Breaking the Mold

We moved into our rental home in Calistoga on December 1st. All we had in terms of furnishings was a blow-up camping mattress and a floor lamp, given to us by the proprietor of the Santa Rosa RV park. The irony. Just 3 months earlier, we had a house packed with stuff. Timing is everything. After Jennifer was diagnosed with Lyme and we realized that we weren’t going back to Indonesia for a while, we began searching for a new rental. We planned to get a furnished place somewhere, not knowing about the 4-letter wrinkle that would alter things so much.

The first of several Lyme specialists wanted to rid Jennifer of the mold in her body before treating for Lyme -and this phase could take a year to complete by itself. We were new to this field and trying to catch up quickly, but were caught by surprise. What’s mold got to do with Lyme? A year -just for the mold?! For this and other reasons we moved on, and quickly learned first hand how Lyme is very complicated to diagnose, and that there’s a wide range of beliefs and disbeliefs about treatment. We visited with a handful of Lyme specialists from Monterey to Santa Rosa until we met one in Redwood City who ended our search.

A former Lyme patient himself, he combed through Jennifer’s copious files and test results with interest, asked her the right questions, and explained himself clearly. His method, lo and behold, factors mold into the equation. It usually is not a problem for Jennifer or most people, though some warn that mold is central to more illnesses than we know. But it interferes with her particular Lyme treatment because she has a susceptibility to it. Once the Lyme bacteria is removed from her body and her treatment ends, mold will no longer be a problem for her. All Lyme cases are different. With ours, we hope that she can be cured of Lyme within a year or so. Only time will tell and there are no guarantees. Medicine is an art rather than a science, as dad is fond of saying.

In the meantime, doctor’s orders. Jennifer and I have 2 very different lives going on under our shared roof. She can go outside for walks and bike rides, which she loves doing 2-3x daily. But since mold commonly exists in most buildings as airborne spores, she cannot go into any other buildings: grocery or clothes stores; cafes; library; theater; bank; friend’s houses; restaurants -unless they have an outdoor patio. She’s almost under house arrest -for a year! She could wear a vogmask in some situations, but the mold would still contaminate her clothes, and that gets complicated. Our rental home was remodeled down to the studs five years ago and de-molded, which allowed us to move in -for the time being. Only future tests will tell whether or not we can stay. Our car is also off limits to Jennifer due to mold, as are buses. So far that’s been ok, and maybe it will remain so. We’ll cross that bridge later. But for now she really can’t go anywhere.

I, on the other hand can go everywhere -and have been busy doing just that in order to bring furnishings and food and etc. into our empty home. We need to control our home environment one piece at a time. Hard surfaces such as futon frames, dressers, plates, chairs and tables, etc. must be swiped first with 409 before coming into the house. Packaging stays outside. Items with fabric must be avoided altogether, purchased new, or in the case of futons and mattresses, encased in mold-proof plastic. I really enjoy the varied grocery, hardware, bike shop, cafe, pharmacy and post office runs and tasks around town, and to the surrounding towns of St Helena, Napa and Santa Rosa. But every time I come back home from being inside any other building I have a routine to go through (as do visitors to our home). I almost always come and go out the back door. First I change into a bathrobe inside my old artist canopy set up in the yard. I leave my clothes there, shower (and shampoo) upon entering the house, and put on Borax-washed clothes. I leave the house in the reverse order (sans shower). I wear the robe out to the canopy and put on my “task” clothes, shoes, and jackets that are kept there. Yikes. El Niño! Often its been wet, or cold. I group my tasks together as best I can to avoid multiple showers. December was a very busy task month, but not so much now.

Our system is not bulletproof. Nor can it be. There are still details for us to work out and better routines to establish. But we’re doing the best we can to keep mold outside,  and hopefully it’ll be enough. Jen is actually very much enjoying her days, as am I, but wishes she could socialize around town more easily and naturally, without such limits. She’s missing out on being a full Calistogan. And it’s not an easy or ideal way to welcome friends and meet neighbors, but we still managed to do both this month. Jo from across the street kindly gave us a de-lish plate of baked goods as a welcoming gift, and I at least went to her holiday gathering. Buddy Kristi has visited twice already, volunteering to be the guinea pig for our awkward guest entry protocol (AGEP). Cathie and Harvey took the plunge too and were unharmed physically or emotionally! And Mike and Tami met us for food and drinks one night at the (freezing) outdoor patio at the Calistoga Inn! Such troopers! We give our thanks.

2016 is going to be a very interesting year.



Dr. Patel:





2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kristi Jacobson
    Jan 06, 2016 @ 06:00:44

    Beautifully shared!!!


  2. Rosalind Robinson
    Jan 09, 2016 @ 07:50:41

    Thanks so much for this update. You do sound like you’re both soldiering thru this in good spirits. I SO hope you will be able to return Bali – Mold Capital of the World (sigh…)


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