Into the Light… and Living in the Wild!

Okay, I’m not really living in the wild! But get this: I’m sleeping in a hammock, out on the balcony of a beach house near the sea! But at night when it’s really quiet, and I’m waking up, only to hear possums scratch (and occasionally growl) in the ginormous and glorious old gum tree rooted deep within the front yard, it certainly feels that way. And on weekdays, when walking out bush on the quiet country roads, or strolling along the secluded beaches with only Bella trailing along, and the waves slapping gently at our feet for company, it feels that way too…  I know, there’s been a massive gap in my usual routine of blogging. I’ve logged in from time to time to check my friend’s blogs, leaving comments, accepting awards (I know, how exciting! And I’ll post some acceptances of these (one, two, three, four awards) on a page that I’m especially designing to go along with the other one that I have already gratefully received (or did Gwyneth do that for me?). You cannot imagine how busy I’ve been! Packing, cleaning, and negotiating this joy ride called life, that now, these last few weeks, I’ve finally been able to stop. Only to find… that I’m Enjoying Life, and Breathing without Pain…

My good news: After securing this beach house, I’ve found, even in such a short time away from the mould and the old neighbourhood full of two-stroke fuel, fabric softeners, and traffic pollution that there’s been a huge improvement in my health! I’m so happy to share this news with you. And, I’m just. So. Happy. Full stop. I love this place. And it’s all mine: floorboards (no carpet or mould) and all. (It’s a rental. The lease is for a year, but hopefully, I can stay at least six months longer, because 18 months is around about how long I need to execute this mad plan that I’m about to embark on; having said that, I can’t share it just yet… but I’ll get to it in another post soon. Fingers crossed.) I’ve just passed the three week mark, where, because of this megamuncklechuck health improvement, I now know, I’m here to stay. There are a few things that need fixing up as far as chemically related things go, but nothing that makes me chronically ill. (Until any possible neighbour’s light up their fires, burning woodsmoke into the atmosphere, and that of my health’s. But we won’t talk about that right now, will we?) And hey, don’t forget my motto: if you get stuck, bring out that trusty old roll of foil, and painter’s masking tape!

Look, this is where I’ve been sleeping:

My Hammock, out on the Balcony of my Beach House

My Hammock, out on the Balcony of my Beach House

After the first night, I had a headache, and then as the sun came up, I realised I could smell paint. Petrochemical type paint. So I moved;  it’s now far away from the recently (or not so recently) painted balcony bannisters. (Dah?! I knew they were painted freshish-ly; but I set my ‘bed’ up during the cool evening, and couldn’t smell anything so it seemed fine at the time.)

During my days here, I’ve had two substantially amazing breaks from the onslaught of chemicals, which, in their own relentless and nightmarish way, wrecked havoc on my health, slamming into it, impacting on it over and over and over and over again, 24/7, until I was nothing but a fragile, physically injured, crotchety, frightened woman, living with, and learning to accept chronic pain; I was left bereft, just an grumpy former shell of the person I was two years ago. And towards the end there, I had to study a Diploma course that’s not designed to be studied from home, at home. However: I. Broke. Free. Of. All that! Even my dog, Bella, has gone into Wild Dog mode; she’s three years old and, because she came to me after I moved from organic farm back to polluted city—and when I was soon to get ill, she’s never seen me really free of mould induced illness: until now.

My dog, Bella, after waking up in the morning

And, she’s been climbing into the hammock too!

The first break: four whole days and nights where I spent my nights out under the stars, sleeping in my brand new, recently outgassed Cotton Deluxe Weave Hammock, which I bought from Hammock Heaven; days were mostly spent walking for hours with Bella—it’s been so, so perfect. I didn’t drive my car. I had no major chemical exposures. A few things like car exhaust on the wind; fumes from cleaning/outgassing a brand newish bathroom (Yes, while wearing a mask, Mum!); but no major fragrance or solvent exposures, nor the evil one: mould. I am me again. And I’ve missed myself. [Hugs]

Me, the wild woman

Good morning, Wild Palaeolithic Woman!

Then I had to go back to the city. Semester one started at Victoria University (I have the most heart-warming, gratefulness inspired post coming up about that soon, too). My daughter began her final, most important, year of schooling: Year 12, VCE. And, the House of Mouldy Horrors and The Toxic Mould Goblin‘s cousins and extended fucking family, who’ve all spread about like dirty rotten squatters in that house, had to be dealt with. Doing a Mould Decontamination Protocol, my collection of clothes washed and hung out in the sun, then bought back here, near the sea, washed again and hung out in the sun and the pristinely clean fresh salty air, is hard work. I’ll blog more about this later too, just know that all my furnishings and belongings are still at the old house, and I may have to throw them out or give them away. The newer clothing, I’ve been able to wash effectively, but the older ones, including my PJs and the clothes most worn in that house, I’ve chucked out because I could smell the mould on them, especially when wet. Aspergillosis, an indoor mould, also known as ‘Black Toxic Mould’, is something that I’ve been medically tested for and deemed chemically sensitive to, and it’s something that can impact on even the healthiest person’s health. (As an aside to this post: I wrote a poem about mould, recently published in PWE magazine, that you can read here.)

(Many people whose immune systems have been chronically effected by mould, heartbreakingly, have needed to throw, or give away all their possessions, or, try to decontaminate them, which is often not possible. (If you have any jewels of wisdom to offer on this subject, please share: there are so many people suffering with mould exposures, I know that they could do with some first hand experience (and so could I); otherwise, they wouldn’t be searching the internet, looking for information. You see, I’ve found out a lot from doctors, other patients, and the net, and I’ve been given a heap of advice on the subject of mould, and this blog is for sharing that, but it doesn’t mean that my way is a sure-as-a-smurf’s-bum-is-blue way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities. But just watch me give it a massive uberfucking go!))

There is a washing machine at the old house, I can still use. But at this house? Well, it’s all hand washing, which makes me think of this comment I received just as I was moving, by Tina, a lovely yet equally hilarious woman who sings this song while using her feet to wash the clothes in the bathtub:

 “I am one of the ‘Millions Against Monsanto’: The lovely corporation that developed Agent Orange, Round-UP (probably a dilluted form of Angent Orange! Ha!) and the Corp. who has been given BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, an OK TO LAUNCH! on the GMO fucking of the alfalfa seed!: The Base Of Our Food Chain! ODIOTS!!!!!!!”

And each time, I’m washing my clothes in the bathtub, the sink and my two green buckets (by hand, not foot with my feet), I think of that and giggle away…

But back to the Cotton Deluxe Weave Hammock, and this feeling of living in the wild. It’s exhilarating. It’s summer time; and the nights are warm and balmy, cooling off towards the early morning hours. The hammocks soft thick cotton weave fabric stretches beneath me, wrapping up around my sides, holding me like a deep cocoon: it’s made for two (up to 400 kgs) and it just lovingly just swallows me up. Dew settles on the blankets. Possums scratch in their scrambling-climbing-nocturnal way, high up in the old gum tree. Its limbs, cascade with leaves, swaying delightfully in the gentle sea breeze; and when the wind picks up, the swooshing of branches makes the tree’s presence massive. The stars wink at me, reminding me, that yes, it’s all going to be okay. I hear the gentle slap of waves hit the shore; and the part of me that’s been living a hyper-vigilant existence lets out a sigh of relief with each crash against the shore. These are a constant soundtrack; therefore, so is this feeling of relief (I could subsist on this feeling alone—if I didn’t have to go back to the city, but hey! Perhaps I can take it with me?) And I gaze up at the black velvet night, peppered with a zillion stars shining just for me (and you), and I thank them, and our universe, and every person who helped me get to this point. Thank you. And to all the well-wishers, thank you. And the people who know me, my teachers, staff at Victoria University (VU), my friends and family, my blogger friends, even my real estate agent, whom I hassled the daises out of to find me the ‘right’ place, and the owners who met me and trusted me with this place, and everyone who keeps saying to me: “You just keep breathing that sea air! Thank you.

During the night my dog climbs into the hammock. And I allow it. Am I really this wild child who can sleep outside undaunted? No. Fear of Urban City Myths gnaw at me, tugging me towards thoughts of movies like Wolf Creek; I pull my dog closer. Safety in numbers. The pack sleeps on. It’s not so cold; it’s only ‘A One Dog Night’ tonight. And as the sun rises, the soil release it’s aroma into the air, and I hide my head under the blankets, fearful of mould spores, yet, here I am breathing without pain, so it’s a fear that fades off into the rising light of the day. Dawn comes, and we get up along with her, and head straight down the beach: “You just keep breathing that sea air!” ricochets around my head. It’s my salvation: I just know it…

The second break: six days and nights of, mostly, uninterrupted breathing without pain. There was a run-in with a neighbour’s lawnmower (who I finally talked into giving me some notification (the neighbour not the lawnmower); and then, the diesel (the chemical fourth on my list of the chemicals most toxic to my health) from a council truck—whose members I lost my battle with as they continued murdering a beautiful old willow tree out front of my house; and then a walk near a far paddock on a too hot day that set me off—monkey knows why, I’m fine with pollen and grasses? But even these exposures, and following symptoms of inflammation were soothed by breathing the sea-breeze, and later, the sigh of relief that comes with each wave I hear slapping against the shore.

Not only  can I breathe through my nose without it hurting; the bruising around my eyes is gone (I was once told this bruising is called an ‘allergic shiner’, you know, like a black eye; yet, these ones are caused by allergies or chemical sensitivities. I can feel my system calming down; generally, smells are not as strong anymore, meaning my nervous system is calming down also. Even my digestive system has settled somewhat. (I’m still eating like a fruit bat, and surviving on organic apples (and coffee and chocolate!) though.)

The pluses of sleeping out in a Cotton Deluxe Weave Hammock:

  • Being able to breathe without pain
  • It’s so damn comfortable
  • The feeling of being in touch with nature
  • The smell of nature
  • Hearing the waves
  • Hearing nothing on a still, still night
  • Watching the lightning light up the sky
  • Hiding from light summer rain
  • Cuddling a dog to keep warm
  • Did I mention the clean air?

(My take on sleeping outside. Now, a chemically sensitive person, or someone diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), or Environmental Sensitivities, sleeping outside in amongst nature’s elements, is growing to be a cliche. It’s a cliche though, because it’s true. Sleeping outside is the best way to boost your health, especially if your airways have been effected by chemicals. (Sadly though, and this is not how it is for me (I will be able to sleep in my new house.), some people are forced to do it year round because they can’t find suitable accommodation; and that’s just wrong!) One day, I’ll blog about the first time I slept outside, nine years ago when I first became chronically ill from chemicals.)

The minuses of sleeping out in a hammock:

  • Not great for sleeping in every night: sore back, stiff neck
  • At risk of wood smoke if it cools right off
  • The occasional car goes by, but this depends on the wind’s direction if it’s a problem or not (don’t forget I keep a mask around my neck ready to pop on)
  • A dog that ways 22 kg who climbs up to sleep onto one of your hips in the night. Ouch!
  • Bloddy mozzies and no chemicals to kill them with (Sad I want to kill them? I think not!)

The pluses of a ‘Hammock Heaven‘ Hammock

  • Fabric made from durable, soft cotton
  • They come in many colours; I chose ‘off white’ as I figured their would be less dies to outgass
  • Open weave material stretches and moves to curve around the body
  • Can fit two people (or one person and one dog)
  • Cotton is sourced from sustainable fair trade farms
  • The hammocks are hand woven in Ecuador (less use of chemicals because the people there can’t afford it (It’s a fact.)
  • Shipping is free within Australia
  • Hammocks are ethically produced!
  • Artisans, who make the hammocks, are fairly recompensed for their work and skills. Al la faitrade.
  • Micro enterprises, in poorer countries, are supported by first world buyers and retailers at Hammock Heaven
  • Fully washable. Just place a broom or stick horizontally to hold the hammock open…
The handle from my window washer holding the hammock open

The handle from my window washer holding the hammock open

  • And wash it with the garden house. Like this:
Me, washing the new hammock with the hose

Me, washing the new hammock with the hose

My hammock had a strong cottony odour that was obviously not treated with herbicide chemicals because it didn’t make me ill. But I washed it just in case; besides John, at Hammock Heaven, is massively passionate about fair-trade practices, and promised me that these hammocks are made out in the hills, deep within Ecuador, where the biggest worry for them are, not chemicals because the farmers cannot afford them, but the dust from the unsealed roads. No biggy really.

Cost of my double hammock: $149, plus the stand, $159.

Now, you could probably find a hammock made in China for a quarter of this price; however, by buying this hammock, not only are you guaranteed to be helping yourself by having a hammock that’s had no chemicals used in the manufacturing process (unless you buy the coloured one, which you’ll have to investigate for yourself whether or not they are used in the dyeing process) but you will also be helping famers in Eudora by buying their merchandise!

You can find more about Hammock Heaven Hammocks, here


Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

About Michellina van Loder


  1. well that is just awesome!

  2. You have a life again. Hope it keeps improving.

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Thank you. I can’t believe it’s been two years of hell. It’s not a perfect house, but it’ll do, and i do love being able to breathe without pain. Although I did have a big diesel exposure today, but I’m feeling better now.

  3. Miche – I am so happy for you. I would love to be by the sea. I think that is why I love our day trips to Monterey and the ocean.

    I have had Aspergillosis growing in my sinuses. UGH!

    Can’t wait to hear of all the other posts you have coming up.

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Katherine — thank you, that means a lot to me. Even though we’ve never met in person, you have been there for me when times when it was impossible to see any improvement coming my way.

      I just had a culture taken from mine for that exact reason. And I’ve been put on an elimination diet, which is absolute torture. I’ve found pear juice and pears make me incredibly itchy!

    • Support says:

      Thanks, I can hear the waves really loud tonight. I worry for our seas and bays. If we can get sick from chemicals, imagine what the ocean life has to put up with. That’s why our blogs, and your book can be so important: people need to be made aware! Well, one of the posts coming up needs to be The Labyrinths first interview! Are you ready?

  4. Tina Yoxtheimer says:

    Hello! I just wrote for an hour and couldn’t post the thing and now it’s gone somewhere! Damn! I had lots of WILD stuff to share! Anyway, I love this post and the commenters here! Thanks, all! for being wild!

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Tina, hello! I’m sorry that happened. Sometimes, I select my text then copy (or control/command C) it, just in case. And, I had that happen the other night when I was replying to you on another page (the one about the bloody washing machine!) except I fell asleep and the page expired. Thank you, I so enjoyed your other comment, it had me laughing for so long, and I really enjoyed that. Grrr… all WILD gals here!

  5. This is such a happy post :) Your writing made me smile! Something as simple as the ability to breathe is so important. Glad you have found a safe(r) place. I also learned new slang for mosquitoes… that is what mozzie means right?

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Thank you; it is a happy post :) A friend once said: “People don’t realise that breathing is a major life activity until it’s threatened, or taken away from them.” Yes, mozzie is slang for mosquitoes… we have some big ones in Australia. They don’t like my blood type much but they still bite me. However, certain blood types get absolutely eaten alive!


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Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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