If you know or suspect you have biotoxin illness, I recommend getting testing done ASAP (before moving or remediation) so you can have a baseline for future improvement efforts toward optimizing your health.
If you are in doubt about whether you are mold toxic, take a vacation away from your suspected source for a week and see if you get better. If you combine this time away with detox activities and you see a big difference, this is what will give you the fortitude and desire to continue. (AND BELIEVE ME YOU ARE GONNA NEED IT, financially and mentally.)
Because insurance companies don’t want to pay for mold damages to your home or body, you will come out of pocket. My guidance can help save you some time and money. The more motivated and self-directed you are, the less money you will spend and the faster you will heal.
See if your primary care physician will collaborate with labs, or pharmaceuticals as needed, because that will save you some cash. As you go through this consider that what you spend to heal is more important than any investment you have in your education or your house. Without your brain and your strength, you will lose your greatest source of wealth: Vitality for life!
Planning for lab testing to evaluate your health can help you save money and reduce further physical distress. (I didn’t have that luxury and I learned the HARD WAY.) With the effort I put in, I saved nearly $2,000!
The reality of life in general is that no one will work as hard as you do to advocate for your health or your budget. Anyone that comes close is a gem to be cherished and should be thanked often and profusely.
The following would have helped me ENORMOUSLY if I knew when I started:
- Step one when you are ready to evaluate and improve your health is to find a doctor such as a naturapathic doctor (ND) who treats you as a whole person. The problem is western MDs focus on body parts/systems, rather than the whole person and doesn’t properly address the CAUSE. That works great for cars, but not very well for humans! This problem is driven by insurance reimbursement and ICD-10 codes. (LINK1 LINK2) It is hard to find a good medical practitioner and after a few bumps in the road I found a great list of doctors at International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness (aka ISEAI) (LINK) Plan to interview the doctor and their staff before making a choice.
- In evaluating biotoxin illness recommended labs may include (MMP9, VEGF, C4a, and TGF beta-1) and Visual Contrast Sensitivity (VCS). You can find more information about these tests under the “Shoemaker Protocol” (LINK) I had a lot of other lab tests done and your doctor, who hopefully is mold literate, will make suggestions based your individual situation.
- If you are keen to save money, then make a spreadsheet. Put the name of your test in a column, then the CPT code (procedure code for lab) and then make a column for each location in which you are considering getting your test done. You can easily get a cash price quote and it’s always more than insurance. For insurance reimbursement, the lab will need the Dx code (aka Diagnosis code or ICD-10 code) to give you a quote. I believe once you get an insurance quote from one lab, it is the same for all and cash prices always vary.
- The ICD code is required for insurance payment and is used for statistical tracking of disease. Whether or not that is an accurate reflection of your medical situation is extremely debatable, but that is THE SYSTEM.
- Where ever you chose to take your lab order will require a doctor’s order which typically comes from an ND, MD or I believe an OD. They will have a National Provider Identifier (NPI) that is obtained through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at CMS.gov. It DOES NOT mean that your healthcare provider is register or desires to take Medicare insurance, but it is the same office if they chose to do so. If you have a printed order from your healthcare provider with an NPI number, you can take it to any lab and you don’t need to request any changes to the order.
- If you have Medicare and wish to have your tests covered, then you will need to talk to your MD because most NDs and ODs that I know of won’t deal with Medicare. If your MD is registered with Medicare they will be enrolled in the Medicare billing program called “PCOS” If you want to know whether or not you need to involve your physician in this discussion, take a look at the information provided in the Great Plains Lab test kit. (Excellent info. Here is a copy of my packet which may not be the most recent one they offer but it will help you a lot.)
- Don’t take ANY supplements 48-72 hours before tests. Some doctors are still telling you to take glutathione before the MycoTox test. (Theory is you are so toxic that your ability to excrete is impaired, which is often true.) The Great Plains Lab (GPL) CEO says don’t because it changes the molecular weight of what they are trying to measure. (If you have a test kit more than a year old, that may not be on your instructions.)
- There does not seem to be a strong opinion either way on sauna / exercise night before. It could help labs and GPL won’t deny for those that for those who aren’t “good excreters” but they say this is unnecessary due to sensitivity of their tests. Sauna will indeed move toxins out of fat tissue. I am not aware that sauna can be helpful for anything other than mycotoxin urine with Great Plains Lab.
- If you chose to do sauna, be aware that it could take you down for a day or two, if you were really toxic like I am. I continued to sweat when I got home and soaked my bedsheets that night. I was not feeling great for 2 days after. In fact I had significant hair loss the next day, so I don’t know what the heck else happened as a result metabolically. I would have taken charcoal right away, but since I got bad test prep instructions I couldn’t. I still had other significant tests to do. (Also females can’t do the Great Plains Lab test if they are having their period. Not sure if the sauna induced my period, but it happened within 48 hours and I wasn’t expecting it.)
- I had done the sauna at a health club where I got a 3 day pass. So I went every night I could. I did the GPL test after the first night. I had a stress heart attack on the third night because I had one about a month earlier, which I had not recovered from. This won’t happen to everyone, but if you know you have low osmolality, wake up in the night with extreme thirst and air hunger, have very low blood pressure, temperature or oxygen, I believe you will be at higher risk of this. This won’t kill you, but it will make your recovery much, much, much harder, so be careful with exercise and sauna. It may not be a good time for you to do this until you are out of the toxins and can take binders to poop out the toxins.
- Getting all tests scheduled required more than just the Shoemaker standard list of tests. I had to test ADH, osmolality etc. Not all tests required fasting or withdrawing from supplements. If you are in doubt about this or want to know the purpose of each test (which isn’t a full picture on purpose, but helpful), look it up here: https://www.labcorp.com/patients/help/patient-test-info
- The HLA test will help you determine if you are one of the 25% of people that is genetically impaired in eliminating biotoxins. It is not explained on the Labcorp website which is why I mention it’s purpose. I’m certain I’m one of those people. It cost about $350 which is why people don’t do it. You can live with just assuming you are one of those people if you are sick. I personally really want to know.
- C4a is a very important test under the “Shoemaker Protocol” (LINK) and other physicians agree. There is only one lab in the country running the test. They are called National Jewish Labs. I found it a HUGE PITA to determine which labs were qualified to correctly do their draws, because the protocol used is very important. I ended up calling them and asking for a provider recommendation. It helped alot and I recommend you do the same. https://www.nationaljewish.org
- Most labs, at least for me here in California, were done at LabCorp or Quest. I also had the option of going to my preferred provider which is Stanford Health. They have their own lab which is very well run, relatively speaking. Your choice of lab may depend on what your insurance covers. I was able to get most done through Stanford, but wow what a hassle it was to figure this out!! MSH is another important lab which requires a special glass vial. I learned through this exercise that (1) Labcorp charges about $200 and Quest charges $1200. (2) If I go to the tiny lab center that I learned about from National Jewish, and LOVED, I will pay a draw fee of $25 and then they send it to LabCorp. For people that prefer to spend a little extra for a peaceful lab setting, consider this because this overall experience is already very stressful. Comfort where ever you can get it matters alot for your sanity IMHO.
- Remember to freeze your icepack for Great Plains Lab ASAP, so when you are ready to roll, the supplies are ready too. Follow instructions about fasting the night before and don’t send tests Thurs-Sunday via FedEx. When you send it, it is very important that you go online and register your test being sent at https://gpltestinfo.com. They process ALOT of tests and it will help with managing your order.
- I have attached my paperwork from Great Plains Lab because it has good insurance info in it to plan for your tests and payment. (LINK => This has Insurance overview, Advance notice of noncoverage, Patient price list, and Test collection instructions.)
- If you do the test from MyMycoLab which tests for mycotoxins in the blood (https://mymycolab.com) trying to excrete toxins trapped in fatty tissue (sauna, exercise or glutathione) won’t help, because I was told this stuff in already cycling abundantly in your blood if you have it.
- MyMycoLab is a blood draw. Get the kit in advance of having your other labs done and take it with you. (You have to order their kit online.) Take it to a blood draw center that has dry ice and is willing to draw and centrifuge your blood. (If they are already doing work for you, they can include this work for free usually.) You will have to wait an hour to collect your specimen and then you will have to finish packaging and mail it yourself via overnight USPS. I wasn’t told anything about spoilage. It doesn’t require to be kept cold like most other tests. To be safe I’d do this test when I believe it can arrive on a weekday, rather than during the weekend.
- You are going to end up with alot of paperwork when the tests come back. If you can get a digital copy of the tests, you might be able to grab the text of the test results and put it into your own spreadsheet so all the results are in one place. No matter where you fall on the test ranges, normal or abnormal, this can be very, very helpful for your physician when comparing different test type values. I will talk about this more in another blogpost in the future.
- Some people will be interested in doing a Neuroquant, if cognitive impairment is an issue. What this is is a standard MRI without contrast. There will be specific settings required on a machine when the image is taken. This assures that when they map your test results against the other 80,000 plus people in the database, that you have the most accurate results possible. If you do have impairment from mold, your dendrites will have shrunk away from your hippocampus. There has been evidence that you can regrow these dendrites, but it will take a lot of thoughtful work on your part to do so. Leaving the environment that caused it will not be adequate for a full recovery. I will talk more about this in another blogpost in the future.
I know this all may seem daunting to undertake, but this above will help you get through it. Unfortunately the initial part of the recovery process in dealing with your home and your body to clear the toxins is a huge burden. There’s no way around it if you want to get rid of chronic inflammation in your body.
I haven’t talked about evaluating your home yet, because just like dealing with your health, this is also a really big topic.