On the whole I try to keep a positive outlook in spite of my affliction. Every once in a while, though, one needs to let off some steam, let her guard down, be open and honest. Today is that day. It's sort of appropriate because my last post was my 300th, and MCS is one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place.
So what, you ask, are the symptoms I experience after an exposure? The list is quite lengthy. And not every chemical creates the same reactions. Generally I know I've run into something toxic from the way my sinus cavities feel. That's the first alarm bell. Sometimes I can actually detect a fragrance or odor but that has become unreliable. My olfactory senses have been burned out in some cases and I can no longer smell certain smells. I may feel lightheaded or woozy. I may just have an overall feeling of nausea. I may notice that suddenly I can't keep a thought in my head or find the words I want. I turn into a stammering idiot (no offense to those who suffer from speech impediments) - or at least that's how it feels.
I confess to driving my car when it probably wasn't safe for me to do so. My judgement becomes impaired in subtle ways. Often it's not until I get home or run over a curb that I realize I probably shouldn't have been driving. However, it's usually the only way I can get home.
I have discovered that if I eat a custard cup of frozen organic blueberries as soon as possible after I've run into something toxic it mitigates the reaction. Not always, and not very much sometimes, but it does sometimes help. The headache that develops after exposure will not be as severe for example. Headaches are the big kahuna of reactions. For me anyway. They do not respond to aspirin, Tylenol, ibuprofen or any other over the counter analgesic. The only thing that removes a headache is something that puts me to sleep (and I don't think the headache actually goes away in those circumstances!). I have a very intense, dull headache this morning after yesterday's escapade. That's almost 24 hours after the event.
I also suffer from chills after an exposure to toxic fumes. Nothing I can do will warm me up. I get grouchy and short tempered. I'm restless but can't think well enough to sew or read or do anything. Or I can't stay awake at all and sleep for 12 hours straight. I engage in retail therpay online. I play countless games of solitaire. I overeat the few things I'm allowed to eat. It's just a spinning wheel of pain and discomfort everytime I try to go out and be a normal person, and then I come home and try to cope.
The tail end of the cycle is depression. At least I've learned to recognize that that's what it is. When I start to feel depressed I know it's almost over. And I remind myself that the thoughts going through my head are not true, not real. They are the result of the toxins I was exposed to 12 or 24 or 36 hours ago. It still amazes me that mere fumes can make a person react on an emotional, sub-conscious level. That is perhaps the most frightening reason to demand that manufacturers remove toxic chemicals from the products most people use every day. Never mind that there are known carcinogens in those products as well and that people are dying from more kinds of cancer than ever before. Honest to Pete, people, prevention is the cure. For everything.