I went to Family and Children’s services to do some medical stuff, and was meeting with a woman who knows all the issues, including the multiple chemical sensitivity to fragrance. (Anything with fragrance and/or other strong chemicals, like turpentine, bleach, etc) in it causes an allergic and toxic reaction – coughing, sneezing, burning eyes, difficulty breathing (allergic); and mental confusion, severe migraine, nausea and finally, nonstop vomiting. Fragrance is literally poison to me. It can take anywhere fr4om a minimum of 6 hours up to 72 hours for the symptoms to subside. It only takes a molecule to trigger, and it doesn’t matter how much you spent on the stuff. Same toxic chemicals in all of it.
So I am to meet with this woman, who knows all of this, and with whom I have already had discussions about the stuff in her office. So she takes me back, and I get a whiff of her – covered in scent. Lotion, perfume, shampoo, conditioner, fabric softener, cologne, aftershave – all have the fixatives to make the scent last, which are the same petrochemicals and toxins and carcinogens found in secondhand smoke, fyi. I enter her office, and take the chair furthest from her. She makes me move to the closer chair, “feeling uncomfortable with people so far away.” I bit my tongue, and explained I had to take the furthest chair due to her fragrance and my condition regarding same. (SO sorry I made YOU feel uncomfortable as YOU were POISONING me. So teddibly sorry.)
Adding poison to insult and injury, she had several plug-in air fresheners going – and those REALLY ARE poison to me. I was already developing the headache warning of impending migraine, and this is in the first 30 seconds.
So, she decides to move the chair to the other side of her desk, by the door. By then, too late, plus it didn’t help – the room stank to high heaven. I was even facing the hall, as she fiddle-faddled with paperwork, mindlessly chatting away. As the migraine developed and headed straight into nausea and I was sitting there turning green, I finally said “I cannot be in this room any longer, I am about to hurl.” And got up, she followed me outside, where I told her point blank “I am going to have to see someone who is not using plug-ins and wearing a ton of perfume. I am not going to put myself through this.” and she went to see if anyone not stinking to the heavens was available. Nope. So she said she’d reschedule and turn everything off and try not to wear anything. (Problem being the stuff accumulates on surfaces, and even if that office is clean, air vents will carry the stuff in from other offices. Been there, experienced that. So, if – as she said – everyone on the floor is using those damned devices, it’s a no go. Meet me outside. No reason for me to torture myself at this point.
It really did piss me off, given she knew. If she didn’t I wouldn’t have a problem. But she apparently didn’t believe me, or didn’t think it was as severe as I said. And once you KNOW about it, to do that which you know causes harm is BEYOND insult. In this case, where things now stand, it’s freakin’ attempted homicide. It’s happened time and again, and I’ve even had people, thinking I was making a joke, spray me with the stuff.
And it really pisses me off when people tell me “You need to get out more.” YOU THINK I LIKE BEING A FREAKIN’ PRISONER IN MY APARTMENT? I assure you, that is not so, and I would LOVE to “get a life,” which I’ve also been told. I used to have one. But as you can imagine, this condition has caused me to drop most of the activities that comprised my life – theatre, going to concerts, festivals, dinners, parties, ballet, plays, bookstores, even restaurants, and at times, grocery shopping. You’ve no idea just how many fools I’ve had to suffer gladly over this issue, especially in the workplace.
The illness is cumulative. Every exposure incident makes it incrementally worse, bring on more severe symptoms faster. It used to take hours before the headache became migraine, or nausea hit. Now, as in today’s case, it’s almost instantaneous. I wasn’t in her office more than ten minutes. That was at 12:25pm. And here I sit, full migraine still, and at least the nausea is finally subsiding. It’s 4:17pm. Thanks so much, Tonya. Appreciate it. Yes, when people poison me – when they KNOW the situation, it tends to piss me the fk off.
By the way, if you get a headache around fragrance or other chemicals, that’s the beginning stages of MCS.
More info on MCS:
What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is a medical condition characterized by a heightened sensitivity to chemicals. People who have MCS become ill when exposed to a variety of chemicals, many of which are commonly encountered in everyday life. Some people have only mild chemical sensitivities, while others have a more severe form of the illness called MCS. Substances that frequently cause symptoms in chemically sensitive people include pesticides, perfume/cologne and other scented products, fresh paint, new carpets, many building materials, solvents, fresh ink, smoke, vehicle exhaust, industrial fumes, and many cleaning products. Other scented products include air “fresheners,” fragrance-emitting devices, fabric softener, potpourri, incense, essential oils, and most soaps, shampoos, hair products, skin lotions, and laundry detergents. Symptoms can occur after inhaling, touching, or ingesting these or other substances. Reactions to scented products can occur even in people who cannot smell them. Because people with MCS react to chemicals at levels that ordinarily do not affect others, chemical sensitivity is similar to an allergy, but the symptoms and mechanism are not the same as those of traditional allergies to pollen, animals, and dust. Many of the above substances can make anyone sick at high concentrations, but chemically sensitive people can be harmed by exposures to even minute amounts. While some of the symptoms reported by people with MCS are similar to known toxic reactions (such as those listed on Material Safety Data Sheets), they can occur at exposure levels considered safe for the general population. Additionally, many chemically sensitive people experience symptoms that are vastly different from typical toxic reactions. This individual variability and exquisite sensitivity can be so pronounced many scientists and doctors find it hard to accept as real. It should be noted that the full range of toxicity of most chemicals is not known. Of the more than 80,000 commercial chemicals in use today, only a small fraction have been adequately studied. In addition, little is known about the cumulative effects of chemical exposures and the effects of being exposed to more than one chemical at a time. Despite this lack of information, workers and the public are often falsely reassured of the safety of chemical exposures. People with MCS, the proverbial canaries in the mine, appear to be early victims of “better living through chemistry.” Exposures to pesticides and solvents are most implicated in causing MCS. The types of substances that typically trigger symptoms in people with MCS are synthetic chemicals, such as those found in pesticides, plastics, and fragrances (most are manufactured from petrochemicals) and petrochemicals themselves, such as fuels and solvents extracted from crude oil or coal tar. Exposures to low levels of gases like nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide (common components of outdoor air pollution) can also be problematic for people with MCS, as is exposure to chlorine and combustion products. Lead, mercury, and other heavy metals can contribute to the development or aggravation of MCS as well. MCS frequently involves imbalances in a person’s nervous, immune, and endocrine (hormonal) systems, as well as impaired detoxification abilities. Food intolerance is common and may be so severe that a person’s diet is limited to only a few foods. Medication intolerance is also common. A person with MCS may react to mold, pollen, animals, and dust, although the symptoms may be different from those of traditional allergies. Brain reactions, characterized by difficulty in thinking or speaking, are also common. People with MCS may also react to naturally-occurring chemicals like skunk musk, flower essences, and tree sap. In addition, some people with MCS are sensitive to electromagnetic fields. They can be made sick by exposures to cell phones and towers, computers wireless telephones and utility meters, other wireless devices, fluorescent lights (including CFLs), microwave ovens, other electrical appliances, battery re-chargers, dimmer switches, and security and scanning equipment. It is not uncommon for people with MCS to also have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia. It is not yet known whether these are separate diseases or whether they represent different manifestations of a common underlying problem.