Pins & Needles
The pain was erratic. Hands, torso, feet, the tiny needles stabbed my nerves at random for a couple seconds, then disappeared. Then there was the bloody discharge in my ears, nose and chest. It would appear for a few days or weeks, then vanish. And how could I forget the Staph infection last year? Resistant to the antibiotic, it spread from the swollen lymph node behind my right ear to a systemic attack stretching for months.
Healing bipolar and PTSD reduced the toxic burden on my body and mind. But even after 6 years of mental health recovery, I still had symptoms that weren’t indicative of either diagnosis. The ongoing fatigue, headaches and sleeplessness could just be a manifestation of my mental illness. But what about the needles, mucus, joint pain and skin problems? I suspected another toxicity, but I was afraid. I don’t respond well to medications, our budget was strapped, and if it was something big like Lyme’s disease or mold, the prognosis could not be good. Lyme’s is very difficult to diagnose and treat, and just about impossible to cure. If it was mold, we’d have to leave our home and get rid all our contaminated belonging–financially, impossible again.
The Next Step
We labored so much time, money, and struggle into making me well. In January 2015, I left the teaching career of my dreams, too sick to work or to have a family. God answered my cry with an incredible community who educated us about the roots of mental illness, sustaining me through holistic interventions and a transformation from the inside out. This January, 2021, I started pursuing a vocation again, balancing full-time wife and mom responsibilities with work as a writer, musician and mental health coach. But as I took on a heavier load, the intensity drained my mood and energy. The muscle spasm in my left eye worsened from an occasional twinge to pulling at my socket multiple times a day
Looking back and remembering the manna fed my child, the mountains moved, Love’s direction for my healing stands out clear as stars. But somehow the next step on the journey, the next leap of faith, still seemed as intimidating as the first. I knew my practitioner friend Danielle offered muscle testing and homeopathy. Her biofeedback therapy had already improved my sleep and stress response, and I had watched heavy metals pull out through my feet into the ionic footbath. She kept telling me about cell salts, a homeopathic remedy that finally turned her daughter Andi’s severe eczema around. For months I considered her offer. There was never a good time and the money was never enough. And then I had to accept that my circumstances didn’t change the Spirit’s leading. Whenever I prayed and sought Him, He kept saying the same thing.
So I made the appointment with Danielle, picked up Merry after school and told her were getting a test where we’d be lying down. Merry had recurrent skin and intestinal struggles that weren’t going away either. If I couldn’t quite believe that I was worth another investment of time and dollars, I knew that she was.
Danielle, calm and gracious, listened to my anxiety while testing us against multiple toxins and minerals. Both Merry and I tested strongly for cell salt deficiencies and mold toxicity. Cell salts support the body’s functions on a micro level, trace minerals no longer found in our polluted food and water supply. The mold reading confirmed the black and red presence I’d been seeing in our older home, problems we could address without having to move. Because as Danielle pointed out, moving out and getting rid of everything isn’t an option for a lot of people.
We started on a homeopathic remedy for cell salts, a liquid we can take one drop at a time. Shortly after the test, Dr. Elisa Song, holistic pediatrician at Healthy Kids Happy Kids, shared a link in her email newsletter for a free online conference. I watched a presentation by Dr. Neil Nathan about how to diagnose and treat co-infections for mold toxicity and Lyme disease. Dr. Nathan’s book Toxic: Heal Your Body from Mold Toxicity, Lyme Disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and Environmental Illnesses details what he’s learned from 50 years of medical practice, specializing in “highly sensitive patients” who don’t respond well to more aggressive treatments such as antibiotics.
I immediately resonated with Dr. Nathan’s descriptive “highly sensitive patients.” Because of factors like genetics and childhood trauma, I’ve learned that I am very responsive to environmental stimuli and that standard medications and dosages are too heavy for me. What a relief to hear from someone who had dedicated his life to this type of medicine, after seeing his sickest patients get sicker using conventional methods and wanting to do something for them too.
Analysis and Treatment
Dr. Nathan’s presentation detailed extensive anecdotal and research-based data on the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of mold toxicity, which affects an estimated 10 million Americans. Mold toxicity commonly occurs in conjunction with Lyme disease and its co-infections because the weakened immune system is more susceptible to additional threats. Here’s a complete list of mold toxicity symptoms from his slides, many of which can be misdiagnosed as other things.
“Mold toxin symptoms:
- fatigue and weakness
- muscle cramps, unusual pain (ice pick or lightning bolt electrical sensations)
- sensitivity to bright light, teary, blurred vision
- chronic sinus congestion
- cough, chest pain, shortness of breath
- abdominal pain, often IBS/secretory diarrhea
- joint pain, tendonitis, morning stiffness
- cognitive impairment (memory, handling numbers, confusion, concentration, disorentation as severe as alzheimers, brain fog)
- sensitivity to light touch
- mood swings, appetite swings, night sweats, difficulty with temperature regulation
- numbness, tingling, vertigo, metallic taste in mouth
- excessive thirst, frequent urination, sensitivity to static shocks (light switches, car handles, etc)
- impotence, menorhaggia
- nausea and vomiting
may look like:
- fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue
- atypical ms, rheumatoid arthritis, alzheimers, parkinsons
- asthma/chronic sinusitis
- anxiety, panic attacks (unrelated to stressors)
- cognitive impairment
- mood swings
unique or keynote symptoms:
- electrical shocks
- ice pick pain
- paresthesias (numbness and tingling, non-dermatomal)
- internal vibration/tremor
- increased sensitivity to everything (light, touch, sound, emf, food).”
So, several of my strangest symptoms could be linked to a moldy environment!
Slow and Steady
Based on Dr. Nathan’s advice, I added the binders activated charcoal and Bentonite clay to my daily regimen. Compared to other holistic treatments I’ve done, the treatment is simple and inexpensive. That muscle spasm? All but gone. Those stabbing pins and needles? A long-standing problem that will take time to diminish, but what a relief to know what they are! As a highly sensitive patient, I had to break the binder capsules apart into tiny doses, or else the detox effect kept me up coughing at night. Now almost two months in, I’ve been able to increase the dosage slightly as he recommends, and feel less heaviness, bloating and pain.
Mold toxicity and Lyme disease are both emerging medical fields. I’m so grateful to Dr. Nathan, Danielle Killeffer, CGP, and others who have braved the journey of intense disease to heal and help others. If you think you might have mold toxicity and would like to learn more, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to share more complete notes and discuss treatment options as a Holistic Mental Health Coach.
(Notes: I am not doctor and this post is not intended to diagnose or cure disease. View my full disclosure/disclaimer here. Thank you to Alexander Stein, Pexels, Kari Shea, and Bruno /Germany for their free images on Pixabay. The last two came from my free account at Canva.com. These are great resources for writers and I highly recommend them!)