Saturday, November 10, 2012

Coping with Environmental Illness

Most of my friends and my readers know that I have to cope each day with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity   This is also called Environmental Illness, or other names, but the one most used now is MCS. Like fibromyalgia for many, many years, MCS is not recognized yet by most of the mainstream doctors. I suppose the drug companies have to come out with a prescription drug labeled for MCS before most doctors of western medicine will actually own up to telling a patient what is wrong with her. 

While there are hospitals in Canada especially for patients who suffer environmental illnesses, I know of only one place in the United States which tries to treat MCS. That is in Texas. 

If you think the MCS sufferer simply doesn't like your perfume, or can take an allergy pill, that is not true. The fact is the perfume makes her sick. I loved my husband's aftershave which he wore the first ten years we were married. But when I became sensitive to artificial fragrances and became ill from being around them, he was most agreeable to leaving it off. He watched me suffer with asthma like attacks, excruciating headaches, extreme fatigue and depression after being exposed to chemicals we use in our daily lives, petroleum based fragrances which simulate the odor of flowers, and other created fragrances used in almost everything we buy today.

 He became my biggest advocate, especially when he was in the hospital, and the staff came into his room wearing fragrance, or when they tried to clean his room with toxic cleaners. 

We put a sign on his door asking that no one come in the room wearing fragrance. This was at Emory Hospital where people are supposed to know how to care for sick people. The nurses did not wear fragrance, but the others on the staff did not understand and did not seem to care that I had to wear a mask in the hallway or why we insisted on clean air in the room. I was the canary in the coal mine. If the toxic scents closed up my breathing tubes, it was also damaging to my husband whose immune system had been destroyed by chemo and all the other things his body had ingested over the month he was there.

More and more people are speaking out and trying to make this problem known. I hope you will help by sending this blog post to others, by sharing it on social media and talking about it to your friends.

Do you know of anyone who deals with this illness? How do you and others try to help?


DJan said...

I am getting there. Perfume and other scents used to be simply annoying, but now I can have an asthma attack triggered by aerosols and some scents. The locker room at the Y has signs all over asking people to refrain from scents, and mostly it's fine, but occasionally someone doesn't adhere to the ban and several people complain! The offender usually doesn't repeat it, thankfully.

Abbie Taylor said...

Hi Glenda, this is an informative post. I'm glad to see you're getting the word out.

I know one person with multiple chemical sensitivity. She's in a couple of writers' groups to which I belong, and I've spoken to her on the phone a few times. Because she and her husband and maybe her kids have this sensitivity, they have been forced to move to a house in the country a mile from town. She doesn't go out often and conducts most of her business from home.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap:
Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

Glenda C. Beall said...

I am doing my best to keep living as normal a life as I can, Abbie and DJan. But I wear a mask with a charcoal filter when I go to the grocery store. I read another blog today by a woman from New Zealand whose family didn't understand and would not leave off the toxins that affected her so. I remember that time in my life when I was trying to educate my family. Now I use nothing in my house with chemicals if I can help it. Only vinegar, water, baking soda, and salt for scrubbing toilets.
More and more we see offices and public places put up those signs. I offered to make signs for my massage therapist and he said it was okay with him. I just hope he will actually post them.Thanks to both of you for leaving your comments. I appreciate you.