I had the privilege of connecting with Lori several years back. She sent me a copy of her then just published book, “Are You Moldy? The true story of a very moldy person.” It is a powerful story. If you’re battling with mold right now, you will find a lot to relate with and draw encouragement from. If you haven’t fought the mold battle, Lori’s story will do a lot to open your eyes to what others are experiencing and give you a context to understand them better. Lori has put her heart into the book and I highly recommend it.
I recently asked Lori if she would be willing to do an interview, which she very graciously agreed to. Check out the interview below and be sure to get a copy (or several copies) of her book on her personal website, AreYouMoldy.com.
Q. Lori, your battle with mold began at work. In your book, you talked in detail about how the mold problem began and your struggle to try and figure out what the problem was. For our readers unfamiliar with your story, would you tell us about how this battle started?
Well, Jonathan, really, I was baffled and frustrated as to why I was getting sick all the time. I had a very healthy life-style; I consumed a healthy diet, I was an athlete; I had hardly ever been sick outside of the occassional cold once a year or so. All of a sudden, I was experiencing many and varied symptoms—chronic infections, digestive problems, unexplained pain, insomnia, and many, many other symptoms. They began gradually, with the first symptom being chronic infections in the throat, sinuses, ears, and difficulty swallowing; I developed a heart murmur, lung problems, hypoglycemia, skin problems….The worst and most severe symptoms occurred the last year I was at the school; unexplained bleeding and severe brain, heart, and lung symptoms.
Q. What is your life like today Lori?
Not normal, that’s for sure! The way I have to live is totally ABNORMAL. There are certain things I must do just in order to stay safe from exposures to molds and chemicals that might seem ridiculous to most, but it’s survival to me.
I am very thankful to be alive! I am grateful for all the things that I once took for granted. One thing this illness did was change every aspect of my life- professional, social, relational, spiritual. I never look back. I only look forward. I have learned to depend on God for everything in my life, including something as seemingly trivial as getting out of bed some days! I am most thankful for my faith, for I do not know what I would have done without it. When everything in your life is slowly taken from you bit by bit without your consent and against your will, you can become bitter easily and lose hope. With my hope and help being in Jesus and not in myself or my situation, I have been able to overcome many trials and keep my focus on what is most important after this short earthly life, and that is not how much money I made, or how much I have gained materially, or how many books I’ve written, but rather how much I have known and loved God, and what I have done for HIM, not myself. I talk to many mold victims. I listen to stories different yet so familiar; I pray for them and with them. I offer advice about things that have helped me if they ask, and I let them know that they are never in alone in their struggles; that God is with them throughout their whole ordeal.
Q. Thank you for that, Lori. Considering your desire to help others, what advice do you have for people who have discovered or suspect mold in their work environment?
If you are experiencing symptoms,- get out until such time when the area is safe. Do not stay in an area where you are getting sick, because the longer you are exposed, the more harmful it is to your body; the damage from mycotoxins to bodily functions and systems is cumulative. Ask your workplace to do adequate and proper testing and non-chemical remediation if needed. Always have testing done after remediation to make sure the area is safe to return to. If you are still getting sick after remediation, you most likely will have to leave. Do not try to “stick it out” as I did; it is not worth your life; —I have suffered greatly because of doing that.
Q. You’ve had a lot of experience with doctors, both good and bad. For mold victims seeking medical treatment, what advice do you have and what kinds of questions should they be asking their health care providers?
The first thing they need to ask is if the doctor is familiar with mycotoxin exposure, not “mold”. Doctors who view exposure to toxigenic molds as an “allergy” are likely to cause more harm than good. This is not an allergy, it is a toxicity. You become sick from biological toxins, which wreak havoc on the human body. And if colonization has begun in the body, this is an additional issue that can be made worse by certain types of normal medical practice; like the use of antibiotics and steroids. The immune system and the brain are often affected, but again, if doctors are not familiar with these issues, they will not do the proper tests. I had/have numerous functional problems in my brain that do not show up in normal brain scans. The myelin degeneration was detected by using a high-resolution brain scan. If a pulmonologist does not know about the link between mycotoxin exposure and chemical hypersensitivity, he will probably do chemical tolerance testing for asthma, which can be deadly for those who are hypersensitive to chemicals and/or with severe lung damage from exposure.
If their doctor is familiar with mycotoxins and their effect on the human body, they should ask about types of treatment, cost, expected length of treatment. I was shocked when I went to my first “mold doctor” and was told that the treatment would be 2-3 years… and it has been 6 years and I am still not well. I am better, but I am not well. Some symptoms have disappeared, but other new ones have developed through time. Many times testing and treatment is not covered by insurance, and doctors require up-front payments of anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to many thousands of dollars, with no “guarantee” that you will be able to get well using their treatment protocol. In other words, you can spend literally thousands of dollars, and still be sick. It’s always good to see if you can find someone who has had success with treatment by the doctor before beginning any type of treatment program or spending thousands of dollars out-of-pocket. I know one person who spent $7000.00 at one doctor and when she could not tolerate the medication that he had prescribed for her, he told her “I’m sorry, I can’t help you anymore
Q. For our readers in the medical field, what advice do you have for working with patients claiming symptoms related to mold exposure?
Listen to them, really LISTEN. I cannot stress enough the frustration and hopelessness that I and others like me feel when we go to doctors who are unfamiliar with this. Because they do not have knowledge of it, they often label us as “crazy”, “hypochondriac”, “depressed”, etc….I remember one doctor who, after I had gone to about 17 doctors and had numerous testing with no clear diagnosis-simply being passed from one doc to another; one test to another; one medication to another–told me, “I sense that you are aggravated. Perhaps you need an anti-depressant to calm you down.” I replied as calmly as I could, “You are right. I am aggravated, but I don’t need a pill. No, I need a doctor who knows WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME.”
Doctors, learn about it! There are many, many studies out there, and medical citations. . Look at the studies from Dr. Andrew Campbell, Dr. Michael Gray, Dr. Thrasher, Dr. Richie Shoemaker, Dr. Vincent Marinkovich (deceased)…Eckhardt Johanning, Kilbourn, and William Croft. Learn about MYCOTOXINS and what they do to the body. Find out the ROOT of the CAUSE of an ILLNESS, and don’t just treat the SYMPTOMS. I believe there are many, many people out there who have been misdiagnosed, especially those with digestive problems. I was MISdiagnosed with just about every GI illness there is;—on four or five different “asthma” medications, (I do not have and never have had asthma) and on every “heartburn” medication on the market for the severe burning in my esophagus and stomach—and it was the mycotoxins causing all of it.
I had three sinus surgeries, only to continue with more severe and more frequent infections…the surgeries made the colonization in the sinus area WORSE. In fact, Mayo Clinic has done a few studies on recurring sinus infections. This info has been publicized over and over in medical papers and booklets and sent to ENT’s everywhere: 97% of all recurring sinus infections are caused by fungal colonization in the sinuses. So why do doctors continue to prescribe antibiotics (which actually AID in fungal colonization) instead of anti-fungal sinus sprays, which would kill the fungus? Why do they do surgery to “remove a blockage” only to irritate the area even more and cause even more fungal colonization? It is frustrating….But with health care being a seemingly mandatory no-more-than 8-10 minute visit and a prescription slip(s) for symptoms; it is difficult to have a clear diagnosis of anything nowadays, I think. “Modern medicine” is treating the symptoms, not the cause.
Q. For our readers in the mold service industry, do you have any advice for dealing with homes and property that have been damaged by mold?
Don’t downplay the contamination, and don’t maximize it either; -be factual and upfront. If you think the building should be torn down and burned up, then don’t try to remediate it. Understand that most people who have been affected by mold are severely chemically sensitive, and any chemical remediation will most likely make them worse. Do not take lightly any health symptoms they are experiencing and be knowledgeable about medical symptoms related to mold exposure in regards to various types of molds and mycotoxins.
Q. Based on what you’ve experienced and learned from others, how can friends and family of mold victims best show their support?
Believe them and try to understand what they are going through. Never mock them or make fun of them; realize they are sick with a medical condition that is physical and not mental. Understand that they have little or no control over their illness outside of severely limiting their exposure to molds and chemicals. Understand that a reclusive lifestyle is not desired, but needed in order to limit exposures and sickness. Instead of staying away from them, ask them what you should do in order to safely be around them, and then make every effort to do what they need you to do. Know that if they ask you to please refrain from using something around them, it is for one reason only—because it makes them sick. Offer your support and help if you are willing to do so. Realize that this is a chronic illness, and they may be sick off and on for a long time-sometimes even for the rest of their lives. Realize that they will have “good days” and “bad days”. On good days they may feel almost normal and may be able to do everyday normal tasks at home and even physical things, like bike riding, walking, etc. On bad days they can feel very sick to the point that it’s hard for them to get out of bed or do menial daily tasks. Realize that most of the time they do not “look” sick. The damage is inside their body, and it is the inside that reacts to the exposures. We can look just fine on the outside, and feel like we’re dying on the inside. Lastly, but most important of all; love them with unconditional love!
Enjoyed the interview? Please share your thoughts and comments below! Have a suggestion for a future interview on MoldBlogger? Send me an email and let me know.