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Today’s Mold Talks guest is Samantha Huddleston, a military spouse, mother, mold survivor, and advocate for awareness. After moving from Hawaii to Washington and then to California, Samantha believes she hopped from moldy environment to moldy environment before her body had finally had enough. That’s when her journey of fighting to be heard began.
It would take years of living in a moldy home before she realized that a contaminant in her indoor environment might be what was causing her problems all along: mold. She saw doctor after doctor, but few had any kind of experience or awareness when it came to mold. Even after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, she trusted her instincts that the mold she continued to see in her home was triggering her chronic symptoms. Eventually, fighting to be heard paid off, and she finally found someone that listened, ran tests that showed high levels of mold toxicity, and started her down the path of detoxing.
Samantha’s struggle to be heard shows just how much more awareness is needed for this indoor contaminant and the impact it can have on health. She continued to suffer not only because of a lack of understanding in society but also because the medical world doesn’t always consider environmental factors in diagnoses.
“You’re going to have to invest in yourself. You know, if you go to Starbucks every day, that’s not important. Get a good air purifier, get a gym membership and go to a sauna, or buy a sauna. It sounds like a lot, but you’re investing in your life.”
As a military couple, Samantha, her husband, and four children moved around quite a lot. From Hawaii to Washington, they were all over the moldy hotspot areas in the US. In 2017, they moved to California so that her husband could get his graduate degree, and that’s when Samantha’s brush with mold illness began.
While they moved into an older home a couple of blocks away from the ocean, it was freshly painted and sparkly clean, making her believe that there were no underlying issues, minus an odd smell. Later on, she began noticing spots on the ceiling that the landlord must have painted over, but she didn’t think it was a big deal.
“I didn’t know how mold could affect your body. So I just kind of like, ‘Ah, it’s not a big deal.’ I should have immediately said red flag, but again, I was kind of like, ‘Oh, just clean it off.’ So I was just like, releasing all these spores.”
Having had her fourth child only the year before, Samantha didn’t notice any changes in her health at first. She was a busy mother of four, and she just thought that she was a little worn down from keeping up with her fast-paced daily life. The breaking point for her was an infected root canal a year after moving into the home. She believed it was the switch from air to heat that finally sent her immune system over the edge.
Between her intense anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, throat swelling, and brain fog, Samantha was struggling to get through the day. On Christmas Day, her symptoms were so intense that she went to the ER, convinced that she was having heart problems and that she wasn’t going to make it through. They gave her a general diagnosis and sent her home.
As it always goes with mold, returning to the toxic environment led to her symptoms worsening. Refusing to give up, she started going from one walk-in clinic and doctor to the next, trying to find out what was going on in her body. After months of misdiagnoses, one medical professional finally settled on Hashimoto’s disease. During this entire time, though, not a single doctor listened to her when she suggested mold.
“I found a naturopath. I thought she would really listen to me about the mold. I was like, ‘I swear, it’s mold.’ She was like, ‘Well it could be,’ but never ordered a test. She just told me I had low iron.”
In June of 2019, she and her family moved to North Carolina, and she decided to visit a functional medicine doctor in Utah. At first, he also didn’t listen to her mold suggestion, but eventually agreed to run some tests. It turns out, Samantha was right all along, and her body had extremely high levels of mold toxicity.
Then began her long journey of detoxing. While her doctor told her that it would be a long and difficult process, she wasn’t quite prepared for just how sick she would feel. Still, she knew that the protocol was helping pull harmful toxins from her body, so she fought against her anxiety and stuck with it. Luckily, she was able to heal and reverse her Hashimoto’s.
Her journey showed her just how difficult it can be to convince people that mold is a problem and how often the fungus is treated improperly, especially in military housing. For anyone else suffering from similar situations, Samantha suggests doing everything possible to leave that toxic environment. That way, they can start down the path to healing.
“The doctor works for you. That’s my big thing. If the doctor is not addressing the problem, and they’re not willing to listen, and they’re making you feel like you’re a little bit crazy for talking like this, then they’re not the doctor for you. You might try out a bunch of them. It’s a long process. But I promise it will be worth it in the end to find one that actually listens to you.”
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