I wrote about how at Xmas dinner we made Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash, well within a few minutes of clearing away the table, I was in bed by five pm. We were supposed to drive the 7 minutes it takes to get to our block. revelling in the idea that I’ll be in a safe home soon and my boyfriend, Dan, will be under less pressure and stress trying to solve issues that are out of our control right now:
Dan, bless him, when he comes to stay he thinks he can run about controlling the air. He actually thinks he can do that. But that’s okay; I used to think that too.
If you drive the 50 seconds it takes to get to the beaches that surround two sides of my rental property, you’ll see a heap of boats. If you go outside on a sunny day, you’ll hear whine of jet-skis and the “whop whop” as they hit down on the waves, but mostly, you’ll just smell—and feel if you have petrochemical sensitivities—two-stroke boat fuel, similar to lawnmowers… en masse.
Am I under attack? I try not to look at it like that.
Because this holiday season, too, shall pass.
Not quick enough for me. And so it’s been for the last 12 years, since I became chemically sensitive and have lived in two seaside towns: it’s quiet, the air’s fresh for most of the year, but come school holidays, especially the Xmas ones, it’s like living in the city but kind of worse because of the non-stop BBQs and gatherings that, noisy as they are, I wouldn’t mind if the air coming from them didn’t impact my health like this:
I can only open my house early in the morning or I’ll be sick in bed all day from chemical exposure, mostly petrol but fragrances too. There is a pub about 30 houses down my street, and when they have events, which is nearly everyday lately, and I go outside on my deck, the air is so thick with fragrance chemicals I can taste them.
Within 10 minutes my tongue is coated with the taste of sunscreens and shampoos.
One of my neighbours refuses to text me when he’s going to mow so sometimes I get caught with my windows open. Well, that day is always a wipe-out! Luckily, this is a once a month event so I’m not caught out everyday.
However, the fumes in general make life a misery. If it rains, it’s worse because I can’t run my air conditioner due to the dampness on the concrete underneath the outdoor converter, making it’s way through the vents.
I run two Inova Air Purifiers. One AusClimate Dehumidifier, and I’m soon to try using a bottle of oxygen, (I’ll let you know how the oxygen therapy goes.) I also try to keep the air conditioning on. Yeah, my bill cost a bomb but I do get a ‘cooling concession’ from the Australian Government.
My eyes and nose dry out as it hurts to inhale, and I retreat back inside, feeling the energy drain out of me. Consequently, I’m spending my time inside with the blinds down, the air-conditioning on and doing yoga. If I don’t go outside, mostly, if people don’t burn shit in their fucking backyard fire-pits (mostly at night. And on fire ban days/evenings!), I don’t’ get sick. This means my head is clear. (The Australian Government can be selfish when it comes to industry lobby and PM-2.5 particles aka woodsmoke. They know we and many others who suffer respiratory health conditions suffer greatly with woodsmoke; and if we can’t afford homes that are sealed well then that impacts on quality of life.
I wrote about how exhausted I was just wrapping our house in aluminium building wrap and then plastic for the upstairs.
The summer is over but my health has not bounced back, I can taste and smell mildew on all of my fruit and vegetables. I am waiting on some mould drops from my Immunologist.
(MCS?) Hermit-like Existence
(As written in my ‘Symptom Update Notes’ emailed to my doctor for our last appointment, and now shared with you.)
Recovery time: It takes 3 days to a week to recover from one car trip. This is spent in bed.
My neck hurts when I move it; my glands on either side of my neck are swollen.
My head aches when I move it: it’s like my brain feels like jelly that hurts when it moves. Light hurts my eyes.
My nose, sinus and eyes pulsate with pain and I get bruising around my eye sockets after 2-3 days of this.
I’m cold, I spend all this time closed up in the house with the blinds down and air conditioning on.
I also run two Inova Air filters and a dehumidifier when it rains.
I am cold all the time from being in this controlled environment with air blowing.
The beach is 2 minutes walk away yet I can’t go there because I get even sicker from people’s fragrances and boat fumes.
I also get constipated after exposure dry eyes, thirsty and I drink so much water that I am always going to the toilet yet still thirsty; my skin is dry.
My body holds fluid or something because I can put on 2-4 kgs overnight. Dan has seen this happen and even he says it’s not possible to put weight on and lose it like that over a matter of days.
Note: My car has a water leak around the sunroof.
Also as written to my treating Allergist, Immunologist this February 2016”
Exhaustion: most of the time: I am sick and tired all the time. So tired that I can’t continue standing when it hits; whereas, back in September 2015 it was just feeling tired with heavy arms, no cognitive abilities and nausea. Now it is my whole body that is heavy and I have to lie down. I have to go to bed in the afternoons quite often, and there’s no notable chemical inhalant exposure to note at the time: I just run out of energy completely. I rely on 3 cups of coffee just to get out of bed in the mornings. If I sit in bed and write on my laptop I can function on a cognitive level (if I have not had any exposures for about a week previously), however, if I get up and do yoga or chores, I am flat by 11 am – 2 pm. I am lucky if I get a day or two where I can do tasks that involve moving my body like cooking and washing. This is wearing my relationship down cause Dan has to do all the chores.
He has even had to, after insisting on it, wash and dry my hair after going to the doctors in the city in the car. This is ridiculous, I am 46 years old; and I’ve always been physically fit.
Dear Readers: I’m not very good at accepting not being well. It’s something I have to work on, or do I? Do I keep fighting, asking questions? Or just accept this as my state of health?
On a positive, I have my cognitive abilities: Bring on the yoga and the time to write!
The Victorian Governments Better Health Channel: Wood fires and breathing problems
Washington Government: How Woodsmoke Harms Your Health
Asthma Australia: How Woodsmoke Harms your Health
The Conversation: Traffic pollution and wood smoke worsens asthma in adults