The morning couldn’t arrive fast enough. There’s something about the night that makes physical struggles so much more dark, intense, and scary.
This particular night had been spent in agony.
Not so much a painful agony, but an “I-feel-like-I’m-dying” sort of agony.
This night I was laying in my bed, in the master bedroom.
The bedroom had an adjacent bathroom in this home that we’d bought with room to grow. Our plan was to spend at least 10 years here and our prayer was to add little feet and precious souls to the other 2 upstairs bedrooms. I knew nothing of the dangers lurking in this bathroom of mine, and the thought hadn’t crossed my mind this night that my location might contribute to this scary, impending-death feeling I had.
A few nights earlier, I had been to the emergency room. I had some of the same symptoms then as I was experiencing this same night of agony.
My head had so much pressure within it that it felt as though it might explode.
Oddly enough, despite the pressure, there wasn’t pain. That night of the ER visit, I tried to sleep, but just couldn’t get comfortable. The pressure was so much worse laying down.
I got up to use the bathroom and my legs wouldn’t work right.
I could march, but I couldn’t walk.
How odd. I felt like I was floating in a time and space that was other-worldy, like I wasn’t even sure of my mind still being attached to my physical body.
When my husband agreed to bring me in to the ER at midnight with our 4 year old in tow, I thought for sure there would be something so significantly wrong that there would be a certain diagnosis. After several hours in the ER and a CT scan of my head (ugh, radiation), it was determined that my electrolytes were out of balance and it was a good thing that I had gone in (according to the doctor), but he recommended follow-up the next week with a general physician.
So I made an appointment.
That follow-up appointment was approaching, but not fast enough. This night of agony was the night before the appointment with the doctor at 8:30 the following morning.
In addition to the incredible brain pressure, I was also experiencing chest pain and my whole body was trembling. I lay in bed, trying to relax, as my body shook.
Re-positioning with my head propped up a little helped a tiny bit with my head pressure, but not much was helping my other symptoms. I drank water with Himalayan salt just in case my sodium was dropping again, but that didn’t make much difference. Insomnia plagued me, although I think I slept for about 3 hours between 1 AM and 3 AM. Each time I awoke, I begged my husband to place his hand on the small of my back. It was the only thing that seemed to quiet the trembling and give my nervous system a little nudge to “hush”.
At 6 AM, I couldn’t handle it any longer. “Josh,” I woke him up yet again, “I have to go in. Something is very wrong.” The chest pain was more intense at this point and I thought for sure my heart was struggling.
I wasn’t aware that my symptoms lined up with that of poisoning.
You see, mold puts off toxins called mycotoxins that were causing these symptoms. I didn’t know that the underside of the master bathroom shower and half of the floor under the linoleum was covered in black mold.
I couldn’t swallow very well. Couldn’t walk well. Couldn’t think straight. What was happening?
Josh talked me into waiting to go to my scheduled appointment. He definitely didn’t feel like paying another ER bill. This visit at a general physician was supposed to be the next step in getting answers.
Finally, 8:00 rolled around and we left. It was raining that morning, which I realize now had significance to the night’s agonizing ride, but that’s a post for another day. I cried out to God for answers. Something, anything….. I can’t live this way.
I sat in the waiting room, chest hurting, dizzy, having trouble focusing my eyes. There was a wait. I went up to the desk, holding onto the edge of the counter for stability, asking for an indication of how much longer I had to wait… I felt like I was about to fall over, and was going to end up stretching out on the floor just to cope with the dizziness. The look I got communicated something along the lines of “Oh, yes, one of those hypocondriacs who can’t stand another second of waiting.”
When I was finally ushered into the exam room, I was so dizzy that I laid down on the table. I tried to sit up when the doctor came in and introduced himself, but couldn’t make my brain orientate itself to the upright position, so I laid down for this doctor’s visit.
After a tech came in and performed an EKG (checking my heart’s electrical activity – this wasn’t my first rodeo with this machine), the doctor came back in the room and, in kindness, offered me a choice of three anti-psychotic drugs so I could get some sleep.
Get some sleep.
Well, sleep would be nice. But I have a slight affinity to the ability to be able to feel what’s going on in my body. What would the consequences be, with my symptom profile, of ignoring what was happening? I politely refused. I certainly didn’t need to add another toxic dimension to what I was going through.
I practically begged the doctor for blood work. He refused at first, but then I asked again if he would at least draw cortisol levels (there are multiple ways to test this hormone produced by the adrenal glands, and I was asking to start out with the basic testing). “The doctor in the ER was concerned that this is pointing to Addison’s,” I said. (Click here to watch a video about a woman, her husband, and her dog who developed Addison’s Disease – adrenal failure – after living in mold.) He complied, and I had my blood drawn.
Certainly, after the horrid night I had just been through, something would show up. But nothing did.
It wasn’t until several months later that I found out a great source of many of my problems. And then I started researching and realizing that my experience, with symptoms and doctors, was not unusual. No doctor (and I have been to plenty – I stopped counting at 20 a couple years ago) had ever asked me about my environment. None had ever considered my entire symptom profile and thought to run tests that would point to the toxic poisoning that can take place because of biotoxins from mold.
The symptoms of toxic mold exposure are vast and varied, often mimicking other diseases. If you suspect mold may play an issue in health issues you or your family experience, I highly recommend Andrea Fabry’s book, “Is Your House Making You Sick?”
In the meantime, you are not crazy. Pursue resilience!