I am sharing this story because as informed as I am in real estate and knowing the issues that environmental problems in older homes can be,  I found myself  living a horror story of monumental proportions without knowing what was happening! We all need to be informed about this problem....

And the story is just beginning: 

I sold my own home in 2013; I gave up home ownership for the moment, to wait for the next opportunity to own an affordable home somewhere nearby.

Instead, with prices going up steadily, I decided to rent  and found a house that would suit my needs. It was a cute 1920's renovated home that was vacant and the landlord and his wife lived in the garage apartment behind it in the summer and lived in New York City the rest of the year.

I settled in and was happy as a clam for 5 years. 

As small as this house was I was able to fit in gym equipment that helped me to stay active and I used it frequently.  My workouts however, were troubling as I was short of breath more than I can ever recall before and I wrote it off as just a part of aging.

About three years ago I started to see a physician for vague reasons, the most important one was because I could not lose weight--no matter what I did, no matter how much I worked out nor how little food I ate.

I also had complaints that were totally disconnected to my workouts and I was very worried about the digestive problems that dogged me every day for almost 3 years. I thought I had a gluten allergy so I stopped eating wheat--and all grains soon after that.

I had a doctor who was very conscientious about me not eating anything that could cause my "Food Allergies" to kick up my digestion---But nothing helped to stop the symptoms and in my foggy state and in my fatigue, I settled in to the idea that I was very allergic to soy, grains, peanuts, dairy and almost everything I loved to eat! 

I gave up on the idea that I could lose weight after I had not lost a single pound in spite of the fact that I no longer ate sugar, dairy and any of the other foods that are know to cause weight gain. I even started to exhibit insulin spikes and was diagnosed as being pre-diabetic....this without anyone in my family history with the disease and without being one who binges on junk food! My eating habits have been impeccable for more that 20 years, and my alcohol intake is negligible.

All of this happened as I watched my life change to a degree that I was literally a prisoner of my home, unable to set up appointments to show houses--worried that I may have an emergency while I was with the customers. I found myself getting other agents involved in handling all my listings so that I could still manage to bring in an income.

I developed a cough that was dry and hacking and that resembled the sounds that I was accustomed to hearing from heavy smokers--I don't smoke!!

My fatigue was so bad that I took a nap after breakfast--I have always been an Early riser--5:30 or 6:00 AM was a pretty standard time for me to wake up. I found a nap at 3:00 helped me to get through the afternoon and I would get to bed at 10:00 to make sure to get enough sleep thought the night. I slept so much of the time but was still always exhausted and that concerned my Doctors.

So did the anxiety that was building in my mind---I had frequent panic attacks that were totally unpredictable and no one could account for why I was in such a state. I ended up taking anti-anxiety medication for these terrifying episodes and I was not happy about that!

I had to see specialists for the unexplained digestive up sets--none of the tests revealed anything wrong with me. Overwhelming nausea would take over mid-morning and I was worthless for the rest of the day. I was having unpredictable bouts of diarrhea and was not able to take customers out to see houses.

I saw an eye ears nose and throat specialist for the overwhelming feeling that I might drown in the mucous that was building up in the back of my throat. He started to treat me for sleep apnea and when I told him I was only getting 2 hours of sleep a night because I was being "smothered" by the mask, he told me that I needed to keep using it--"You will adjust to it in a few weeks" he told me---I never adjusted to it and in fact stopped using it so that I could sleep again!

Night time became a frightening time for me.  I knew that even though I ate no later than 5:00 PM to prevent choking and gasping for air in the middle of the night, the panic would still set in at some point during the night and I would get very little sleep after that.

Three Doctors asked during my visits, if I had been exposed to mold and because I am in real estate I told them all "Probably--in fact I had a listing that I did not go in to very often because there was a known mold situation." I carefully avoided it as much as I could before I sold it to a woman who knew of the mold and she had it re mediated by someone whom I recommended. The Doctors all agreed that little bit of exposure would not be enough to be an issue.

Then I started to think that maybe I have a mold issue in this house I was renting---I had lived there 5 years and I was sick most of that time! So, I bought little test kits from Home Depot just to see what they would show before I jumped to any conclusions.

Sure enough, the little petri dishes were sent to a lab and they showed there was mold present but did not go into the details and I needed to find out what I was dealing with!!

My landlord was so upset when I told him I did the tests--he said "I will take care of it!" 

He got a mold  inspection done and the company he used was not forthcoming as to what the mold was, nor was he, my landlord. They refused to give me  a copy of the report or even tell me what the mold types were!

So, I got my own inspection done. This mold inspector discovered that I was living in a pea soup of extremely high count mold--the deadly kind--but he told me the worst news was that there was also free floating asbestos in the crawl space of the building and because there were inspection tags on the furnace, the landlord and his plumber/service people all KNEW about that!!

I was told I needed to get out immediately!! My landlord told me he did not want "those Haz Mat guys running around this property!" and refused to re-mediate the situation altogether. I was out of luck!!

I found another rental and he gave me back my security deposit so I could move on---I have been out of there for 1 month and all of my symptoms have lessened significantly. I am on a medication through something called the Shoemaker Protocol which helps to rid the body and major organs of the toxicity that is caused by mold. I am hoping to be clear of it in 6 months, maybe longer if this medication is not effective. 

Meanwhile, I am still shaky and un-nerved by this whole situation! My life has been altered so completely that I have to start all over again to re-build my business...The anxiety has stopped but I still have a fear that the panic attacks will begin again--then what will I do???


MOLD EXPOSURE SYMPTOMS: ♦Fatigue ♦Weakness ♦Aches ♦Muscle Cramps ♦Unusual Pain ♦Ice Pick Pain ♦Headache ♦Light Sensitivity ♦Red Eyes ♦Blurred Vision ♦Tearing ♦Sinus Problems ♦Cough ♦Shortness of Breath ♦Abdominal Pain ♦Diarrhea ♦Joint Pain ♦Morning Stiffness ♦Memory Issues ♦Focus/Concentration Issues ♦Word Recollection Issues ♦Decreased Learning of New Knowledge ♦Confusion ♦Disorientation ♦Skin Sensitivity ♦Mood Swings ♦Appetite Swings ♦Sweats (especially night sweats) ♦Temperature Regulation or Dysregulation Problems ♦Excessive Thirst ♦Increased Urination ♦Static Shocks ♦Numbness ♦Tingling ♦Vertigo ♦Metallic Taste ♦Tremors.  

Other health effects reported by individuals living in moldy homes include recurring cold-like and flu-like symptoms, coughing, chronic bronchitis, sore throat, diarrhea, fever, headache, chronic fatigue, dermatitis, rhinitis, bleeding in the lungs, tightness in the chest, intermittent difficulty in focusing the eyes, neurological symptoms, and general malaise. Mold is also known to interfere with insulin response in some individuals and there have been questions as to the relationship with mold and Multiple Sclerosis.


  • Run a mold antibodies test to look for an elevated immune response to common indoor molds.
  • There is also a blood-test for inflammation that is caused by mold called a TGF BETA 1 

As for the inability to lose weight, I discovered in my research that mycotoxins find their home in the fatty tissue of the body, the liver and fat found in other major organs. With that said, the toxins are established in the fat and therefore will not allow the body to eliminate the fat regardless of how much you exercise or diet. There is a protocol for removing the mold from ones body but it is controversial and is still in the testing stage. This is called the Shoemaker Protocol and is the one I am currently using with some success. Right after I moved out of that house and with taking the medication I am taking, I have lost an average of 2 lbs per day!! That is with my regular exercise program and normal eating habits.... 








                                     **ALL INFORMATION AND CONTENT IN THIS BLOG IS ORIGINAL TO PAULA I. HATHAWAY.  The views expressed herein are my personal views and do not reflect the views of Douglas Elliman Real Estate


Paula I. Hathaway, Senior Broker Associate, Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Southamtpon Village Real Estate Specialist since 1995;  Also Specializes in North Sea, Noyac, Water Mill and Bridgehampton, New York

Diamond , Gold and Chairman's Circle Awards; Top Producer since 2005


Click here to see my Hampton's website to see all my listings; please email me or call me for all your real estate needs in Southampton, Bridgehampton and Watermill:



Comment balloon 4 commentsPaula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA • November 27 2017 01:58AM
KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MOLD?? ASBESTOS?? --I DO, NOW!! I am sharing this story because as informed as I am in real estate and knowing the issues that environmental problems in older homes can be, I found myself living a horror story of monumental… more