September 27, 2009

Healing Humour: A Great Poem About Fudge

Those of you with food sensitivities may appreciate this great poem by Amestress on her blog Life: The Final Attempt (not really).

It's called I Remember Fudge: a eulogy and to me it felt like she was using humour to express some painful feelings about loss.

I am green with envy over her writing skills!
Amestress is using dance to track her recovery from MCS and posts videos (sometimes with fun songs that crack me up :).

I personally have found humour to be a great coping skill and sometimes a healing tool. On down days, I access the healing properties of laughter by watching funny videos online or reading funny stories/books. Studies show that laughter can improve immune system health, increase oxygen to the brain, reduce pain and stress and much more.

Thanks Amestress both for permission to link and for inspiring me!

September 13, 2009

Celebrating MCS Improvements Part 4: Going Maskless

It seems like a very long time since I have posted on the blog! I've been living in clean air in the woods for the summer and it's been so healing... but more about that another time :-)

I came across this old draft of a post I began writing back in January. It was so neat to read it again today and realise how much things have changed since then and I wanted to share.

*Note* There are many different kinds of 'masks' that people with MCS use. When I refer to a 'mask' I am talking about a small 'respirator' I wear that has a layer of activated carbon in it which can adsorb a certain amount of VOCs and chemicals. It is not tolerated by all due to the synthetic materials it is made from.
This is not one of the large respirators that have canister filters - they filter much more and are excellent for MCS from what I hear IF one can get them outgassed enough so a
s to not react to the respirator itself.

Here is the January 2009 post:

I now have a few select places I can go without a mask - something I thought would be forever impossible. Just yesterday I was out without mask and realised that it no longer felt terrifying like it did when I first began doing so (maybe a year ago).

I know my body and intuition well enough now to trust them. If I have the feeling that today is a mask day, then I wear my mask(s). If not, I try to trust that feeling too although it's a bit harder (scarier).
There are some places that I expect will be quite a while before I go unmasked. Grocery stores (the dreaded detergent aisle that contaminates the entire store), malls (have gone unmasked once), department stores, hardware stores, anywhere that has air 'freshener'.

Fast forward 9 months to September 2009:

I was so excited to read that old post because it is inspiring to
realise just how FAST I am improving! it may feel like I am crawling along while I'm doing it, but things like this give me perspective. Only 9 months ago, I though it would be possibly years before I could go somewhere stinky like a mall or big grocery store.
I can now go to those 'dreaded' huge grocery stores, malls and department stores with no mask. (though I do not go down the aisles that have detergent, perfume, air f
resheners - that would just be stupid ☺)

There are days when I can tell it would not be a good idea so I go masked but generally, I can now go those places unmasked with no lasting effects. I get a so
re throat or nose - depending on whether I breathe through my mouth or nose - and I get varying degrees of brain fog still. Other than that, my reactions are almost none and my recovery time is almost immediate upon getting into clean air again.
Even one year ago, I would have a chemical 'hangover' for at least the following day if not longer. And that's if I went wearing a mask.

I can't imagine how bad it would have been without the mask. I know the recovery time was much longer if my mask was older and less effective at filtering out VOCs.

I waited a long time to post about this and here is why: people with MCS sometimes take risks like this when they are getting better and end up having it set them back.

I knew that some readers may be concerned I was taking a foolish risk. It's hard to communicate to anyone else what my relationship with my intuition is like and the decision to go places maskless could seem ridiculous and totally unsafe. I wanted to wait to post until a good deal of time had passed and I could say, with confidence, the following:

I am still improving while taking these calculated risks. I am not setback, I am not in a holding pattern. I am still getting better and better... and it's wonderful! ☺☻☺

I want to add a very important caution here.
Please, please do not try something like this based on my personal experience.
This is a big risk to take and should only be taken if you and your health care professional confer about it.
I only made the decision to do this after I had been steadily improving for quite some time. I began very tentatively with a lot of time in between exposures at first to assess how my body was reacting. I also listen very closely to my body and, if it is having a harder day, I either wear the mask or just stay at home.
I feel it is very important to move forward in ways like this only when it is
realisticly wise to do so - not just because we want to be able to. It is possible for people with MCS to be vulnerable to denial - to wanting our freedom so much that we take unwise risks.