So there I was, asleep in the back of my station wagon, parked in a vacant and dark church parking lot, again unable to tolerate the air in my home. My stack of off-gassed bedding consisted of an eggshell mattress, a Wiggy’s sleeping bag, and an old yoga mat. On top of me was a washed 100% cotton “quillow” I’d bought in Lancaster for $70, an unplugged fuzzy electric blanket made with a surprisingly inert polyester/cotton blend, and a 100% cotton twin-sized quilt, way too short for my 6-ft frame.
“Too many nights out here,” I thought to myself. “Haven’t I had enough?” I asked God. Memphis and Dallas, places I had gone to seek safe low-VOC, low-EMF, low-mold housing, had both been a personal disappointment. Winter was fast approaching, and if I didn’t find a place to sleep indoors soon, I’d have to sleep in the car with the windows closed and the heater on, which is not very healthy. Yet I had an inkling of hope. Although I was stuck in the car still once I got home from a 28-hour roadtrip to TN, where I experienced the worst of my allergic symptoms/sensitivities (just because of a mattress and sheets) in the cleanest house I’d stayed, I had found a new secret weapon. Yes, there was hope in the form of a supplement—a probiotic to be exact—that had already begun effecting a sincere recovery in me.
Rebuilding My Gut
Some call it MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) or EI (environmental intolerance). Others call it EHS (electromagnetic hypersensitivity), mold illness, or even CIRS (chronic inflammatory response syndrome). Whatever it’s called, I have it. But I don’t intend on keeping it. The answer lies, I believe, in fixing leaky gut.
Having not been able to find a house to stay anywhere in the country where my body didn’t have a reaction, I realized I couldn’t run forever, and I needed to go back to approaching the problem within my own physiology. Obviously, it was crucial to fix my gut, because at some point I had been able to stay in my house. Somewhere along the line that had changed, and I should have logically been able to recover and tolerate whatever (now lessened) mold in my house that disrupted my sleep. Restoring the intestinal barrier using supplemental, nutritional (or even spiritual) interventions would in all likelihood help to regain tolerance to the natural/unnatural elements getting the better of me.
I knew it was likely a gut problem, because my reactions to chemicals, mold, and EMF at this time were accompanied by a pulsating, piercing sensation in my intestines near my belly button. Peripheral exposure to clindamycin (the powerful antibiotic my dog was on post-historectomy) near the beginning of September was the most likely culprit for this entire bout with sensitivity.
However, I knew of no effective way to treat the leaky gut caused by this devastation. If there was a solution, I was certain I’d already tried it and failed in the last 3 years amidst generally numerous health issues. The only tolerable probiotics I knew of at the time were Dr. Mercola’s probiotic and Seeking Health’s SCD- and GAPS-compliant blend. They have all the good bifido and lactobacillus bacterial strains in these, but taking them only seemed to help temporarily and never actually seemed to repopulate my gut. In Memphis, I experimented with resistant starch, but every time that I had cold rice and sauerkraut, my reactions seemed to get worse.
An Excellent Recommendation
Here’s the kicker. In Memphis, while I did have a lot of difficulty with new allergies, possibly even worsened by my experiments with resistant starch, I was exposed to the most effective supplement I’d ever tried. Pam, the owner of the excellent house I was “test driving” (which would’ve probably worked for me in any other condition), suggested her favorite probiotic to me. I told her probiotics never really helped me that much (at least not with lasting effects).
The one she was using was soil-based, she told me. I immediately made reference to my bad experience with Garden of Life, which is a soil-based probiotic. A couple of years ago, I’d tried that one and had a terribly painful reaction in my gut. It also gave me an awful headache. This led me to associate soil-based probiotics with this bad reaction, making me think I just couldn’t tolerate them. Also, this thread on the Bulletproof Exec forum, started by a gut expert whom I defer to readily, made me believe my negative reaction was legit. I thought it must have been the “spore-forming” nature of the bacteria in this supplement that was causing such pain and irritation when I took it.
In my desperation, though, I humored Pam and looked over the Prescript-Assist bottle in her cabinet. I was mainly scanning for s. boulardii, which is a “beneficial” yeast that has been known to help balance your gut (supposedly) by eating candida and other bad yeasts/bacteria. I have isolated this as very bad for me after using other probiotics with this strain. Having been exposed to mold and being genetically unable to process mold toxins, it only makes sense that normally beneficial yeasts, including brewer’s yeast, baker’s yeast, and nutritional yeast, all give me serious issues like liver/gallbladder pain, intestinal issues, and heart palpitations.
Upon not finding s. boulardii on the ingredients list for Prescript-Assist, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try a soil-based probiotic, as long as it was isolated from yeast. So I socked away three capsules for a desperate moment.
The Eureka Moment
That night, I slept alright, having discovered that the rubber mattress I slept on was causing numbness and MS-like symptoms of symmetrical muscle pain/weakness the whole time I was there. I had also been getting acid reflux every night (which sucks). Finally I knew that these symptoms were definitely being worsened by newly discovered allergies.
The next day, I had a long drive ahead of me, and I knew I had to eat out at least two or three times before making it home. Chipotle is our go-to on the road, but the sourcing varies depending on what region you’re in. Also, with resistant starch starting to take its toll on me, I’m sure the lukewarm rice was what triggered the awful symptoms I experienced after lunch. It was just like how I’d felt near the rubber mattress and after my sauerkraut/lactoprobiotic/cold rice combo for the last few days. Resistant starch can definitely feed bad bugs, and some people really don’t do well on it.
Feeling the acid start to well up in my throat, along with a tingling sensation in my hamstrings, as well as generalized lightheadedness and weakness, I finally turned to the Prescript-Assist. I popped a pill, saying to myself, “Here goes nothing.” Thinking it could really do some damage and make me much worse, I even said some last words to my wife, who had taken up the mantle of driving due to my weakness.
Instead of beginning to convulse, foaming at the mouth, and asphyxiating from anaphylactic shock, something else happened entirely. Slowly, I realized that my symptoms were doing something that I can only describe as “melting away.” One of the tinier symptoms I’d been having was this annoying ear/temple headache thing. I felt a sort of draining sensation as it slowly dissipated. The acid reflux and the leg pain even started to subside. Needless to say, I was dumbfounded by the effectiveness of my new best friend!
The most annoying thing happened, though, almost immediately following this positive experience. I was keeping all of my supplements with my food and water in a cooler for the road. In the clumsiness of the drive, I ended up dropping one of the PA capsules into the cooler. Needless to say, one of them got wet and busted open. “Arrrrrrgh!” I screamed 2 hours later when I noticed. Frantically, I grabbed the half-empty capsule I’d found and downed what was left with a slug of spring water. Then I started dabbing the rest of the powder from the surface of the cooler with my wet finger and licking it off my hands like some sort of crack fiend. The supplement was still effective, though.
So the Prescript-Assist probiotic seemed to actually take hold and make a big difference in my environmental sensitivity (MCS). When I made it home, I found that I was already able to stay in the house for long stretches of time—just not while I slept. These positive effects lasted for the 3 days I was waiting for my own bottle from Amazon “Prime” to arrive. After a couple more doses and a couple more nights in the car after receiving it, I attempted to sleep in the house that had given me so much trouble previously. To my great joy and with praise to the Lord above, I made it through the night!
I Had Won the Battle, but Not the War
For about 3 weeks, I enjoyed my newly recovered ability to sleep soundly in my own home, in my own bed (or couch…), in the warmth. With just a month to go before my wife’s due date, this victory was crucial. Unfortunately, my faith was to be tested one last time. At the end of these 3 weeks, I found myself right back sleeping in the car again…
Read the conclusion of the story here.
UPDATE (9-16-2016): Although Prescript-Assist worked to help me get back into my home, I started to experience difficulties with it that I have laid out in a new post, which you can read here:
Disclaimer: Although this post contains affiliate links, I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are 100% my own. Please use the links to purchase Prescript-Assist, so that you can support our work here at modernlifesurvivalist.com!