Experiencing The Taboo

Michael Rubino

December 1

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Today’s Mold Talks guest is Vivian Rowan, a mother, certified nutritionist, businesswoman, and mold survivor. At first, Vivian was stumped as to what was causing her to continuously feel unwell. She was a fitness enthusiast and an active mother who hadn’t experienced any health problems prior to moving into a new home with her family. When her kids began experiencing symptoms as well, though, she knew something in her environment was harming her family. 

Her intuition led her to discover a severe mold problem in the new home. Unfortunately, Vivian’s journey to recovery took far longer than she would have hoped, but she’s now using her knowledge and passion to help others recover from the illness that mold exposure can cause.

Our chat delves into her unique and terrifying journey dealing with mold exposure. Fortunately, Vivian trusted her instincts, even after many people told her she was crazy and was able to find healing for herself and her family. While mold illness may seem "taboo," Vivian’s experience shows how real it can be!


Today’s Talk:

"It's like they're speaking taboo. Nobody understands fungus. Nobody understands fungal infections."

Vivian’s brush with mold came wrapped up in a brand new house. Looking back, she hypothesizes that the fungus probably already existed in the home when they bought it, but a series of unfortunate water events is more than likely what pushed the growth over the edge. A couple of months after these wet fiascos, her symptoms began presenting one after the other. From rashes and neuropathy in her hands to a rapid heart rate and lethargy, she started to feel like a shadow of her former self. At one point, she started having choking spells inside of her home and couldn’t breathe. Yet no doctor could pinpoint what was wrong, so she continued to suffer through her symptoms. 

When her children started getting sick and having daily nosebleeds and fevers, she realized she had an environmental exposure problem on her hands. One day, it just hit her. The flooding must have caused mold! Low and behold, she ran to the basement and discovered severe mold contamination. Vivian immediately called a mold inspector to come in and what they found were lethal levels of mold contamination.

"The remediator came over and he was like, ‘Look, if you are my wife, I would tell you to pack your bags tonight and get your kids.’ He was like, ‘22,000 Chaetomium is lethal... you need to get out of here, go to a hotel, go anywhere.’ And I was like, 'Oh my god,' and so I packed everything and we got out."

For six months, she and her family lived in hotels as their home was remediated. Unfortunately, her symptoms continued to progress even after leaving that level of toxic exposure. At the peak of her suffering, Vivian experienced over 30 different symptoms from the exposure. 

"I just thought it was gonna die. I just had no idea what was happening. It's scary to look at your father has been a doctor for 40 years and he can't tell you what's wrong. I was like, oh my god, this is it. This is it. Nobody can save me."

She and her children went to over 30 doctors in the months after discovering what was triggering their symptoms, but not a single one had the answer to her ongoing problems. She experienced comments about anxiety, depression, and allergies, but not one touched on their exposure to mold and how it was affecting their health. 

"You talk to any doctor about that (mold exposure) they think you're smoking crack."

Luckily, she eventually found a pair of integrative health practitioners that dove into finding the root cause of the imbalance in her body and her children’s bodies. Now, she and her family are on the path to healing, and they’re living in a brand new house that’s outfitted to prevent mold exposure. But the shadow of mold still exists for Vivian. Anytime she’s around indoor mold growth, her body immediately flares up with symptoms and triggers a panic state. Understandably so! 

Still, Vivian pushed herself to remain positive and overcome her fear. 

"You do have to learn how to trust because your body cannot heal unless it lets go of the danger. You have to trust that you're safe again. And that I remember like walking by myself, listening to music, and making that decision that I don’t want to be so paranoid and that I would trust the house and let things go and you know, whatever happens, happens… because if you stay in this fight or flight and you're constantly worried, you're constantly afraid to go to the grocery store, you're constantly afraid that you're going to see mold in an air conditioning vent... You're never going to heal."

She also used her experience as motivation to become a certified nutritionist so that she can help others heal from toxic exposure. 

For anyone else suffering through the effects of mold exposure. Vivian suggests they trust their instincts. 

"Listen to that little voice in your head and listen to your body. Because your body knows when it's freaking out when it's not."
Learn more about Vivian Rowan at: