Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The C Word

Contamination. This is the center of our lives. When you are living with environmental illness and toxic mold poisoning, contamination's the thing. What does that mean exactly? Lots of things, actually. Mold spores are everywhere. And we all tolerate them. But for someone with mold toxicity, they're an invisible hazard. WH is extremely sensitive to any sort of mold in his environment. They cause strong reactions and set back his recovery signifcantly. Things like books and fabrics are the worst culprits, but anything -- even glass, plastics, metals -- can become contaminated.

It may sound silly, in fact, we've had doctors who have said as much, but little things can carry a big wallop. We recently got new credit cards. Credit cards. Innocuous enough. But devastating. We don't know why or how, but the cards were terribly contaminated (perhaps they were made in a mold-ridden facility, perhaps they were shipped in a moldy truck, it's mind boggling to speculate, so we try not to). Innocuous things that we aren't expecting can knock us to our feet.

A contamination is devastating to the environmental patient. Because of his severe sensitivity, for WH, it means his reaction is even stronger than usual. It means headaches, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, elevated blood pressure, chest pains, and more. It means that, because my clothes are now contaminated, we can't sit next to each other -- let alone hug or kiss. It means simple things now become complex. For example, instead of simply coming home and getting comfortable in front of the TV, one must "de-con." A shower with antifungal shampoo, careful bagging (in zipper bags to prevent contamination) of all clothes. It means living in a hotel, isolated from everyone and everything.

Shopping is a nightmare. In a time when most of our goods are imported, contamination is pretty much the norm. Clothes that are mass produced under unsafe conditions (mold, chemicals, dust, to say the least) in foreign countries are shipped here by boat (mold, mold, and more mold) and stored in warehouses (did I mention mold?). By the time they get to the store, they're often so contaminated that they're unwearable to the toxic mold patient. And it's not just clothes...paper towels, food items, anything that can absorb mold spores is at risk -- and so is the patient.

WH often calls himself a "truffle-sniffing pig for mold" because he can sense it within moments of exposure where others aren't aware of it at all. Avoidance is critical to recovery, but living in a humid city, surrounded by constant, common contaminants, often makes avoidance a challenge. And when there's a devastating, unforeseen event, avoidance means isolation -- from your home, from your family, from anyone who is contaminated at all. So much isolation.

This illness may not have a name, it may not be something you can see, but it is real and it is devastating.  If you would like to learn more about we're going through or help us as we battle this monster, please visit our YouCaring website.

For more information about environmental illness, mold, and mycotoxin poisoning, read here, here, and here. If you are inclined, you can watch the video below for more about contamination and how it happens. Both of WH's amazing doctors are featured in it.

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