Reflections on 3 Years of Mold Avoidance

February 28, 2020

Three years ago on Valentine’s day, I was sitting in a wheelchair at the Elmira airport, waiting to board a flight to Albuquerque. I was battling a serious case of chronic Lyme Disease and wearing an industrial respirator mask because I had developed life-threatening reactions to many foods, fragrances, beauty products and cleaners. 

Through the blessed internet, I discovered the stories of patients in similar situations who had found relief though mold avoidance. It was a crazy sounding experiment but I was rapidly declining and getting desperate. My specialist was running out of ideas and the new doctor I believed might be able help me didn’t have a new patient appointment available for months. 

I needed some hope to reach towards. We decided to try mold avoidance. What was there to lose? Maybe it would buy us some time and keep me alive until I could get an appointment with the new specialist.

This desperate grasp at life turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s right up there with deciding to follow Jesus and saying yes to marrying Brett. I’m not joking. I’m not even exaggerating.

There was no way we could have predicted just how challenging and how wildly successful this journey would be. While I never could have known that I’d become comfortable sleeping in the car and hopping from place to place, I have absolutely no regrets. It’s been 100% worth it. 

Others who have also experienced healing through this bizarre quest for better air feel the same. It can be difficult for people on the outside to understand this when mold avoidance tends to create such visible external challenges. Moving repeatedly, facing homelessness, losing possessions, and lacking stability doesn’t sound very hopeful.

But to those of us who have experienced the torment of living in a body ravaged by chronic illness, these things are just inconveniences. All the logistical challenges and ordinary discomforts, are nothing compared to the joy of getting a second chance at life

For the first time in years, I feel safe in my own mind. I’m not afraid to be alone with my thoughts. I know who the real me is. Where there was once turmoil, even agony, there is now peace. I am secure.

For the first time in years, I feel safe in my own body. It’s no longer a torture chamber I long to fly away from. It’s my home. It’s me! The constant overwhelming screams of painful sensations have finally been silenced. I am free to be. My body can once again connect and experience the world around me. 

I doubt words can ever convey the deep gratitude I have for the healing I’ve experienced these last 3 years. I could not even have imagined what it would be like to feel this way. So safe, so free, so alive, so connected. It’s unreal. It’s like finding out you were 75% dead and only 25% human for most of your existence.

Sometimes I just want to skip across the parking lot, do cartwheels on the pavement, sing at the top of my lungs and jump up and down for no apparent reason. And I do it with gusto! 🙂

I feel like this song captures a tiny sliver of my experience these last 3 years. And isn’t it wonderful that I can listen to music again?!

Sunlight
Ain’t it good to feel alright

Ain’t it good to know that you’re not alone
Yeah ain’t it good to know
Cause I lived my whole life
Looking for the light with closed eyes
Ain’t it funny how you fight what you need the most
Yeah, but I can finally feel my soul tonight

I’ve got this wonderful feeling
I’ve got my hopes set high
And after all this time spent chasing my shadow
Let Your light be mine
Let Your light be mine

Come on sunlight prove the darkness wrong
Ain’t it funny how the fears we had last night
Don’t look so scary in the morning light
Come on flowers open up your arms
Ain’t it good to finally step into that light
Yeah and I can feel it in my soul tonight

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57 Comments

  • Ruth Meyer

    Ana! 😀 Praise the Lord for all He has done in and through your life! I know He was already working and using you to bless and help others long before you had any major health crises, and teaching you through His Word the truth and light you would need along every step of this journey. God prepared you and Brett to be the perfect one that you are now, and I’m thankful for where God continues to lead you into the future. Life’s a beautiful story, not because of the perfect moments, but because of the perfect God we serve. Continuing to rejoice with you as God paints a beautiful portrait of your life and adventures. Keep on keeping on, and know that you are loved and prayed for, my friend!

    February 28, 2020 at 6:13 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww! Thank you for this heartfelt encouraging comment, Ruth! God bless you!

      February 29, 2020 at 1:52 pm Reply
  • Michelle

    Wow! I lived in Syracuse for 20 years. I am in a moldy house. I have been struggling with my relationship with Jesus lately. How could he let me get this sick? I am alone, I don’t have anyone to help me. I believe he will show up to help me. I just hope I can survive until then. Thank you for your story it

    February 28, 2020 at 6:41 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I’m so sorry to hear that Michelle. Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense. I am so sorry you’re suffering so deeply. I hope and pray you find a way out. Sometimes you just need to take that first step and figure it out as you go. May God be near to you and strengthen you.

      February 29, 2020 at 1:55 pm Reply
    • LA

      I hear you, too, Michelle. I don’t know how long mold has been present here (in the wall between my bedroom and the bathroom) but when doing a small bathroom reno in 2012 to fix a split shower head that required a new shower in our not-well-built mobile home, the contractors found mold. Neither they nor we understood proper containment, removal or remediation (or testing to see if it was toxic) so while they did cut out and remove the moldy wood and floor boards and replace the wall between my bedroom and bathroom, NOTHING was contained properly. Once they found the mold (I was seeing my Fibro specialist in SoCal that weekend when they were doing the primary work and mold discovery), we and our friends thought, “maybe that’s what’s been making me sicker, not just the fibro, and maybe I’ll get better now”! And having restarted a new fibro treatment after that weekend, I actually thought I was for awhile… until 3 years later when I realized my fibro-specific symptoms had improved but a host of crossover symptoms had not and were worsening. We knew NOTHING of mycotoxins then. I’ve just discovered more these past 2 years. But I’m jobless (too ill to work) and have no means to go anywhere on my own. My parents know what my doctor has told me (that I won’t get better until I’m away from the mold) and that I’ve tested positive for mycotoxins but they just don’t get it. Can’t understand. Can’t wrap their minds around the fact that there’s mold here (I’ve found evidence it’s growing there again) or that our house is making me sick when they’re not (though I see MANY symptoms in them, too, just not all the same ones as me)…

      Yeah… that was more than I intended to go in to. Just wanted you to know again you’re not alone. But as Ana responded, just try to take one step at a time. I have no idea how it’s going to happen, but I am DETERMINED to find a way out of here for me (and my kittens—neighborhood stray decided to come into our house last April 1st to have her babies—because I see they’re not as healthy as they should be either)! I don’t know why this is happening—don’t know that I ever will (Job never did, either—never knew the “why” behind what happened to him though we as the readers do)… but I have to keep trusting God to uphold me and help show me the steps to take and provide for me… so may you be able to do the same.

      March 1, 2020 at 8:56 am Reply
  • Esther

    You look so beautiful and we are really happy for you and Brett !
    ❤️ A LOT
    Mamá

    February 28, 2020 at 7:04 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I love you Ma! Thank you! 🙂

      February 29, 2020 at 1:55 pm Reply
  • Christina Grace

    My daughter was sick like you when someone sent us your story. We are trying to do mold avoidance, but it is much more difficult than we realized. We have 11 children who are all suffering from mold toxicity at some level. We moved with the help of fellow believers, but recently discovered mold again. the 😞 I am so happy for you, and I have hope that God is going to heal us as well!

    February 28, 2020 at 7:32 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I’m so sorry to hear this Christina Grace. Recovery is such a long and arduous process. I can’t even imagine with 11 children! I pray God gives you courage and strength.

      February 29, 2020 at 1:56 pm Reply
      • Christina Grace

        Thank you for taking the time to respond. We have found a wonderful doctor that understands the dangers of mold and we’re making tiny bits of progress, praise God! God bless you–I believe your story is an integral part of our journey. I will ALWAYS be grateful that someone sent us your story. My daughter may not have survived. Thank you!!!!

        March 4, 2020 at 4:28 pm Reply
        • Ana Harris

          I’m so glad you found a doctor who is helping and that you are starting to see tiny bits of progress. That’s so good to hear! God bless you as you care for your daughter and family.

          March 5, 2020 at 11:25 am Reply
  • Ben

    So great to hear how you are doing. I think of you and Brett daily. Three years ago we started our journey to recovery also. My wife was mostly wheelchair bound with daily seizures. We lost everything to mold and built a new house that she can live in. Most of this time she has been under the care of one of the best mold illness doctor’s in the country. Even with all this her recovery has been slow. There are times we go to the top of the mountain and the wind is blowing and a miracle happens and all her symptoms just go away. Pristine air does something in a few minutes that years of treatment hasn’t done. We are giving up on Tennessee and heading west to find somewhere that feels like that always. Your blog has been such a help to us figuring our way through this maze. We wish you and Brett the best

    February 28, 2020 at 8:28 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much Ben. I remember you. What a long road this is! You are doing amazing sticking by your wife and helping her to recover. I couldn’t agree more with this quote, “Pristine air does something in a few minutes that years of treatment hasn’t done.” It’s crazy! I hope you can find a healing spot for her. It’s so hard to have to pick up everything and move again. Don’t give up.

      February 29, 2020 at 2:00 pm Reply
  • Edith

    Oh Ana I am so happy for you and Brett. I love your pose at the end of your post. Not many of us can do that. It’s so good to know that even in this trial you are helping others. God bless you and Brett.

    February 28, 2020 at 10:55 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww! Thank you so much! 🙂

      February 29, 2020 at 2:00 pm Reply
  • Karin

    So awesome, Ana! So glad you are back, and contributing to the world in such a meaningful way by sharing your story and your insights. God bless you, girl. Thank you for enriching the world.

    February 29, 2020 at 10:43 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much for this encouragement Karin. I really appreciate it!

      February 29, 2020 at 2:01 pm Reply
  • Grandma Z

    Love your picture, Ana! Wish I could see in person. So glad to know you are doing well.
    We miss you two. Much love and blessings to both of you! Grandma Z

    February 29, 2020 at 1:51 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much Grandma! I miss you too! I hope we will have the opportunity to see each other again soon. Much love! 🙂

      February 29, 2020 at 2:02 pm Reply
  • Anna

    Thank you so much for your authenticity-means so much to those that are suffering-Finding livable environments with the cleanest air is one’s prayer-researching areas within Georgia that are safe zones. Atlanta is most difficult for the air quality-Any data of areas that folks have found safe is appreciated.
    Sending my best thoughts to each and everyone on this post-

    February 29, 2020 at 3:09 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much, Anna. We have good friends in this community from Atlanta. I don’t think they were able to find a place to heal in Georgia. They ended up in the Southwest like us. I don’t have any personal experience though and I do think it’s possible to heal in a variety of locations if you learn to sense the problematic toxins that are driving your illness and practice careful avoidance.

      March 2, 2020 at 11:08 am Reply
  • Terry

    I understand! I was in chronic constant 23/7 pain and muscle spasms for over 5 years and I still can’t believe it seems to be over..at least in the extreme way I experienced. I have hope now and I feel like life is worth living again. But the best part is I feel joy just to be alive, listen to the birds, look up at the sun! Welcome to your life. God bless you.

    February 29, 2020 at 9:00 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much, Terry! I’m so glad you’ve experienced the joy and relief that comes after years of chronic pain. Isn’t it amazing?!

      March 2, 2020 at 11:09 am Reply
  • Donna

    Yes, so many of us can identify with the healing journey. I was poisoned by mold in the workplace between 2–8-2012. I became deathly ill and eventually fired becasue I could not do the work required. At the same time we had high groundwater for months at a time around and under our 1950’s rural home with a crawl space. All this mold exposure led to Autoimmune Hashimotos and Autoimmune LS for me as well as an eight-year healing journey to better health. For me it has meant totally changing my lifestyle and diet, leaving our old-mortgage free home, selling or dumping everything we owned and moving to another city, a new fully furnished condo with a thirty-year mortgage at age 66 and 74. My 74-year old husband’s response to everything has been early cognitive decline which of course turned our life upside down. This means trying to recover from severe illness all while taking care of a husband who was losing his mind at the same time and could not be left for more than 15 minutes at a time. Talk about life-altering! We turned to Functional Medicine and eight years and thousands of out of pocket dollars later we are now on the road to recovery. Only a person who has gone “through the fire and come out steel” will understand what this all means.

    March 1, 2020 at 7:41 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you for sharing your story, Donna. What a journey! This isn’t easy for sure but I’m so glad you found a path forward and are healing.

      March 2, 2020 at 11:10 am Reply
  • Lauren

    Ana, thank you for sharing your story publicly on this blog. I’ve read every post from the beginning, and you have been such an encouragement to me. I love your bright smile in the photos, and today I am rejoicing with you on how far you’ve come. May the joy of the Lord be your strength! ❤️

    March 1, 2020 at 1:18 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww! This is such a sweet comment. Thank you so much Lauren. 🙂

      March 2, 2020 at 11:11 am Reply
  • Mary

    I am so encouraged by your recovery as I am sure you & Brett are as well! Mold avoidance seems like an ad for living in a dry, pristine climate. God Bless & keep you both free & healthy!

    March 2, 2020 at 10:14 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I’m so glad, Mary! Thank you!

      March 2, 2020 at 11:12 am Reply
  • Sam

    What an encouraging story–and an amazing photo at the end. Thank you for sharing. I got here via my friend Angela who posted this on her Facebook group.

    March 2, 2020 at 7:44 pm Reply
    • Sam

      P.S. It is amazing how hard you have worked for your health.

      March 2, 2020 at 8:27 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much Sam! Gotta love Angela! 🙂

      March 5, 2020 at 11:28 am Reply
  • Sue Jackson

    Ana, I am so grateful for the healing you have had. This inspires my hope for my sweet daughter’s healing. Thank you and Brett for your friendship and encouragement to her. May you continue to heal and share your compassionate, beautiful light .

    March 2, 2020 at 8:26 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I’m so glad to hear this! You’re an amazing mom for supporting her so well and continuing to believe in her. 🙂

      March 5, 2020 at 11:27 am Reply
  • Bella D.

    Thank you, Ana. Just thank you.

    March 4, 2020 at 1:52 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      <3

      March 5, 2020 at 11:28 am Reply
  • Dana Webb

    Wonderful news! Thank you for sharing. God is faithful and He sure carried you all through some very hard things. Its so encouraging to see your progress and how He preserved your faith through this.

    March 5, 2020 at 11:19 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you, Dana!

      March 5, 2020 at 11:29 am Reply
  • Silvia Padilla

    Beautiful Ana! I feel so happy for you and Brett without knowing you. I feel like I have known you all my life. It is God’s love that I recognize and feel attracted to. He is so good and shares his love and graces through his faithful instruments. How many gifts he has given both of you! And how many more he is sharing through your witness. You share his cross, he shares with you his endless glory.
    We are a family of 6 recently learning about mold avoidance. What a difficult trial and at the same time what an opportunity to live total surrender to his perfect and loving will for us.

    March 5, 2020 at 10:34 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much for these kind words, Silvia! God bless you!

      March 16, 2020 at 9:22 am Reply
  • Shweta Warwade

    Congratulations Ana,can you please share whose your doctor who helped in your journey

    March 16, 2020 at 4:10 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you! I didn’t have a doctor who helped me on my journey. I saw many, many doctors during my years of illness but results were short-lived, nonexistent or minimal. Things shifted for me when I started listening to patients who had recovered in ways I could only dream of and following the winners.

      March 16, 2020 at 9:35 am Reply
  • Kat Ingalls

    Awww your stories are so encouraging Ana! Maybe I’ll eventually figure out what i have and not be in constant pain.
    You and Brett stay safe from the virus okay? Praying you continue blossoming <3
    ~Kat (old Ydubber. Still chat with Brett every once in awhile through email. )

    March 18, 2020 at 1:52 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I’m so glad it’s encouraging, Kat! I do pray you find relief from your constant pain. I know what that’s like.

      March 31, 2020 at 6:10 pm Reply
  • Katherine Morrison

    It has really helped me to read your day by day logs when you first started out. Do you know someone else that is doing this too? My brain is not working well enough yet to read the other logs…hard to explain.

    March 25, 2020 at 3:11 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I’m so glad it’s helped you Katherine. Yes, I do know a lot of people who are pursuing this same path to healing. Is that what you were asking?

      March 31, 2020 at 6:09 pm Reply
    • Shelly Gruenig

      I have found the podcast Lyme Voice to be helpful to listen to.

      May 7, 2020 at 5:17 am Reply
  • Lorianne B.

    Thanks for the update Ana! Loved reading all the links in your email. Praise the Lord!!! Not only that your physical body is healed but also that you have such peace in your mind. Blessed to read your testimony! Keep pressing on where he has called you! Much love to you and Brett!

    March 31, 2020 at 5:56 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much for these encouraging words, Lorianne! I’m still bummed that I had to miss your online performance. I was really excited about the possibility of participating. Please let me know if it will be for sale in the future. Love to you! 🙂

      March 31, 2020 at 6:11 pm Reply
  • Carissa Sherman

    Wow, so extremely happy to read this. What a spark of good news in a strange time right now! Blessings!!!

    March 31, 2020 at 6:46 pm Reply
  • Samantha

    You look RADIANT! Rejoicing in your improved health. Praise God. Sending love from Downunder.

    March 31, 2020 at 8:18 pm Reply
  • Rachel Sullivan

    Praise God!!! I am so happy for you, Ana!!! I am a student on the Young Writers Workshop and I’ve been praying for your healing. I am so glad you are feeling better! I will continue to keep you and Brett in my prayers. God is good and his love endures forever!!

    April 2, 2020 at 7:55 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much Rachel!

      June 10, 2020 at 7:07 pm Reply
  • Shelly Gruenig

    Does this mean you found respite in Albuquerque? My daughter has Lyme and moved from the 505 to Texas for work and her symptoms worsened. She moved back nearly a year ago and is much improved and I guess we never considered mold as a factor yet I wonder if it might be. Thank you for sharing your journey in an effort to help others – what a blessing!

    May 7, 2020 at 5:22 am Reply
  • Lia

    Hi Ana,
    Have you ever heard of DNRS? It is a neuroplasticity program for people with chronic Lyme and mold issues. Many and many people are able to reverse all mold sensitivity by changing the brain. It is an amazing program. The program teaches that all these symptoms are not caused by the mold, by the Lyme disease, or the chemicals or foods. The symptoms are because our Lymbic system gets stuck in fight flight mode after a disease or trauma and keeps the body in a stress response way after the threat is gone. Once the lymbic system calms down, it stops pursuing everything as a threat. The body goes into healing and restoration again.
    This is their website https://retrainingthebrain.com/

    July 24, 2020 at 6:03 pm Reply
  • Marita Wilson

    I can’t believe it’s been three years!!! That’s amazing! (That means I’ve worked for YDubs for three years too! :D) Congratulations Ana–I am so so happy for you and so grateful for our friendship. <3

    July 30, 2020 at 7:23 pm Reply
  • Rich

    Hi Anna – I have a quick question for you:

    You mentioned you were diagnosed with ME/CFS – do you (did you*) ever get the hallmark PEM symtpoms? As in flu-like autoimmune response to exertion, not just muscle pain and exhaustion after exercise?

    Your story is very inspiring, and I’m thinking of doing mold avoidance in part due to your story.

    November 28, 2020 at 10:38 am Reply
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