I have mentioned so many times about my isolation. I have also mentioned that I have become strong enough that I can make a 20 minute journey (only with my mask on) into Target to grab an item or two as long as I don’t make a habit of it. Usually I don’t go by myself unless it is very early in the morning and the store is pretty much deserted. Recently I needed two graduation cards and my Seventh Generation Laundry Soap. I got up early and headed for the store. I managed to get the cards without a problem. Then I needed to get my laundry soap. The problem is that all laundry soaps are in the same area (including my Seventh Generation) along with all other fragranced household products.

As I made my way towards that section of the store, I worried about a reaction that might render me brainless and coughing and gagging. When my daughter or husband is with me I just stay a few aisles back and let them fetch my soap. Hmmm. Suddenly I saw a Target employee. I said, “Excuse me. I need some help.” He asked what I needed and I pointed to my mask and said that I have a very hard time with chemicals and could not go to the cleaning section to get my soap. Without any hesitation he asked what I needed and went off in search of my soap. A few minutes later he returned with my exact brand and size. He told me not to hesitate to ask for assistance any time I needed help.

Fast forward and I have made a quick trip with my daughter to pick out some party supplies and leave. Suddenly I hear someone ask if I need help getting anything. I turn around and see the gentleman that helped me weeks before. I said I was fine and he again reminded me that any time I needed assistance to feel free to ask for it. This made my day.

As we celebrate National MCS Awareness Month, I found it encouraging that not only did the gentleman help me but that weeks later he recognized me (Okay how could he miss me with my white charcoal mask with strings hanging down on the sides?), offered to help and once more reminded me that I should never hesitate to ask for help. While it is difficult to get out and do these short trips, I believe I am bringing some awareness to the plight of those suffering from multiple chemical sensitivity and environmental illness. I also I believe that I am showing my strength by venturing out in public with this mask covering my face, walking tall, and not allowing the mask and the looks on the faces of others to make me feel less than I am.

We who suffer with MCS and other environmental or “invisible” illnesses are much stronger than we realize. This is evidenced by the stance we take and the growing number of blogs and articles being written to raise awareness. We are STRONG and we will continue to raise awareness one blog or one article at a time. As I type this post, I am reminded of a song by Sister Sledge.


29 responses to “WE ARE FAMILY


  2. Pingback: WE ARE FAMILY | allergictolifemybattle | sondasmcschatter

  3. Wow! Thats so nice to hear.
    Yes I concur the isolation is SO difficult! It almost seems the more I try to ask for understanding the more I’m excluded. I feel I’m being bullied, its exhausting and disheartening on top of everything else. There are or course many people out there who are compassionate and understanding, just like this Target employee. YEAH!

  4. It warmed my heart to hear this story. Kudos to the young man who helped you.

  5. Kathy, Going to Target disguised as a “chemically sensitive” bandit!   With your sewing abilities this could turn into a great Halloween Costume enterprise!    I’ve been trying to go to church.  Me, my air purifier, oxygen tank and 1 other woman who loses her voice around perfume in a basement room with the door closed.  I hope God appreciates my effort because last week a beautiful black church woman opened the door to our room to say “Hello” and then said, “I won’t come in because I have a lot of perfume on!”   That was an understatement.  She took 1 step backward, left the door open and tried to talk to Pauline and me.  I instantly began head jerking, gasping for air, my vision blurred, voice disappeared and the right side of my body misbehaved very badly.  I elbowed passed fragrant Yolanda, making a beeline for my car and the full oxygen tank and fresh “un-perfumed” air to breathe.  (Yolanda is very nice – but clueless, like most people – to the affects perfumes has on chemically sensitive people)  Two wonderful men carried my machine and oxygen tank up the stairs (no elevator).  They got me in my car because I kept my uncontrollable jerking and wobbling made it impossible for me to insert my car key into the door lock.  Reminded me of Texas!   Concerned fragrant church people gathered around me trying to help!   People are so kind but they don’t understand.  Years ago I would have become embarrassed but I just lurched toward them saying “back up.  back up.  don’t come near me.”   This was my 4th time at church and I’m going back Sunday because I am sick and tired of being a hermit!  Besides, maybe I can educate some of these “normal” people!   Sounds like you’re living the good life.  Target,  White masks.  Keep smiling, asking for help and start a new trend! Love ya!   Ann

      and years  ago Years ago I would have been embarrassed to have drawn a crowd

    • Yes, a chemically sensitive bandit. Did I ever post the story of the store owner thinking a friend and I might be trying to rob her as we stood outside the shop with our masks on hiding our faces (I don’t remember – but will have to look through my posts to see).

      Oh, I remember the days in Dallas. We used to say that when you reacted, it reminded us of the “bobble head” dolls in the backs of cars. You are brave to try church. I haven’t attempted that yet. There is a motorcycle group that has a “It Ain’t Your Momma’s Church” group. I have wondered if they would meet outside so I can attend. Sometimes I wonder if the exposure is worth the education of any but I, too, am so tired of being a hermit. Together we can all raise some awareness in our own ways even if it is a short appearance and even if we are wearing a mask that covers our faces. Let’s stand strong and let the “normies” know what their life could be. After all it only takes the right exposure at the right time in one’s life to become one of us.

  6. Great post, and such a happy feel good song! You are very strong for venturing out on these journeys with your MCS!

    • Sometimes these ventures turn out and other times, I pay dearly for them. I am, as Ann says in her comment, so tired of being a hermit and living in isolation and fear. I have learned that I will survive most exposures (mold being not a good exposure as it is cumulative in my body) even if they leave me ragged for a while. I just have to pick my poison so to speak. If there is more than one errand in a week I have to choose which one I will try and which one I may have to delegate to someone else. I can’t go everywhere and I can’t do it every day. Most days my car never leaves the garage. I am thankful that I am strong enough to make these simple trips but remember where I have been and where I don’t want to go again.

  7. I can’t even go down the laundry products aisle without feeling sick. If I’m exposed too long to a laundry product, I get those awful migraines.
    It’s so nice to come across people who are understanding and willing to help, rather than be rude, judgmental and critical.

    • Yes. With all the stories I have heard, I have been most fortunate to have had the kind of help lately and kindness shown to me. I am not sure if I posted about my meeting with the massage therapist either. Guess that is another thing I need to check into because she was a dear.

  8. Good for you Kathryn! I know how hard it must be, but you had a double pay-off – you triumphed and you discovered that people can be kind and caring. -hugs- p.s. I remember this song. 🙂

  9. Just… wow. This continues to be so eye-opening for me, Kathryn. Blessings to that kind-hearted, compassionate soul at Target, and to you on this remarkable journey.
    Also, I’m loving the clean look of your blog. 🙂

  10. Can you tell me where to find such a mask?

  11. Thank you! The one with the activated charcoal, correct?

  12. Reblogged this on allergictolifemybattle and commented:

    As part of Invisible Illness Awareness Week, I am reminded that “We Are Family”.

  13. How wonderful to be seen as a person rather than for your “disability”. I tried to convince my local store to move the “safe” laundry soap. Right now they have it in the MIDDLE of the aisle sandwiched between all the toxic bleach and scented soap and fabric softeners…. I wonder if there is an evolutionary trend to eliminate common sense.

  14. Kathy – you are one amazing lady and an inspiration to us all to go out in the world. Love meeting nice and helpful people – give Target a high five in customer service.

  15. As a chronically ill and chemically-sensitive person who’s been on disability for over 20 years, I share your struggle with isolation and your desire to bring awareness of MCS and Environmental Illness to the public. Though I am saddened by the fact that experiences like yours (at Target) happen so infrequently, I am encouraged by the fact that you found the help you needed, and the respect that you deserve, from a truly caring Target employee. Years ago I stopped shopping at Target – and numerous other stores where I’ve had problems related to chemical exposure – because I was uncomfortable wearing a mask and being stared at by insensitive people – but perhaps, now, I’ll give it another try!

    I regret that, in my efforts to protect myself from the severe and debilitating symptoms of toxic chemical exposure, I have become increasingly resigned to the isolation of spending most of my time in my relatively safe home environment – which has, inevitably, led to periods of depression and loneliness. I applaud your efforts to raise the general-public’s awareness of MCS, Environmental Illness, and other illnesses (e.g. Porphyria, etc.) involving chemical sensitivities – and I shall make a renewed effort to do the same!

    • Penni, Thank you for that wonderful comment. I appreciate that you have taken the time to read this post and comment. I have decided that wearing my mask in public is no longer going to embarrass me. I also find that fewer people stare at me as before or maybe they still but I no longer pay attention and go about doing what I need to quickly do and get back out of the store. I, along with some other amazing bloggers that I have met, are determined to continue to bring awareness to this much misunderstood condition. I am not an expert on Porphyria but I do have a friend that has it and has made it her mission to learn everything she can to survive. I wish you all the best in your renewed effort to raise awareness.

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