Today’s Mold Talks guest is Victoria Fisher, a mold survivor, awareness advocate, and soon-to-be mother. Victoria unknowingly lived with mold for five years. Thankfully, she continued listening to intuition and discovered that the culprit behind her chronic problems existed right within her own home. Even after seeing doctor after doctor, no one could pinpoint what the problem was, and instead only gave her band-aids for the problem.
The experience taught Victoria how important it is to continue advocating for her own health and listening to intuition. Refusing to accept her condition as the new normal, she discovered the answers on her own and fought to get her body back into balance and healthy once more. Even while fighting with apartment complex management and medical professionals that were woefully unfamiliar with mold. Still, she considers this event a learning and strengthening experience. She's using her story to help others who may be suffering from similar situations.
Victoria’s story showcases how much more work is needed to bring about more mold awareness, from the medical world to rental owners. Her incredible dive into research shows how mold can be overcome and the power of fighting for one's own health.
"When you start diving into the world of mold, you start learning what it really can do to you. It's such a broad spectrum. But, it's the awareness of: how can you equip people to be their own advocate in this situation? How can you equip people to know what to look for? If something feels off, and even though your doctors are telling you you're fine, listen to your intuition and start digging a little bit deeper, because that's what I ultimately had to do."
Victoria’s battle with mold began after moving into a new apartment with her husband. When she first began experiencing mental and physical symptoms, she initially thought it might be her Nexplanon birth control and took steps to have it removed. As happens with mold exposure, this first reaction did not improve her symptoms.
As time went on, she continued to feel worse and worse. Still, there were zero signs of mold in the apartment, so the idea that this indoor contaminant could be the cause never crossed her mind. From hair loss and mood swings to chronic fatigue and skin issues, she experienced a wide range of debilitating symptoms. At one point, she considered whether or not she may have thyroid cancer since her mother suffered from the condition.
She attempted to see a series of doctors, but her blood tests would always come back normal. Instead, they would give her a topical cream or a pill to help with her problems. It was only after they referred her to a specialist that Victoria realized she’d have to take her health into her own hands.
"I just knew that this didn't have to be my story, and I didn't want it to be my story. So, I started digging in and I think, unfortunately, but also fortunately, it's kind of what you have to do these days if you're not getting any kind of answers. So gaslighting is a very real thing. And, I know I'm probably not the only one who's ever gone through it."
It was a hard and stressful journey, but Victoria said that it was absolutely necessary in order to not accept this new state of being as a permanent reality. She had to fight for her answers.
"I think a big missing component is people learning to ask why. Or be brave enough to do your own research or even say something to someone that has the professional title, right. I think maybe people just don't feel empowered enough to stand up to white coats. You know, these people have gone through extensive schooling, but at the end of the day, if your body is changing, that white coat, that other person, can not know your body. They don't see the changes that you see throughout the years or the days because they're not you. I wish more people would become more brave, or empowered, or whatever it is, to do their own research and really pay attention to the cues that their body is giving, whether it's mold-related or not."
While digging through research, she stumbled upon Candida, and that was the moment that she was introduced to the idea of mold exposure. After attempting a protocol that didn’t help her symptoms, she discovered that mold could allow for candida overgrowth, causing the treatment to be null and void. As she said, "That made the whole picture so much more clear."
Tired of going to doctors, Victoria started down the path of mold research on her own. Social media played a huge role in helping her figure out how to determine whether or not this fungus among us was the culprit.
"I found people who were dealing with mold, either they were recovering from or had past experience with it, and to hear their perspective and go, ‘Oh, that sounds like me. That sounds like me, oh my gosh, that's so relatable.’ It gives you encouragement to keep going and keep digging and to keep fighting. And so, that's exactly what I did."
She found a naturopath doctor nearby who offered a mold test, and while the medical professional didn't know how to read it, Victoria still jumped at the chance for medical results. The results, of course, showed mold present in her body. Immediately, Victoria told her husband that they had to hire a mold inspector.
Thanks to her research, she knew that not all mold inspectors were created equal, so she took the time to find professionals that would do the job and do it well. In the end, she chose Texas Mold Inspectors to come out to their apartment. Sure enough, there was mold in the shower of their apartment.
"It was just, I think, really going off that intuition of, ‘I know I don't have to live my life this way forever. I know this isn't my story. I know that there are answers, even if nobody wants to believe that there are. I have to trust my intuition and keep doing this.’ And it was hard because it was expensive. There were all those doctors that I had seen; all these tests that I would do, and that was the really hard part. But, nothing will ever be as priceless as your health. So, while maybe that might put off some people, it's figuring out where you can make sacrifices to how your budget looks to prioritize your health, and that's what we had to do."
All of this research and testing paid off when she was finally able to break the rental contract with their apartment management and move out. Thankfully, Victoria had the foresight to maintain a paper trail while discussing her suspicions of mold in the building. Using all of the data, she showed them how bad the mold problem was and, while they attempted to keep her locked in the contract even after not remediating the space, she was eventually able to end it and move out.
For the next six months, she and her husband lived with his parents, giving Victoria enough time to begin the healing process. While there, they both began looking for a new home to live in, but Victoria was taking no chances. She brought along her moisture meter to every home they toured to determine if there was an existing mold problem. After touring quite a few, she quickly realized that finding a home without mold growth was trickier than she initially thought. Still, she didn’t give up hope, and they eventually found a home that was healthy enough to move into.
"When you understand the world of mold, you have this certain awareness that just comes with all the years of going through the things that you have and the experiences that you had, and it's not to be dismissed. But I do want to say that I don't want people to be fearful of everything. If they're trying to get out of a place and move into a new one, I think that there is a certain amount of caution that needs to be had and prevention that you can take in your own life, but it shouldn't debilitate you with fear. It is a scary thing to go through, but there's no need for it to let it consume you."
Victoria decided, after going through this experience, to look at the situation in a brighter light. Now that she knows she’s sensitive to mold, if she encounters it again, she already has all of the answers. She knows how to detox, she knows which steps to take, and she knows how important it is to trust her intuition.
After living in their new home for some time, Victoria announced that she’s finally feeling like her normal self again. She and her husband are also excitedly expecting a new child. While she said it’s been a wild ride, she wouldn’t give up the experience because of the awareness it brought her.
"The one piece of advice that I would give someone that's walking through this and feels like there's no light is to trust your intuition. You know your body better than anybody else does and ever will. Keep fighting and you will get there. You will get to the end of the tunnel. That, honestly, was the only thing that kept me going forward. That led me to the education piece. That led me to find answers. That led me to get out of that house to heal."