Posted on June 1, 2018
Last Monday I had a court hearing to determine custody and visitation rights for my daughter between me and her father.
I still haven't been able to keep my health stable enough to find a way to provide for myself, so I had no choice but to concede custody to Adrian.
I was fortunate enough that I didn't have to travel to Coimbra where the Family Court is located to testify, they provided me with the option to do it by video conference from the courthouse in Arganil where I live. Still, the court building was moldy and the time I spent in there was enough to knock down my health significantly.
It is impossible to have a stable recovery when I am constantly being forced to expose myself to substances (in particular mycotoxins) that damage my health for days or weeks at a time. It is quite disheartening and it makes it harder to keep on fighting for a better future.
I saw my daughter in person in the beginning of April. It was a beautiful meeting. She was so sweet with me. She still knew me, she still felt safe with me, and it touched me deeply that she still felt so close to me even though we have been separated for most of her short life.
The bond between us is so strong. I know as a mother I will always feel it, it will always be there no matter what. But I feared this might not be the same for my daughter because she was only 1 year old when we were separated, she is not likely to even have any conscious memories of the time we spent together when I was the one taking care of her.
The way that she interacted with me when we met showed me that she still remembers me - I believe that deep within herself she knows I am her mother and she knows how I love her unconditionally and that I took good care of her for as long as I could. This was more than I ever hoped for for this meeting. I was expecting her to feel more distant from me. It touched my heart deeply to feel the love between us still so strong.
Yet, her father took no precautions to protect me from exposure to the mycotoxins present in his house which were the cause of my health catastrophe and which contaminated all of his possessions.
I talked to him extensively about this before the meeting. I asked him and Sílvia to have a shower and change into new clothes and shoes before coming to see me and not to bring any object that had been used in the house to my proximity. He said he would do this but when the time came he did none of it.
My immune reaction to the contaminated clothes Sílvia and her father were wearing was not too debilitating at first. My throat swelled up and I felt faint and weak in my muscles.
Yet I was so happy that I was with my daughter that I didn't care. I just wanted to spend as much time with her as I could and give it my all. I wanted to believe that I would be ok. That everything would be ok and I would be able to see my daughter in person again, even if her father refused to cooperate with me in regards to protecting my health.
So we spent the whole afternoon together. We played together in the playground at the park. I read her a book I gave her several times over. It was a beautiful time and it filled my heart with love and joy.
Yet, the joy and love I felt could to stop the mycotoxins damaging my body. The next day I woke up feeling very tired and in pain and two days after I was experiencing excruciating pain and symptoms that made it impossible for me to function. It seems to be the way it works for me - the second day after exposure tends to be the worst - the toxins damage me as my body tries to process them and get rid of them.
I had the same symptoms I used to have when I was living with these toxins - intense pain in my kidneys, feeling my brain swollen with excess fluid and extremely inflamed impairing cognitive function extensively, intense pain in my muscles and weakness, bruises appearing in my body for no reason, among other things. If I pushed my body beyond its limits then I would get convulsions. And even just heating up a simple meal could be pushing my body too much.
Using my muscles in any way - doing the dishes, cutting vegetables, having a shower - all of that would cause me intense pain at the site of the exertion and could potentially send me into convulsions and into a worsening of my symptoms. It is hard to even imagine what it is like to try to survive all by yourself like this if you have never experienced something similar.
I was barely able to move and I was in excruciating pain for about three weeks. I had taken measures to have food ready cooked and plenty of food and water in my house before my meeting with Adrian and Sílvia because I knew I might not be able to go out for a long time after. But I didn't expect that things could get so bad.
After three weeks the pain finally started to subside a bit and I was able to move a bit more again. But recovery was extremely slow even after that. It took me almost two months to get back to a level of health similar to what I was experiencing before being exposed to these bad mycotoxins.
And this brings us to today. Now my physical health is suffering again after exposure to the moldy courhouse, yet it is nothing compared to the crash I suffered from the mycotoxins present in Adrian's belongings. I hope it won't take me too long to recover. I'm tired of living with so much physical pain.
Yet it is the emotional pain in my heart right now that is overwhelming. Adrian put the custody case in court because he wants to move to England with Sílvia. Lawyers I spoke to told me that the only way to prevent him from taking her away would be for me to take her custody. And I can't do that.
If Adrian had cooperated with me to avoid exposing me to mycotoxins I could have been seeing my daughter in person all this time. His extreme position and refusal to accept the reality of my health situation meant the only hope I had to see my daughter would be to recover enough that the mycotoxins would stop affecting me.
And that's what I have been trying to do all this time, but I'm not there yet. I'm clearly not there yet after what happened when I tried to be with my daughter.
But now my time has run out. He is taking her to live in England in September and I will only be able to meet her when they visit Portugal. I wanted to live with my daughter. I wanted to take care of her. Now it feels like it might be impossible for that to ever happen again and I am completely devastated.
The pain hits me in waves and I try to let it flow through me, to accept that I have lost all my dreams because I have an illness very few understand and I have no support system. To accept that my life has been reduced to just trying to stay alive depending on the help of people who do understand but are too far away to provide practical help or the comfort of a hug.
I'm trying to get my health stable enough to be able to work online as a Portuguese/English translator and to try to make enough money to pay my bills. But how can I commit to any job with a deadline when an unintended mycotoxin exposure could leave me incapacitated for weeks at a time? I hope I can make it. I'll keep trying.
One good thing that came out of the court hearing is that Adrian agreed (under pressure from the court) to do daily skype calls for me to see Sílvia. He had previously shouted with me when I wanted to increase the frequency of our skype calls to more than twice a week.
He also agreed to try to find a third person to bring Sílvia to me and let me bathe her and change her clothes when she is with me, things he was completely opposed to before. I have hope that doing this will reduce the exposure to the bad mycotoxins enough that I will be able to not get ill when I see my daughter in person.
Now I am waiting to recover my health enough to try this. A have a few precious months to try to reconnect with my daughter before Adrian takes her away. I will give it my all to make it work.