How Going Vegan Helped my Relationship with My SuperMan

(This post discusses adult topics and uses adult words written in an Australian vernacular.)

I’ve spent 13 years, 14 this September, practicing the only known treatment for inhalant allergies to chemicals: avoidance behaviour. Due to digestion issues related to food intolerance that hit in 2002-3, at the age of 33 after years of normal chemical use, although I did love the smell of all of my female consumer-based beauty-care-products fiercely. I was wild, free and adored my collection of fragrances, red wine, drugs, cigarettes nail polish… ; yet, I spent the next decade needing to, after being advised by the one and only Australian renowned and respected Allergist and Immunologist, Dr Colin Little, here in Victoria, Australia,  to not waste money on quacks (my words) to practice chemical avoidance—wearing a 3M mask worked excellently for around 10 years or so of this ‘condition’ I have. My life changed immensely. I thrived at it. I recovered in 09′. Why did I leave the farm house? I need to blog about that.  Since 2012 though, after living in a water damaged building (WDB), I developed food intolerances that didn’t stop until, basically, all I was eating was fruit and veggies—yet still I was losing foods. I mean who reacts to bananas? Really? To paraphrase my doctor: Bananas are a food like any other! WTF!

Bananas

So I switched to another high-carb food that gives rocking energy—if not cooked in oil [speaking to you Slobodan!] (Note to peeps who are not chronically ill: Please don’t tell sick people they look great just because they’ve lost some weight because they may be feeling like carnivore-shit on the inside (like dead corpses of other species coated to the inner intestine? Yeah? Got that picture?); and besides, life is not actually about being skinny but it’s bullshit if you don’t fit in your pants. Like, if you do want to lean out a little: Go Vegan. Or buy this cool t-shirt from The Anticarnist)

Sweet Potato Chips

My favourite Vegan Meal: Sweet Potato Fries

So there I was, sick as all fuck, sulking about being an accidental Vegan (I’d lost my milk chocolate Caramel Koalas, yeah? Those and hot glass of milk were my comfort food and I was not yet aware of the abundant and multitude of ways to whip up vegan treats. Food and cooking, not so much. That’s what boyfriends are for, I guess?) and, during the summer of 015′, there I was hanging out on YouTube: due to the need for human company, totally frustrated with FreeLee and her 10 banana smoothies capable of making me ill for the rest of the day (it’s not FreeLee’s fault, my body seems to think I need to release histamine to protect myself from bananas), or I am having a severe mould reaction to all bananas (I can only describe like a bad acid trip.) and  then only after being tortured with food testing, I came across this speech, titled, ‘The Greatest Speech You Will Ever Hear’ by Gary Yourofsky. Here is the video:

I saw this realising: accidental Veganism was/is not even about me: it’s about the planet, the animals and all of our health. Spiritually is lacking in my world. Becoming vegan has not cured my illness but it’s allowed me to eat food without getting ill. And I can shit; that’s important when you get to my age: 46.

My only problem with Vegansim was social: For now, I live an isolated life, and have a carer, I’m not able to cook, clean and, sometimes, even feed my own animals, and sometimes. I can’t lift heavy things so the man in my life, my best friend, Slobodan, does it all for me. I’m not good at being grateful for this, but worse:

I was left wondering, how can I have a close relationship with someone who wants to put a corpse in your frypan or oven when you yourself have woken up to the truth of animal cruelty?

My answer: I showed my man, Gary Yourofsky’s, ‘The Most Important Speech You Will Ever Hear‘ And before it even finished, he turned around and said to me: “Misha, I’m not doing this to the animals, anymore. I won’t do it; I can’t be a part of it!” This, coming from a 46-year-old man born and bread in a meat-eating Macedonian culture where family BBQ’s and meal times are passionate and full-on events. It kinda rocked my world. I find that hell sexy in man. You really have no idea how much different a vegan man is because he sees the world differently and doesn’t want to add to the pain; that’s special. And:

Vegan image of food: Macedonian Cuisine is to die for; ergo, not literally!

Metaphorically, Macedonian Cuisine is to die for; ergo, not literally! And certainly not be animals…

We are talking about traditional dishes nearly always containing animal-based products, and even more so, unless people are fasting for religious reasons, these dishes are plated up with piles of ‘chops’, pork, lamb, beef, seafood: all animal flesh sold as a with a bar code. He says:

A supermarket smells different. packaged flesh. It no longer normal in my world.

 (How can a pile plate full of lamb chops just go by the noun ‘lamb’? There’s maybe 7-8 baby sheep that were inhumanely slaughtered to get those ‘chops’ made from sliced corpses (that’s my imaginative guess). Just some food for thought there.). An old favourite of mine was meat stuffed into capsicums. Sausages hanging on the washing line. This was/is normal life for Slobodan to come home to. So when he sees animals in trucks or legal-animal torture on YouTube, he gets angry.

Going vegan has helped me cope with a Life Altering illness; it’s also helped with my only close relationship. I never thought I would get married due to so many complicated reasons but with veganism in common, it runs pretty deep: the connection, almost spiritual (after going raw when Slobodan first went vegan, it was spiritual and we shared that) the commitment, the caring for creatures who don’t have a voice to speak up for themselves: I find that compassion sexy in a man.

My ephipany: All people who have chemical sensitivity must do their utmost for the planet as their health depends upon it. And most people don’t give a fukc or even care about the planet. They are just as sucked into the consumerism marketed at them as fragrance heads–most, not all. They don’t give any fukcs for the animals tested on so that products are SAFE for consumers. LMFAO/ Safe for who? Burn shit into the atmosphere: Cigarettes and woodsmoke. *How shameful* Considering like 2.8% of people in just NSW alone have sensitivities to chemicals.

Anyway. This is my vegan mate Solomon.

He is my friend and professional therapist’s goat, Solomon, who had a rocky start to life but is funky fine and dandy now! I think there is a sister or something, I will update you at The Labyrinth with This.

Vegan Goat: Solomon: a special goat who had a rough start in life but is now going stronger than ever

Solomon: a special goat who had a rough start in life but is now going stronger than ever

PS: “If you are thinking about going vegan: do it for a month; if you don’t feel good after that, go back to eating shitty, greasy food made from animals’ flesh and byproducts… Go Raw for a week, then tell me how you feel.” ~ Vegan Revolution

 

Vegan Activist: Gary Yourofsky: a hero and another sexy vegan man

Gary Yourofsky: a hero and another sexy vegan man

with FreeLee and her 10 banana smoothies capable of making me ill for the rest of the day (it’s not FreeLee’s fault, my body seems to think I need to release histamine to protect myself from bananas)

Read More…

Veganism in The Labyrinth: Where is the Love?
Veganism in The Labyrinth: How To Explain Why You’re Vegan
Veganism in The Labyrinth: See the World Through Vegan Eyes
Veganism in The Labyrinth: My Vegan Story (Apologies for the 2334 words: This piece needs editing, still!, making it shorter: It was written stream of consciously then uploaded. Otherwise it wouldn’t have got up there)
Check out: Plant Based News
Vegan Revolution Podcasts
Twitter: SlobodanVegan (‘Slobodan’ in Macedonian means ‘Freedom’ (Also in Serbian or Croatian too, I believe). He has just made this video about what he takes in his lunchbox as a vegan man and will have [link here soon]

(Vegan Photo Attributions: PixaBay)
(Image of Solomon, the model goat, used with his full permission)

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.

When You Lose Someone to MCS

(Warning, this post touches on the topics of suicide, family loss and survival.)

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is a condition where the sufferer’s health is impacted on by small doses of chemicals not normally problematic for most people—well, not until some of those people become chemically sensitive themselves, of course. MCS can be bought on by one large preceding exposure, or by a multitude of long-term small exposures. My symptoms—all the upper respiratory ones—began after I accidently inhaled swimming pool chlorine while attending to our pool. I didn’t know what chemical sensitivities even where, let alone what Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) was.

If someone had tried to explain it to me, I doubt I could have grasped the concept—especially in regards to changing my own behaviour using chemicals: particularly fragrances, cigarettes and solvents used in the application of false nails.

Apart from eggs, I had no allergies. I went to the nail salon fortnightly to have acrylic nails applied with solvent-and-toluene based products; I attended hair salon appointments to have sun-kissed highlights applied with bleach-and-ammonia based products; and lovingly spritzed on my latest adored and prized Nina Ricci fragrance, topping it all off by slathering on matching moisturiser. Scents and fragrances were a part of my identity. As were the Marlboro Reds I defiantly smoked while living my wild crazy life exactly how I wished.

There was no warning sign. Because if I didn’t know this could happen, how could there be a sign this could possibly happen to me?

 But two years after that chlorine accident, my life, and that of my family’s had changed drastically: symptoms and health problems aside, major lifestyle changes involved throwing out all my fragrance contaminated possessions including all my clothes, books, soft toys from childhood, furnishings and bedding; I lived in a sparsely furnished rental near the sea, sleeping on an organic cotton mattress on the floor; the sound of an Austin Air purifier 24/7 as the soundtrack to my life; and, replacing my make-up, I wore a 3M filter mask over my face to run errands and do all the things that single parents have to do to partake of life while raising children. It wasn’t easy, and given the circumstances I’d been dealt in life, I’m proud of what I managed to do and achieve.

I know I still have that same strength and tenacity lurking somewhere beneath all this exhaustion, sickness, and symptoms that decrease and intensify at the whim of my immune system.

Fast forward, almost a decade to the year I became sick: It was March, 19, 2014, winter time here in Melbourne, when I lost a a significant someone to MCS, and like the winter before that one, my health had taken me deeper into this labyrinth, enclosing me off from the outside world. But leading up to that day, as exhausted, depressed and invalided as I was, it was okay though. I’d been there before, safe in the knowledge that I’d be my own hero, escaping from the labyrinth just like Theseus after slaying the Minotaur.

When that day came, I guess it was just too much for them. They left me a note saying they couldn’t cope with my illness and that we’d both be better off if they left. [This person] had done so much for me over the last decade since they were just seven-years old, when this wretched illness began. But the last three years before this breaking point were especially difficult. One of the most difficult things, apart from the ill health, days spent in bed recovering from exposures, was the guilt at having to stop extended family visits due to fragrances. Enter isolation for both of us. Awful, I know. I stopped driving them everywhere. I drove my car one day a week to Uni, and that was the only day they could go anywhere without having to catch public transport (I live two hours from the city).

Previous to that, there were long-winding arguments over changing clothes before coming into the house (It’s a rule that everyone has to follow; the state of my health won’t negotiate); the PR skills used with fluctuating degrees of failure/success when asking [this person’s] partner and friends not to wear spray deodorants because the solvents adhere to [this person’s] clothing and hair (the reason they needed to change clothes before coming inside); restrictions on where they could go because the house I’m renting only has the one living area that is accessible to sleep in: we were sleeping in the same air space (oh, how many times I woke up gasping for air because solvents had dried out my eyes and airways to a dry crisp). They couldn’t have people over; and if they did manage to secure fragrance-free friendships, they had to suffer the embarrassment (theirs) of having aluminium foil on the floor of our house.

Doomsday arrives: Enter someone whom I thought was a friend: Debbie Ann Ayton. A god-damned-woo-pushing-pseudo-science author who said to [the family member who left and abandoned me] that they’re too young, and shouldn’t have to waste their life taking care of a disabled person with a chronic illness”; and “You need to get out and live your life… Go to parties…” Followed with the ultimate woo statement: “Everything happens for a reason…” And, “The universe wants it this way…” and other comments that have put me off New Age Hippies and Quantum Physics for life.

So [once dearly cherished person] left me. I guess they’re now free to use whatever fragrance chemicals they like? I guess there’s a begrudging feeling of gladness that I don’t have to suffer that type of abuse anymore?

To describe my heart as broken is an understatement. To say my spirit broke and I lost my identity as a loved family member is closer to the point. A break down ensued. As did a suicide attempt. It felt like this damn illness had finally taken everything. Not only have I, over the last ten years, had to change my life and the way I do everything; not only have I had to restrict the things I can do and the places I can go; not only do I have to live a lonely existence in isolation and forgo seeing most people I know because they are coated in chemicals from fragrances and shampoos and conditioners and soaps and car air-freshener vapours and house air-freshener vapours [think Glade, Ambi-Pur!] and washing powders and fabric softeners and the rest—most of which contain unregulated ingredients, many of which are proven to be chemical irritants to human airways—but I also have to place restrictions on those people who I love. I have to place restrictions on every single human being whom I want to spend time with or who wants to spend time with me. How can any relationship flourish under those conditions?

Yes, MCS robbed me of so much but it’s also given me so much more that I’m grateful for (but this post isn’t about that). Never, ever would I choose this life. If I could have a part of my old life (minus the chemical usage), mixed with this life but without the sickness around breathing other people’s chemicals, that!, I would choose!

I’ve found out that there are a handful of people who truly care about me. But the rest? I mean, seriously, who could live under these restrictions unless they cared deeply enough not to use fragrance-based products? And, yes, actually my dog, Bella, doesn’t mind; neither do the boys, my rabbits, Tyrian and Minxie! And my partner, Dan, his mother, and his son, Daniel have turned out to be angels since this happened; but this is it, everyone else has proved to be so bloody uncharitable about it (I’m talking about personal relationships, not school ones, and not professional; but this post isn’t about that either; it’s about the shitty stuff.)

I found out that it’s the one you’d take a bullet for that you wake up one day to find holding the gun.

I’ve found out that just because someone has grown up with your having had MCS, it does not mean that they can cope with the restrictions placed on them as they get older, forming their own identity, especially as they go out into the world with a desire to run with their pack.

I’ve found out that there are a few blessed people who will surprise you and change everything they do (in regards to chemical usage) just so that you can access what you need: friendship, dental appointments, schoolwork. It never fails to surprise me how a little human interaction coupled with compassion and inclusion can feed and lighten the soul! (I cherish these interactions more and more.)

I’ve found out that I need to look at life, the people around me and my own chronic illness with realistic expectations. There’s no room for optimism because, sadly, it’s just a state of self-delusion.

It’s been well over a year now, and I can write about it without my heart tearing in two and bleeding over this page. Anger has receded to be replaced by forgiveness. For why would I want to harbour angry feelings causing me to reflect resentfully on this chronic illness that’s already difficult ? Why would I allow myself to wallow in feelings of despair that MCS has taken away possibly the most precious, meaningful relationship I’ve ever had? Sure, I may have failed at being a successful parent because of my illness; but I won’t fail at rising above that failure.

Before we go, Melissa Kaplan shares with us some thoughts on Coping with Life-Altering Illness:

“You can’t go home when home’s no longer there…

We all go back there, visiting in our minds the life we once had, from time to time, sharing the life we had and the person we used to be with some of the people we now meet. I think sometimes we do it to remind ourselves and try to get others to see that we weren’t always the bumbling idiots we now sometimes feel ourselves to be, whether or not that’s how we appear to others.

It’s like our past life is a building condemned after a disaster – an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, fire, or flood. Instead of tearing the old house down and rebuilding, or taking what can be salvaged and picking up the FEMA check before moving on and starting over again. Instead of making a constructing a new life, we pitch a little tent and camp out in the yard, dreaming about how nice the place used to look, all the great times we had in there. We even drag passersby in to see the shambles and try to describe to them what it used to look like and how happy we were in there in the days before the disaster.

If you are still camped out in your old yard, it’s time to move on. By all means, take what mementos you can find, but it is time to start building new dreams, new memories, new life.

Research has shown that seniors do better when they extend themselves to care about others, doing volunteer work to help people who are in similar or worse straits than they are. So do those who are living with chronic illness.”

Cheers

Here’s to moving on and upwards!

Find Support

Find Support: Emerge Australia

The Centre for Creative Healing: Jennifer Lunden: US (Maine) Skype appointments available

Lifeline Australia: Crisis Support

More on Coping with Chronic Illness

Melissa Kaplan’s website: Chronic Neuroimmune Diseases

Linda Sepp: Down is Harder After Up

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.

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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