No escape

Yesterday I found an amazing article written by a woman with MCS and was elated; a major magazine, Marie Claire, is featuring this illness. It is very well written, and I ask you to please read it: I Have MCS – A Disease Where Smells Make Me Sick. My story is almost the same, only I don’t have ME.

Happily thinking the word was getting out and people would be more responsible with their toxic scents, I went to Earth Fare, a healthy grocery that doesn’t use toxic cleaners or fragrances, so I can usually be in there without my mask. Not so yesterday – it was a perfume parade. I quickly got some veggies and water and staggered hurriedly for the safety of my scent free minivan.

I headed to a quiet park near the Ocala Forest to do laundry. I’m unable to use a shared washer or dryer so I do them by hand. A long process, but better than being sick from the smells that get in my clothes otherwise. I got them washed and dripped dry when I felt my throat swell up. Looking up, I saw the huge column of smoke. Putting my things on the drying net in my van, I took off away from the smoke.

I next stopped at a local store to pick up some paper towels. These stores pump fragrance in the air and use fragranced cleaners as well as sell the products I’m most sensitive to: Gain, Tide, Bounce, Downy… not to mention the plethora of scented trash bags. Bleh. I masked up and headed in. An employee, being funny, raised up his hands, making some joke about being held up. That’s hysterical, maybe we can bring someone in a wheelchair for him to ridicule, or an amputee. That is not appropriate, but its the most common “joke” right behind, “Do you bite?” I’m not a fan of having my disability mocked, my life has been completely uprooted, I’ve been shunned by family and friends… it’s NOT funny. Grabbing the paper towels, I paid and staggered or of the store, dizzy and nauseous from the stink.

Still heading away from the smoke, I found a huge preserve, Paynes Prairie to go to. For a wonder, of the four other people I saw there, only two wore fragrance. Unfortunately, it was the kind that makes me a little confused. Enough of this, even though it wasn’t quite 4pm I decided to call it a day. I drove through the campground and like 99% of them, it was crowded and full of smoke from campfires. That’s right, when it’s nearly 80 degrees, you have to have a fire to keep warm by.

Fleeing the woodsmoke, I headed to the rest area to park for the night. Apparently the wetlands nearby have a lot of mold, mildew and algae because the wind coming from there forced me to find another spot. The next rest area was near a neighborhood where laundry was being done. Gain with Downy laundry. Stomach twisting with nausea, I headed to the next rest area. This one may work! I got ready for bed and as I’m getting in, someone started a campfire. Not a regular wood fire, they were burning trash and plastic. Something in that burn made me angry, uncontrollably furious. It was futile. I couldn’t leave, I was in no condition to drive after all the exposures so I locked myself in the van and hoped for the best.

Here I am this morning, still alive, and upwind of the diesel exhaust fumes with only a slight headache to show for yesterday’s adventure. I think I’ll go swimming in the springs again today, it usually helps me feel better.

I’m going to end this post with begging. Please, please, please don’t use toxic chemicals. Anything that says “fragrance” on the label could be one of thousands of unregulated toxic petro-chemicals used in American’s products. I ask this, not just for me, but for the 10-20% of people that are sensitive to some chemicals and the thousands of others like me with severe sensitivities.