Are You a Toxic Mold Survivor?

Are You a Toxic Mold Survivor?
If you are a toxic mold survivor and want your story published, then I want to interview you.
To date, Got Mold? has published five interviews plus an update from our first interview with Gina Lopez. Currently, we have two more scheduled, but we are always looking for more stories. Below is a list of interviews published to date:
Interview With a Toxic Mold Survivor: Gina Lopez
Interview With a Toxic Mold Survivor: Raffaella Tassone
Toxic Mold Survivor Update: Gina Lopez
A History of Mold Illness: The Kelsey Best Story
Interview With a Toxic Mold Survivor: Elaine Kelly
Interview With a Toxic Mold Survivor: Dr. Janis Bell
The primary purpose of these interviews is to raise awareness.
The long term goal is to gather and document enough interviews to do a larger study that examines the similarities and differences of the experiences that different survivors have. In order to publish a fair study, a larger data set of survivor stories is required.
Ultimately, there is not enough knowledge of the problems caused by mold; we need to change this, create awareness and hopefully have an impact on public policy so that victims of toxic mold can get help sooner.
As a final note, if you do agree to share your story, before your interview is published, you are provided a copy to review and approve.
To schedule an interview and get the process started, contact me directly using the form below.

Toxic Mold Survivor Update: Gina Lopez

Toxic Mold Survivor Update: Gina Lopez
Last year, we did our first interview with a toxic mold survivor: Gina Lopez. Since publishing the interview, I have kept in touch with Gina just to see how she is doing and to get status updates on her health.
On April 4th, Gina and I spoke over the telephone to get a complete update on what has happened in her life since we published our first interview on October 19th.
Gina, how are you feeling now?
I am feeling much better today. I still have not recovered fully and am not sure if I ever will because I still have brain damage. I still suffer from long term memory issues, though I am happy to report that my short term memory seems to have gotten much better, I don’t forget recent stuff as much anymore. So, there has been some improvement from a cognitive perspective.
Emotionally, as well, I am doing much better. During the darkest period of my health crisis, I was an emotional mess. I had severe depression, constantly cried, and suffered from extreme anxiety.
Physically, I am improving, though the right side of my body still gets numb once in awhile and I still have serious digestive problems. My walking has improved dramatically, I don’t need a cane to walk anymore, which is a good sign, but I do still get tired quickly.
I still suffer from CIRS and feel pain and weakness consistently; by the end of day I feel so weak that I have trouble walking. I have also become super sensitive to chemicals. In addition, when I am exposed to mold in a home or building, I always know because my ears begin to ring and I feel a brain fog…kind of difficult to describe, but mold sensitive individuals will understand.
Gina, recently, I read one of your FaceBook posts that mentioned that you met with Senator Peter Wirth. Please explain
Well, you could say that I have become a mold warrior, so to speak. After suffering through my sickness and realizing that this could have been prevented, I have decided to try to help others in my community avoid this situation.
I sent an e-mail to Senator Wirth, explained how I became sick and asked him to read the interview you published on October 19th. I am pleased to report that the story you shared and published had a significant impact. In fact, after reading my story, Senator Wirth contacted me and asked me to come see him.
Gina, that is awesome, so what exactly did you and Senator Wirth discuss?
I explained that this did not need to happen. I advised him that the only reason I got sick was because I rented a property that not only made me sick from mold but also impacted the health of my kids. I asked him if there was a safe guard for tenants and he told me that he plans to research what other states are doing to protect their tenants and wants to get New Mexico caught up on toxic mold legislation.
I am very excited because an elected, public official is actually taking this issue seriously and wants to help.
Gina, thanks for sharing your update. Do you have any other comments or thoughts?
I think the one point I want to make is this. People just don’t realize how hard or how long it is to recover from toxic mold sickness. It takes time, I will be dealing with this for the rest of my life, but am optimistic that now that I know what the cause of my sickness is, I should be able to deal with this and I know I will continue to get healthier day by day.
My sincere hope is that by sharing my story and experience, that I can help others avoid this situation. I plan to continue to push for laws that protect the rights of tenants and forces landlords to provide healthy, mold free properties. In my view this is a public, human rights issue and my hope is that by continuing to raise awareness politicians will listen and hopefully create safeguards.

Interview With a Toxic Mold Survivor: Gina Lopez

Interview With a Toxic Mold Survivor: Gina Lopez
One of the featured stories on Mold in the News: Issue 128, was about a Santa Fe woman, Gina Lopez, who nearly died from toxic mold exposure.
After posting the story on our website and sharing the link on Facebook, Gina commented that she was the woman featured in the story. The video below features Gina.

To learn more about her toxic mold experience, I interviewed Gina over the phone. Both Gina and I hope that her story and experience will help other toxic mold survivors.
1. When did you move into your current apartment?
July, 2007.
2. How many years have you lived there?
More than six years, I still live here.
3. How soon after you began living there, did you begin to feel sick?
I began getting sick within 2.5 years.
4. What were your symptoms?
I had all of the symptoms of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.
Specifically, I started getting chronic head aches, mood swings, severe depression, red eyes, severe abdominal pain, many allergy and sinus issues, and I developed asthma. Anytime, I had a drink of alcohol socially, I would get very ill and begin vomiting. In addition, I had bleeding and menstrual issues, nausea, shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, my hair got coarse and began drying out, and ringing in my ears. I also began getting really dark circles under my eyes. My skin was unhealthy and I began to bruise very easily. As my condition worsened, I began having severe cognitive difficulties and found it difficult to walk and even started getting lost easily. My memory just started to go, I was unable to remember short term and eventually long term. Near the end of my diagnosis, I could barely walk and speak because I was stuttering so much.
The worse part is my children started getting sick as well, both of my kids developed asthma, started getting rashes, and had a severe sensitivity to mosquito bites where their skin would swell severely.
I truly thought I was going to die and did not know what to do. This was a very emotional time because I was not sure what to do, how to support my children. I just kept getting sicker and sicker, nothing seemed to help.
5. How many Doctors did you consult with and what types of treatments did you experience?
Too many to count, met with dozens of Doctors.
I had countless MRI’S, CAT scans, blood tests, and other medical procedures. One Doctor said I had fibromyalgia, another Doctor thought I had MS and/or was developing Parkinson’s because of my cognitive, balance, and memory issues.
I went through so many treatments, but nothing worked.
Because of my abdominal pain, the Doctors thought I had an appendix issue and removed it. I then underwent another surgery and had a hysterectomy because the Doctors found tumors and cysts, which did turn out to be benign, but they did think I may have cancer as well.
I still have pain in my back from the base of my spine to top of neck and nothing the Doctors prescribed worked; some Doctors think it is caused by a tumor in my spinal column.
6. How helpful were the Doctors you consulted with?
Not helpful at all. Doctors treated my family and I very poorly because they thought this was all in my head. They thought I was making my sickness up and treated me like a joke. Made negative comments and treated me very badly. Doctors were convinced I was faking it. It was so frustrating and very hard on my family and I emotionally.
One Doctor finally recognized that I was not faking the symptoms. A Neuro-Psychologist diagnosed me with Cognitive Disorder NOS. Only after this diagnosis did the primary care Doctor I am seeing now begin to take my condition seriously. Honestly, it has been an uphill battle.
7. Did any of your initial Doctor visits consider mold or air quality as a cause of your sickness?
None of the physicians even considered mold or air quality as the cause of the sickness, which is very frustrating because some molds are toxic.
8. When was mold identified as the cause of your sickness?
April 25, 2013…nearly six years later identified mold as the cause of sickness.
The only reason I began investigating this further was because my friends told me to look into this as the cause because they witnessed my condition getting worse and worse. My friends watched me transform from an able bodied woman with a good job, to not being able to work at all, to barely being able to function.
I am 41 years old and should not be this sick. Yet, not one Doctor even considered that the air quality or toxic mold could be making me sick. Literally, my brain was shutting down because of a lack of oxygen, I had bad tremors, could not walk, was stuttering, and lost most of the strength in my right hand because part of my brain is now damaged.
I visited Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker’s website, Surviving Mold, and started doing some research.
I purchased a test kit and tested the air quality in my apartment myself. The results were not good.
I then asked my landlord to hire a company to investigate further, which luckily they did.
The tests were positive for high levels of Toxigenic molds, including Stachybotrys (black mold), Aspergillus, and Penicillium.
Once I found out that high levels of toxic mold were in my apartment I began explaining this to my primary care physician. I, basically, educated my Doctor. Sad, but true. After nearly six years of suffering, I was the one who had to educate the supposedly educated Doctors I had been seeing about the cause of my illness. It has been a very painful couple of years, but I am feeling relieved now that the cause was identified.
Soon after the mold was discovered, my landlord did the right thing and hired a company to remediate the problem. I was forced to basically throw away all of my belongings, anything that had spores on it. Painful experience, but it had to be done.
Sadly, this whole experience could have been avoided. Apparently, this apartment building has had many moisture problems and experienced some flooding in the past.
I plan to move out, but financially it is difficult. My only hope is that the remediation and moisture issues have been addressed properly, so my condition gets better.
9. What treatment are you currently on?
The first test I underwent was to determine if I was genetically pre-disposed to mold sickness.
According to Dr. Shoemaker’s research, 25% of us have this genetic pre-disposition.
Both, my daughter and I, have tested positive for the genetic disorder making us very susceptible to mold illness.
I think my mother always knew that I was susceptible to mold sickness. I grew up in Hawaii, but my family ended up moving to New Mexico because my mother thought the dryer climate will be better for my health.
I have been following Dr. Shoemakers treatment and started taking Cholestyramine
In addition, I have been following a strict No-amylose Diet and only eat green leafy vegetables and lean protein.
I have also started on a herbal cleanse.
10. How long do your Doctors think it will take to recover?
I am feeling about 50% better. Unfortunately, the Doctor’s are not sure how long it will take and if I will experience a full recovery, I am hopeful that I will reach at least 75%, but not sure. Right now I am disabled still and really need to concentrate on recovering so that I can enjoy the rest of my life.
Very frustrating for me is the reaction of my Neurologist who has offered no assistance or help. My brain is damaged and when I explained that mold was the cause, I was told that she has “no clue” how to treat me. Very sad state of our medical profession knowing that they do not understand the problems caused by mold. I really think medical schools need to devote more attention to this problem and train Doctors. According to Shoemaker, the “science is clear”, so makes me wonder why the mainstream medical community does not take this more seriously.
Fortunately, the Doctors figure that my daughter will recover 100%, so I am very happy about that.
11. Any other thoughts?
For those suffering from this condition, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t lose hope.
I also think that it is really important for landlords, businesses, and homeowners to really be aware of the potential risks caused by leaks and moisture. Mold almost killed me.
If your basement floods or you have a leak, make sure that you deal with the issue and make sure that you eliminate the possibility of mold developing.
In my case, my daughters and I suffered so much. We did not need to suffer from mold. This should have never happened in the first place.
If you suspect mold, get a mold inspection or air quality tests. It is better to be safe than sorry, don’t risk allowing your family to get sick.