Long COVID and Mold Exposure

My grown daughter, Michaela, has been experiencing long haul COVID after being infected with the virus in November 2021. (You can read a series of blog posts about this journey starting with the first post here.)

I have heard from many readers, which is wonderful!  You have asked how Michaela is doing and have also shared that her journey with Long COVID has given you hope. She has learned more about what helps her feel better, and what is too much for her to tolerate. The items that she can tolerate continue to change as she continues to heal.

In the process of searching for healing of her symptoms, she tried many modalities, and found that Zhineng Qigong was gentle enough to not throw her nervous system into overload, and also powerful enough to really assist her healing. She continues to expand her daily 3-hour routine into new practices, slowly introducing new movements and watching how her body responds.

The Eden Energy practices that she tried didn’t provide consistent healing, and she decided to remove those from her daily protocol. The Medical Qigong was helpful to read about in books and to utilize sparingly. It was too strong for Michaela’s sensitive body systems to practice daily. She has learned a lot about Medical Qigong from a series of books about Chinese Energetic Medicine.

She had experienced more healing since my last blog post in July 2022 detailing her path to health, and we were very encouraged she was on the road to a full recovery. Sadly, everything took a turn for the worse in the fall.

In October 2022, the garbage disposal in her apartment backed up and a maintenance rep from the management company was sent to fix it. This began a series of issues of strange smells inside her apartment, the discovery of a sewer pipe that had an incorrect piece in the pipe, a water leak, and to top it all off, the entire apartment building lost heat for 1 week when the boiler went out during a hard freeze. All of these items were very stressful on her nervous system, but more than that, she began experiencing more and more brain fog, fatigue and general malaise.

So many Long COVID patients experience a recurrence of symptoms, that we chalked up her symptoms to another round of Long COVID exacerbated by the stress of trying to manage multiple maintenance people inside her apartment trying to fix problems.

Michaela looked under her kitchen sink in November and discovered mold building up on a cabinet board. She hadn’t looked under there previously, so didn’t know how long it had been present. She taped plastic around the cabinet area to attempt to keep the small area of mold that she could see from permeating her living area.

She has a diagnosed severe IgE allergy to mold, and has had reactions before ranging from repeated rounds of bronchitis (as a child, the school she attended had a water leak that ended up with a moldy classroom underneath the one she was in) to lung and breathing issues (when a previous rental she was in didn’t mitigate mold in a bathroom properly).

When the management company was ready to mitigate the mold, it was mid-December, and they sent Michaela to a hotel. Within a few hours, she realized how her lungs felt so much better. She was able to take big breaths for the first time in months. The management company was going to fix the pipe that had been improperly fixed previously and replace the cabinet that contained the mold spot, but wasn’t going to fix the floor that had rippled from the water that was caught underneath it. This meant that they weren’t even looking for mold that was possibly present in the floor boards.

After these fixes were complete, Michaela asked that an air sample be taken by a professional mold mitigation company to ensure that all the mold had been removed prior to her moving back in. The air sample came back with mold still being present, which wasn’t a surprise to any of us. By that time, she was realizing how many of her clothes and other personal effects that she had brought to the hotel were also covered in mold spores. She put on certain clothes and found that her eyes began to itch. The more information she got from the mold mitigation company, the more she realized that everything in her apartment was going to have to be mitigated to get rid of the mold, and many items like her mattress and couch would have to be tossed because there wasn’t any way to remove the mold.

The management company hired a mold mitigation company to come in to wipe down all the walls and surfaces. Sadly, the process began by spraying chemicals everywhere first! Thankfully, they continued to pay for Michaela to stay in the hotel, but it was becoming more and more clear that what they were doing was going to make her studio apartment unlivable for her sensitive body. Between the chemicals and the lack of removing the floor boards and flooring, her apartment was never going to be mold free.

In fact, we began to wonder how long mold had been present without her realizing it. The symptoms of mold exposure and those of long COVID are very similar. Brain fog and fatigue are vague symptoms that could be sourced from either or both. The key was to get her into a safe living situation to calm down her nervous system and get her back to at least where she was prior to the mold exposure!

The lease that Michaela signed when she moved into her apartment basically excludes remuneration for mold damaging items. They expect that the renter will have that in their renter insurance policy (Michaela didn’t purchase an addendum to include that, not knowing that such would be an issue, so she will receive no compensation for her personal items that have to be tossed – 50 plants, all her shoes, mattress, couch, cushions, pillows, etc).  She was allowed to break her lease without a fee, which she has done.

A few days before Christmas, we moved Michaela from Denver to Colorado Springs to live with my husband and me. It’s been 3 weeks since she was in her apartment, and we can see her spirit coming back. She no longer has the fatigue and brain fog, and is looking forward to finding a new safe place to live with no mold.

Just washing her clothes ended up not being enough to remove the mold from some of the fabrics, so we will be taking all her clothes to a commercial laundry facility that uses an ozonator to remove mold. We hope to be able to preserve at least some of her clothes so that she doesn’t have to start from scratch setting up a wardrobe.

The year 2022 was an extremely difficult one for Michaela and for our family. Long COVID is like nothing I’ve ever seen, and she still has improvements to make to be able to get back to working full time, being on screens and being able to drive. The financial setback from the mold exposure was not only in losing most of her personal property, but also her inability to work. We are all looking forward to a more prosperous 2023!

Read the next blog post in this series here.