My first few months of college became a miserable experience. Not because I had trouble adjusting or was homesick. I became terribly ill. Most nights I obtained very little sleep because I was coughing so profusely that I fractured a rib and would often gag and throw up as a consequence. During class, I always had to choose a seat based on easy exit and carried a plastic bag in case I couldn’t get out quickly enough and my coughing fits turned into gagging and then to regurgitation. I sought medical care with doctors and became an experiment. No one knew what was causing my health problems. I was given allergy medications, steroids, etc. Nothing helped. By this time each cough was terribly painful due to the fractured rib. I remember one night I was so desperate to get some sleep and relief from the hacking that I called home crying. My dad came to visit the next day, and I visited the doctor again.
My sister, who was also my roommate in college, began to suspect something with the air-conditioning filter. She called several times to have it replaced. Finally, after several months it was changed. I began to slowly improve. Eventually I stopped coughing and my rib healed.
Fast forward about five years. My husband and I moved to the west coast. The first two nights we stayed in a building that had visible mold. I had by this time suspected that my problems in college were due to a moldy air-conditioning filter because after this, every time I was around mold I developed a headache, and sometimes other symptoms. By the next morning I had a pounding headache which progressed to one of the worst headaches of my life. Pain medications did not seem to provide any relief. I told my husband that I couldn’t stay in that place any more. I would prefer to sleep in the car.
We found another location to live and I recovered. I still develop symptoms each time I enter a building with mold. I am not sure why my husband or my sister did not have noticeable reactions to mold, yet I felt horrible. I do not know if that first experience in college is what caused my sensitivity to mold which persists today. I do know that toxic mold has ruined and altered many lives. I know that there needs to be a more pervasive awareness of toxic mold and the consequences of mold exposure. I hope we can share more of our experiences and expand the information available that can save others from this life-changing encounter.
Krystle Reeves assists in managing MoldBlogger.com. She has experienced firsthand some of the physical distress mold can cause and hopes to help others find solutions and information for mold-related issues.