Help Us Recover From Toxic Mold

$2,645 of $15k goal

Raised by 30 people in 19 months
Melissa Bolton  PARKER, CO
It is a very hard thing for me to ask for money. I have always had a lot of pride and strived to be hard-working, independent, and do for myself. But sometimes life throws more at you than you can handle on your own. That is what dealing with toxic mold exposure is like; it is the agony that keeps on giving until it breaks you.  

Here is our story: two years ago we moved into what we thought was our dream house - a spacious house on lush, wooded acreage in the humid, rainy Pacific Northwest. Little did we know that house was hiding a dark secret that would become a nightmare and obliterate life as we knew it. 

Hidden within the walls of that beautiful home was toxic mold in such high volume and concentration that it made my entire family very ill within a few short months. The spore and mycotoxin count was so high that it literally saturated all our possessions; beds, clothing, books, toys, electronics, keepsakes, everything. And we were breathing in a toxic soup of biotoxins daily, to the point that every single bodily system of every family member was affected. 

The symptoms were so myriad and diverse that they were baffling to us. Runny noses, burning eyes, persistent intestinal problems, headaches, rashes, dizziness, shortness of breath, unexplained pains, recurrent infections, sudden onset of diabetes, and brain fog are just a few of the symptoms experienced by members of my family. My daughter was hospitalized with an untreatable blood infection, my husband suspected he had colon cancer from intestinal pain and diarrhea that would not go away, my children both complained that their eyes and heads hurt so bad they couldn't read or watch TV or do any of the things they used to enjoy. 

3 hospital visits, 12 doctors, and countless tests, and there were no answers for what was happening to us. Finally we discovered the missing puzzle piece: toxic mold. Testing revealed several mold species, including 3 that are extremely toxic to humans, and all in alarmingly high concentrations. The mold inspector said that the concentrations of the infamous "black mold" stachybotrys were the highest he had ever seen. We were advised to get out immediately. 

At the time, we had no idea that all of our wordly possessions were contaminated and could never be adequately cleaned, and that by bringing them with us, the mold problem would continue to follow us. It took moving three times in Washington, shedding ever more and more of our belongings for us to finally realize two things: 1-we had to literally abandon everything we owned, and 2- we had to move to a dry climate because nowhere in the rainy Northwest would ever be mold-free enough to be safe. We were completely sensitized to even the tiniest amount of mold. 

Two years later we are still living a nightmare. There have been more hospitilizations, ever mounting medical costs, my husband lost his job due to the stress and illness and having to move to a drier climate and spent six months of the last year unemployed. 

Healthwise we are still recovering and experience regular setbacks. We had to give up all our possessions and have been able to replace only the barest necessities; sparse amounts of clothing, cooking utensils, a folding table and chairs, and blankets to sleep on. We have been homeless off and on for the last year, trying to find a safe environment to live in. We have finally found a safe, mold-free apartment to live in and need help to come up with the deposit and some furnishings to replace everything that we lost, as well as try to pay down some of our medical bills so that we can continue to receive treatment in order to heal. 

I have tried to keep our story as brief as possible so much suffering has been omitted. Any generosity bestowed on us will be more appreciated than you can know, and we will strive every day for the rest of our lives to pay it forward. It pains me to have to ask for money but this financial hurdle is like an immovable boulder that we just cannot get over on our own. My children deserve a life of normalcy and stability with just the basics provided for them. 

Please share to help raise mold awareness. Mold will always be a problem for us, something we will have to avoid for the rest of our lives for our health and sanity, and many people are unaware of how common and devastating toxic mold can be. No one should have to go through this nightmare. Thank you for your support and time in reading this.



Learn more about toxic mold and its disastrous effects at these links:

The original site I found that finally tied all our symptoms together and filled in the missing puzzle piece that helped us discover what was going on:  http://blackmold.awardspace.com/black-mold-toxic-stachybotrys-mycotoxins.html

MomsAware.org: Information on Mold and Mycotoxins with many families' personal experiences shared

My own personal blog I made to document some of our experiences



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Update 2
Posted by Melissa Bolton
19 months ago
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Finally updated with wish list!

Follow this link to the wish list: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rybve3cEe9cUo2DhTDwajBKwKwllHhPPoMxLKPn-RU4/pub

If there's something on the list you think you are able to donate, private message me on facebook or email through the GoFundMe site if you have any questions.

It took me longer than anticipated to finish it. It's been a very busy week with work and the girls' school and keeping up with correspondence from all the well wishes and kind messages I have received.

Plus I had to go to the storage unit where we keep our few moldy possessions to get some things like birth certificates and documents and just handling those few papers sprayed up enough mold and toxins to really knock me out. It never ceases to amaze me how virulent and nasty this toxin is when it takes such a small amount to make me so sick. So, I haven't been feeling too well on top of everything and it's made me more sensitive to the small amount of cross-contamination we were already dealing with in this house. Sometimes I feel like it's going to follow us forever.

But I have a lot of hope now that we may be able to finally beat it in the new house. I am going to be especially cautious and vigilant about what gets brought into it so no more cross-contamination occurs and we can finally begin to heal.

Thank you all again endlessly for your support and help. It really means the world to me!
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Update 1
Posted by Melissa Bolton
19 months ago
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Wow! I am overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of support I have received in just three short days since creating this page. It has already far exceeded my expectations. I thought it might take months for enough donations to trickle in to meet even a tenth of our goal and was prepared to wait for the long haul. I’m so used to going without so many things for so long now that anticipating a few more months was no big deal. I am just in awe. Thank you all so much, every single one of you for your help and support. You have no idea just how much it means to me. I have felt very alone going through this. We do not have a large family support network or any closeby friends to help us, so to have all of you who are flung so far and wide across the globe come together to aid us in our time is need is cherished more than I can adequately express.

I have been given the great idea to create a wishlist of items we need. Many cannot contribute financially and I completely understand that. I would never want anyone to create a hardship for themselves to help us. But as a good friend of mine said, almost everyone has tons of items in their household they no longer need or use. This is a great idea but I do have one caveat. Used items can be problematic for us due to our extreme hypersensitivity to mold and mold byproducts. A trip to the Goodwill can be a nightmare for me because it is a literal smorgasbord of molds, bacterias, and other harmful contaminants. Which is a shame because I have always been frugal by nature and thrift-shopping used to be one of my favorite ways to snag unique finds and save money. So I hate to look a gift-horse in the mouth or seem ungrateful but if you suspect that any items you might consider donating have ever been exposed to a water-damaged building, they are not items we can use.

Mold is a very tricky and invasive contaminant. A lot of people believe it can be cleaned or killed, I believed this when we first vacated our moldy house. I set up a careful staging area at our next residence which had a sheltered patio that was perfect for cleaning and decontaminating items before they came into the house. I aired out books and clothes, sprayed them with fungicide and aired them out again. Washed everything twice in our washing machine or dishwasher with bleach, Borax, vinegar, and/or other fungicidal agents depending on the items. I wiped down every piece of furniture, getting every nook and cranny before bringing it into our new house.

But we actually got sicker in that house than we had been in the original mold house. I was baffled, discouraged, and disheartened. I couldn’t understand what was happening to us and why we were still sick. Months of research and finally finding forums filled with mold victims like ourselves helped me to learn what we had done wrong, which was many things. For one, as mold spores, hyphal fragments, roots, and other parts of the “plant” (it is not a plant, it is a fungi, but for lack of a better word) dry out, they crumble and break down into ever smaller pieces. Picture a dry autumn leaf, how it disintegrates into tiny crumbs, now picture that on a microscopic scale. The pieces become so small they will pass through even the most high-quality HEPA vacuum or air filter. They embed themselves into cracks and pores of all your belongings to the point that no water or cleaner or vacuum can ever reach them. A single water molecule is more than a hundred-fold larger than the largest of these particles.

The other thing I had unknowingly done wrong is try to “kill” the mold. This was wrong for a couple of reasons. One, while we are sensitive to mold spores now, the actual thing that makes you sick and what makes toxic mold different from the non-toxic varieties like grow on cheese or oranges or bread, is that toxic mold produces mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are infinitesimally small particles more similar to a gas or a chemical particle than a biological one. They are the toxic mold’s defense system, the chemical warfare agent they send out to kill off competing mold and bacteria species so they can keep their food and water source to themselves to proliferate. And they are very good at their job of killing and destroying surrounding cells of all kinds, up to and including human’s.

When you try to “kill” the mold, what you are actually doing is threatening it and in a last-ditch defense to preserve itself it will release a massive bloom of mycotoxins. The mold itself may die off but now, what’s actually making you sick: the mycotoxins, has increased a million-fold or more. You got rid of a minor problem and created a massive, ginormous, unsurpassable one. And the kicker is, these particles cannot be killed or destroyed. Unlike the original mold, they are not alive and they are strongly resistant to breakdown. Much like nuclear particles, they have an incredibly long half-life, they can survive for years in their harmful, nasty form; never breaking down or disintegrating.

I could go on and on with my mycology lesson. I have learned so much in these last couple of years about mold, but I know the internet attention span is brief and I have already far surpassed the limit. So if you have items you would like to donate, please keep these things in mind:

If you think you have ever lived in a water-damaged building, there is a good chance there is some contamination in your belongings. They may not bother you because hopefully your exposure wasn’t as concentrated and intense as ours was, and I’m very thankful for that. We’re all barraged with mold on a daily basis in old buildings, new water-damaged buildings, thrift stores, libraries, anywhere, and if you haven’t suffered a long-term, toxic exposure these daily onslaughts won’t bother you. There were so many places that I never knew were moldy before my immune system and body was damaged, that I discovered afterwards were particularly problematic. If you think your items might been exposed, we can’t use them.
Hard, non-porous items are generally safe and with the right procedure can be cleaned. Metal, glass, and hard plastic fall in this category. Wood does not, it is very porous and even if it is a finished wood, unless the finish is completely unscratched and unmarred and also completely wraps the item, there are holes that can absorb toxin.
Books and paper type items and some clothing are extremely porous and problematic and cannot be cleaned so unless you’re sure that they are mold-free, we can’t use them.

I hate to put so many conditions on what we can accept, but I’m sure you can understand how careful we have to be in avoiding anything moldy so that we can begin to finally heal and recover. I hope that with careful mold avoidance we will one day not be so hypersensitive and reactive.

I appreciate all of you more than I can say for your support, kind words, and emotionally healing comfort. Thank you for supporting us and lightening the load of our journey.

I will be updating again soon with my wish list. I have started it but I want to make it more organized for easy perusal.
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$2,645 of $15k goal

Raised by 30 people in 19 months
Created August 21, 2015
HS
$100
heather smith
18 months ago
$25
The Ponds
19 months ago
$400
Anonymous
19 months ago
JJ
$15
Joann Jenkins
19 months ago
$50
Anonymous
19 months ago
$25
Anonymous
19 months ago
$30
Anonymous
19 months ago
$125
Anonymous
19 months ago
$35
Anonymous
19 months ago
$50
Anonymous
19 months ago
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