We’re Moving West

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It’s been a long, hard summer.

After we took an eye-opening “mold sabbatical” to Utah, we returned to Illinois, embarking on the second greatest experiment of the summer – seeing how our bodies coped with being back in the Midwest.
Jotham saw the biggest gains when in the clean air of southern Utah. But he also took the biggest hits being back in Illinois. It’s been so hard to watch the progress slip through our fingers. He didn’t lose everything, and has made some developmental progress over the summer, but he is so sensitive to the environment, which is influencing his growth and development.

We quickly learned that campfire smoke brings on anaphylactic reactions. Much of our summer was spent in campgrounds, and many evenings I had to sit in the car with the air running until other campers had gone to bed and the smoke was less dense. Going as far as putting our big EnviroKlenz air purifier into our tent made a big difference in the air quality.
Several encounters with loved ones revealed that baby Jotham would start having an anaphylactic attack when within a few feet of them. We knew he was sensitive to their home, but realized how crucial it was becoming to avoid being too close to people and things that have been in environments he can’t tolerate.
Typically in mold illness, the compromised environments where the sensitized person spent the most time, are the environments they become most reactive to. This has rung true for us. Sadly, this usually means that close family and friends in environments with hidden molds must be visited with very carefully. Limiting physical touch, staying upwind, or having them do a complete decontamination are some things that could allow for relationships to continue with some sense of normalcy, but it’s still limiting.
Anaphylactic attacks all blend together in my mind. I haven’t kept a tally, and there have been so many. Three of us have breathing problems and often hives as well when having a reaction (airway swelling is usually involved, and we’ve used more Benadryl in a summer than I have in my life). Gut pain, puking, digestive/urinary complaints, and body aches are some of the “lesser” symptoms we’ve experienced with exposure to a substance our bodies don’t tolerate well.
It’s getting cold in Illinois, and we’re spending most of our time outside to keep reactions to a minimum. We couldn’t find a rental that would give us the foundation we need for recovery, and since being in the desert completely removed all of these reactions, we decided to pursue moving.
My amazing husband applied for jobs, and almost immediately was offered a great position that should meet our needs. We’re scrambling to get everything in order so we can move across the country a few days from now.
We are so sad to leave. We leave behind many loved ones – both sets of our children’s grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, church family, friends, neighbors, co-workers. We leave behind familiarity – familiar faces around town, the ability to get places without Google maps, relationships with farmers that supply our food, doctors that know health histories, the support of church friends.
Leaving we are losing so much.
But staying requires compromises we choose not to make.
So we go.
Our home has not sold yet. We pray it sells soon, and we’re hoping we can find a reasonably-priced place to rent in Utah that will get us mostly inside for the winter months. Once our home sells, we can consider more permanent housing options.
By the time this is published, we’ll have our vehicles packed with our few possessions and be starting our journey West. Over fifteen hundred miles is a long way!


  1. Wow! Good luck on your journey! I have been following your blog and wondering about your family and how you all have been doing since your return to IL. We are in the same boat. We lived in Des Moines, Iowa, had all our family/friends/church community there, familiarity, etc. But we found that I have done much better in Montana this past summer. It will be winter so we will need to find a safe rental. It helps that I am seeing a ND here who is treating me for mold illness. My husband is back in Iowa still trying to sell our house and wrap up things at with. Then he will join my son and me and work remotely for 1 year with his company in Iowa. Such an adventure! I look forward to hearing more about your journey and wish you well!!!

    • So much in common! I have family a couple hours north of Des Moines, and Iowa doesn’t seem much better for us than central Illinois. ☹️

      So glad you’ve found Montana to be good for you! I hope you find a rental soon – I imagine it’s getting colder? Do you think it will be easier to find indoor environments you can handle there?

      I hope your hubby can join you very soon. It’s so much harder to be apart.

      • We actually are renting a VRBO right now which isn’t perfect, but I seem to be doing ok in. Then we will find a longer term rental in January. We did the camping thing this past summer and I felt amazing! We don’t be able to while it’s winter obviously plus we are adopting. So we need at least a 2 bedroom place until it’s finalized in 1-1.5 years. We recently visited a church that I was feeling pretty hopeful about that’s in a new building but it didn’t go well. ? We are trusting the Lord and pray I will heal quickly and be able to enter buildings with less reactivity in the next 6 months or so. My doctor remains hopeful about that and she thinks we will be able to return to Iowa at the end of the year!

  2. Sarah, I was so happy to see the information you posted as to what was happening in your lives. I had lost track of you, but often wondered was happening in your lives. I am not on Facebook much; I was hacked twice, so I deactiviated my account for a few months. Am on it again, but it is limited. There is so many things on it I don’t care about. I do like to hear from dear friends and what is going on in their lives, but can do without a lot of the other things that are posted. I pray that everything will go well for you in Utah. Yes, you are leaving friends, etc. My Mother, perhaps you remember her, told me when I complained to her when we were moving that I would be losing all my friends! Her comment was , “No, you will keep all your friends, but you will make new friends, and your life will be so much RICHER because you have more friends.” I have moved and have had many changes through the years; I made more friends each time, and my life has been most RICHLY BLESSED! I pray this will be the case for you and your family. Blessings and love to all, Marietta Sargeant


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