One of the first signs of being chemically sensitive is the neurological alterations, also known as brain fog. Brain fog is challenging for someone addicted to thinking. You want to start doing something, but you can’t quite figure out how. It feels like stepping off a cliff into the unknown. You would build a bridge, but you can’t remember what a bridge looks like, much less how to build one. So you stand and pray the fog clears so you can see your way through, across, over, or around whatever is out there keeping you from planning, deciding, solving problems, or being creative.
This wasn’t always my life. I was an educator for almost 30 years in every type of situation— college, high school, government, business, preschool, and a variety of volunteer activities. Through most of the years, I was raising a family, doing volunteer work, and going to school simultaneously. I admit I dropped a lot of balls while juggling so many, but in the end, I got most of it done. Then I had the opportunity to work from home, start writing, and direct a foundation that created a community garden at a preschool. At the end of two years, I turned the garden over to the school, and was ready to focus on writing professionally full-time. For reasons I probably will never know, the chemical sensitivity I’d fought successfully for decades flipped me on my behind.
The fogginess I’d always been able to push through, sleep through and even work through became unmanageable. Since we were getting ready to move, I chalked it up to stress. We were leaving my dream house, and while it was a difficult decision, my husband’s asthma had taken a profound turn for the worse. We packed up all our belongings, rented an off-season house in Maine, and began our search for a new home. Within a month, his asthma improved dramatically, and my brain went into storage with most of our belongings. After two months, I knew something other than stress was wrong. Stress was my BFF. This was not. After my first asthma attack and ever the drama queen, I started giving my husband ultimatums (ultimata?). Something in the house was killing me. I needed to leave. Now.
We bought a used RV where I felt I could control my environment and since we both work “from home,” headed out on a cross-country tour. Our first extended stay was in Virginia. We fell in love and cancelled the rest of the tour. My brain began functioning in fits and starts, and I dug into research. What I discovered, based on my physical, emotional, and mental reactions, was that I had just had a crash course in exposure to heating oil fumes. Since it was an older home with a well, the water was also most likely polluted from decades of oil dripping on the ground. When the enormity of this hit, there was a strident conversation with my husband in which I explained loudly that we had been living on a superfund site. The only consolation was that it had been no longer than six months.
Convinced we needed to recuperate and detox, we rented a newer house built with sustainable methods located in a small town surrounded by farms. It took a few months to realize that this newer house was constructed with materials from overseas. Every shower leaked and had been since it started it’s short life 5 years before. There was a significant amount of mold. In addition, after one cycle of seasons, we came to recognize a new kind of fogginess— agricultural. The bucolic farms were owned by families who had lived there since before the Civil War, and who owed their livelihoods to Big Ag. Herbicides (probably glyphosate), pesticides, biosolids and genetically modified corn, soybeans, and alfalfa each have a time of year in which they dominate. The mental exertion required to move through these chemicals is like slogging through quicksand with moments of sinking.
Despite the days I feel like the poster child for chemical trespass, I have hope. I’m in much better physical health than I was before we moved the first time. Through a series of synchronous encounters and because the only allopathic doctor I visited said my spontaneous bruising, brittle hair and purple nails were from stress, I abandoned corporate medicine and have never felt better. I was fortunate not only to find an alternative healer, but an herbalist, and have access to local produce from organic farmers, honey from organic beekeepers, and meat that is organic, no hormones or antibiotics, free-range, and grass-fed. I even know a wonderful woman with MCS who makes soaps she sells at the farmers’ market. I’ve found that in the midst of all the chemical chaos around me, there are heroic people working daily to provide alternatives to all the things that pollute our bodies and the earth. Some days the challenges feel insurmountable, but then there are these people who provide resources and support. That gives me hope.
The desire to share that hope was the foundation for this website. I have up-close and personal experience with some pretty interesting chemicals— car exhaust, ozone, jet fuel, glyphosate, benzene, toluene, heating oil fumes, mold, and corporate agriculture “stuff.” As I cleaned up my life, I found most sane, affordable, sustainable solutions were from homesteaders and “preppers.” That's not to say that professional medical personnel and even the random famous person don’t have something to offer. It’s just their remedies have been typically either inaccessible or unaffordable for me. My solutions have to fit into the “normal” person category and be broad spectrum, to borrow a term from herbicide manufacturers.
Chemical sensitivity is a moving target. The chemicals you're exposed to can change from day to day. You have to try different things to see what works and frequently try a variety of things all on the same day. Of course, there are times when I am just plain old weary of it all and want to give up. Fortunately, I have always found another person with a success story, another remedy to try, another researcher pulling together invaluable information, even another politician working to get legislation passed so pollution doesn’t damage our children’s health and futures. They renew my hope.
Hope is the key. Pollution is not going away soon enough so finding ways to cope with it is the best response. That doesn’t mean we don’t stop challenging polluters. It does mean we have to be well enough to put up a fight. We have to put our masks on first. To do that, we have to keep looking, keep trying different things, and not give up. Ever.
This website is organized around being informed, staying hopeful, and never giving in or giving up. The overall approach is holistic-- mind, body, and earth aka the environment around you. Your thinking is the first and most important thing to work on. Despite the fog, you have to be clear in your thinking. Yes, I know the chemicals are doing their best to confuse you. Few people really talk the down and dirty of the emotional manipulation chemicals do. So clearing your mind of all other negative influences keeps the chemicals from having their way with your thoughts. The best part of getting rid of all the mind pollution is that it costs absolutely nothing. Nada. Zip. Without the negative seeds being planted daily through television, movies, music, gaming, advertising, etc., the chemicals won’t have as much to work with. You will be better able to cope and remain hopeful.
Next is taking charge of your body. Change your eating habits. Despite what you may think or have been told, eating nutritiously and clean is within your control and budget. It may not be easy to get off the chemicals disguised as food, but it is an absolute necessity. They mess with your mind and they mess up your body. I’m not talking strict diet here. There’s only one rule— whatever you eat, it has to be organic. Period. And we'll talk mold-free dieting, too.
Third, control your environment. This means get the toxics out of your house. You can’t do much about what’s outside so you have to do what you can about what’s inside. Once you realize how much better you feel without the cleansers, detergents, and fragrances, you’ll want to find ways you can get those same toxics out of your child’s school so he/she learns better, behaves better and yes, even tests better. You’ll want toxics off the playground and ballfields so your child is more coordinated. You’ll want them out of the stores so you buy the things YOU want to buy and not the impulse purchases the scents in the store influence you to buy. And you’ll want them out of your water, air, and soil because it is your inherent right to live in a clean environment.
It all starts with your mind. Clear your thinking so you own your thoughts. Change your body so your physical self is renewed. Control your environment so you can protect yourself and your loved ones from harmful chemical trespass.
The full scope of chemical sensitivity hasn’t been discovered yet and new solutions, strategies, ideas come out all the time. To accommodate the new information and make the older available, this website will be a work in progress so check back frequently. I encourage you to become intimately familiar with the research on MCS and mold. At some point, you will want to explain it to someone else. Look through the other pages. Pick and choose those things that will help you clear your mind of other people’s thoughts, change your body with healthy foods, herbs, and fluids, and control your personal environment so you have a safe place to heal and stay well.
Disclaimer: I’m NOT a medical doctor so you should seek one out if you are having serious physical or emotional problems; however, the information on this website is for becoming a healing force in your life, your family’s lives, and the Earth. Please use it responsibly.