Tag Archives: mold exposure

My “Allergic to Life” Giveaway Ends Soon!

Hi Everyone

First let me thank all of my new followers. I have been away dealing with my deep vein thrombosis.  I will write more on that after I meet with the hematologist tomorrow afternoon.

It is hard to believe it has been a year since Allergic to Life was published. Where did that year go? So much has happened since then.  If you haven’t already signed up to receive one of three signed copies or the chance for one of three e-book copies, please read the giveaway information below.

To celebrate this amazing year and all the wonderful people I have met, I am giving away three signed copies of Allergic to Life (US Only) on Goodreads.  I am sorry that I can’t do signed copies for those of you outside the US.  I am going to also give away three e-book copies to anyone outside the US. To receive an e-book copy, simply leave a comment below on why you would like to receive a copy. The contest will run from August 30, 2014 through October 30, 2014, my birthday.

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How I Got Here

Today I am honored to be featured on Notes From Tabor Lane penned by Katherine Logan.  I am so thrilled at the wonderful response I have received from my fellow Rave Reviews Book Club members in supporting my time as “Spotlight” Author. 

My life was full and busy. I was a stay-at-home mother of two teen-aged daughters.  My life was wonderful and hectic.  If it weren’t for my at-a-glance calendar I would have been lost.  I was a board member of the local elementary school, a 4-H leader, president of the PTA, and a member of a local athletic booster club for young ladies at a new high school. When I wasn’t busy with community events I was playing Bunco with a group of women that I had met through PTA..to read more of my guest blog post with Katherine, please click on the link above.  Don’t forget to take a moment to leave a comment and thank her for hosting me.

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.

HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS?

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.

I Lose Words! Where do they go?

There has been quite a bit of talking the last few days from MCSGal and mcslearningtoliveadifferentlife about what our canary is and about losing words when in a reaction.  I posted this originally on June 23, 2012 and then posted it again in my Catch-Up Mondays on July 28, 2013 with the title At a Loss For Words.  I still lose words despite the length of time it has been since my original exposure at work.  I lose words during a reaction and when I am not in a reaction.  The mold just messed with my brain.  I have difficulty typing certain words.  Despite being able to write these words and spell them to you out loud I type them wrong every single time.  I want to type a blog post and not correct anything in it and let everyone see how I truly type before I take the time to go back and make corrections. One of the words that I spell wrong every single time is you.  When I type it is always appears as yoiu.  I have been very far behind in posting new blog posts.  I have many ideas but just can’t seem to get myself back to the task of writing.  Instead I have been cleaning house, something that is routine and helps me deal with all that has happened.  I promise to be back soon in full swing soon.  In the meantime there may be some reblogs of some amazing bloggers I follow and a few extra Catch-Up Mondays.  

Don’t you just hate it when you lose or can’t retrieve the word you want from your brain?  Since becoming ill I have found it is a regular occurrence.  I will be talking to someone and in the middle of a sentence I can’t come up with the word I want to use.  Try as I might, the word won’t come.  Sometimes I have been successful by trying to find another word that means something similar.  In the middle of a reaction as I was in yesterday, I was hard pressed to come up with the other word.

What was the word you say?  I don’t know.  I still don’t know.  I was trying to convey how when dealing with someone I would just respond very vaguely without giving either a yes or no answer.  As I was searching for the word I became tearful.  I tried and tried and finally came up with equanimity (calmness, poise, serenity, self-possession).  It seemed to work but wasn’t really the word I wanted to use.  Maybe I was wanting to use apathetic (showing little or no emotion, indifferent, not interested or concerned).  As I am writing this definition I think that is the word I wanted to use.

As hard as I try to retrain my brain by reading, crossword puzzles, etc. I still lose words in conversation even more so in the midst of a reaction.  I still find when I type that I transpose the same letters in certain words over and over again even though I know how to spell the words.  Yesterday when I was in the reaction my handwriting became hard to read (see picture for a sample of my handwriting in my journal during a reaction) and I spelled things wrong, my right hand became very cold and I had a much harder time expressing myself.

I have been told that mold mycotoxins can damage brain cells.  Sometimes you regain some of the processes you lost but usually not all of them.  When I was first exposed to mold (didn’t know it then) I would take phone messages and then look at them and realize they didn’t make sense and have to re-write them. Sometimes my boss would come in and ask me what the message meant even after I am sure it had been rewritten.  My handwriting was also deteriorating .  At the time I would become frustrated over this but it never dawned on me that something serious was going on with me and my brain.

What is Your Canary?

My fellow blogger friend, MCS Gal, has a blog posted titled “What is Your Canary?”.  I read it and immediately commented.  This has led to numerous comments back and forth.  Please check out her blog post and leave a comment.

Don’t forget to leave a comment here as well on what your canary is!

May is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Month

round_MCS-awareness_badge

The Month of May has been dedicated as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) month.  I suffer from MCS (also known as Environmental Illness and Chemical Sensitivity). I did not always have MCS.  I was a very active and busy stay-at-home mother of two.  I was active in their school, their activities, as well as in our community.  I lived by my at-a-glance calendar to know when and where I was supposed to be at any given time on any given day.  I sewed and did craft fairs. I baked and canned, and did things with my friends.

My MCS began after a mold exposure in my work place where it first manifested itself in severe sinus issues and brain issues (although I didn’t realize the brain issues were happening in the beginning).  My boss would bring a phone message that I had written and placed on his desk to have me explain it to him.  I remember many times writing a message and then realizing it was sloppy or didn’t make sense and redo it.  The sad thing is that even then the messages would not make sense.  Yet I still had no idea my brain wasn’t functioning correctly.

I didn’t know what was wrong with me or why I was constantly getting sick.  It took nearly a year to discover that there was mold in the office and and a few more months before my ENT could get mucous taken from my sinuses to grow in a culture plate. I rapidly began reacting to all sorts of medication and developing food allergies.  The chemical sensitivity took a little longer to rear its UGLY head.  When it did, I was shocked.  I had seen others where the masks and walk around in a daze but that wasn’t me!  At least that is what I kept telling myself until it was me and there was no escaping it or denying it. Mold isn’t the only thing that can  push someone into “MCS or environmental illness land”.  An extreme exposure to pesticides will do it.  An extreme exposure to chemicals in the workplace can do it.  Slow but steady exposures to chemicals can also eventually cause someone to become sensitized to chemicals.  How much is too much?  There is no answer to that.  Everyone reacts to different levels of a chemical.  Not everyone has the same toxic load already before being exposed. Do people think we are crazy?  Do they think it is all in our head?  There are some that do.  Sadly there are family members who condemn their own brother or sister or mother for having a sensitivity to chemicals.  They truly do not want to accept that this condition actually exists.  For if this exists, they may have to change their habits to avoid causing further illness to their family member.  I have seen husbands leave their wives over this illness.

The isolation that MCS causes is dark and lonely.  Very lonely.  For that reason I chose many years ago that I would begin writing my story.  I would become an advocate to the best of my ability. I started by writing my story which is now available (Allergic to Life:  My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope).  A link to purchase is in the sidebar.

Throughout the month I will be reblogging posts from some of my fellow bloggers who are also posting about MCS Awareness month. Last month I celebrated my 2 year Blogiversary.  As a celebration, I began a giveaway on Rafflectopter.  I several items included in the giveaway.  Take a moment to click on the link and enter the giveaway which runs through the end of May.

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?

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.

Girl quits school over allergy to books, part 2

A few days ago I posted about a young woman who has been forced to quit school because of an allergy to books due to dust, mold, and chemicals.  I wrote that could empathize with this young woman because of my allergies to mold and dust and my extreme sensitivity to chemicals.

A dear friend and fellow blogger, Michellina,  from the-labyrinth is a student at Victoria University in Australia.  Despite having similar allergies and sensitivities as I, she has managed to get the most amazing accommodations at her university allowing her to continue her education.  I am in awe of all that she has managed to accomplish for not only herself but her fellow students who may or may not know how to go about getting accommodations or who may be afraid for fear of being labeled “crazy”.  Please read Michellina’s post and learn all that she has managed to get done while a student at Victoria University.