How Mold Saved My Life: Ben’s Personal Story

How Mold Saved My Life: The Story

“How mold saved my life” seems like a far-fetched statement filled with outrageous and untrue statements. However, I can take it further. Mold saved my life and it probably has saved yours or someone you love. Let’s see how. 

Isn’t Mold Toxic?

Most of us consider mold in only the toxic. As a mold removal company, we have spent the last 10 years seeing firsthand the toxic side of mold. It is gross!!! The havoc it can cause to the human body, especially when it is inhaled, is startling. The medical community’s understanding of the effects of mold has significantly increased even in the last 5 years. We now know that many common health concerns can originate from mold exposure

My Own Story and How Mold Saved My Life

I was recently hospitalized for 5 days with a Staph/MRSA infection in my knee. Thankfully, we caught it early and the infection didn’t go into the bone or bloodstream. Through this process, I have appreciated the life-saving benefits of modern medical practices.
It all started with an unexplained swelling in my knee that turned red and started increasing in size. The next morning, I woke up with a fever, nausea and severe fatigue.  After a visit to the ER, it was determined that I had cellulitis, a skin infection, and I was given a couple of antibiotics and sent home. After 5 days, the symptoms started getting worse and my wife insisted I go back to the ER a second time.  I am so glad that we did!
The infection was resistant to standard antibiotics and even after treatment with IV antibiotics for 2 days, my leg only continued to get worse. At this point, when emergency surgery was decided by the doctor at 10:30 at night, it was a welcomed relief that something was going to be done. Thankfully, my body created an abscess around the infection and prevented it from spreading. The infection did go all the way to my bone but was limited to one area. The doctor said if we had been one day later our story would have been different. Even with my surgical procedure, the Center for Disease control doctor recommended aggressive antibiotic treatment.
Since my surgery, I have heard of two examples of people under the age of 40 losing their life to this aggressive infection. I am struck with a new and greater appreciation for modern medicine and antibiotics. Probably more than once, the majority of us have had our lives spared by simply taking an antibiotic to get rid of an infection. My recovery has been 100% dependent on newly developed and aggressive antibiotics. One of the antibiotics, I have received is over $5,000 per dose. Even though my hospital stay was only 5 days, I was sent home with a pic line in my arm and I receive IV antibiotics twice per day for 4 weeks. The infection was so aggressive it would have ended my life if it wasn’t for the life-saving power of antibiotics.

So What Does This Have to Do With Mold?

Antibiotics are what! The word “antibiotic” is from the Greek word “anti bios”, which literally means against life!  Ironically using one form of life to destroy another is how antibiotics work, an everyday modern miracle with ancient origins! 

The History of Antibiotics and How Mold Saved the Day

Sri Lanka 150 BC: As army soldiers prepare for war. The men save what was called oil cakes, soft warm molding masses, to heal wounds. The practice of using moldy bread has been passed down from ancient Greeks, Egypt, China and Central America.  But in these ancient days, no one understood why it worked. Or had a fully take advantage of its mysterious healing power.
1350 AD: humanity begin to get closer to the answers and physicians think they discovered a link.
1640 AD: Polish physicians try to find a better way to treat the wounded. In an experiment, wet, moldy bread is mixed with spider webs with surprisingly effective results. The physicians believed that spores in the spider’s web work with the antibacterial properties of the moldy bread.  This was as far as the research took them until 1897.
1897 AD: A French medical student Ernest Duschesne is preparing his dissertation.  His dissertation is built upon a discovery he made by Arab stable boys. They would store their horse’s saddles in a dark, damp room and the saddles developed mold. When they used the saddles,  they noticed the moldy residue was helping to heal their horse’s saddle sores. Duschesne is inspired and is intrigued to learn if other animals and elements might be cured by mold.
So, he begins experimenting by injecting a sick guinea pig with a mold, Penicillium Glaucum.  The result is world changing.  Typhoid in the animal is completely wiped out.  Duschesne, only 23 at the time reports the discovery in his dissertation.  He hopes others in the medical field will also study the fungus. Unfortunately, many do not and probably because of the young age and his paper is not acknowledged. Less then 15 years later Duschesne ironically dies from tuberculosis, a disease his own discovery could have cured.  It would be 17 years before another scientist will make similar discoveries.
In London, England 1929 AD: Sir Alexander Fleming is a young bacteriologist at St Mary’s Hospital. Fleming has just completed serving in the first world war and has seen countless wounded. He has witnessed firsthand the destruction of bacteria. This drives Fleming to find a solution to stop the deadly infections.  But this breakthrough does not come easily, nor quickly.
Exhausted and nearly defeated, Fleming is caught off guard one day while cleaning some Petri dishes and something catches his eye. How mold had grown on one of the discarded dishes. But what is more profound, is that the staph infection that was in the dish is killed.  He has never seen anything like this and is blown away.  Right away he takes a sample of the mold saved from the dish and identifies it as a form of Penicillium.  This further inspires Fleming and he works many more years to grow and refine the mold for widespread medical use.  Fleming ultimately grows weary and turns his findings of penicillium mold over to an Oxford chemist, Howard Florey.
1941 AD: Florey jumps right in and begins to inject the penicillium into mice.  Forey is frustrated in his progress because budgets for such experiments get snuffed out by the emergence of the second world war. Knowing what a powerful breakthrough penicillium is, he decides to turn to America. Forey ends up in Moline, Illinois and continues his studies. He assembles a new team of researchers. They also have many resources and a cutting-edge research facility, which is an agricultural research facility with great fermentation equipment and methods.   This is just the process needed to grow Penicillin.  They continue to find more aggressive strands of mold as well.  One of the best comes from rotting Illinois cantaloupe.  Finally, the new miracle of penicillin is borne!
1945 AD: Penicillin is mass produced and distributed throughout Ally forces as the first antibiotic treatment.