Imagine talking on the phone with a doctor 2,500 miles away who is looking at your lab tests and he tells you "There has to be mold in your house." Could the bio-markers that he has learned to read tell him so definitely that I was being exposed to mold? Who has ever heard of that? But that is exactly what Dr. Shoemaker told me.
My response was, "I don't think so. I live in Scottsdale, Arizona where it's usually very dry. I don't see any mold. I don't smell any mold. I just don't think there is any mold Ritchie." To which he responded, "There is mold!" I asked how to find it. He said that there really are very few experts on finding hidden mold but he knew someone that he trusted in Washington DC. Over the previous few weeks, everything that Dr. Shoemaker said to me turned out to be very accurate. But I had real trouble imagining that my beautiful, 11 year old home had mold.
Shortly after I saw Ritchie for the first time, he prescribed a medication called Cholestyramine (CSM). It is an older drug that is rarely used today. In the past, it was used to lower cholesterol before the introduction of statin drugs. CSM works by binding cholesterol in the intestines and not allowing it to be reabsorbed. It also removes certain types of toxins that are bound up in the cholesterol that is part of bile.
My initial physical response to taking CSM was very positive. After about 3 weeks, I felt really good. Actually, I felt much better than I had in years. (This isn't to say that I had been feeling bad, but CSM did make me feel that much better.) It was very obvious to me that CSM brought me to a new level of wellness. After I got feeling so much better I stopped taking CSM. CSM is not particularly pleasant to take, so the decision to cut back, and eventually stop, was not hard to make.
Since CSM worked so well for me, I decided that Ritchie was probably right about there being mold in my house -- even though I couldn't find it. So, two months later (took that long to get the guy to come) I had his expert from DC fly to Scottsdale. He spent a few hours carefully inspecting the outside of my home looking for ways that moisture could enter. He found some windows in a walkout basement area that appeared to have been installed improperly. We then went inside to those same windows. He peeled back some wallpaper and BINGO, there it was. Massive amounts of black mold on the entire wall. More on the adjoining walls. Ritchie was right big time!
Later we hired a remediation company to remove all of the mold infected materials. There was tons of mold on the inside cavities of the walls as well. The workers were careful to seal off this basement area from the rest of the house and also to use filters to continuously blow this toxic air to the outside.
But I had already taken a hit! After several days of being exposed to this, I began to feel ill. It was a very familiar feeling. I knew that my old symptoms were returning. I was panicked actually. But this time, I had a new tool.
I immediately went back on CSM. I will tell you that I was amazed when after 2 days, I started feeling better. I continued to return to normal over the next 3 days. This was a first! Never had I been able to stop my symptoms once they started. Never! Over the past 30 years, any time I started down the slope, there was no going back up until I hit rock bottom. And then, it always took many months of a very disciplined regimen to recover.
Needless to say, I was impressed. In fact, I was thrilled!
After discovering the poorly installed windows, all the windows were then inspected very carefully. We found several that had problems. We now are in the painful process of fixing all of these areas. Since I know that there is more mold in my home than in just the garage, I continue to take CSM. And so far, I continue to feel well.
As I look back on 30 years of recurrent chronic illness, it is pretty easy to trace all of the places where I lived and worked that I know had mold. All the puzzle pieces that I have found over the last 20 years that I write about in my book (mercury and detoxification, proper nutrition, thick blood, chronic infections, etc.) are all still valid for me. But I very much believe that within these last six months, I have stumbled upon yet another major piece to my chronic health puzzle. I now need to learn how much damage had done to my body so that I can hopefully fully recover from it.