Posted May 6, 2017
About a month ago, Caleb Rudd from “down-under” (Australia) asked me to review the “Mold Illness Made Simple (MIMS)” course that he and Dr. Sandeep Gupta had put together to help those suffering from mold illness – also called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). Caleb is a “moldy” and friend. Over the years, we’ve had various discussions related to CIRS. His support has been very meaningful to me.
Having gotten to know Caleb a bit, I wasn’t surprised at all to learn that he had worked with Dr. Gupta to put together a course to help folks with CIRS. I’ve learned that Caleb is very detailed oriented and totally into learning all the ins-and-outs of this illness. Together with his helpful nature and smarts, the creation of the MIMS course made perfect sense.
Having said this, I have to admit that when Caleb told me about the course, part of me wondered how much more could be added to the subject. After all, I and others have written quite a bit about CIRS. Furthermore, Dr. Shoemaker has published two large volumes on the subject, “Surviving Mold” and “Mold Warriors”, along with hosting the website Surviving Mold.
As I worked through the Mold Illness Made Simple course, I was pleasantly surprised. Caleb and Dr. Gupta have put together a really well thought out package. The rich course material consists of 18 chapters each with their own supportive video. Real care has been taken to condense the mass of material related to CIRS into a digestible form. As those with CIRS know, it’s really hard to think clearly; “moldy” folks need all the help they can get.
So here’s a brief list of points I made to myself while working through the course material.
- The course not only covers the CIRS protocol but also spends some time on subjects like mold testing, remediation, mold avoidance, and Lyme – Course Details. It does a good job laying out the basics related to these additional subjects.
- Caleb and Dr. Gupta do a nice job presenting enough material related to CIRS in order to provide a good foundation without swamping the reader with details. CIRS is a complicated subject. The MIMS course does a nice job paring down and simplifying an otherwise overwhelming body of material.
- The course is vetted not only by Dr. Gupta, who is Shoemaker certified, but also by Dr. Shoemaker himself. This makes the course material a “go to” source when questions arise related to protocol.
- I’ve never dealt with Dr. Gupta, but he seems like a nice guy. The course is infused with helpful suggestions and words of encouragement that address common CIRS concerns.
- I’ve studied CIRS a lot. As such, I was surprised to find that there was a fair amount of material that was new to me. For example, the complications that can arise for those with Lyme co-infections.
- In addition to nicely done videos with lots of graphics to go along with each of the written chapters in Mold Illness Made Simple, Caleb and Dr. Gupta do a good job explaining difficult material. For example, using a piano analogy to explain the difference between 23andMe and “Progene DX” CIRS gene testing. They deftly explain this difficult subject by writing, “A simple analogy is the genome as a piano. The piano (genome) does not change, but depending on what keys are struck and in which order (transcriptome) the music produced can be quite different, even from the same piano. In this analogy, the music is your health status, and that music can change depending on what your body experiences. Therefore gene mutation testing, such as 23andMe, is important for understanding if the piano is in tune, but the transcriptomic (Progene DX) test will tell you about the music being played at that moment.”
- Currently, you have to pass a multiple-choice quiz (60% or better) at end of each chapter before you can move on. Personally, I question this one aspect of the format. I tend to jump around as I learn material and often read books from the back to the front. Don’t get me wrong, I think the quizzes are a real added bonus, and I can see how they can help folks with “moldy” brains focus. It’s just that I think a person should be able to opt-out. Having said this, the quizzes are pretty easy and you can take them as many times as you like. Upon passing, you are awarded a certificate of completion.
- The course has its limitations. Choices had to be made about what to include. While it provides a really solid foundation, there will inevitably be those with nuanced situations that aren’t covered.
- While the course is well laid out, readable, and has lots of supportive material, there is room for improvement when it comes to grammar and punctuation. I know, it’s a small point. My guess is that this will be cleaned up over time.
- You can download all the course material. I really like this fact as the material can be viewed at any time in the future on just about any device.
- There is a private Facebook Group where you can post questions and help others. Last I heard, Caleb answers questions and he knows CIRS backwards and forwards.
- The cost of the course is $199 minus 10% with the coupon CLARITY10. While this may sound like a lot, the alternative is to slough through Dr. Shoemaker’s 600+ page books, take notes on lots and lots of videos, and then compile the whole mess. It took me many months to do this years ago before a course like this was available. Whatever approach you decide on, I strongly encourage you to engage your illness and this means learning the ins-and-outs of CIRS. Having at least a basic understanding allows your mind to be involved in the healing process. It’s good to know the “lay of the land”, be able to ask your doctor intelligent questions, and offer helpful suggestions.
For those with CIRS, Mold Illness Made Simple is a great place to get a solid understanding into what the illness is all about and how to treat it. Regardless of what protocol you ultimately decided is best for you, it just makes good sense to understand this illness from the perspective of doctors and researches that have studied CIRS in depth. In so doing, you gain confidence and are better able to understand how to proceed in your own recovery. Be well.
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While I don’t receive any financial gain from MIMS purchases, I’ve arranged with Caleb for a free MIMS subscription to be given away to a “moldy” that could use some support. For every 4 purchases through the link above, Biotoxin Journey gives away one free MIMS coupon. When a free subscription is available, I put up a raffle – see Giveaway! in the menu above. In addition to needing our support and having a strong interest in learning about CIRS, I’ve asked that the winner write a 275+ word composition (one page double spaced) as a way of bringing us together. You may read the compositions of previous winners below.
June 2017 MIMS Winner: Viridiana C.
Usually, when we refer to someone being on fire during a sport or some type of competition, we mean that they are on point, and are doing a great job. The only other time we use the phrase is when literally speaking of something or sometimes someone being set on fire. This post has nothing to do with either any one of those. Although no one can imagine what it feels to be set on fire, unless one has been set on fire, having gone through that sensation, I can say that I have an idea of what it feels like. For the past several years I have gone back and forth through two types of burning sensations. One of those sensations is a feeling of being burned by flames, while the other is an ice picking pain that burns and stings at the same time and comes without warning, and at different points in time. Both causing a sense of terror inside me that have me wondering whether I am slowly dying.View...
My right hip, I stared at it, as it felt as though someone was inside my body and took an iron and pressed it against my hip. Again I was bewildered but kept my composure. I tried to calm my worries by not letting it get to me. I realized that something was happening to my body without knowing what it was. I did not want to alarm my husband nor my family so I did not disclose this new symptom that my body was creating to what seemed to me a long list of symptoms. And told myself that if I went to a doctor that they would be unable to help and say that it was all part of my anxiety. Which eventually I did and was placed on some more anxiety medicines. I began to take amitriptyline along with Lexapro. Yet I was still experiencing all the neurological symptoms, and now these weird sensations in my skin that doctors said were caused by anxiety but were not being relieved by the prescriptions. This burning that permeated throughout my body internally was random and burned whenever and wherever.
Not long after that sensation, I began to experience yet another different type of being on fire. This one was a bit more complex, and for the longest time did not know how to explain it to my husband until I studied the symptoms of CIRS, but it was just as painful as the prior feeling. Just as the previous sensation, I experienced the ice picking pain burning and stinging me internally. I cannot remember the exact date, but I remember being in the kitchen washing dishes and suddenly feeling the sensation you get when you have been sitting out in freezing temperatures for hours, or when you have been holding ice too long. Internally, my pinky felt as though someone was holding ice to it and immediately the ice began to pick at my pinky causing it to burn and sting. The sensation lasted for about fifteen to twenty seconds.
Bewildered, I stood there trying to figure out what could have caused it and understand what was happening with my body. Before this, I had been speaking to my sisters about my neurological issues. They were adamantly searching for answers with me. During this time I was taking medicine for anxiety, Lexapro. This was doing wonders for my breathing and my chest pain. But had done nothing for my tingling, and dizziness. And now I had another symptom to worry about. This ice picking pain that burned and stung my pinky, fingers, legs, arms, and eventually every part of my body imaginable began to occur frequently. I can’t say how frequent but I can say it was enough during the day that it stopped me mid track during my everyday tasks until it subsided and I could go on.
From headaches that made me feel as if my head is on fire and sensations of every part of my body being burned to the ice picking pain that burns and stings my extremities, I go back and forth in this never-ending torture chamber that does not cease, and leaves me desiring nothing more than to be rid of it- no matter how. But strive to live no matter the pain. And the good days make it better. (more on Viridiana’s blog)
October 2017 MIMS Winner: Kevin
My CIRS journey started three years ago when, after an oral surgery that installed two titanium implants, my health plummeted. It took a little over a year and many appointments with many specialist who ran many tests, to finally get a CIRS diagnosis and a real explanation for my poor health. With this new explanation I began researching to learn everything I could on the topic. While I think learning about CIRS is very important, one of my biggest take aways so far has been that balance should not be forgotten. I am still sick and still trying to learn as much as I can but I also try not to forget that I am more than a sick person with CIRS and that taking a mental break from being sick always seems to help me feel better physically.View...
I thought CIRS Facebook groups would be helpful but quickly stopped checking them. Hearing other people’s concerns and frustrations with their CIRS journeys only made me less optimistic about my future and more paranoid about the present. This helped me realize I was too focused on CIRS and needed to find more balance in life.
One of the first steps I took towards creating some balance was not meticulously tracking everything. Every day for over a year I tracked every supplement I took and when, how I slept, what buildings I went into, the number and quality of my bowel movements and everything that could have possibly explained any discomfort I felt. Letting go of this constant monitoring reduced the impact of real stressors and eliminated a lot of the stressors I merely perceived to be real.
Giving up lifting weights and playing video games also helped. These were two of my favorite hobbies before developing CIRS but after becoming ill, they just made me feel worse. I had to find other ways to fill my time.
Because CIRS can be very difficult financially, I want to share some of the cheaper ways I found to fill my time that helped me relax and find balance.
Prior to getting sick, I never read, but now I read 10+ hours a week, all on Kindle. I avoid physical library books due to the high probability they will have spent time in a moldy home. I do take advantage of the Kindle rentals my library offers though. I also get a weekly email from BookBub.com. You pick genres or authors you like and they send you a curated list of eBooks that are on sale, usually priced around $1.99. Classic eBook Novels on Amazon is another good source for reading, most of these are free or $0.99. If you have Amazon Prime and pick the slower “no-rush” shipping option, Amazon will often reward you with a $1.00 credit for digital items.
I don’t just listen to podcast to learn about CIRS, there are hundreds of thousands of podcasts that cover topics you won’t find on TV or in other media formats. I love the NBA, so I listen to a lot of podcasts covering the sport, The Basketball Friends is my favorite.
Physical activity is hard at times but it is something I try to do everyday. Simply going for a walk outside can be incredibly calming and nourishing. I have gotten into Yoga since developing CIRS, “Yoga With Adriene” is a YouTube channel that offers amazing (free) videos, typically around 30 minutes in length. I originally had to break the sessions into chunks to complete them but have since developed the stamina to do almost all of her videos straight through. Shooting hoops in my backyard is also a calming way to have some fun and get out of the house
Working on projects I am passionate about goes a long way for me. Programming iOS apps keeps my mind focused and working on challenges I enjoy.
CIRS can be very isolating, when possible, getting together with friends always makes me feel better. Usually this means just sitting around and talking or playing cards. Risking the mold exposure makes going out hard but sitting outside at restaurants is a good way around this.
The Headspace meditation app and Annie Hopper’s DNRS (Dynamic Neural Retraining System) are good at-home things that work more directly on calming the mind. Talk therapy with a psychologist has also helped me find more peace. These are not as cheap as the others things mentioned but all three have moved the needle in the right direction for me.
I think educating yourself on CIRS is very important but maintaining a balanced and healthy perspective is also very important. Keep in mind that your capabilities will change over time – hopefully for the better – and try to find what works for you.