Back before I had an ‘Access Plan’ (called a Disability Plan, in other countries perhaps? Oh wait, is it only Victoria University (VU) who’re up to speed on this?) created for me by VU In 2012, I began to get sicker; I thought that was as sick as I could get. I didn’t know that it can much worse than that. When I had to wear a mask to school, and found even that didn’t help with the fragrance in the class, I became frustrated and wrote this to my Disability Liaison Officer (DLO):
“If it’s [the classroom] not a fragrance chemical free, aromatic solvent (aerosol) free area, then it is only fair if the students or teachers tell me, so that I can leave and not get affected. It’s not the smell; it’s the chemicals in the products, specifically hydrocarbons, solvents and fragrances that affect me. It’s not fair that I have to wear a mask to protect myself from products that the other students are wearing, especially when the mask actually stops me from being able to tell if there are sprays in the air, therefore making it impossible to protect myself by taking avoidance action! The only way to tell is to remove the mask, breathe the air, and see if I can smell it, sometimes I can, but other times I can’t because ‘smell’ is something a person acclimatises to; however, once I get symptoms, then I can tell. (Wearing the mask is akin to putting my head in the sand as far as knowing what is in the room.)
Also the mask hinders me in that, when I move to the left of the right, open my mouth to speak, laugh, cough, or yawn, the products enter, and are held in that small airspace where I breathe them in. And I can taste them.
I would be better off just leaving if there are sprays in the room, rather than staying until I get sick. Ideally, the teacher could tell me so I have the choice. I appreciate it when someone warns me that it is there, because that saves me from having to breath it in to find out. (This year, 2012, many times I’ve come to class, keeping my mask tight to my face, so that I can stay as long as I can before getting sick—I know I will get sick and have to leave anyway as that has been the pattern this year—but on a few occasions there has been a high concentration of aromatic solvents in the room, which have made me extremely ill once I have left, removed my mask and gone home. I know they were actually in the room because the next day, the clothes that I wore reek of them. (I shower and wash my hair as soon as I get home but many times I haven’t been able to do this quick enough; and sometimes it’s impossible to leave my mask on until I can get home to shower because I need to remove it to drink, eat, and even more importantly, breathe fresh air once leaving the building, or on a break. If I do this, I get sick.
On these occasions, if I knew there were fragrances, deodorants in the room, I’d leave my mask on until I could get in the shower at home.)) In the true sense of being disabled, having this contradictive action: having to smell the air to find out if something is there, and then getting sick from breathing it in, is something I wish someone else could do for me.”
I didn’t get a Teacher’s Assistant to sniff the air for me to see if class was safe for me; however, I did get something better than that….
Next I’ll be blogging about how I got to be in a Fragrance Free classroom.
And parts of My Access Plan