My problems are thankfully not as severe
as others on the Wall, but I thought my experience (below) might be of
I want to point out that some of my exposures
were due to my own ignorance and carelessness, such as overuse and misuse
People need to understand that pesticides
are very dangerous and should NOT be used casually. I wish they weren't
used at all.
Thanks for all the work you're doing.
Age 4: First migraine, with vomiting -
Gramma's basement, near furnace.
Age 5-8: More migraines - Gramma's house.
Used frozen butter knife on forehead for relief. Gramma said children didn't
have headaches. (I now realize most of my childhood headaches were at Gramma's
house, which leads me to wonder about the furnace.)
Age 6-7: Later reports revealed that the
U.S. government conducted radiation experiments at a school in my neighborhood.
(I attended another school.) Newspaper reports said that people living
in the area blame the experiments for their health problems.
Age 8 or 9: City started mosquito spraying
every summer. I played outside all day, every day. Also swam frequently
in local lakes where spraying may have been concentrated. Began disliking
smell of some perfumes.
Age 11: Developed migraine in newly rented
house. Large blind spot in center of vision.
1964, age 17: Migraine w/vomiting at Senior
Prom - headache started at Gramma's house, where I mowed the lawn after
getting my hair done at a downtown beauty salon. (I was not drinking.)
1967, after move to new apartment: Constant
headaches. Doctor prescribed iron, and said headaches were a common problem
for bored/frustrated young housewives like me. Couldn't argue there. Can't
remember if iron helped headaches, because I moved out of apartment (and
left my husband) shortly afterward. Headaches went away.
1969: Hospitalized overnight with carbon
monoxide poisoning resulting from a leaky exhaust on a long drive. Oxygen
provided immediate relief from excruciating pain.
1972: Throw pillow fell on floor heater
while I was sleeping and smoked for some time before bursting into flames.
I carried it outside and threw water on it, but the thick artificial fibers
that filled the pillow continued to smolder for about 12 hours in spite
of repeated dowsings. Had a hard time waking step-brother, who was also
exposed to smoke.
1972-75: Frequently used No-Pest Strips
(later banned for toxicity) in kitchen and dining area to control flies.
1975: Had asthma attack while painting
1975: Developed sudden blinding headache
while driving home from job interview -- blamed it on exhaust, but could've
been caused by something (perfume?) at the interview. Barely got home in
time to throw up in the toilet.
1976: Fogged apartment for fleas at least
twice in one summer. Followed directions to leave for 3 hours, then came
back and opened windows, choking and coughing. Came back three hours later.
Insecticide smell still caused respiratory irritation.
1980: Used an entire can of Raid to spray
mother's apartment for bad fly infestation, trying unsuccessfully to hold
my breath. Aired the place out after three hours and took her back.
1991: Working in basement job, had several
migraines. Began seeing large blind spots. Opthamologist said it was probably
caused by food allergy.
1992: Developed sudden migraine while attending
a class at U of M. Noticed strong perfume in classroom. Barely able to
drive 20 miles home, where I threw up in driveway.
1992: Began experiencing extreme drowsiness
driving to work at 4 a.m. -- unable to control/focus eyes while driving,
constant low-level headaches.
1993: Moved into apt. w/gas fireplace in
same bldg. w/roommate who used plug-in air fresheners in her bathroom.
I tried them in mine and immediately began having migraines. Son had two
emergency room visits for asthma. Tried Skin-So-Soft as mosquito repellant--immediate
migraines. Stopped using it, but still had headaches. Finally traced them
to leaky gas fireplace. Headaches ended when fireplace was fixed.
1993: Bought a house, and began having
immediate respiratory problems and headaches/vomiting episodes, which were
traced to several gas leaks in the house.
1994: Decided to try eliminating fragranced
detergent, personal products and felt much better. Daily headaches stopped.
Asked coworkers to stop wearing fragrance, with varying success.
1994: Borrowed roommate's Tide to do laundry
- migraines returned. Also noticed immediate return to extreme drowsiness
driving to work at 4 a.m. -- unable to control/focus eyes while driving.
Rewashed clothes in fragrance-free detergent and symptoms disappeared.
Was finally convinced that fragrance is cause of headaches.
1995: Attended business meeting and sat
between two scented women for four hours. Developed migraine, drove home
and vomited on side of road.
1995: Attended seminar and had to wait
in line in strongly "air-freshened" restroom for10-15 minutes. Developed
immediate migraine. Went home and vomited.
1996: Developed migraine after coworker
shared 'natural' hand lotion with me. Asked new employer to enforce company
ban on fragrance in work area. Coworkers ignored him. Suffered frequent
headaches as a result.
1997: After several headaches, asked new
supervisor (same company) to ask employees to stop wearing fragrance, without
1997: Tried to clean mildew from shower
with chlorine bleach (straight). Fumes caused sore throat, some respiratory
distress. Stopped using chemical cleaning products.
1999: Asked employer to ban fragrance again,
with more success this time, but one employee continued to wear strong,
sickening fragrance. Asked her privately to stop wearing perfume, which
she insisted she wasn't wearing. We finally figured out it was her lotion.
She graciously stopped wearing it, but soon left the company. Her replacement
wore fragrance that caused headaches/nausea. I quit.
Present: Now working at home, part-time.
Sensitivity is increasing. Fragrances on buses and in supermarket give
me headaches after only brief exposure (5-10 minutes). One fragrance on
a bus caused an asthma attack, though I don't have asthma.
Began showering and washing hair after
being out in public--otherwise, residual fragrance *on me* rubs off on
sheets, pillows, blankets, and I spend days doing laundry over and over
to root out the cause of my headaches. Can no longer sit or lie down on
couch because of lingering detergent/fragrance from the clothes of visitors.
Asked son's friends to shower and change
into his clothes when they come to visit. Asked close friend to change
detergent and personal products so she and her family can visit. Asked
son's class not to wear fragrance on the days that I read to them.
Decided to stay home as much as possible
to avoid exposure, bought a mask to wear on the bus. Trying to learn more
about eliminating toxins from my system, organic foods, cleansing programs,
saunas, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). Trying to find an EI (Environmental
Illness) doctor who can help me now that I no longer have health insurance