Thursday, March 27, 2014

You Never Know What You Have Til It's Gone

You know how people say "At least you have your health." And if you have your health, you think it's a stupid phrase because if someone is saying that to you it's because you're experiencing some kind of minor life event that is bumming you out. Short on money? At least you have your health. Boyfriend broke up with you? At least you have your health. Car got broken into? At least you have your health. Lost your job? At least you have your health. You get the picture.

But before you dismiss that phrase as stupid, think about how much you take your health for granted. Being able to wake up every day and worry about mundane, daily worries like being out of coffee creamer, or even making ends meet at the end of the month. To not have pain and illness overshadow every other feeling or thought or issue going on in your life. When you're healthy, you never even realize how good it is. 

I used to be healthy, and worked hard to keep it that way, although as a female I wasn't working so much to be healthy as to be thin and pretty, as all women know. You work out to be thin and have a nice figure, it's just a nice side benefit that it keeps your blood pressure down, your energy levels up, your cholesterol and blood sugar stable. You lift weights so that your figure will be toned and not jiggly, it's just a nice side benefit that it prevents osteoporosis and improves your posture and ability to handle everyday tasks like lifting kids, picking up the house, and hauling groceries. You eat healthy to complement your workout program and drink water to have nice skin, it's just another nice side benefit that it keeps you healthy. 

I always took it for granted that I had the energy to work out, the energy to keep up with my kids, the strength to do all those things. I loved that I was healthy, but I totally took it for granted. After a few months of living in our moldy house, I suddenly had trouble working out because I couldn't get a full breath. I was winded and tired easily. I had constant recurring sinus infections and colds that knocked me out. The worst colds of my life that kept me out of commission for weeks at a time and never seemed to fully get better. It took more than months to realize it was due to mold.

 Like most people, I thought that I just kept picking up a bug that was going around. Especially since at intervals my children and husband were both sick too. Going to the doctor yielded diagnoses of sinus infections, severe colds, a couple of rounds of antibiotics, nothing out of the ordinary. Then an eye infection (or so I thought) started that wouldn't go away and soon spread to the other eye. My eyes burned as if I'd just dropped soap or shampoo in them and were red and inflamed all the time. The eye doctor prescribed antibiotic eye drops and after three rounds of increasingly stronger drops not working, she tried steroid drops. Nothing helped and my eyes continued to get worse. 

The colds and sinus infections abated temporarily, perhaps because by then it was summer and we were outside a lot more, but the eye "infection" did not let up. I started to see a different eye doctor who said that the problem wasn't bacterial or viral in nature and was not an infection at all, but some sort of irritant reaction. I had already stopped wearing contacts, so now I stopped using makeup entirely. A different type of steroid eye drops was prescribed, but still did not help. Then one night as I was helping my children get ready for bed, I saw that their eyes were red and inflamed as well. 

I immediately took them in to see the eye doctor the next day, but she was sure that it was not bacterial or contagious. Now I knew it wasn't simply due to contacts or makeup, but what could it be? How could all three of us have severe conjunctivitis without it being bacterial or viral and contagious in nature? That was where I started to wonder if something environmental was going on in the house and my online research led to mold. 

Once I found the missing puzzle piece of mold in the house, everything else fell into place. It all made sense. We had been perfectly healthy with never more than one or two minor colds per winter before moving into that house. Now, we had been almost constantly ill since moving in and our eyes had only started to have problems since living in that house too. I finally had an answer, so I thought that would lead to a solution. Little did I know, it was just the beginning of a nightmare that would never end. 

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