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Marlowe’s Asthma Update

Eva Amurri Martino's daughter Marlowe lies on her bed in a topknot a bright dress

A couple weeks ago I shared a bit about the breathing difficulties that Marlowe had been having this Winter/Spring, and her eventual asthma diagnosis.  I was so grateful for all the stories so many of you shared about your own asthma experiences – it was really helpful to get a bit more context, and it definitely made me feel a lot less alone my all my concerns for my sweet girl.  There have been a few recent updates and discoveries on the subject since my last post, so I wanted to share here today!

A few days after my last post went live, we actually had a really big breakthrough: the tests we did on our home came back with MOLD! A storage room off of our basement, and a closet in the gym in the basement have significant mold, and as a result, there was a very elevated level of spores in the air down there.  If you follow me on social media, you know that we have a big playroom in the basement, and my kids had been spending a TON of time down there all Winter.  We also found that there were elevated humidity levels down there.  Upon further inspection, we figured out that our dehumidifying system was only operating at about 50 percent since we bought our home two years ago.  Additionally, our runoff from the gutters was coming too close to the foundation of our home (it’s supposed to be at least 2 feet from the foundation).  And bingo! A mold problem! Marlowe’s bedroom is over the room with the most mold in it, so they found mold spores in her room as well, though much lower levels than in the basement.  Basically, we discovered her asthma trigger!

Eva Amurri Martino's daughter Marlowe lies on her bed in a topknot a bright dress

We did extensive extra testing all over our house after these results to make sure that the mold was contained to the downstairs, and it turns out it is.  We start remediation this week, and all the mold and the air, and every single thing in our basement will be cleaned out by Monday morning.  This process is super expensive, unfortunately, but so worth it obviously.  As stressful as this whole testing process has been, I’m so thankful that I pushed for a mold test because I never would have figured out the problem otherwise! The whole family has been out of the basement for a couple weeks now and Marlowe’s asthma flare up is totally OVER.  Her lungs are fully clear.  It’s amazing! As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve also kept HEPA air filters  in both of the kids’ rooms as well as in our family room, just until the remediation is over. 

Eva Amurri Martino's daughter Marlowe makes a silly face on a colorful bean bag chair

We also took Marlowe for allergy testing as recommended by her pediatrician.  All of the first round of tests came back negative, but we are getting her deeper tested for mold next week, since there has been a presence in our home.  She kind of freaked out at the testing the last time, so I’m definitely not looking forward to the more targeted and intense under-the-skin prick tests.  Actually, now that I’m typing this out, I’m realizing that it might be Daddy’s turn to make a doctor run next week.

I just can’t believe that the same kid who was needing multiple nebulizer treatments a day suddenly needs none! I’m sure this is not the last we will experience her asthma, but the fact that she no longer needs daily medication is so mood lifting for me!  I’m just so grateful.  I’ve been told by Marlowe’s pediatrician that we need to start giving her the steroid twice daily at the first sign of a cough or congestion next time, but they’ve switched her to an inhaler instead of the nebulizer.  Things are looking up!

Eva Amurri Martino's daughter Marlowe lies on the floor of her bedroom in Connecticut

Anyway, let the moral of this story be: when something seems weird and suspicious, it usually is! I’m looking forward to having a mold free, clean, and healthy home in just a few days.  I’m curious if any readers out there had family members experiencing health issues before finding hidden mold? Let me know in the Comments below!

Eva Amurri Martino's daughter Marlowe makes a silly face on a colorful bean bag chair

 

Photographs by Carter Fish.

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28 Comments

  1. Michelle says:

    I’m so happy to hear that you guys were able to find the culprit and that she’s doing so much better! I can imagine the relief you feel!

    05.30.18Reply
  2. kyle w. says:

    i had a terrible flare up in college. I hadnt had any breathing issues since childhood when we found out i was allergic to cats. Flash forward to college and my roommate and I are sick all the time. She with bronchitis and colds. I had the worst shallow breathing of my life for months. I had to be on strong inhalers multiple times a day. One night she presses on her wall and her hand goes through it! We start pulling at drywall to find that the wall was insulated with newspaper! Everyhing was full of black mold! The landlords replaced the wall and put in a proper drainage system (our rooms were in the basement) and just like that no more sickness. Havent needed the inhaler but once in 15 years! Mold will mess you up! I bet your girl will me just fine.

    05.30.18Reply
    • AGGGHHH!!! How terrifying! That is just beyond awful. The newspaper in the walls with mold growing actually happened to my sister in law in her childhood home! After remediation everyone got so much better. So scary to think about.

      05.30.18Reply
  3. Kate says:

    What HEPA filters do you use?

    05.30.18Reply
  4. Joanne olson says:

    Ugh, at least you found the issue.. not sure if you already checked, but, some insurance companies have limited mold remediation coverage. I work with chubb i know they do . Good luck to your little one!!!

    05.30.18Reply
    • Yes, we checked and unfortunately ours doesn’t :((( But now that we know we will definitely be looking for that type of insurance in future homes!
      This whole experience has been a huge education.

      05.30.18Reply
  5. Sarah says:

    First, I’m so happy your momma bear instincts took over and you zoomed in on the culprit! The same situation happened in our home. I developed asthma at the age of 45 and had to take steroids and inhalers. A year later our kitchen water stopped flowing and the plumber had to tear out a wall. Guess what we found growing in the wall and underneath our home? Uh huh! Black mold. We had it remediated and I haven’t needed steroids and have cut my inhaler dose significantly since. People look at me suspiciously when I pass on the story, especially knowing my general allergy came back with a negative reaction to mold, but I’m convinced it’s a widespread problem.

    05.30.18Reply
    • GAH!!! I’m so glad you figured it out! Isn’t it such a mix of relief at having answers but rage at having a hidden safety issue in your own home? It’s such a mixed bag of feelings. I’m just glad we figured it out sooner rather than later

      05.30.18Reply
  6. Courtney says:

    Glad you got it figured out! We went through/going through the same with our daughters sinuses.trying to figure out if it’s an allergy thing- Even gave our kitty a new home to see if that helped :(. Anyway, yay and I bet it’s so nice to have the weight lifted off your shoulders!

    05.30.18Reply
  7. Courtney says:

    I remember running across this gal’s blog and her mold issues a couple years ago. Idk if it’s of help to you…
    https://hybridrastamama.com/category/toxic-mold/

    05.30.18Reply
  8. Jill says:

    This is such good news! Very happy for Marlowe (& her worried parents!) I applaud you for LISTENING to your intuition. Too often people blow it off or let other people ‘talk them out of it’. You’re a good mama! There’s a chance Marlowe could ‘outgrow’ her asthma. One of my nephews did; it happens.

    Much happiness & health to you & yours!

    05.30.18Reply
  9. Jaclyn says:

    Eva,

    I am SO glad that you figured out what is going on with her! As a lifelong asthma sufferer, I hope to goodness that all of this is behind you and that she grows out of it.

    Your doctor is absolutely right about starting a steroid right away at the first sign of a cough or chest congestion. I am the exact same way and it is so important to be the advocate for your child if she’s not seeing her regular doctor in a situation like that–it is something I have unfortunately had to deal with myself at Urgent Care. I had a doctor refuse to give me a steroid and insisted that a strong antibiotic would do the trick–instead guess what? I got pneumonia, which was more painful than I ever could’ve imagined. It sounds like you and your family are in good hands with your doctor 🙂

    Wishing you and your family the best!

    05.30.18Reply
  10. DIANE ROMERO says:

    Yes! Mold is usually a huge trigger. My daughter was 9 months when she started showing signs of asthma. Doctor had me treat it as a cold. I had a humidifier in the room. Well that was no help. I had her in a rocker. When I took the material cover off to wash it, there was mold underneath. A combination of the humidifier and any other moisture had created mold spores in her rocker. Not visible unless the cover was taken off. It was only a couple of days. We live in Los Angeles, so my kids have inhalers. Seasonal allergies are no joke! It’s awful when they have an episode. As soon as that cough starts i bust out the qvar and the albuterol. Good thing you caught it when you did! I have been following you since your LA days. Beautiful Family!

    05.30.18Reply
  11. Andrea says:

    That’s wonderful news! I’m sure your entire family’s quality of life will be so much better -breathing, stress levels, doctor’s trips, treatments, all of the above- with the mold cleaned out! We live in a super dry climate and mold hasn’t been an issue *knocks on wood* but we’ll get dusty wind and smoke from summer wild fires. Everyone’s sneezing but gratefully it’s just unpleasant rather than medical.

    05.30.18Reply
  12. Becca Lippman says:

    Eva,

    As a mother of two asthmatics and as an RN if Marlowe has had an offical diagnosis of asthma please think about seeing a pediatric pulmonologist. Not that I don’t believe pediatricians can’t handle simple asthma, but pediatric pulmonologists are able to focus on her asthma, have knowledge of a much broader range of meds and a greater scope of ideas how to handle exacerbations and most importantly help keep her off steroids and get her on some long term meds.

    05.30.18Reply
  13. jo says:

    Austinair.com filters are the cadillac of air filters. Recommended by my naturopathic physician they have changed my family’s life. Started by a husband trying to save his ailing wife:
    https://www.achooallergy.com/learning/austin-air-company-history/
    They use a medical-grade HEPA filtration system.
    Best of luck

    05.30.18Reply
  14. Megan says:

    I grew up near Seattle, where it’s wet outside basically year-round. This means that anywhere it possible can grow, mold is a problem. The first apartment my ex and I lived in a first-floor corner unit in the shade. We were sick constantly! It caused my minor asthma issues to flair up and I was at the doctor at least once a week. We found an apartment closer to my ex’s work and when we moved some of our bigger furniture, we found toxic black mold growing inside the walls of our bedroom and living room. So gross! As soon as we were out and we replaced our bedding, all of our health issues stopped. Mold can be so dangerous, but so hard to detect unless you know where to look. I’m so glad you found the trigger and that Marlowe is doing so much better. We were on a similar journey with my kiddo a couple years ago, when he developed asthma after a bad case of bronchitis. He’s doing well now, but has to use both inhalers at the first sign of a cough or cold or when he visits his grandparents every summer, because they have pets. Asthma is no fun, but hopefully the worst is over for Miss Marlowe.

    05.30.18Reply
  15. Shelby says:

    So glad you’ve been able to figure her tiggers out. My son also has asthma, as well as food and environmental allergies., one of which is mold. It’s great that you found the issue with your home and getting that resolved, that will be a HUGE help. Just keep in mind that when it rains, she could have flares. It took me a while to figure out why my son was having random flare ups, which finally was linked to rain/rainy days/ponding of water.

    In regards to her upcoming testing-take things to keep her occupied that she enjoys (iPad/games/ourballery office has DVD players with tv’s in each room so that may be an option or a new toy as a reward). The worst part is waiting after as things can get itching and uncomfortable & you can’t scratch!

    So happy Miss Marlowe is feeling better and you’ve figured out the mold issue, hopefully the worst is behind her.

    05.31.18Reply
  16. Carol says:

    Oh Im so glad to read this. It broke me everytime I saw her on your stories having to go to the doctor or having therapy at home. My nieces have terrible cough and they give them therapy (they hate it but it helps them a lot) but it always make me sad seeing them in pain. So I get what your feeling since I witnessed it all.
    But on the other hand, im so glad you guys found the problem and Marlowe is doing so much better and doing so good.
    Always wishing you guys the best.
    Att. Carol from Puerto Rico

    05.31.18Reply
  17. Sheila Martin Gay says:

    Eva, so happy you found the culprit. No matter what anybody tells you, Go with your gut ALWAYS. Especially when it comes to your kids. As a mother, grandmother and Nurse, my gut has never failed me. NEVER!!! Your daughter is precious. I’m so glad she is asthma free!! God Bless You all n good luck with your mold war.
    Sincerely,
    Sheila

    05.31.18Reply
  18. Amy Gare says:

    Hey Eva, We live in the same town. What service did you use to conduct the mold testing. Sorry you had to go through this.
    Best,
    Amy Gare

    06.02.18Reply
    • SB says:

      Also interested in how you went about finding the service to use? Interested in doing this, but I feel a quick google search doesn’t cut it for this type of situation.

      06.08.18Reply
  19. Robyn Puglia says:

    I was hospitalised twice with asthma while visiting my mum in Maryland before they found mold in her guest bedroom!!
    I had childhood asthma but staying in that bedroom is literally the only 2 times I’ve had a problem since I was about 12.
    I highly recommend reading Dr Jill Carnhan’s Work on mold because you may like to consider giving Marlow some glutathione for example, to help her clear the mold mycotoxins from her system now the acute flare is over, just to ensure she doesn’t have any below-the-surface lingering effects from the exposure.

    06.09.18Reply
    • Oh my gosh I’m sorry you went through that! I will definitely look in to that!

      06.14.18Reply