A few months back, I was contacted by the editor of AESSRA in regards to publishing an article I wrote on my blog. So here it is: SM_HowToAskAssisCounl_13 At the time it was heartening; I was going through the roughest patch of health problems. Ever. And finding out that what I had written was of considerable enough interest to be published was just bloody awesome… And, as usual, the idea that my hardships could be helpful to other people, was like a soothing balm for my soul: just being able to give something back made me feel way less pissed at the world, you know?
However, the drama with my local council continues. Two councils actually: Melton Shire Council, and Brimbank City Council. Melton have been respectful, thoughtful, considerate of my health issues. They asked no questions that came across as ‘skeptical’; and immediately came up with a plan to text or phone me on the day, or the day before—if weather permits—to let me know that they will be spraying or/and mowing. For those who haven’t read my post, it’s the fumes from the mowing which are the problem. If I breathe in diesel, car exhaust or two-stroke mower fuel for half an hour, just that there takes me three days to recover from: my head aches and it hurts to breathe and then there’s the sinus inflammation and the unexplained lower back pain and the fatigue (add in any other chemical exposures and I’m a right off). The house has a mould issue and needs to be open as much as possible. I’m packing it up slowly, as my health permits, and as bad luck and awful timing have it, I keep getting caught out when BRIMBANK city council mow. If I know either council are doing it within a five kilometre radius then I know to get the hell out, stay in my safe room or, if I’m down at the beach house (bless this golden place), not to go down to the House of Mouldy Horrors. At all.
But, yes… timing is everything. And ten days ago, I was taken by surprise, awfully so. So sick I couldn’t leave; all I did was lay on the bed with the air purifier running, trying not to focus on the pain of breathing; my headache; and the Musculoskeletal nerve pain in my lower back. Was it my neighbours? All four nearby, let me know before they mow. The man across the road, tells me—even though he knows only a little English—before he paints. At first, lost in the effect, I stopped worrying about the cause, until later, my daughter came back and said: “Mum, Brimbank Council are mowing en masse: the park; the main road!” They probably already did out front of the house, two doors down where there’s a medium strip, and down the side of the house where there’s a walkway (half of this is Melton Shire’s responsibly and the other, Brimbank City Council’s) too. Stuck in my safe room, once I knew this, I closed up the other end of the house but it was too late.
Family members could smell the fumes in the house. I tried not to. Put on my mask and lay down, my emotions matching those of a wounded animal. A beast, perhaps; because after a few hours, close to five o clock, I rang the council, and asked how could they keep doing this? I asked to speak to the superior of Tate Dyer, Assets Coordinator, who promised in an email (a few actually) that yes, he will text or call. He said this in writing. And no, he won’t allow his men to knock on my door with their diesel-spewing trucks running, to tell me that they are about to mow out front of my house, like they had done previously—I know, good intentions. (In my article, a bullet point list, advising my readers on how to ask for assistance from their local council(s) suggests: “Don’t make calls when sick or distressed.” Mmm… Well, I was sick but I wasn’t distressed, I was near hysterical. Crying tears of frustration, knowing that I could have avoided this pain if only they could forewarn me. The administration assistant assured me that this wouldn’t happen again and that Mr Dyer’s superior would call me on the following Monday.
Did he/she? No.
Tomorrow, 3 pm, Australian Eastern Standard Time, I have an appointment with the Disability Discrimination Legal Service (DDLS).
Obviously, I need some assistance in asking for assistance from one of my local councils. I’ve a list of all the dates where I’ve made calls, incidents of exposure to fumes, symptoms, and the original emails with doctor’s letters attached asking for their assistance, replies to those emails, all ready for my appointment. Sorry to say (to myself), but I’m an old hand at this. It’s only been 10.7 years that I’ve had to practice being assertive, advocating my needs just so I can live life with a semblance of normality; but never in all this time have I felt so frustrated, ignored, nor have I felt as inconsequential as what I did ten days ago. And, I’m embarrassed that I rang the council, angry, half balling my eyes out, pleading with them to just let me know when they are going to fucking mow within a five kilometre (km) radius (They can’t comprehend the five km radius part; it’s like they’ve decided I only need to know if it’s directly out front of the house. And they can’t even get that bit right). (Look, I know some people
live for bureaucracy make mistakes (Don’t we all?); and I know that duties get lost along the chain of command, but this has been going on for thirteen months now.)
But you know what? When I first spoke to this man, Tate Dyer, do you know what he said? I’ll tell you what he said [insert whining, sneering voice]: “How come the traffic fumes from the roads don’t effect you?” I should’ve known then what I was dealing with: direct discrimination based on an uneducated person’s assumptions/disbelief (or belief system] about chemical sensitivities/MCS/Environmental sensitivities/chemical irritants, or whatever it’s called in your country. I explained, politely, matter-of-factly, that due to the nature of my chemical sensitivities, the fumes do impact on my health, and come peak hour traffic times, the house is/was always closed up. To the point that I sometimes seal the cracks in the doors with painter’s masking tape. (Umm… did that tidbit of information make his brain implode or something? Because he can’t even think to bloody help me!) [Insert head-splitting scream]
Considering this is the same council who, based on my treating specialist’s recommendation, issued me with a Disability Parking Permit so that I don’t have to walk through car parks and suffer exposure to exhaust fumes that act as chemical irritants to my airways, and cause and/or exacerbate symptoms that are looking like Fibromyalgia, you’d think they’d ‘get’ this small matter of their Duty of Care until control. But no. Not in their, or my world…
On the prettier side of the rainbow (the part with the purple hue near the edge), Russell Beer, Parks Coordinator for Melton Shire Council (the good, kind, respectful council), called yesterday to tell me that he would be “touching base” with me in a few weeks to let me know when they will be mowing.
And on the bright side of the rainbow (this time it’s the yellow hued part), when staying down at the beach house, I have 3-4 days where I’m well enough to go jogging. I walk nearly everyday; either on the beach, if it’s a weekday, or on the back rural tracks/roads on the weekends (the bay is polluted with boat fumes then). Even on the days when I’m not well, and I’m still recovering from my trips back to the city, the Mouldy House of Horrors and the multitude of appointments I’ve had to attend lately, I force myself to go for a walk in the fresh air. And do you know what? I always feel better. Every. Single. Time. Who would have thought? All the money I’ve spent on various doctors/naturopaths/chiropractors, while the state of my health declined further, and then, all it took for my health to improve was to move into a property based in fresher air? Gosh, somedays I feel like there is not a single thing wrong with me. On those days, breathing feels great, smells are just smells. And cooking is fun again…
Thank you for reading,
and I love you all for your ongoing support.
(Stay tuned. Awards night is coming up!)