Shower Shop Repeat

I’m going out to the store today… reluctantly. I try to get all my errands done in one day because I usually feel pretty bad and exhausted by the time I get home. The process is started with a shower. Read more

Memorial Day Heroes

MCS Awareness honors our brave military personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country with their lives.

Though I said they “…made the sacrifice” that has always sounded inappropriate. It sounds like their deaths occurred because they decided to step forward from the lines of battle, or step out from a building in urban combat, in order to end the conflict.

You sacrifice eating sweets so you can lose weight. You sacrifice buying that new 3D TV, so you can pay the bills. You willingly sacrifice.

What these soldiers did, and continue to do, is fight in offensive tactics to defeat the enemy and fight defensively to survive the attack. In this simplified overview, they are trying to survive while defeating. They try to survive because it is human instinct, and so they can continue to fight, and so they may come home to see their loved ones. They try to survive because it is their duty.

But in the chaotic horror of war, or conflict as we have now, fatal strikes are made and these people’s lives ARE SACRIFICED. Yes, they knew when they enlisted that this was the possible outcome. When they signed up they sacrificed right then, and then every day after that.

And we as a country sacrifice these volunteers and draftees. And today we owe the deceased a great deal of commemoratory gratitude.

So thanks to those soldiers who have died in war and conflict, as well as the police, firefighters and emergency responders and heroes who died during, and in the aftermath of nine-eleven.


Perfume Hangover

I woke up at around 3 A.M. with sinus pressure and knew it was not going to get better. I propped my head up with a second pillow and regretted the perfume party the day before. You’d think I would get up and take something for it and go back to sleep, but the last time I did that I spent the next 4-6 hours sick and retching from taking the pill on an empty stomach. And you can imagine how fabulous a headache feels when you’re throwing up.

I finally forced myself to move my head and get up. I shuffled into the kitchen and groped like a zombie after fresh brains for the coffee, something to eat and pharmaceutical relief.

So what was the culprit of today’s chemical sensitivity reaction? Did I go out to a perfume store as kind of a controlled-exposure treatment program? No! A friend whom I have not seen in a long time, called to say she was in the neighborhood and wanted to stop by. Sure! Why not?

For anyone who does not get headaches, ringing in the ears and dizziness from the scent of being in the same room as someone wearing perfume, a friend stopping by wouldn’t be given a second thought. But for over 11 million people who have moderate to severe MCS this can end up feeling like a zombie did try to eat your brains.zombie-perfume

During the visit, I sat as far away as I could without leaving the room and after her departure I opened the windows to air out the room. I did what I could with nasal spray and staying out of the “affected room” until the pressure in my head subsided, but invariably when this exposure happens, sinus pressure and a headache starts up again after I go to bed.

There’s a reason friends don’t stop by very often and why I don’t go to their houses. It is IMPOSSIBLE for them to accommodate me. And how could they? Am I going to tell my impromptu visitor, “No, go home first. Shower, wash your hair, don’t put on any lotion, deodorant or hair product. And oh, don’t wear any clothes that have residual scents from being worn before.” Yeah, that’ll really keep the visitors coming!

According to “Women are more susceptible to auto-antibody and autoimmune illness and chemicals induce auto-antibodies. Women have less of an enzyme that detoxifies both alcohol and chemicals called alcohol dehydrogenase (Freeza et al, l990).”

Apparently, hangover is the right analogy for this phenomenon of recovering from a chemical exposure temporarily, then waking up with a raging headache and weakness.

I had to cancel an appointment this morning and recovery is slow, but it was nice to see my friend because that doesn’t happen very often anymore.


MCS is Like Being a Lighthouse Keeper in a Hitchcock Film

LighthouseI had always wanted to be a lighthouse keeper. It was a very romantic and mysterious notion, and I don’t mind being alone. I would be able to hear the mesmerizing sounds of the ocean, feel the sea breeze and, hey, there’s very little traffic on my way to work! I thought it would be wonderful. Then I visited a lighthouse and some reality started to set in.

I began climbing the circular stairs leading to the lantern room of the lighthouse and a weird sensation came over me, like my head was shimmering. I gripped the cold iron railing with sweaty palms and my legs became heavy. Why, I felt like Scottie Ferguson from the Hitchcock film Vertigo! By the time I finally made it to the gallery deck, looking out over the water, I felt more like the other character, Judy Barton, sure that I would be thrown from the tower. Okay, so I crossed lighthouse keeper off my list once I got down to that wonderfully horizontal ground below. So much for the lonely life of a beacon, but the experience was a bellwether of sorts.

Now that I am fully entrenched in a disorder I’d never heard of until I got it, I am sorry that I ever wished for a solitary life. Since I developed chemical sensitivity nine years ago, my life has become progressively isolated and very difficult. If you have, or know someone who has multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), you know that every place you encounter, every person and every thing is a trial and error – learn as you go kind of life. Exposure to seemingly innocuous substances for me is often comparable to a regular person walking into a closed room that is being fumigated.

If you are just learning about living with chemical sensitivity, I hope you can pick up some tips from my experiences that I’ll be sharing on this blog. You might avoid a headache or two and be able to share your insights here.

If you do not know anyone who must avoid all perfumes, chemicals, departments stores, scented hair products, and even avoid hugging you just because of your lotion or aftershave, then please stay with us to learn. Enlightening others about this condition is a part of the “awareness” in the title of this blog. And I think we would all appreciate your reading this blog most of all (scarecrow) because you might share our difficulties with others and make this world a less chemically drenched environment for everyone.

vertigoSo, enough with the Kumbaya-world-peace stuff. Though, I realize there is a certain amount of actualization of my previous career choice. With the isolation imposed on me from having MCS and my trying to bring awareness with this blog, I am becoming a lighthouse keeper… with vertigo. Only it’s headaches and fatigue instead of being thrown from a bell tower in a Hitchcock movie.