Day 136 | What if I’m too Sick to Camp?

July 23, 2017

Today was a “boring” day at the ranch and we couldn’t be more thankful! We were able to livestream a church service this morning and got to see my family over Skype this afternoon.

While we were talking, my brother asked how long it had been since we started doing mold avoidance. We were all a little surprised to realize that it hasn’t even been six months yet!

We left my parents house in New York on Valentine’s Day. So, it will be six months on August 14th. It’s crazy to think how far I’ve come in such a short amount of time.

I was really, really sick when we left home. I was in constant pain and spending pretty much all of my time in bed. I had severe sound sensitivity and almost zero energy. Worst of all, I was having mast cell reactions multiple times a day and the situation had become life threatening. The drugs were no longer working.

It was these desperate circumstances that made mold avoidance, a wacky-sounding treatment based on anecdotal evidence, actually seem like a good idea. It was a matter of life and death and we needed to do something fast!

But how were we going to pull it off when I was so sick? It seemed almost impossible, but desperation has a way of making even the impossible worth trying.

I was too sick to camp so we had to start with the next best thing. A change to a better building in a better location. After doing some research, we settled on Dolores, CO and picked an adobe Airbnb cabin. We were told that adobe cabins tend to be more resistant to mold than modern buildings with drywall.

But how was I going to fly when I was so hyper-reactive to everything? Foods, fragrances, cleaning products… all of them could send me into anaphylaxis! It wasn’t easy, but I found a heavy duty respirator mask to wear, tried to stay calm, and took the maximum recommended dose of Benadryl that day.

Unfortunately, our original flight got cancelled that morning and we ended up flying to Albuquerque, New Mexico instead. We spent the night in a hotel there and I noticed a subtle positive difference almost immediately.

The next day, we drove to our Airbnb in Colorado, only to find that it wasn’t going to work out because the main house on the property had a Stachybotrys problem. So we went back to the hotel in Albuquerque while we tried to make another plan. Eventually we ended up in a pumice-crete cabin in Taos, New Mexico. We stayed there for three weeks and that was where my healing really began.

My skin stopped breaking out in hives, throat swelling episodes became more rare, and slowly I started to notice a slight increase in energy and slight decrease in pain. By the time we left that cabin to go camping in Death Valley I was washing laundry in the bathtub and helping to pack up the car.

I was still pretty disabled and I spent the first several days in Death Valley just sitting on a rock watching Brett do all the work. But I was well enough to camp!

That first baby step of doing mold avoidance indoors, allowed me to get to the place where I could pursue an even more effective form of mold avoidance. The Airbnb in New Mexico couldn’t get me to a place of vibrant health, but it did get me to a place where I was well enough to take the next step.

So, I just want to encourage those of you who are considering mold avoidance but are too sick to camp. Maybe camping isn’t your first step. Maybe you can take it in baby steps and just do the next best thing.

If you can’t change locations right now, maybe you can make some health gains by staying at a friend’s house with a low ERMI score. Don’t bring anything with you and start showering and rinsing your head more often. Then when you’re ready, you can start experimenting with the locations effect. I personally believe that changing locations is key. Then eventually you might be ready to camp in truly pristine air like I’m doing, and pretty soon you could find yourself running again.

I can’t say I know anything for sure, but I would hate for anyone to feel permanently stuck because they can’t start camping immediately. I have a good feeling that taking the best first step that you can will yield better results than doing nothing until you can do it perfectly. So, chin up my friend. There is hope.


By the way, Brett and I made a beautiful PDF of my favorite resources for suffering souls. I created the content and he made it look fancy with his superduper graphic design skills. It’s available for free to my email subscribers. Click here to sign up and receive 5 Resources for the Suffering Soul.

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6 Comments

  • Marty Fenn

    Dear Ana,
    Thank you for faithfully writing this journal, it has truly inspired my wife and I to plan a mold avoidance journey with our very ill daughter, Petra. Nanette, my wife, has been so blessed by your encouraging words, that we now see this as our best hope to potentially help Petra. Keep up the good work, we value you.
    God bless you, Marty

    July 25, 2017 at 8:47 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much Marty! I’m so encouraged to hear that my blog has given you and Nannette hope. I pray that this will be the answer for Petra. May the Lord strengthen you all for the journey ahead.

      July 26, 2017 at 9:08 am Reply
  • Jen

    Thank you for this post. It’s amazing how much you’ve improved in less than 6 months! This is exactly where I am – I need mold avoidance but am too sick to camp for a variety of reasons. I also have mast cell issues, can only tolerate a few super fresh foods, am physically very weak, am by myself, etc. As I’ve been reading everything you’ve been going through lately, I keep thinking “I’m too sick to do that!” I’ve stayed in Airbnbs before that were pretty toxic – several I had to leave the first night because they made me so sick. That was before I knew that ‘no mold’ had to be the first requirement. It’s so hard to make a reservation without actually seeing how you feel inside the place. Last summer I got a rental in the desert in CA that turned out to have mold from a sprinkler getting in the bedroom window and soaking the wall. How did you find a safe Airbnb? What did you look for? I don’t know anyone who has a non-moldy house I could stay in. The place I live now still has some mold post-remediation that is enough to keep me reacting, but it’s actually better than a lot of homes and buildings I’ve tried. I wish there was designated mold-free housing in a clean location!

    July 26, 2017 at 12:37 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      It wasn’t easy to figure this out but we basically just picked something without drywall. Adobe, concrete, and log buildings can still have mold problems but they should be more resistant to mold than modern drywall houses wrapped in plastic. So, it’s not fool proof but it increased our chances of picking something that was pretty decent. The place we ended up staying in was definitely a huge step up from moldy drywall. I also think that in good locations, buildings are either less likely to be moldy or the mold is less likely to be the toxic kind. But that’s pure speculation. It just seems like it’s easier to find good buildings in places with clean outdoor air.

      July 26, 2017 at 1:01 pm Reply
  • Heather Van Dusseldorp

    Wow, thank you so much Ana! We are in the beginning stages of navigating mold avoidance and trying to decide what our first steps are.
    This post is so helpful and encouraging!!!!!! I can’t wait to to reread it with my husband tonight. I wish I could express how much your blog has eased our minds while we try to figure out a way to get me healthier. Please, don’t stop writing! 🙂 <3

    July 26, 2017 at 1:07 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Oh! Thank you so much Heather! I’m so glad to hear the blog is encouraging you and helping you. I pray your mold avoidance journey is a huge success! 💕

      July 28, 2017 at 7:14 am Reply

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