Kimberlyn, a 46-year-old married mother living in Arizona is not your average patient. She is highly detailed, analytical, logical, and carries with her a master’s degree in pattern analysis. When Kimberlyn got sick, she applied as much as she could from her work life to try to uncover what was adversely affecting her. Even so, coming to the right diagnoses took a lot of work and required outside help.
Out of nowhere, and for no apparent reason, Kimberlyn suddenly went from a highly-effective, busy, working mother, to a disorganized, uninvolved, confused individual who couldn’t focus long enough to put together cohesive, coherent thoughts. She was no longer able to make decisions for herself and struggled to even get dressed in the morning. Insomnia, anxiety, and a loss of appetite accompanied the confusion. “It was like I lost my personality,” says Kimberlyn.
That was the first episode, lasting for three months starting in November of 2010. In that time she lost twenty-five pounds, was forced to abandon her practice, and withdrew from activities outside the home. Her doctor, family, and friends told her that they thought she had depression or even bipolar disorder. She resisted, even in her confused and debilitated state, and insisted on further testing, believing that something was terribly wrong.
After a series of blood tests, her general practitioner diagnosed Kimberlyn with heavy metal poisoning and recommended she undergo chelation therapy. After undergoing this treatment, she did feel better. However, within five months the illness returned.
During her second cycle of illness, Kimberlyn sought out another doctor who performed a series of tests and suggested that maybe Kimberlyn was suffering from mold illness, also known as toxic mold syndrome. This was the first time mold had been suggested as a possible cause for Kimberlyn’s symptoms and was unexpected due to the arid climate of Arizona. Yet after having her home tested, three different types of toxic mold were found, including Stachybotrys, also known as black mold.
Primarily, mold illness is associated with allergic reactions that mimic seasonal allergies. Respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, watery eyes, and skin irritation are the predominant symptoms. Mold is also known to cause asthma and life-threatening primary and secondary infections in immune-compromised patients that have been exposed.
Toxic mold exposure has also been linked to more serious, long-term effects like memory loss, insomnia, anxiety, depression, trouble concentrating, and confusion. In a 2003 study by the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, 100 participants were examined in an effort to uncover how toxic mold exposure can affect the brain and lead to cognitive and emotional impairments. After the mold exposure, nervous system challenges were observed in all 100 patients tested. Brain SPECT scans also identified abnormalities in a significant portion of the patients studied.
After Kimberlyn was diagnosed with mold illness by her doctor in Arizona, she took steps to remove mold from her home and began treatment protocols to help reduce her symptoms, but she still felt it wasn’t enough. She continued to research mold illness and finally found the blog of a patient who was treated at Amen Clinics. “ It was the first time I had read anyone’s experience that matched my own,” said Kimberlyn. “I read and read and read and made an appointment that day.”
Kimberlyn had booked a Full Evaluation, which took two days to complete. She filled out multiple questionnaires and history forms, talked to specialized counselors, and finally had a set of SPECT images taken of her brain. “Just to really see exactly what was happening to my brain in the SPECT scans and that I do have a toxic injury due to mold was amazing,” said Kimberlyn. “They did such a good job with all of the evaluations, and they were so thorough. By the end of the second day, Dr. Darmal had a whole binder of material that discussed the results of the testing I had done while I was there.”
Dr. Darmal and the staff at the Amen Clinics Orange County discovered that in addition, Kimberlyn also had ADHD and a previous traumatic brain injury that was increasing the effects of the mold injury. “When my brain swelled from the mold exposure, I was getting almost no blood flow to my prefrontal cortex,” explained Kimberlyn.
Co-occurring conditions that can increase the effects of an injury or illness on the brain are common, yet can be easily overlooked. For Kimberlyn, she was shocked to hear that the brain injury she had suffered in high school was impacting her life today and even more surprised that she had ADHD. “The medication for ADHD has made a huge difference in my productivity and ability to focus. That was like the bonus prize that I wasn’t even expecting,” said Kimberlyn.
Kimberlyn is already seeing positive results from implementing the treatment protocol prescribed for her by Dr. Darmal. In addition to the medication prescribed for ADHD, Kimberlyn has also completely changed her diet and started a supplement regimen. She will be undergoing hyperbaric oxygen treatments this summer as well. She looks forward to restarting her professional practice and enjoying continuing progress.