Today’s Mold Talks guest is Rain Holten, a licensed esthetician, integrative health practitioner student, and chronic mold survivor. Rain’s experience with mold over the years has been all-consuming. Over the years, she’s realized first-hand that this fungus among us is everywhere and often works alongside other conditions like Lyme disease.
Rain’s not completely sure when her initial experience with mold began. Over the years, she’s realized that exposure occurred at her job, in her home, and even in her car, but there was never a sudden instance of, "Oh, that’s mold." It actually took years for her to figure out that this fungus was affecting her life so drastically. This long and tumultuous timeline is what pushed Rain to become a mold advocate.
Their chat touches on just how prevalent mold growth can be in today’s society and how easy it is to develop a hidden mold problem. Mold exposure can happen to anyone at multiple points throughout their lives. Its drastic and continued impact on health is why more must be done to bring awareness to this indoor contaminant.
"I think I always had some mold symptoms and then maybe during moves they lightened up, but as soon as I started actually working in a moldy basement and then also having a mold leak in my house, it really just made everything just run rampant."
Looking back on her life, Rain believes her sensitivities to mold began the day she was born. The doctors couldn’t pinpoint the reason for the rash on her head, which would then periodically come and go throughout her adolescence. Living in apartments, she said, probably didn’t help either.
"Growing up, I lived in apartments, which I don't think is really the best place for people if you have sensitivities, because, you know, it's not just coming from your unit, it could be coming from any place in the building and getting through the vents."
Still, she never considered that an underlying environmental factor could be to blame when it came to her variable health. It wasn’t until she started a business in a salon that her health issues began to flare up. The salon was located in the basement, and while it frequently had a musty smell, the essential oils and candles covered up the scent.
Over the years, though, her symptoms began to compound and drastically affect her day-to-day life. From hair loss, digestive issues, brain fog, fatigue, and chronic pain, Rain went through the wringer as her body attempted to battle the exposure. Still, she thought it was due to the stress of opening up her own business and continued to push through her list of symptoms.
"It's crazy because this laundry list of stuff was happening, even me fainting, but it didn't faze me at the time. It wasn’t until… my fiance was like, ‘You’re not the same person. What's going on?’ And I'm like, I don't know. I would just, a lot of the time, go to work, then go home and go to sleep. You know, I didn't enjoy my life or go out. If I wasn't working, I would just lay on the couch."
She attempted to find answers by visiting doctor after doctor, but no one could give her a legitimate answer to what was causing her so much pain. Instead, she received physical therapy for posture to help her stiff neck, prescription pain medication, and antidepressants. Luckily, a friend of hers was in the middle of taking a health course and suggested a more holistic approach.
Rain eventually agreed and began seeing a naturopath who immediately started digging into what could be causing her symptoms and triggering her Lyme disease to flare up.
"I saw her virtually and she ran all these tests. She figured out that mold was the root cause of my problems. It was really nice for someone to actually, like, validate... She's like, ‘You've been so sick for so long. I'm so sorry. We can get you better.’ And I'm like, this is the first time someone has ever validated me because there were other doctors before, you know, the one that prescribed antidepressants and the one who prescribed physical therapy, but um, they never did anything this extreme."
Rain didn't put testing for mold high up on her priority list at the time (she never thought in a million years it could be the problem), but she’s so glad she did. With an answer in hand, the dots started to connect in her head about how long she’d been living with mold toxicity. It was far, far too long.
She began the path to healing, but it wasn’t nearly as smooth sailing as she hoped. After leaving the salon, she and her fiance discovered mold in their home and Rain’s car. A couple of failed remediations, a deep dive into mold research, and a myriad of detox protocols later, Rain is finally on the path to healing. While she feels much better, she's still not quite back to her normal self yet.
Now, she’s focused on becoming an integrative health practitioner and advocating for mold awareness. For those out there going through similar situations, Rain suggests always trusting your intuition.
"Make sure that you always listen to your body and don't let a person, don't let 50 people, don't let your husband, don't let your mother, and don't let a stranger tell you that it's not real because it is. Especially if you're feeling it."
From there, she recommends finding a doctor who will work to find a detox protocol that works specifically for your body because "everyone responds differently" and "there’s no blanket approach."
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