaping.  I began getting exposed to the mold spores in the dirt (my air filter cartridge by my desk needed to be changed after two weeks rather than the usual 2-3 months).  I was being exposed to toxic paints, toxic glues in the carpet as well as high levels of formaldehyde in the carpet and all the new furniture.  I was also being exposed to the dust from construction.

A few months later I went to the Environmental Health Center-Dallas where I was not exposed to chemicals or fragrances of any kind.  Slowly I began to notice smells when I went to the grocery store and would become dizzy after a short time in the store.  I was still wearing my clothes that I had worn in the work environment.

Fast forward about 8 months and I had a urine tricothecene test done which revealed a high amount of tricothecenes in my urine.  I was told to get rid of my clothes.  I did and then headed for Dallas for surgery.  Between removing my toxic uterus and ovaries (my ovary we learned later had 125 ppb of tricothecene mycotoxin in it), anesthesia and starting over in safe clothes I became even sicker.  I began noticing that when I got near mold or someone who still had their clothes  from their moldy homes I would go into tremors.  I experienced these tremors when testing molds and mycotoxins.  My chemical sensitivities and food allergies were also heightened.  The worst of this happened about six weeks after my surgery.

Friends of mine have told me the same stories.  Some had this happen exactly at 8 weeks; some had it happen just before week 12.

2013 In Review

My year in review:  This has been an amazing year with the blog celebrating its first anniversary.  I finally got Allergic to Life published and have met some amazing new people along my journey.  I have become an active and integral part of a brand new Book Club (Rave Reviews Book Club) and re-connected with people from my “old” life (pre-illness).  I have had some great reviews, been featured on slush heap, and worked with a fellow survivor on an interview to be released in 2014.  I look forward to so much in 2014 and hope you all will continue to be with me for what comes next.

Below are some statistics that WordPress sent me today.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 36,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.