Becoming Your Own Health Advocate

Michael Rubino

October 27

Today’s Mold Talk’s guest is Heather York, mother and homeschool teacher to her two children. For three years, Heather battled the effects of mold exposure; even with moving to another home. After going to doctor after doctor and not being able to get a concrete answer to her symptoms, she decided to take her health into her own hands. 

Heather spent time diving into research so that she could become her own health advocate. And, it worked. She found out that indoor mold growth was causing her long list of symptoms and is now actively working towards healing her body and creating a safer indoor environment.

Our discussion today touches on the effect mold exposure had on Heather's health, how the physical and psychological symptoms took a toll on her ability to be a parent, and her journey to healing. She encourages those suffering through similar experiences to never give up looking for answers and to never lose hope. There is relief at the end of the tunnel. 
Heather York

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Heather’s journey with mold exposure began three years ago. Her experience didn't start with some grand moment of feeling unwell, though. Instead, she slowly began to not feel like herself until one day, boom, she felt incredibly lousy. 

The chronic fatigue, brain fog, and anxiety (among other symptoms) started to wear her down and affect her everyday life. But, it was the inability to keep up with her two young boys that was the final straw for Heather. 

“I wasn't able to perform as a mom. I was dizzy, I was angry, I was frustrated… I could barely go for walks with them and play with them because if I wasn't not feeling well. My anxiety was so bad that I could barely function. That was extremely frustrating as a mom, to not be able to take care of her kids.”

She attempted to seek out medical help several times, even being forced to go to the ER on more than one occasion, but no one could give her an answer. From allergies to “there’s nothing wrong,” Heather experienced the gamut of responses that did nothing to solve her debilitating symptoms. Her bloodwork came back fine, which to them meant nothing was amiss. Not one doctor thought to consider environmental factors as the trigger for her problems. 

On her worst day, she said she remembers sitting and looking out the window, but her brain fog was so severe that she didn’t even feel mentally present. 

“I thought, what is going to happen to me? Am I dying? All these thoughts go through your head that are so, you know, they're dark and they're frustrating.”

Her turmoil and lack of help are what inspired her to become her own health advocate. She refused to accept that she could go from feeling completely fine to just “losing your mind.” By researching and looking into alternative medical professionals and experts, she opened herself up to find other underlying reasons for her failing health. After some digging through a mass of information and reading through other people’s experiences, she finally stumbled upon mold.

The lightbulb moment.

She thought back and realized that the previous house she lived in (when she began experiencing symptoms) and the house she lives in now had recurring mold. Like many other individuals, she thought you could just wipe the mold growth off and that was the end of it. She never considered that it could be causing her to feel so poorly. 

Armed with an answer, she started changing aspects of her life and is now feeling her health improve. 

“Obviously you can’t dive in right away but… I changed what I put in my body and then what I put on my body as well.” 

She’s also using her newfound knowledge to educate her husband who was fortunate enough to not experience mold exposure sensitivities. From instructions on not using bleach to how much mold can impact health, together they’re creating a safer indoor environment for their family. 

Now Heather’s focused on continuing her healing journey and creating an indoor environment free from mold growth and its byproducts. Which means more research and further actions, but these are happy changes. Now, she's empowered with the answer to her issues and no longer stuck in the purgatory of failing health with no end in sight. 

For those experiencing similar situations, Heather says to never think you're crazy and to become your own health advocate. 

“Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope.”

Even if you don’t find the answers immediately, never stop pushing the envelope and searching for the answers. Everyone deserves to live a healthy, happy life. 

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