Let’s talk about mold

What an adventure the last 6 weeks have been. I am still in major discovery mode (or sleuthing as my hubby calls it).  I am learning a ton and it’s a whole new place of self-discovery, trust, and health that I wasn’t planning on diving into but Life had other plans. 🙂

My MRI with an epilepsy protocol was normal/clear and my EEG was mostly normal showing no epilepsy with one part abnormal but they didn’t really know the cause. In layperson terms it showed that randomly my left hemisphere had slower brain waves and it happened occasionally on the right too.

To keep my sense of humor up I joke that I’m on the way to enlightenment Hahah!  Plato, Socrates, Caroline Myss, Teresa of Avila, and others all have had seizures. Maybe all of my neurons fired at the same time to do a massive re-wire. 😉 Or maybe…it was an environmental toxin.

That is where my research and intuition has lead me: MOLD! Quick Snapshot: I watched Dave Asprey’s movie: MOLDY for free the week it came out. It inspired me to have someone come out and do some testing because I noticed water and a musty smell underneath our kitchen sink. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I kept wiping the water up and had a plumber check it out along with the water filter guy. When the tests came back there were lower levels of aspergillus and penicillin. It didn’t seem like we had a big issue. I know some people have crazy high numbers.

Mold can start growing within a day or two and from what I later found out there was an undetected leak that was causing way more mold to grow. My guess is the leak started around September-ish. If you remember from my last post, I had my first so called “neurological issues or partial seizure as some call them” on October 21st (noted in my journal).

Fast forward to July 30th…My son and my Mom and I are “glamping”. I smelled mold as soon as I walked in but I didn’t think much about it. We were only going to be there for a night. Not a big deal right? Then, my Mom woke up to me having a seizure at 4 am. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Soon as I made some of these connections I called a company to come and remediate our kitchen asap. They started it last week. They thought it would be a simple project, but when they opened it all up they realized it was bigger than anticipated. There was a bunch of mold that was black in a various places (I saw pictures).  It was definitely hiding because you couldn’t see it and when I asked people if they could smell it most said they couldn’t. I must have a more sensitive nose (which might mean that I am more sensitive to mold – around 28% of the population is – according to Asprey).

After they remediated they did a clearance test and it passed but the test showed a trace of stachybotrys (black) mold, that wasn’t there on the initial test. Black mold off gases are the most toxic. Sometimes air/swab testing can miss these mold/mycotoxins. A red flag went up for me even though it was trace levels because it meant that it was hiding back there all this time and probably giving off neurotoxins that are obviously very harmful for the brain.

My hunch is that on a low level (or not so low) I was exposed to the mold the most because I’m in the kitchen a lot throughout the day cooking/cleaning/prepping. I think the last 10 months along with the moldy tent (along with a few other variables) pushed me over the edge and I hit my seizure threshold. And…interestingly, there is a connection with low thyroid/ hormone function and mold.

To quote Dave Asprey (who clearly has optimized his brain and body and doesn’t have the issues he used to have): My history of mold exposure provided an opportunity for me to learn more about biohacking than I originally wanted to. When I began biohacking and had my hormone levels tested, I discovered that I had thyroid, adrenal, testosterone, and estrogen problems. I was even diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, a condition which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. In my case, either mold or gluten or both triggered Hashimoto’s, as mold makes your immune system more sensitive to the damaging effects of gluten.

Fascinating! I have been gluten free for the last 7 years but before that I grew up on gluten. In regards to the mold, there have been at least 5 places in the last 15 years that were suspect and 2 from my childhood. Oh, and btw, I might not have Hashimoto’s. My acupuncturist and naturopath say YES! and my functional environment doctor and neurologist say NO! The tests do reveal my thyroid isn’t functionally optimally but I’m currently gonna go with No Hashimoto’s and I will still get regular testing and probably do yearly ultrasounds to ensure I stay within the optimal range.

This whole thing has been an experiment in trusting myself and following my intuition. I’m incredibly blessed to have access to such amazing experts with lots of wisdom and at the end of the day, I am the one who resides in this body. I must trust what resonates and what doesn’t, while remaining opening and willing to learn new things from brilliant people who are clearly masters in their selected domain. But, there are many pieces – mind, body, heart and spirit that are involved. I have the ability to rise up and see the whole picture and integrate, flow and know the right path for me.

What’s next? Our kitchen is still being remediated. I chose to do a more detailed testing before we re-built it to be 100% sure we got all the mold out. We did a few more swab samples and a dust sample (similar to the ERMI test which Ritchie Shoemaker recommends). I also did a mycotoxin test urine test to see what extent my body has detoxed the neurotoxins. My local doc is a functional/integrative doctor with an emphasis on an environmental issues so he will be guiding me on the next part of my mold detoxing protocol which is awesome!

These are some of the resources I found helpful:
Moldy Movie
How your house can make you weak
Surving Mold by Ritche Shoemaker
Tox-Sick by Suzanne Somer

Thank you all so much for the love and light that you’ve shared with me. Know that I’ve been deeply touched and even though I’m not blogging/emailing much these days your words have been a healing balm that has brought tears of connection and love to my eyes. #grateful

I hope this was helpful for you or maybe someone you know.

Virtual hugs, happy healing dances and love! ❤

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P.S. The awesome woman who helped me with E for ~10 hours every week for the last 2.5 years moved last month. And, I don’t live close to family, so most of my alone time is dedicated to my blissiplines (nutrition/meditation/exercise/rest/etc.) I will share more as more space opens up. There is still so much more I want to share about the mental/emotional/spiritual healing that is unfolding as well. 🙂

Bliss Diary – July 22, 2015

Physicians need to be good technicians and know how to prescribe, but for healing to occur they also need to incorporate philosophy and spirituality into their treatment. We need to feel as well as think.
Bernie Siegel
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people who have low thyroid function do, in fact, have Hashimoto’s. One in twelve Americans have an autoimmune condition, making it more prevalent than heart disease and cancer. There are 50 million Americans that have at least one autoimmune disease and these are just the ones that have been diagnosed.

According to Sarah Ballantyne: An autoimmune disease can be challenging to diagnose because it often presents as a collection of vague symptoms (such as fatigue, headaches, and muscle and joint aches). Too often these symptoms are dismissed as signs of getting insufficient sleep, working too hard, stress, being over- or underweight, or age. Some don’t even realize that psoriasis, endometriosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, lyme disease, alopecia, etc. are all autoimmune diseases.

As I gain clarity on the nature of an autoimmune disease and the nutritional healing protocol, I also ask: What is this teaching me? How can I grow from this?

As I discover the next steps to healing my physical body I’m also looking at mental, emotional, and spiritual healing. Healing our bodies is a spiritual practice. It is all connected. Body, mind, spirit. It’s a call to be greater expressions of our divine essence. Can we experience more love, gratitude and freedom no matter what?

The thyroid is located in the 5th chakra (I really like Caroline Myss’s Chakra Model.) I was curious about the mental/spiritual aspect of this so I looked up thyroid gland disorders in the book Your Body is Telling You: Love Yourself!

These are a few passages that resonated:

The thyroid gland links the physical body to the throat chakra. This chakra is linked to the will, the ability to make decisions based upon needs and, therefore, creating a lifestyle true to those needs…This center of energy is also directly linked with the sacral chakra (associated with creativity located in the genitals area).

It is said the throat chakra is the chakra of abundance. Why? Because by listening to the voice of your true needs, you honor your I AM, and from this point of balance and harmony, there can only be abundance on all levels: happiness, health and prosperity.

Let go of the detrimental belief that you are unable to engineer your own life and must not make any requests. It’s time you acknowledge your right to a full and satisfying life. If you had trouble asking for anything as a child, it’s time to change. You now need only answer to yourself.

It’s possible that you also need to go through a process of forgiveness concerning those who made you feel insecure about achieving your goals. They may have led you to believe you weren’t capable or that your dreams were unreachable. Understand that these people were in your life to teach you a lesson about overcoming fear, to strengthen your resolve and actually fuel your determination to create.

Questions to ask for anything going on in your body:

  1. Physical Block: What are the words that best describe what I am experiencing inside or on my body and how do I feel about it?
  2. Emotional Block: What is this illness preventing me from doing and/or having?
  3. Mental Block: If I allowed myself to be _________ (fill in the blank with the answer from the previous question) what unpleasant situation could happen to me AND what would people think of me (or what would I think of myself)?

This exercise is helpful in seeing what some of our limiting beliefs are and then question them and dig deeper to see who and what we truly want.

Intention/Affirmation: Love + Peace + Transformation ❤

Nutrition:
morning delight
carrot/sweet potato/ginger/carrot/eggs muffins
salmon and stir fry kale w/ coconut oil/sea salt + 5 olives
I wasn’t very hungry today.

Movement:
* 15 minute walk
* 15 minute rebounding

Meditation: 15 minutes + 30 minute napitation

Sleep: 8.5 hours – Bed at 9:00 pm and woke up at 5:30. Slept so well!!

Gratitude & Appreciation: I am grateful for books and all the amazing resources and research available. I am grateful for my Mom. I am grateful for for all the work I’ve done to lead me to the place I am now. It’s funny that a diagnoses elevates me to see I’m at a tipping point with my health and my life. It’s all coming together. I am grateful for my desires. I am grateful for my sweet thyroid and throat chakra. I am grateful for my Spirit. I am grateful for the lifeforce that is everywhere and running through my body right now. I am grateful for it all. I see the good in it all. #thankyou

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Bliss Diary – July 21, 2015

I found out I have Hashimoto’s last night. I recently got the results of a thyroid panel I did two weeks ago. This was the first time we tested for antibodies. My TSH was down so I was jazzed about that but later learned the antibody numbers confirmed Hashimoto’s. I knew that was a possibility but I was pretty sure I didn’t have an autoimmune disease. I’ve never had any “serious” symptoms some people deal with. My main symptoms are fatigue, some dry patches on my scalp, slight fluctuations with weight, and acne (altho, that has changed drastically since I’ve taken out grains and limited higher glycemic foods).

I am feeling a bit shocked with moments of denial along with a sense of relief. After I put my son to bed I sat on the couch and cried. I cried because Whaaaat? I have an autoimmune disease? And, I also cried because I finally knew what has been going on for the last probably 15+ years. I have been tired for awhile.

I remember the fatigue in college. Some days I would take caffeine pills before volleyball practice just to get moving. I’ve had skin issues since then too. I’m an athlete…strong with a disciplined mind and a high pain tolerance. I played Div I college volleyball with a stress fracture in my foot for 3 years. I felt better doing certain things nutrition/health wise but there was still a level of fatigue and skin issues that persisted.

Last night the tears just kept flowing from my eyes as I was trying to go to bed. I knew (for a long time) that something was off in my body. I’ve diligently focused on healing my body for 18 years. I got certified as a massage therapist, private trainer and holistic nutrition coach to learn more about the body & health.

My lifestyle is so dialed in now because I’ve made big and small leaps moving away from a SAD (Standard American Diet) to an organic whole foods diet (no grains, no vegetable oils, no processed foods/sugar). I feel like my thyroid has been the missing piece. This has been under the radar and limiting my full healing and optimization. My body has had to work with a lot of things throughout the years.

Snap shot of my health history: born c-section, strep throat and antibiotics every year, adenoids/tonsils removed, pushing my body *really* hard in college, taking advil for pain relief from the stress fracture. etc. Most autoimmune diseases are caused by intestinal permeability (leaky gut), genetic disposition and nutrition/lifestyle triggers.

There is no doubt that I’ve had a compromised gut/immune system for a long time. It probably started the first few weeks of my life because c-section babies gut lining usually doesn’t seal properly because they didn’t get the healthy vaginal bacteria that helps with this process. This can cause all sorts of inflammation problems which is most likely one of the reasons I was hospitalized for 2 seizures when I was a toddler. My sweet little baby body.

So now what? Well, serendipitously I was already thinking (and have been for awhile) to have our whole family do the AIP diet. We will just need to make a few tweaks and we’ll be golden. I already have a lot of books on autoimmune diseases. Before I was reading them because I’m passionate about optimal nutrition and now I am reading them with a new fervor.

I’m obviously still integrating this but my goal is to have my blood tests show that  Hashimoto’s is in remission. I will do this with diet and lifestyle and continue to do tests until the numbers prove that what I am doing is working. I also know that this new data is only going to make me and my family so much healthier. There is a new fire, a new commitment that feels powerful and I feel so grateful that I have the knowledge and support to rock this! 🙂

Nutrition:
morning delight
green juice
salmon and coconut chips
strawberries and watermelon
3 scrambled eggs with steamed broccoli and olive oil

Movement:
* 20 minute walk pushing the stroller
* 45 minute family walk

Meditation: 15 minutes + 50 minute napitation

Sleep: 5.5 hours. Bed at 9:15 but couldn’t sleep so I read for a bit and fell asleep around 10:45 and then woke up at 2:45 wide awake and fell back asleep from 4-5:30.

Gratitude & Appreciation: I am grateful for my commitment to learning and studying and finding ways to heal myself. My curiosity and passion for learning and growing is why I’ve gotten to the root of my health challenges. I’ve been moved to tears today with an overwhelming amount of gratitude and appreciation for so many people. I am grateful for my amazing naturopath doctor who’s made this his life’s work. I am grateful for my awesome acupuncturist and my local functional doctor. I also have a new level of compassion and gratitude for myself and my body. I have been doing an amazing job throughout the years. I am grateful for all the hard work I’ve already invested. I am grateful for all the pioneers in the autoimmunity community, especially Sarah Ballantyne, Terry Wahls, and Amy Myers. I am grateful for my husband, he has supported all my health adventures, tests, questions, and intuition. Lastly, my son…I am beyond grateful for my son. His presence in my life continuously inspires me to rise up and be the woman I am. I go to bed with a bunch of questions and an abundance of appreciation. #thankyou

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Bliss Diary – July 14, 2015

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. — Helen Keller

Intention/Affirmation: Do the little things. Don’t procrastinate. Do it now, with a smile of gratitude.

Nutrition:
7:00 longevity tea w/ coconut milk, mct oil, collagen, peppermint oil, cacao butter, stevia
9:30 3 sweet potato/egg muffins w/turmeric coconut butter
1:00 green goddess salad
3:15 16+ green juice + kevita
5:30 kelp noodles w/ basil pasta sauce, kale, collards, and ground beef

Movement:
* 40 minute “creative” track workout – meaning I went with E + our dog so it made for a lot of variety
* 15+ minute walk to park
* 15+ minute walk back home from park

Meditation: 15 minutes + 20 minute guided meditation

Cleaning Habit: The habit I am building this week is to keep the kitchen clean throughout the day. So when we sat down for dinner the only thing left to clean will be the dinner dishes. I want to wake up with a clean kitchen every day.

I succeeded today. I also experienced more flow and ease cooking dinner with a clean kitchen. Brian told me that it’s been scientific proven that clean spaces increases willpower. More of that please. 🙂

Book Love: I finished The Danish Way of Parenting: A Guide To Raising The Happiest Kids in the World. It’s written by an American writer and cultural trainer and a Licensed Narrative Therapist. I loved it, it felt very RIE. It goes through the acronym P.A.R.E.N.T. which stands for play, authenticity, reframing, empathy, no ultimatums, togetherness. We all want to do the best for our children/family and this book has a lot of really awesome and important information for parents.

Denmark has been voted as having the happiest people in the world by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) for almost every single year consecutive year since 1973…

America, on the other hand, the country with “the pursuit of happiness” built into its very own Declaration of Independence isn’t even in the top 10. It’s barely in the top 20, closer to number 17 after Mexico. Despite having an entire field of psychology devoted to happiness and an endless sea of self-help books instructing us on how to acquire this elusive emotion, we aren’t really that happy. Why is that? And, moreover, why are the Danes so content?

The Danes are happier because they do things differently than a lot of the traditional parenting advice out there. Conscious parenting can be challenging because we are creating new neural pathways by choosing to do something other than the way we were raised.  “Most people just repeat their own patterns. You are doing something much bigger and harder by making a change.” It takes intention, wisdom, commitment and love to raise happy, healthy and resilient children.

Sometimes we forget that parenting, like love, is a verb. It takes effort and work to yield positive returns. There is an incredible amount of self-awareness involved in being a good parent. It requires us to look at what we do when we are tired and stressed and stretched to our limits. These actions are called our default settings. Our default settings are the actions and reactions we have when we are too tired to choose a better way.

Choosing a better way is an investment. How we show up daily impacts our experience with our children. It isn’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows, but there can be soooo much more ease, grace and joy when we focus on play, authenticity, reframing, empathy, no ultimatums, togetherness. So, instead of the terrible two’s it’s the terrific twos and the so-called “three is more terrible than twos” turns into the “three is more amazing than twos.”:)

Body Goodness: Today starts the completion phase of my menstrual cycle which is perfectly timed with my intentions to clean, organize and declutter. I’m having fun syncing my life with my cycle. I’m not sure how this works when you’re pregnant but for now I’m diggin’ it.

I am noticing a difference in my energy. I’ve been working with my adrenals and sub-clinical hypothyroidism with my TSH being at 2.7 (6 months ago). I just did another test 2 weeks ago so I’m looking forward to seeing what my numbers are now. My hunch is my thyroid hasn’t been optimal for awhile and after pregnancy, birth and extended breastfeeding it can get even more out of balance.

I’ve been working with Alan Christianson on this, he’s a Naturopath. He likes the TSH to be around .9 – 2.0, which is pretty standard for functional medicine. Conventional medicine doesn’t do much unless your over 10. I just started taking bio-identical hormones to decrease my TSH number. I am taking these temporarily and will taper off them once my numbers get back into balance. I don’t think I would’ve been open to this if I didn’t read in The Better Baby Book that Lana Asprey took bio-identical hormones after the birth of their first child. I respect Dave Asprey’s research, knowledge and passion. And, from what I’ve researched thyroid health is vital for having another healthy and awesome pregnancy in the future.

Proud Parent Moments: As I’ve said in my other post, I am doing more of “let him learn on his own time” potty learning. E has been really into wearing his “underwear,” he can put them on all by himself (yes, it’s the little things). He said he needed to go poop and asked B to go with him to the toilet. He did and then called me so I could see it. He did this 2 more times today. You know you’re a parent when you genuinely get excited about your child going to the bathroom (haha). So awesome!!

Mind/Heart/Spirit Goodness: I’ve felt such gratitude for my little companion. It gets easier and easier and more and more fun. He is learning so much and becoming so autonomous. I was thinking about our plan for schooling, which is…we don’t plan to put him in school. I researched about school years before I was even pregnant. I knew that I wanted to do a more natural homeschooling/unschooling learning style for our children. We like to call it optimal learning. 🙂

Since becoming a mother my naive bubble around time has been busted. I’ve wondered how the heck I am going to do it, especially adding another child to our family. I attended public school so this is something totally new to and I am learning as I go. But, today I saw it and felt glimpses of how we can make it work and have it be fun.

Gratitude & Appreciation: I am grateful for the two walks. I am grateful for the local track. I really enjoy going there. I am grateful my son went in the potty 3 times today. Woohooo! I am grateful my husband helped keep the kitchen clean today. Go Team Johnson! I am grateful for books! 🙂 #thankyou

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Bliss Diary – June 24, 2015

“You are worthy of your desires.” — Danielle LaPorte

Question I’m asking: If I had it all my way I’d (fill in the blank). I’ve been playing with this today and it’s been really interesting to notice how little shifts can make a big difference. This morning as I was making breakfast I asked if I had it all my way what would I do? I heard listen to music and dance. So, I put a Michael Buble station on Pandora and got my groove on.

I love asking this question because it helps me gain clarity. I am pretty easy going and flexible but the simple act of asking this throughout the day inspired me to tune into what I *really* wanted. I get to be outrageous in my desires because I am playing a game. When I am willing to use my imagination it’s easier to come back home to what is really calling to my heart. This practice helped me have an even more delightful day today. Gonna keep playing with this one. 🙂

Nutrition:
morning delight smoothie
(see recipe)
6 big shrimp + 3 chocolate muffins
ginger tea + lemon + stevia 25 oz
big romaine salad with salmon, mayo, avocado, dulse, nori, chlorella powder, lecithin, hemp seeds all mashed together. #fav + coconut chips (I make them with bacon fat, salt + cinnamon)

Movement:
* 40 minute toddler paced stroll
* 5 minute stretching + 5 minute walk
* 10 minute walk
* 5 min yin yoga

Meditation: 15 minutes

Intention/Affirmation: This was my son’s way of picking a card for me today. IMG_3275
So, I am going to go with passion, progress, nature, my future is glorious, serving others, tenderness, progress, + creativity. 🙂 

Body Goodness: I started my moon today. I like to call it that. It feels kinda hippy but I’m down with that. 😉 I noticed an immediate shift in my energy. So much more optimistic, energetic and vibrant.
I had an acupuncture treatment today. It felt wonderful to just rest and breathe and increase my chi. I also got an in depth thyroid blood test at my new functional doctor’s office. I am *very* excited about this. I already know I am working with moderate hypothyroidism and these results will give me an even better idea on the best path to optimize.

Mind/Heart Goodness: I prayed during my acupuncture treatment today. I felt called to send love and healing to the world. I know I write about my life and the gratitude and love but this doesn’t mean I’m not aware of the suffering in the world. I know there is pain. My heart is sensitive to others. I see and feel them. I can see it in people’s eyes as I interact with them or walk past them.

I believe the way I impact the world is by bringing the love + light and be who I am here to be. To quote Gandhi, “be the change that you wish to see in the world.” If we all did this we could change the world greatly. We all have our part to play in this big divine playground and it’s vital that we do it for ourselves and for others.

Moments of Toddler Delight: My son asking for some strawberries over and over. I jokingly said: Come on where’s the patience? He said: I found it. Catch Mommy as he pretended to throw it. I laughed then caught the “patience” and threw it back. We threw it back and forth a few more times. Smile. So awesome! ❤ Watching him crack eggs for the first time so carefully. ❤ Walking hand and hand with him and looking down at his sweet soft sole shoes with yellow tractors on them. I had one of those full body smiles watching his little feet walking. These are the moments that I hope to etch into the very fiber of my being. So much love and joy overflowing. ❤

Gratitude & Appreciation: I am grateful for acupuncture. I am grateful for all the supplements and herbs I’m taking. I am grateful for the ease of my day. I am grateful for my mind, body and spirit. I am grateful for the morning sun. I am grateful for our lovely city. I am grateful for my computer. I am grateful for the money to buy incredibly healthy food. I am grateful for my husband and son. They give my life so much meaning and connection.

I am feeling…empowered, blessed and happy!

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