I’m a Leper in a Leprous House
The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “When you come into the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a case of leprous disease in a house in the land of your possession, then he who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, ‘There seems to me to be some case of disease in my house.’ Then the priest shall command that they empty the house before the priest goes to examine the disease, lest all that is in the house be declared unclean. And afterward the priest shall go in to see the house. And he shall examine the disease. And if the disease is in the walls of the house with greenish or reddish spots, and if it appears to be deeper than the surface, then the priest shall go out of the house to the door of the house and shut up the house seven days. And the priest shall come again on the seventh day, and look. If the disease has spread in the walls of the house, then the priest shall command that they take out the stones in which is the disease and throw them into an unclean place outside the city. And he shall have the inside of the house scraped all around, and the plaster that they scrape off they shall pour out in an unclean place outside the city. Then they shall take other stones and put them in the place of those stones, and he shall take other plaster and plaster the house.
“If the disease breaks out again in the house, after he has taken out the stones and scraped the house and plastered it, then the priest shall go and look. And if the disease has spread in the house, it is a persistent leprous disease in the house; it is unclean. And he shall break down the house, its stones and timber and all the plaster of the house, and he shall carry them out of the city to an unclean place. Moreover, whoever enters the house while it is shut up shall be unclean until the evening, and whoever sleeps in the house shall wash his clothes, and whoever eats in the house shall wash his clothes.
“But if the priest comes and looks, and if the disease has not spread in the house after the house was plastered, then the priest shall pronounce the house clean, for the disease is healed. And for the cleansing of the house he shall take two small birds, with cedarwood and scarlet yarn and hyssop, and shall kill one of the birds in an earthenware vessel over fresh water and shall take the cedarwood and the hyssop and the scarlet yarn, along with the live bird, and dip them in the blood of the bird that was killed and in the fresh water and sprinkle the house seven times. Thus he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird and with the fresh water and with the live bird and with the cedarwood and hyssop and scarlet yarn. And he shall let the live bird go out of the city into the open country. So he shall make atonement for the house, and it shall be clean.”
(Leviticus 14:33-53 ESV)
About a year and a half ago I posted about some of my health problems stemming from significant food allergies (gluten, dairy, egg, yeast). The most overt symptoms dissipated after removing those foods, but since then my health has continued to deteriorate, most notably as extreme fatigue. We moved in March and I suspected we had been dealing with mold at our previous residence, but my health seemed to worsen after the move.
In June I was visiting a church while out of town on business. I started feeling sick half way through the Sunday School. I couldn’t last more than 5 minutes once the morning service started. I felt nauseous and I was slurring my words. I couldn’t sing. I took a pair of hearing impaired wireless headphones and laid down outside for the rest of the service. After falling asleep and taking some detox supplements I felt a lot better.
That was my second experience with Sick Building Syndrome, and it confirmed that I had become a mold canary. I found out that 25% of people (that’s a huge number, btw) have a genetic susceptibility to this condition. Because of a defective immune system, we cannot properly respond to and eliminate toxins produced by mold. Most people, when exposed to toxic mold from water damaged buildings, experience seasonal allergy type symptoms as their body identifies and eliminates the toxins. For the rest of us, our body can’t do that, so the toxins trigger an inflammatory cascade and then they just keep cycling through your body, like a revolving door they never exit, continually triggering inflammatory responses. The result is that you become highly sensitive to moldy environments, whereas most people aren’t aware there is any problem in the building.
We were out of town for 2.5 weeks when I started figuring this out. We planned on getting our house tested when we returned, finding a doctor, and slowly figuring everything out. Well, the first night back I started feeling sick. I spent the next day outside, and then slept outside. Being aware from the environment for that long and then re-exposing myself made the reaction apparent (think about the frog in a boiling pot). So I sent the family away and stayed to figure things out.
With some help, I tested our home using an ERMI PCR DNA analysis. The test showed that we had unsafe levels of Stachybotrys Chartarum (aka “toxic black mold” – even though lots of mold is black). S. chartarum is a toxic mold, meaning it produces mycotoxins. One of the mycotoxins produced by S. chartarum (trichothesene) was used to produce a chemical weapon known as “yellow rain”. So it was clear we needed to get out of the house. What was also clear was that everything we owned was also contaminated. With a tremendous amount of help from friends and family demonstrating Christ’s care and provision for His people, we were able to sort through everything in the house, discarding what couldn’t be cleaned (anything porous) and cleaning what could be kept safely. I put those things in a truck and got out of Dodge, driving north to live with family in Washington for my 6 month treatment to reverse the inflammation. (After arriving, it was apparent that the items were still contaminated, so they’re in storage for now).
The official diagnosis is Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Caused by Exposure to the Interior Environment of Water-Damaged Buildings (CIRS-WDB). (It was the cause of my food allergies)
Many patients “don’t look that bad.” But those people are struggling with an illness that causes them to lose their quality of life. These patients don’t know that they have a genetic susceptibility to develop this illness based on their immune response genes (HLA–DR). They don’t know that the inflammation that makes them ill comes from within: it is due to an assault by their own unregulated innate immune system responses. Because of exposure to the interior environment of a water-damaged building(WDB), these patients will have a series of abnormalities in innate immune responses that will not self heal; will not abate in severity [actually increase!] and will continue to cause illness from blood- and tissue- based inflammation as well as alteration of the regulation of fundamental genomic activity. At the core of why one person becomes ill from this exposure and another doesn’t is their gene susceptibility (or predisposition) – what is built into their DNA.
When these spores with their neurotoxins are inhaled, about 76% of people have the ability to quickly eliminate them. They may sneeze or have other minor symptoms, but symptoms are temporary. They are like a plastic bucket that has poison drip into it from time to time but they have a small hole in the bottom of the bucket and
the poison leaks out.
About 24% do not have a hole in their bucket. They have a genetic inheritance that makes them unable to eliminate mold toxins. The body simply does not tag the toxins as invaders and it does not eliminate them. The liver can send these toxins to the digestive tract via the bile, but they are quickly reabsorbed back into the blood. The result is that continual or repeated exposures to mold toxins results in an ever increasing amount of these toxins in the body. It is estimated that around 25 million Americans have some degree of mold toxin illness though it might be called MS, Parkinson’s, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis[, lupus, ALS,] and so on.
Currently, there are only 8 physicians in the US who treat the condition. Thankfully I found one in San Francisco that I’ve been seeing. This week I was thrown a curve ball I wasn’t expecting. I also tested positive for Lyme Disease. There is a great deal of overlap in symptoms and the genetic defect (CIRS) is also triggered by toxins produced by Lyme as well. So the rabbit hole gets a little deeper and treatment will now take 2.5 years, rather than 6 months. But we know what we’re dealing with and how to treat it, and much more importantly I know that my Redeemer lives and that every affliction in this life is appointed by Him to tear down my idols of health, prosperity, self – anything that keeps me from clinging to and loving my Savior. Physical leprosy in the Old Covenant was symbolic of something much more deadly: spiritual leprosy – our corrupt and sinful hearts at war with God. Though my physical leprosy may or may not be healed, praise God that by His grace, I have been saved from my spiritual leprosy – for which I deserve so much worse than the minor inconveniences I’m now experiencing.
1. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death,1 am not my own,2 but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ,3 who with His precious blood4has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil;5 and so preserves me,6 that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head;7 indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation.8 Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life,9 and makes me heartily willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him.10
1Rom 14:7-9; 21 Cor 6:19-20; 31 Cor 3:23; Tit 2:14; 41 Pt 1:18-19; 1 Jn 1:7, 2:2; 5Jn 8:34-36; Heb 2:14-15; 1 Jn 3:8; 6Jn 6:39-40, 10:27-30; 2 Thes 3:3; 1 Pt 1:5; 7Mt 10:29-31; Lk 21:16-18; 8Rom 8:28; 9Rom 8:15-16; 2 Cor 1:21-22, 5:5; Eph 1:13-14; 10Rom 8:14
As is common in every field of medicine, politics has tremendously hindered progress in acknowledging, diagnosing, and treating CIRS. Ritchie Shoemaker’s Surviving Mold recounts much of that struggle. One chapter is about a man who was completely debilitated by CIRS, leaving him house bound and largely bed ridden with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The catch is that he was an accomplished employee of the EPA, and he acquired his condition at the EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., along with thousands of other employees. Of course the EPA denied it and it took 20 years of legal battles to finally prove the EPA headquarters was itself a “sick building”. Clearly we won’t get any clear answers on the issue so long as the legal and medical establishment looks to regulatory bodies like the EPA who have a vested interest in denying the existence of the condition (it would cost the government billions of dollars to remediate their moldy buildings).
Final note: this is not a rare condition, but it is a rarely diagnosed condition. There are a great number of people dealing with diseases with a name, but without a known cause. Since 25% of people are genetically susceptible and an estimated 30% of buildings have mold problems, a lot of people are suffering from CIRS without knowing it.
- How Your House Can Make You Weak
- The Molding of the World Part 1: How We Made Mycotoxins into the Health Disaster They Are Today
- Fabry family’s struggle with toxic mold – Samaritan Ministries International
- Dr. Andrew Campbell and the effects of mycotoxins on human body. Great place to start
- moms AWARE – Living Healthy in a Toxic World
- It Takes Time
- Policy Holders of America: Research Committee Report on Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Caused by Exposure to the Interior Environment of Water-Damaged Buildings (2010) This is the definitive document
- Toxicology Expert Dr. Jack Thrasher on Mold Exposure (Part 1 of 6) (video)
- Dr. Jim Pearson on the Dangers of Mold Exposure (video)
- Mold and Chronic Illness
- ACOEM, Mold, Injured Workers & The Insurance Industry with Dr. Jack Thrasher (video)
- Paradigm Change
- Surviving Mold (the definitive site from Dr. Shoemaker – best resource)
- The Health Bridge – Is Mold the Secret Enemy? Mycotoxins with Guest Dave Asprey
- Biotoxin Journey
- Mold Blogger: Fight Mold and Win
- Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker on Surviving Mold – Podcast #126
- MOLD TOXICITY: NEW UNDERSTANDING AND TREATMENT FOR A SURPRISING COMMON AND SERIOUS ILLNESS
- Mold Illness Treatment
- Under Our Skin (they are unaware of the CIRS link)
- The Shoemaker Protocol: Adjunctive Treatment in Chronic Lyme Disease? (how CIRS relates to Chronic Lyme)
- As I See It- Lyme Disease and CIRS | Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker