MCS affects millions of Americans with debilitating health effects. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
Remember, just because you can’t fully comprehend something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. If someone mentions to you they have an environmental illness, sickbuilding syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity or mold poisoning, take them serious. Most who suffer from such illnesses already feel hesitant to talk about it because people often look at us like we have a big spot on our forehead. Surely, we are making a great big deal out of some little allergy! Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Social Security Administration, The American with Disabilities Act, EPA and Dept. of Housing and Urban Development and other agencies recognize MCS. Over 36.5 million Americans are chemically sensitive, and more than 5.2 million are at risk of losing their jobs as a result. Yet this most devastating illness is poorly understood or accepted in the real world.
It’s hard to explain this affliction in a way that others can really understand how serious it is. It’s chronic and can be life-threatening. We have to be very aware of our surroundings and need people to respect our disability the same as if we had any other illness. We are very real people with a very REAL illness. Most of us end up with MCS, multiple chemical sensitivity, as a result of a single exposure to a highly toxic chemical or a long-term chronic exposure. For example, I have a good friend with mcs due to an exposure to toulene. Yet in our case, we were chronically exposed to numerous molds and dangerous mycotoxins, trichothecene and aflatoxins for 18 months.
As we inhale, absorb and ingest these poisons our whole body is affected. Our immune system breaks down, our cells are damaged and we have multiple organ damage. At this time, we know of no cure. The effects of MCS are never identical in any two people. Our genetics and bodies are all different. There is no exact pattern of symptoms, as we are all uniquely made. Also our levels, types and lengths of exposures vary.
My physician said mcs is well recognized in the environmental community as the spreading phenomenon. The initial chemical triggers a biological reaction mechanism which causes the body to react to a wide range of substances that never seemed to bother us before. These can be air fresheners, pesticides, cleaning products, perfumes and so many other things. Sometimes we can’t predict how we’ll react to what. Often we don’t even know what it was that caused the reaction.
We often appear to look perfectly normal. We are often told, “but you don’t look sick!” People, often even family and friends, feel our symptoms are highly exaggerated. Sometimes we get an immediate reaction. Other times we seem to suffer a delayed reaction to an exposure. It’s very frustrating and hard to deal with.
What others might perceive as a minor exposure to inks, paints, smoke, perfumes, carpet cleaners, exhaust fumes, electrical fields, electromagnetic fields and other agents can steal all quality of life for days or weeks. We can even lose our life! Obvious and immediate reactions can be headache, naseau, pin-hole pupils, seizures, muscular pain, mental confusion, slurred speech, loss of voice and lack of coordination. Delayed reactions can include longer-term neurological impairment, respiratory malfunction, bloodshot eyes, choking, insomnia and severe chest pain among other things.
With very few physicians who understand this illness and many who even deny its’ existence they often try to treat symptoms with antidotes that can further break down our immune system and do us no good at all. Thus the cycle continues. Our body gets weaker and weaker.
We get where it takes smaller and smaller exposures to cause an adverse reaction. We become even more hypersensitive. It seems like everywhere we go something makes us sick. We can be very careful and still have no control over some situations we find ourselves in.
We stay in a state of turmoil. One day we may appear halfway normal, then out of nowhere we have a severe reaction. It was not our choice to have this illness and we totally understand it’s hard for others to comprehend. We couldn’t even understand it ourselves until we felt it taking place over and over again. Many of us had no idea what was even happening to us. Our sense of smell is so keen. All we ask is to show us the same respect you would show others who are disabled or suffer from a chronic illness.
If we tell you certain products and chemicals bother us, please know that we have already seen what these toxins do to us. We never forget the pain inflicted by various chemicals, molds, vocs and other things we react to.
We are being straight with you. We really can’t tolerate certain things! If you care about us, please take us seriously! You may somehow think if you tell us you’re not wearing scented perfume or hide the fact Pest Control just sprayed your house with pesticides that we’ll probably be okay. It doesn’t work that way. It’s not the smell that makes us sick. It’s the biological action of the chemicals on a now sensitized brain and body.
You really are playing with our life when you don’t try to avoid using these products around us. We know the world is not going to change for us. Yet we don’t want to live in a bubble. We want to be around the people we love. A life without family and friends feels like a mere existence which becomes very empty and lonely. If you really care, please realize how serious this health issue is and do what you can to help us deal with an already difficult condition.