I was born in late fall in the early 60’s
in Rural Jefferson County, KY. Grew up on a farm filled with pesticides,
and attended school in newly built facilities.
I began to have flu like symptoms after
moving into a newly built home in 1976. Everything was outgassing, the
carpet, counter tops, floor. The house had that “new” smell that everyone
likes so well. At the time we thought nothing of it.
Our house was often filled with smokers,
and I would become spacey, and sometimes moody when they smoked. This was
passed off as allergy.
1979-1980 I attended college.
Spencerian College was filled with smoke
from the break room, and I couldn’t concentrate on what I was studying.
I often became very dizzy and faintish while there.
1980-1984 I attended the University of
Louisville where they determined I could not comprehend what I read. I
took a reading class and had to repeat it!!!! Many of the buildings were
of new construction, and in those, especially the newly build Extrom Library,
I would feel spacey, faintish, and my limbs would grow cold. In the Fall
of 1983, I was so chronically fatigued that I could hardly drag myself
to class. I my already low grades began to tumble, and I began to cut class
because I felt so bad.
In the Winter of 1983 I took a job in a
local Art Museum and worked in the newly built wing. I was then moved to
a position over a woodworking shop. Each time an exhibit would come in
I would become severely dizzy, and confused. My limbs would turn cold and
I felt faintish. I was told I was over reacting. The museum’s guests often
wore heavy perfume, and cologne, which I reacted to by becoming spacey.
This was a wake up call that I could not heed as I was unaware of what
was happening to my body. My body was screaming, but I didn’t know exactly
The building was under constant rennovation
during my employment there. By this time I was sensitive to perfume, foods,
cleaners, and pollens. Allergies, I was told. In the Fall of 1984 I eventually
fainted, and they couldn’t get a blood pressure on me. This wen’t on for
5 ½ years until I often could not make it up the steps to work even
if someone drove me.
Several years ,and many toxic work exposures
later, I was told I had Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. It was after I eliminated
as many chemical products from my life as possible that I found I had been
reacting to them.
By the 90’s I began reacting to pesticides,
and lawn sprays to the point of having to totally avoid them.
I am currently disabled, and wish that
someone had gotten me out of the toxic environments before additional damage
was done to my body. Looking back, I had all the warning signs to avoid
chemical exposure. No one bothered to take my reactions seriously, nor
to inform me about Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.
Doctor’s need to recogonize the warning
signs and get patients out of environments that are making them ill rather
than wait until they become disabled for life.
Exposed 9/97 University Las Vegas Nevada.
Students using Acetone outside by the intake system.
Allergic now to formaldehyde, Phenol, Benzene,
Synthetic alcohol, Chlorine, Glycerin, Ink, Pine trees, other trees, grasses,
pollens, dusts, foods, horses, cats, dogs. Basically allergic to everything
that the allergist had that she could test for.
Reactions: Numbness in the face, paralysis,
severe pain in the head, swelling of tongue, skin crawling, lose of voice,
blurred vision, disoriented, asthmatic attacks, weakness - legs will go
out from under me, joint pain, memory loss and so on and so on.
I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.
When I first became sick, 12 years ago
in 1986, I was in terrible pain all over, as well as seeing double, not
focusing properly, having to get up 10 times a night to go pee, always
stuffy and constantly going from 1 cold to another with maybe 1 day break
in between and the colds (or flus or allergies?) lasting 2-4 weeks each
and many more problems. I felt I was going down the drain!
After learning about the effect of sick
building materials on health, we moved to an older home with real wood
subfloors and harwood floors throughout. This helped quite a bit.
Then I managed to improve many symptoms
like stuffiness, bladder problems, and much pain like arthritis by testing
my foods one at a time and going back to my 2 safe foods when I had a bad
reaction. Corn was causing me a lot of muscle and joint pains, which in
turn caused a lot of tiredness and a very heavy feeling .
In 1991, I had my mouthfull of dental amalgams
removed after a severe relapse in my condition (from having felt well enough
to try to train as a Montessori teacher and having visited toxic schools
out of town for 2 days).
Where I live is kind of a backwater for
new technology, so I had to find a dentist at quite a distance. I had to
fly in, and it was expensive, so the dentist removed everything except
the root canal in one day.
When he was done, I felt like I was floating
on the chair and I started to cry. He asked if he had been rude with me.
I said no, it's just that I felt like 500 lbs were lifted off my shoulders
and it felt so good.
Even before going back for the root canal,
which he had to take out the day he put the permanent fillings in, and
which was very painful for months, my condition restabilized and I started
gaining weight again. I was in much less pain.
Another step came when I did my clinical
training as a herbalist and we realized I was very deficient in Vit A.
I apparently needed 80,000iu/day but, having
been raised by an M.D., I was scared of the high amounts and only used
50,000/day. After 2 weeks, I was feeling much better, with more energy,
and I had not realized I was still carrying so much pain.
Now the pain rarely curtails my activities.
When it does, it is usually related to a chemical or food exposure of some
kind , mostly chemical: going shopping, to a day-long meeting or conference,
exposure to paint or pesticide.
Sometimes I need a shiatsu or massage treatment
after a few days to get rid of the "gravel" and re-establish energy and
circulation flow, but the pain, heaviness, and tiredness are usually helped
by changing clothes immediately upon coming home, soaking in a bath, usually
with Epsom salts, and dressing up after in clean non-toxic clothes washed
with my acceptable soaps, etc.
I would like to say that if I did not have
an environmentally clean house to live in and only used environmentally
acceptable cleaning and maintenance products I have tested for my tolerance,
I would not be able to see the link between my exposures and the pain they
For instance, I went to Calgary and slept
in the car for 3 nights in the City. I had a number of errands and visiting
to do, so I stayed in the City, and it was too polluted to open the windows
By the second night, I hardly slept, woke
up repeatedly to pee, and when I got home, I felt I did not have muscles
but steel bands everywhere!
By comparison, when we go camping in Banff
and I do not get anywhere near civilization for 1 week, I feel much better,
especially if it does not rain and I have the car window open with a screen
in. We choose a section of a campground without fires, my sense of humour
comes back, I have enough energy to do 18 mile hikes to high passes and
I sleep better. Of course, my muscles ache after the first hike but that
at least is a normal aching after unusual exercise.
In spite of my safe house with air filtration,
I usually feel better outside, except this year with all the forest fire
smoke and pesticides. I usually get somewhat worse in winter which I attribute
to cooking smells in the house. I dream of building an addition and move
the stove totally outside of my living area so I can decrease the winter
indoor pollution and don't have to smell cooking smells!
Nova Scotia, Canada; teacher
I became ill 9+ years ago from exposure
to chemicals released after a fire which smoldered over a weekend, saturating
the building with smoke. Air system was cleaned outside , but not inside
(and not replaced), placing over 150 children and over 12 adults at great
risk when put back in the school after 2 weeks. My own children ages 10
and 7 were very sick for more than 2 years.
I was diagnosed in August 1993 with chronic
fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome.
I left my job at a local hospital as a
RN in June of 1992 when I just could not function anymore.
I spent the next year trying to find out
what was wrong, seeing many Dr. and being told several times I was depressed
and trying the magic pill only to find out, the pill almost killed me.
The next Dr. treated the headaches with
medication that I could not tolerate either. Before this time in my life,
I had been able to take any kind of medication without a problem, now it
seemed I could not tolerate even the most benign medication.
As time went on, I was finally diagnosed
and I thought things would get better. Wrong again.
The chemical sensitivities began increasing
and to date, even the faintest exposure to any chemical, any scent, send
me into multi system attacks as I call them. The exposure causes problems
with my respiratory system (asthma), GI system (nausea along with acid
reflux), central nervous system (including headache, increased heart rate
usually to 130’s, blood pressure increase, shaking, lightheadedness, etc.),
skin (neck, upper chest turn bright red and burn), etc., the list could
I am pretty sure my sensitivity is from
long term low level exposure to chemicals both in my home and at work.
There are many opportunities for exposure
in the hospital setting but I cannot remember any major exposure.
I always sprayed my yard with pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and never
can I remember really taking any precautions to protect myself. I guess
it’s the old everyone else is doing it this way, why should I be different?
Well, now I know why.
I have been begging my family, my friends,
my neighbors, anyone that will listen to me to please stop the random spraying
of chemicals, to please use organic products, and to stop buying all the
scented products on the market.
I am hoping my story will cause someone
to stop and think today, do I really need to spray this, will my lawn really
suffer if there are weeds present? Do I really need to poison my body with
all the perfumes and scented products we as a nation value more than our
I wish I could go back
20 years and start again, I promise you
things would be different.
In 1996, the homeowners association for
our 82-townhome community hired an unlicensed, uncertified lawn maintenance
contractor. He sprayed wide swaths of RoundUp by Monsanto instead of edging
around flower beds, hedges, etc.
I chewed on some of the grass that had
been sprayed, and worked in and around it, not knowing it had been poisoned.
Our eldest cat ate some of the poisoned grass. Our precious long-haired
white cat friend, Puffin, died of renal failure as a direct result of eating
I almost died twice from this first exposure
and four other major ones.
Two burned the insides of my lungs, one
took a divot out of the cornea of my left eye, and the last one caused
severe abdominal swelling that is still with me.
I became bed bound and could not walk without
I now have seizure disorder, damaged red
blood cells, peripheral and central nervous system disorder, liver damage,
toxic encephalopathy, and extreme chemical sensitivity.