An inspiring story on Lyme Disease and Mold Toxicity – surviving the invisible illnesses
Our weekly featured writer is Theora Dobronte who was diagnosed with lyme disease and mold toxicity. Read her inspiring, authentic, and powerful story.
Introduction to lyme disease and mold toxicity
If you had met me in 2018 or prior you would know that my passion was fitness. I was a fitness junkie but not in the crazy competition way. I found a passion for working out when I was in high school and continued to use fitness as a tool. It was always the one thing I could count on when things were getting tough. I’d go for a workout and instantly feel better.
I was so passionate about fitness I started a YouTube channel with a personal trainer.
Even though I had gone into the career of dietetics and was working as a Registered Dietitian in skilled nursing facilities, Aids clinics, outpatient clinics, and board & cares, what I really wanted was to be paid to workout. I had dreams to open my own studio one day and was in the process of making that happen when everything crashed.
I started to experience these symptoms of lyme disease and mycotoxin
In 2018 I noticed I was having difficulty keeping up with work. I thought I was working too much so I slowly started to cut back hours until I was at the point where if I cut any further I wouldn’t be able to make it financially. My shifts were only 6 hours some days. I worked 4 days a week. In August of 2018 things really got weird.
I literally could not get myself to go to the gym. I was physically exhausted. I was having difficulty driving.
August and September of 2018 I worked out a mere 5 times. One of my best friends was the GM (General Manager) of the studio I worked out at and so I called her. “Look I have to pause my membership”, I shared. She noted that I had barely been there and asked me if everything was okay.
At the time, I didn’t have much of an answer because I truly didn’t know, but I knew what was going on in my body was very off.
Lyme disease & mycotoxin caused extreme fatigue, brain fog and neurological issues
I noticed I would see a green light and stop and a red light and go. It was unsafe to look away from the road when I was driving or I would swerve in whatever direction I looked to. So if I looked at the radio on the right, the car would go to the right. I also experienced body shakes, sometimes for up to two days.
The worst was insomnia.
I have always had trouble sleeping but not like this.
I got up to taking xanax and ambien and I still wouldn’t sleep. Most nights I was averaging 2-4 hours. The final straw was about to happen…
The railroad incident
I came across railroad tracks with the lights flashing and the bar coming down so I stopped. I sat there for about 60 seconds before I noticed that I only saw one striped red and white bar in front of me. My first thought was “I’m in the ghetto, someone must have ripped the other one off.” Then about 30 seconds later I looked down and saw railroad tracks, railroad tracks that I was directly on.
My heart started to beat harder and I looked in my rear view mirror and there it was, the other bar, I had literally stopped on the railroad tracks and didn’t even notice.
At this point I had no choice but to back up as far as I could and pray I would be okay.
By the grace of god, the train was on the further of the two tracks and I was not harmed.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment
I called my sister. She runs hospitals and treatment centers and she immediately called my doctor.
I went straight into intensive outpatient treatment trying to figure out what was wrong. November through January, I was a shell of a human.
What were other symptoms of mycotoxin?
For 10 months my medical team worked hard to find out what was happening. All we could tell was:
- My brain cognition had declined substantially
- My thyroid was under performing
- My gut had microbial warfare going on
- My adrenals were completely shot and so confused they were shooting out more cortisol than my doctor had ever seen
- My liver and kidneys started to fail.
After lots of tests, trials, tribulations, and being named the “mystery case of the clinic” my amazing doctor, found my first diagnosis.
I was diagnosed with mold toxicity and had severe mycotoxin
I was diagnosed with severe mycotoxin or mold poisoning. A mycotoxin is the actual toxin that is created by mold spores, meaning if you live in a place with mold, it is giving off a toxin that could potentially be making you sick.
The strains found in my body were specific to mold found in water damaged buildings. My doctor recommended I move out of my apartment immediately and throw out everything I own because mycotoxins (mold spores) can live in all of it. So I did. By August I left my entire life in LA, threw out all my belongings and said goodbye to the home I had had for the past 6 years. Needless to say, I was heart broken beyond belief.
In August, I was also diagnosed with Lyme disease. I tested positive on the CDC Lyme panel. The test was positive on 4 different strains.
Lyme is not genetic
Unfortunately (but fortunately) 5 of my family members had been through an intensive lyme treatment protocol in Nevada. And they now are living normal healthy lives in remission. That being said, I want to make it clear that Lyme is not a genetic disease. Only one of my blood relatives tested positive for Lyme, the rest were through marriage and they all were bit by a tick.
I, on the other hand, had no recollection of ever having a tick on my body.
I had been following Dave Asprey for years but not very closely, but now I knew he was really the only one talking about Lyme disease and mold poisoning. He made a whole movie, The Moldy Movie.
I quickly switched to a low/no mycotoxin diet because mycotoxins (mold) do come from some of our food sources. I also learned about how mold can change genes on and off in the body and that Lyme disease and mold toxicity usually go hand in hand. What it looked like had happened to me was I had potentially gotten lyme from some type of blood sucking insect (mosquitos, fleas, etc) or there is a theory that it can be sexually transmitted.
Either way, my immune system was able to fight it off for some time.
Lyme attacks when it’s given the proper time and place
Lyme really only attacks when it is given the proper time and place, like when the immune system is down. Judging from the amount of mycotoxins in my body, my immune system put up such a huge fight, probably because I was healthy for so long, but all the while I was being saturated with mycotoxins. My body started to shut down.
Sometimes I wonder why it had to get so bad before I noticed? Or was I not paying attention to the signs? Or was I simply trying to live a “normal life” and show up to everyone with a happy face and pushing my illness down because I refused to let it take over my life?
“Well, guess what, if something wants to take you out, it will.” – TheoraTweet
Keeping positive with Lyme Disease
In November of 2019 I started treatment for lyme disease. It was a very intense 2 month treatment. I am happy to say that my blood is clear from Lyme and I am in remission! We are now working on the mold. It’s crucial I stay healthy because the mold could potentially re-activate the Lyme. I’m staying positive and doing everything I can to keep my body healthy.
Unfortunately, while I was getting Lyme treatments I also opted into getting brain treatments because they did a brain scan and could see that I was having neurological issues. The brain treatments ended up hurting me and I am now dealing with a brain injury.
Feeling judged by others
This has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever gone through because both Lyme disease and mold toxicity are invisible illnesses. I was told I was fine and that I should just “release” these feelings I have etc. Even medical doctors told me “you look like the beacon of health!”. Did they hear me at all when I said I could barely get out of bed and felt like I was going to pass out all the time?
The good days and the bad
During this time it became very clear to me to surround myself with people who accepted me for whatever was going on. My medical team became some of my best friends. I have good days and I have bad days and I’ve learned to just “roll with the punches”.
“I take advantage of my good days, and I allow myself to rest on the bad ones. I’m not going to lie, it isn’t easy, especially now that I have more bad days than good. I’ve gotten serious with my lifestyle changes, for example my diet, I follow Dave Asprey’s bulletproof diet.”- TheoraTweet
I cut alcohol completely out of my life and honestly don’t feel any type of way about it anymore. In the beginning I got off social media because I couldn’t handle it. I had nothing to say because we had no idea what was going on. Once I finally felt like I had a message and a duty to support others I got back on and have shared the good, the bad, and the ugly.
What I Learned from My Diagnosis
If you are coping with an invisible illness such as lyme disease or mold toxicity, my best advice to you is:
1. Find a good medical team
This can make or break you. If a doctor tells you you are fine but you know you are not, find someone else.
2. Find people you can count on
My second piece of advice is to find at least one person you can count on to be there and not judge you. Just having one person makes a difference.
3. Do what you can when you can and find ways to make you feel good
This may have been the most difficult for me because I had to give up exercise and it has always been my go to. But for 10 months it was a big hard NO. One time I didn’t listen and my body paid the price. If you can find a job that you can work from home and create your own hours, then do it. But only if it doesn’t stress you out.
4. Change your lifestyle
This is the hardest for most people but it must be done. It is temporary. I know it causes social issues because all of a sudden you cannot drink or go out and be social anymore but trust me, you will be better off in the end. I like to call this, the art of selfishness. Anything that comes to you ask yourself first, what is good for me? (For 31 days of journal prompts for self discovery, check out this article).
If it doesn’t benefit you during your time of healing, which I hate to say is most things, don’t do it. You will pay the price.
5. Get rest!
Rest when you can. So many people will tell you their recommendations like, get on a routine. Maybe that works for some people, but it doesn’t work that well for me. So I rest when I can and when I need to.
6. Find something to fall into
For me it was Harry Potter. For whatever reason, diving into that world took me out of my body and allowed me to feel normal in the abnormal. Hey, whatever works right? Hi to all my Potterheads!
7. Share your story
Lastly, when you are ready, share your story. People need to know about these illnesses. Not only that, but social media is filled with so much fake sh*t, it makes me sick. Be authentic and raw and share with people how ugly and messy this gets because the world is not all rainbows and butterflies.
Focus on Gratitude
I’m still on my journey and it’s not easy. I share my story to help others.
That is why I became a dietitian. Without my illnesses, I wouldn’t be able to really support other people.
I would also still be in a job that I hated and only lived for the weekends. I would still be in an apartment that was slowly killing me (even though I loved that apt so much!!!). These illnesses have grounded me, pushed me so far down the rabbit hole and at times made me think I couldn’t do it.
There were so many times I wanted to just give up. There’s something inside of me that has kept telling me to keep going. That voice has always been inside of me cheering me on.
“I know that I am up to something so big in this world. I’ve always known that I will help others, maybe this was actually the push I needed to really step outside my comfort zone and make something happen.”- TheoraTweet
My Goals Going Forward
I have goals to create wellness centers where people can go when they need care but don’t quite meet criteria for inpatient. If I had a wellness center (like the outpatient center I go to in San Diego) that had an option to stay there, it would have been almost perfect.
I still have goals to open a fitness studio. I know there’s still more I want to do.
On my good days, I get out of bed and continue my treatment protocols.
Vision is important and mine keeps growing daily. I can and will make an impact on this world.
Sickly Confidential is definitely going to be cheering Theora on as she continues to inspire others who may be struggling with lyme disease and mold toxicity. We are on the lookout for inspiring reader stories and featured writers. If this is you or someone you know, submit your original blog here.
Join our inner circle and you’ll not only get exclusive discounts on the products we know and love, you’ll be the first to get notified about new posts. For a limited time you’ll receive an uplifting and encouraging e-book full of quotes.