Tag Archives: chemical sensitivity

Nose Blind?

I, and several other bloggers who suffer from multiple chemical sensitivity, talk about how hard difficult it is to navigate  public places and deal with the multitude of fragrances both in the buildings themselves and on those in the buildings. Have you ever walked by and thought the person you just passed must have bathed in perfume?  Since becoming ill I have thought that these people have masked to chemicals or have simply lost the ability to smell. Therefore, they keep putting on their fragrances until they can detect the fragrance.

I remember returning to my last workplace after becoming ill and being absent for many months. I had gone to gather my things because it was obvious that I would not be able to return to work. I walked in with my mask to gather up my belongings. Suddenly I realized that their were fragrances. The fragrances were everywhere I turned. They were overpowering even with my mask on. I quickly walked out. My fellow co-workers wanted to visit with me. I had to stand outside and keep them at a distance. I asked them if they had always worn perfume? They all replied that they had. Why hadn’t I noticed before? Why didn’t I notice the odor of the paint that was being applied to the door facings while I sat at my “new” desk with “new” carpeting still being laid down around me? My only answer is that my sinuses, because of so many infections and surgeries, just could no longer detect anything. I was sick everywhere I went but had no idea all these chemicals were adding to my body’s already weakened system and over all body burden.

It wasn’t until recently when I had a bad night and could not sleep that I turned on the television and heard a commercial. AHA! There was the answer. I  had been “nose blind” due to all that my sinuses had gone through. This also explains why so many others not only where perfume or cologne, but bathe in it. They are “nose blind” until they get to a certain level of fragrances.

 

The commercial was for “Febreze”. The person was talking about their pets and the odors they caused. The person said she had become “nose blind” to all the pet odors. When friends came to visit it was like visiting a place with twice as many animals. The answer, of course, was to just spray the house with “Febreze”!

The chemical industry is bombarding us with more and more chemicals on a daily basis. I forget the number of new chemicals that are introduced each year; the number is staggering. Dr. Rea said once that we were just the tip of the iceburg so to speak when he talked about chemical sensitivities.

We need to stay vigilant and continue to speak out about the dangers of chemicals and the debilitating effect they have on us.

 

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Is this reaction Histamine worthy?

How many of you remember the Sponge Worthy  episode from Jerry Seinfeld? The whole episode revolves around the discontinuance of the Contraceptive Sponge.  Elaine stockpiles cases of the “sponge”.  She goes to every pharmacy she can find to buy whatever is left. Then suddenly she is faced with the dilemma of whether or not her date is “sponge worthy”. Does she dare waste one of her precious sponges on him.

Recently I noticed that my vial of histamine was getting low.  I emailed an order for more. I was told that because it had been too long since I was actually seen in Dallas, I would have to return for a visit before I could get any more.   A visit to Dallas is not possible now. I am working on something else that may help me.  In the meantime, I have to decide whether or not a reaction is “histamine worthy”.  Do I try to ride out a reaction when I normally would have just given myself an injection and gone on about my day? OR Do I give myself an injection and hope I don’t have any reactions that will require histamine?

Just last week I had a reaction to someone’s cologne/perfume/whatever in my doctor’s waiting room. I went outside and was coughing and gagging so much that I disrupted the dentist in the office next door. He came outside to see if I was alright and to see if I needed any help. To my dismay I only had my inhaler and had completely forgotten to bring my histamine with me. By the time I got back into the office my usual BP of 112/70 was 149/90.  I was stuck letting myself ride out the reaction when it would have been so much nicer to have calmed my body down.

What types of situations have you been in where you have to decide if something is “sponge worthy/histamine worthy”?

When it Rains it Pours!

Well it has definitely been pouring at my house and I don’t mean rain.  I have been dealing with an ankle that has been swelling off an on for the last few weeks.  At first we thought I must have twisted it.

This past Wednesday, my osteopath/acupuncturist decided that we have waited long enough.  She thought because it was warm that I might have cellulitis (an infection of the skin or tissue). She ordered a round of antibiotics (Ceftin). I had taken it about six weeks ago or less for a sinus infection that would not go away and didn’t react to it. She also decided to be safe and have an ultrasound done on my leg to rule out a blood clot.

Thursday morning I started the antibiotic and Thursday afternoon I went to have the ultrasound done. I walked into the room and the technician told me that I would have to remove my jeans and cover up with the sheet. I told her that I didn’t want the sheet on me and asked for a paper sheet which she didn’t have.  She left the room and came back a few minutes later with a package of paper hospital gowns. She proceeded to place one on the bottom part of the table and one on the top covering the table and the pillow.  She then handed me another to use to cover myself up.  She also used the most sensitive gel she had (still left me with itchy legs).

By yesterday morning I was feeling some stomach upset from the antibiotic. Yesterday afternoon my doctor phoned to tell me that I had a partial deep vein thrombosis.  I could stop the antibiotic but I needed to be on a blood thinner for six months. I told her that I had to think about what my options were. I phoned my internist and had him look over the test results. I also phoned my ENT (both of these doctors have dealt with me from the beginning of this illness). My ENT felt that I should use Coumadin because it was the older of the drugs and less likely to cause as many problems. Also Coumadin is the only drug they can reverse with Vitamin K if my blood becomes too thin. My internist called me back last night saying the same thing and also that he thought it looked like an old clot that was healing but said I still needed to do blood thinners.

Last night I was up all night with severe stomach cramps. At 2:00 a.m. I decided to go find the paper that came with my medication. WONDERFUL! This medication can cause a condition called C-Diff (from killing off too much of my good bacteria and lead to a type of colitis). It can happen while taking the medication or a month or more later. So did the three doses I took cause my stomach issues or was it a combination of those three doses and having taken the medication six weeks ago?

I spoke with my osteopath today. She wants me to wait until Monday to see if my stomach issues calm down before attempting to start Coumadin. If my stomach issues are not better than I need to be tested for C-Diff.

I have spent most of today in bed sleeping either from the fatigue that the antibiotic can cause or that plus being up all night with stomach cramps. I will keep you all updated as I start taking the Coumadin. The usual course of treatment is six months. My osteopath has agreed to do an ultrasound monthly or every six weeks to determine if we can stop it early and get me off the medication.

I am not proofing this post because I am just too tired and feel the need to head back to bed.

Homelessness Part 5: First Aid – could be graphic for some – revisited

In this final installment of Vanessa’s five part series, she discusses first aid and what she feels is paramount to survival on your own.  I first met Vanessa on Planet Thrive.

This is the final installment of a five part blog series on homelessness and survival.  In this section I will address first aid as a homeless person with limited resources.

Disclaimer:  the advice in this section does NOT constitute medical advice.  Please contact 911 or local emergency personnel or your physician if you are having any medical emergency that requires professional medical intervention.

Since I am now uninsured, I informed my doctors that the only way I was going into a hospital was if:

A – I have something large sticking in me.

B – I have something that belongs internally coming out of me.

C – If I am bleeding profusely and cannot stop it. (major artery)

D – If I have broken a major bone needing surgery and/or setting (toes and fingers don’t count).

E – Large open wounds that were beyond my ability to stitch shut (yes, I will stitch some of my wounds shut). i.e. large puncture wounds

F – An infection that either will not go away or is getting worse.

G – I am bitten by an extremely venomous snake or insect (Black widow and rattlesnakes come to mind)

H – I am bitten by an animal. (this includes being mauled by a bear or cougar).

I – Extremely sick to the point of utter incapacitation by pain, dementia (would I know to call for help?), or illness OR death was imminent if I don’t do something.

Everything else I will try to do myself.  These are my general rules and I do not recommend others following these, especially if you have health insurance and do not have to endure prolonging going to the hospital.

Kidding aside, I know that prolonging necessary medical treatment will make whatever I have worse and harder to medically manage, possibly leading to further complications.  The harsh reality for me is that I am uninsured and I have MCS.  I have been in a situation where I told medical staff that I had MCS and was treated like a child.  An x-ray tech that came to my room was swimming in cologne and I asked for him to open the window and he would not.  He pushed me here and there to get the x-ray while I was trying not to cough.  As he left he said, “There’s nothing wrong with you” even though I was spitting up phlegm right in front of him.  I will NOT endure this again.  This is why I came up with the above list and shared it with my doctors so if they received a call that I was hospitalized, it was serious.

I strongly recommend everyone to take first-aid courses if possible, learning CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.  Homeless people need to delve a little further by reading about wilderness first-aid when help is hours if not days away.  In many of the places I stay the best possible response time in usually 2 hours for them to get to me.  The things that I have learned are stop gap measures to enable me to get out to where EMS can reach me faster or until they reach me.

I will cover what I carry in my first-aid kit and suggestions for reading material and resources to get educated on what to do in an emergency.  Again, this is not a substitute for taking first-aid classes and/or doing your own research.

My first aid kit, left to right:

* Various size latex free band-aids (cloth), a couple of the transparent bandages.

*Quick Clot bandage for larger wounds which contains a compound to help blood coagulate faster.

* Steri-strips for butterfly closures (using the strips to close larger wounds that do not require stitches).

* Variety of tapes, different kinds and sizes.  Cloth adhesive, fabric adhesive, etc.

* Two small vials of baking soda (for upset stomachs or heartburn or insect bites)

* Cough drops

* Tincture of Iodine

* Alcohol and Benzalkonium Chloride (from Dr. Rea’s) wipes

* Latex and non-Latex gloves

* Large feminine hygiene pad (for gynecological emergencies or great for large chest or abdominal wounds as an emergency field dressing). (Should carry two)

* One roll of gauze and two rolls of adhesive wrap bandages (for sprains/strains).

* Snakebite kit

* Neosporin/Bactracin

* Excedrin and Aspirin

* Cotton swabs in a vial for applying ointments and iodine.

* Large 5×7 wound dressing

* Kit for foot injuries (blisters, corns, etc).  Contains moleskin, band-aids and a needle to pop blisters.

* Dental floss and Ambesol for dental emergencies

Things I need to add yet (as finances allow) – scalpel, EMT scissors (for cutting through clothing if necessary) and syrup of ipecac (for inducing vomiting if poison is ingested), suture kit (a proper one), dental emergency kit (with material to replace a lost filling, temporarily).

Some of these things have expiration dates (like the Neosporin, Excedrine, etc) and it is important to go through this bag at least once a year to ensure that everything is current.

Things I have in my car for quick first aid (not shown)

* Activated Charcoal (for stomach flu or accidental poisoning or uncontrollable diarrhea).  Warning:  drink lots of water with this and it will turn your stool black.

* Vodka (in a Witch Hazel bottle so I don’t have issues with alcohol containers in the car.  I carry the bottle in the trunk)

* A variety of band-aids and moleskin

* Cheese cloth

*Cut strips of cloth from an old shirt, preferably cotton, for making bandages and compresses

* Tweezers

* Needles (for digging out slivers or other small things in the skin)

* An antibiotic salve with all plant ingredients, Golden Salve by Equinox Botanicals

* Azulene oil (from the Yarrow plant), good for burns, wind chaffing.

* Dercut homeopathic cream for abrasions, cuts, rashes

* Traumheel homeopathic salve for bruises and sprains.

* Clay face mask cream (ready to use).  Good for applying on bites, pimples, skin eruptions (easier than making a baking soda paste)

* 100% Tea Tree oil for antibacterial cleaning and dressing of more severe wounds or infected wounds and for tick bites.

* 100% organic, extra virgin coconut oil (Barleans cooking oil).  This is great for sunburns, dry skin and small abrasions, scrapes.  Keeps skin supple and aids forming scabs on wounds.  Also helps to minimize scaring. (but not recommended in grizzly country, smells strongly of coconut).

(note:  I do not carry aloe any longer as there are no longer 100% aloe gels.  They all contain preservatives of some kind and some need refrigeration)

*Astragalus capsules for when I feel like I am getting sick.  Some people carry Echinacea as well.

I recently received an email from my Naturopaths office regarding first aid kits and equipping them with less toxic homeopathic items.  I am copying from her list and sharing this for those who struggle to find acceptable first aid alternatives.

Digestion:

– Charcoal caps or charcoal powder

– Ipecac syrup

Bites and Stings:

-Homeopathic Apis 30c (oral) – for stings with swellings (bee stings)

-Homeopathic Ledum 30c (oral) – For bites (mosquito or spider)

-All purpose herbal salve (either over the counter like Golden Salve or from your naturopath or homeopath)

Cuts, Abrasions and Burns

-Calendula Succus Tincture – dilute with water and clean wound

-All purpose herbal salve (after wound is cleaned)

Larger wounds that need more attention:

-Homeopathic Cantharsis 30c (oral)

For Burns or Sunburns:

-Lavender Essential Oil – Apply 1-2 drops topically to burns

Bruises and Muscle Aches:

-Homeopathic Hypericum 30c (oral) – for shooting pains or nerve pain

-Homeopathic Arnica 30c (oral) – for bruises and muscle aches

Miscellaneous:

-Hand sanitizer called “Clean Well”

-Epipen (prescription needed) A personal note on Epipens.  I used to carry two but they were ruined due to my inability to keep them from freezing or getting too hot or exposed to direct sunlight.  These need to remain at a fairly constant temperature to keep the epinephrine from degrading and becoming useless.  Keep this in mind if you are living outside 100% of the time with no way of keeping these safe.

-Euphrasia Eye drops – cleansing eyes.  Weleda recommended as it comes in single doses/packets.

-Electrolyte Replacement Packets

I do not recommend getting the small first aid kits that you see in stores.  These are virtually useless (except the container can be used for you to build your kit) as they only address small injuries and not potentially life threatening ones.  Outdoor stores and backpacking stores (REI comes to mind) carry more advanced first aid kits, but they are expensive.  I think it’s cheaper to make your own.)

Here are some things I have improvised:

-Deodorant for skin protection against the wind on my face.  I use Alba Botanical with baking soda and lichen.  This does have a slight odor to it even though it is fragrance free (no added fragrances, but the essential oils are what gives it its odor).  It is waxy, but goes on smooth.  It does not protect against the sun.  As always, do a small test patch to make sure you do not break out.

-Duct tape for slivers.  This is ok, but not always effective for deep slivers.

-Oatmeal for poison ivy.  What I did was break conventional wisdom and scraped the blisters with the dull edge of a knife (wiping the blade each time to prevent spreading).  I then boiled down oatmeal so it was thick.  I separated the water from the oatmeal and kept the oatmeal juice.  I placed the warm oatmeal in a cheese cloth and applied it as a dressing, letting it set for 30 minutes.  After wards I would use the water to dab on the blisters (sometimes using vodka to dry them out).  I did the dressing twice a day (or more if the itching was really bad).

-Apple sauce for diarrhea and whole apples for constipation.  The apple sauce is high in pectin and helps with diarrhea.  The fiber from the raw apples help to facilitate digestion and bowel movements.

-Pitch from either the Douglas Fir or Sub-Alpine Fir for small cuts and abrasions.  I have also used the pitch to make an improvised splint with strips of cloth and a large amount of pitch.  The pitch hardened making support for the arch of my foot and the compounds in the pitch helped with the inflammation.  I do not recommend the Yellow Pine, Lodge pole, Juniper or Ponderosa as the pitch does not seem to harden (make sure to have a tree or plant guide to tell the difference).

Again, this is not a substitute for learning first aid on your own; this provides suggestions for handling some emergencies.

Educational Resources:

Wilderness Medicine, 5th: Beyond First Aid by William W Forgey M.D. (available at Amazon.com in paperback)

American Medical Association Handbook of First Aid and Emergency Care by the American Medical Association (available at Amazon.com)

Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag:  Your 72-hour Disaster Survival Kit by Creek Stewart (available at Amazon.com)

Homelessness Part 1 (Warning Graphic Language) – revisited

A few days ago my dear friend and blogger, Sonda (Sonda’s MCS Chatter) wrote a blog post in tribute to her Homeless MCS Sisters. It got me to thinking about a series of guest blog posts on Living the Homeless Life with MCS by a Planet Thrive friend of mine, Vanessa.  In honor of Sonda’s tribute and Vanessa, I am sharing this six part series again.

This is Part 1 of Vanessa’s posts on Planet Thrive related to living homelessness.  Her bio and history were posted yesterday in Living the Homeless Life with MCS.

This is a subject near and dear to my heart, for obvious reasons.  Given the recent posts by fellow PT’rs (referring to Planet Thrive members)  I feel compelled to write about the realities of homelessness.

It is not an adventure.  Yes, sometimes people talk about it this way, including myself, but this is a defense mechanism to keep sane when your reality sucks.  You have to have a sense of morbid humor when you are forced to shit in a hole year round, pee along roadsides (in bushes) because the rest stops are too much to bear.  It is hard to laugh though when you become violently ill, by yourself, in the middle of nowhere and sometimes without cell coverage to call for help.  I have had full body neuralgia while lying in the front seat of my car and not able to move at all.  I have puked on myself (and yes, shit myself) when I had the stomach flu and no amenities.  All I could do was to clean myself in the break of the stormy weather as best I could with cold water and change my clothes.  These are just a few of the indignities I have endured.

I understand the fear and frustration that comes with facing the prospect of becoming homeless.  I remember clearly in May 2009 as I was coming to grips with my worst nightmare.  I could not sleep for days prior to leaving for the desert.  I finally sucked it up, left and never looked back.  I cried in my tent that night, alone and afraid of what was to come.  I still have moments when I try to envision my future as being healthy, independent and no longer homeless.  I envision myself working and supporting myself once more.  But then the grave reality of my present circumstance comes over me like a frigid tidal wave, dragging me back into the open sea of despair.

I can’t emphasize enough how deciding to live in your car, tent or whatever in the woods is dangerous.  I have read the statistics and the news regarding just how brutal people can be to a homeless person.  The psychology is that the homeless are perceived as weak and that they have no one who cares about their welfare, making them easy targets for harassment.  I have experienced firsthand the degradation of being talked down to by law enforcement.  I remember one officer contemptuously asking me if this was a “lifestyle”.  I simply replied saying “no” when I wanted to say “who the hell chooses to freeze their ass off as a lifestyle.  Get real.”

I could go on about the other perils of living/surviving this way.  This is no way to live and the fact that some people are forced into this standard of living is unconscionable in our nation.  Yes, there are those who really do choose to live homeless, but I think they are the minority.  Any sane, rational individual will not choose this for themselves, their families and friends.  Safe and affordable housing is a necessity, not a luxury, and is one of the pillars needed to facilitate healing.  To obtain and maintain good health the basics such as a safe home, clean water and clean food are essential.  Why this is so hard for some to grasp is beyond me.

I am going to list by category what is necessary to survive and give some resources on where to find supplies.  These things are imperative to survival.

1.  Shelter.  This is the first rule of survival.  You need a place to keep out of the elements.  Getting cold and wet can lead to hypothermia, even if you are in a car.  The car is the obvious shelter of choice, but sleeping in it constantly can lead to back problems (which I have found out the hard way).  You have to come to terms with the fact that sleeping in your car constantly will also ruin the interior making any chance of resale difficult.  There are many styles of tents and many pricing options.  I recommend middle of the road tents.  You don’t need an expedition style tent, but you shouldn’t go for the ones at Walmart either.  You need a tent that will stand up to high winds and the weight of snow.  Tents were also not designed as permanent shelters, they are recreational.  I have two, a one-man bivy tent and a two-man tent.  I wanted a backup for one or the other in case one got destroyed.  Each has its pros and cons.  One person tents are light and compact, however they do not have a lot of room for extra gear inside.  Two person tents are roomy, allows to stow stuff in there with you but are a little more bulky.  Look for the following qualities:

– What seasons are they for?  Are they three season or four?

-Material.  Most tents are made from waterproofed taffeta or nylon/polyester fabrics.  The floors are rubberized for waterproofing.  It took a few months to air out one of my tents.  For a while it smelled like jet fuel whenever it got hot in the sun.  With sufficient airing out, washing/rinsing and hanging in the sun (and rain if need be) it should off gas nicely. (but do not use soap, it will ruin the waterproofing).

-Tents that are for all seasons are more expensive than those used in just three seasons or for the summer.

-Durability.  Keep in mind you are living in this tent, not camping, and need to gauge on the description if it will hold up to the demands of being used constantly.

-Ease of set up.   You don’t want a bunch of pieces to put the tent together.  Keep it simple.

The tents I have are:  Mountain Hardware bivy/one person, three season tent and North Face two person tent, three season.  Places where you can get deals are Campmor, Sierra Trading Post, North Face website, Cabelas.  Campmor usually has some of the best deals.

In addition to a tent you will need at least two tarps, thick grade or “mil”.  The lower the “mil” the thicker the tarp material and vice versa.  I have a 20×20 and 8×10.  The large one I use as a shelter or privacy screen and the smaller one acts as a privacy screen and can be placed under the tent to keep the floor dry in heavy rains (but this can also be accomplished by using two large garbage bags as well).  Along with the tarps you will need at least two ropes, 50 ft  nylon and any longer length of 550lb parachute cord.  You will also need bungee cords (of various sizes) and metal stakes.  You will also need a hammer to drive the stakes into the ground.

2. Security.   You need to be prepared to defend yourself against any aggression whether it is from a person or an animal.  I have heard that some EIs travel with firearms.  I am totally against this not because I am anti-gun, but because I am for responsible gun ownership.  As an EI it is doubtful that the cleaning solvents and lubricants used to maintain a firearm will be tolerated.  To be proficient in the use of a weapon in self-defense, you need to practice with it.  If you don’t practice you might as well throw the cartridges at the aggressor because you’ll have a better chance of hitting them.  As a homeless person, there is no way of properly securing a firearm to prevent it from being stolen.  Hiding it somewhere in the car is not enough.  Any burglar can easily find it and you also don’t want it so well hidden that you can’t get to it in an emergency.  Some have commented that they feel the mere sight of a firearm will deter a criminal.  No it won’t.  It will only draw unwanted attention and create a dangerous situation.  Others have talked about having BB guns or toys as a means of self-defense.  Shooting a would be assailant with a BB gun is like swatting a bull with a fly swatter, you’ll only piss them off.  If you are serious about defense consider these:  Pepper spray or a Taser.  You need to make sure that whatever is coming at you gets no closer than 12 feet.  Pepper spray comes in 30 ft,  12ft and 8ft ranges.  I don’t know what the reach of a taser is, but it probably is less than 12 feet.  There are many places that sell these products.  I purchased my pepper spray kit (all three sizes) from Cabelas.  The manufacture is UDAP based out of Bozeman MT.

Know your territory.  Know where the party spots are and talk with the forest service about potential problems with drugs or drug manufacturing in the forest.  They will know the areas that are questionable.

Do not act like a victim.  Stand straight, look people in the eye, do not disclose too much information about yourself or your circumstances.  This is not the time to serve as an ambassador to spread the information about MCS/EI.

Anything can be used as a weapon.  Your hands, feet, knees, elbows, teeth.  You can pickup rocks, sticks, forks, knives, pots/pans, hot grease, hot water.  The combinations are endless.  You do not have to be trained in self-defense to defend yourself, you just need a good understanding of the human anatomy and the confidence of how to take advantage of it.  However, if you do ever get a chance to take a self-defense course I strongly recommend it.

I am going to stop here for now as this is getting pretty long.  The next segments I will cover are food, water, hygiene, clothing, survival gear, and first aid.

Living The Homeless Life With MCS – revisited

A few days ago my dear friend and blogger, Sonda (Sonda’s MCS Chatter) wrote a blog post in tribute to her Homeless MCS Sisters. It got me to thinking about a series of guest blog posts on Living the Homeless Life with MCS by a Planet Thrive friend of mine, Vanessa.  In honor of Sonda’s tribute and Vanessa, I am sharing this six part series again.

Vanessa and I are friends on Planet Thrive.  Vanessa is in search of a safe place to live.  In the meantime she lives out of her car and her tent year-round.  Vanessa has posted a five-part series on Living Homeless on  the Planet Thrive website.  I have spoken with Vanessa and received her permission to post them here on my blog.    Vanessa is a true survivor with a vast knowledge of living outdoors. I asked Vanessa to write a short bio to give some background before I begin the five-part series.  This is what she wrote:

Vanessa is presently living in the western U.S. in search of places to live relatively free of herbicides, pesticides, wood smoke, vehicle exhaust, etc.  She lives in her car and tent (as weather permits).  She has depleted her life savings waiting for assistance so she can move on with her life by affording housing and medical treatments.  Vanessa is a strong advocate for preventing people from becoming homeless which is why she wrote the five-part series on being homeless and coping with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).  Prior to being re-injured in 2007 she was employed with the State of Montana, practiced martial arts, beading, camping and going out with her friends.  She also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with several years in the insurance industry and business licensing.  Having several years experience in camping and hiking, this has helped her to survive living outdoors for the past four years.  Vanessa writes blog posts on Planet Thrive documenting her journey of survival, coping with humor, interactions with people, law enforcement and animals, while dealing with MCS.  In addition to blogging her new hobbies include reading, studying botany and photography.”

I have asked Vanessa to allow me to also include some of her photography  in my future pieces.

All Natural Ingredients—I don’t think so!

I was watching one of those shows on the cooking channel the other night when I couldn’t sleep.  It was one of those shows where they take you to different places and share amazing food.  This particular show was Unique Sweets I think.  Anyway, they were sharing these wonderful ice creams in incredible flavors.  As they were describing the flavors they were priding themselves on using fresh and natural ingredients.  I thought, “Oh This is Great!” Ice creams were made to order in the amount purchased (single scoop, double scoop, etc.).  How could they make ice cream that quickly for you while  you are waiting?

Then the truth came out.  The camera takes you to the back of the ice cream shop.  A customer has just ordered a double scoop of ice cream in a specific flavor.  The mixture is poured into a stainless bowl and a whisk begins turning.  Okay, are you ready for the way the get the ice cream done so quickly?

nitrous oxide is pumped into the liquid as it is mixed freezing it almost immediately!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want nitrous oxide in my ice cream! I have enough problems with my chemical sensitivity without adding something this volatile to my food.

My Daughter, The Ghost Buster

It’s Day 3 of my “Spotlight” Author blog tour with Rave Reviews Book Club and I am featured as a guest on the Writer’s Chat.  Please hop on over and read my guest post and leave a comment.

Catch-Up Mondays: The never ending drive – revisited

I originally shared this blog post on April 7, 2013.  I still cringe at the thought of making this journey by myself.   When my girls were young, one of their favorite movies was “The Neverending Story”.   I experienced the never-ending drive.  This story was originally in my book but didn’t really feel like it belonged where I had it and never really added enough to the story so I deleted it from the manuscript but saved it.  It is another funny story similar to the one titled “Can I help you Ladies?”.   This story starts out with me and my daughter Laura (the same one in the story above).  I chose the Never-Ending Drive as the title for this post and you will understand once you get into it. A few days before the students were to arrive at school, my younger daughter Laura was scheduled to leave for college in San Francisco. My husband was not able to take time off from work so I took the day off to drive her. The night before we were to leave I helped her load the car and trunk as full as we could.  My husband and I would drive up again over the weekend and deliver what was left behind.  I prepared myself by printing directions to her dorm.  I had made the trip before with others but had never driven there myself.  I was going to rely on my daughter to help me with the directions.  I had not been feeling well and was extremely fatigued  I drove to my daughter’s house to pick her up early in the morning.  She was very tired.  I am sure that she had not slept much in anticipation of the move.  We drove through a fast food restaurant to get her some food and coffee.  She was not feeling well and soon fell asleep.  Occasionally I would wake her to see if we were going in the right direction.  She did not know. My plans were to take her to school and hang around until about 7:00 p.m. so that I would not have the heavy traffic to compete with on my drive home alone.  We arrived at the campus and carted all her belongings up to her dorm room on the second floor.  Exhausted, we both tried to set up her computer.  To our dismay, we could not get a connection.  After making a few phone calls, we learned that she needed to take her computer downstairs to an office to have a special component put in it and she needed a certain cord to hook it up to the school’s line. Laura wasn’t feeling well and wanted to sleep.  She had injured her back earlier and could not carry the computer.  So, I picked up the tower and made the trip to get it fixed while she slept.  I was told to pick up the tower in a couple of hours.  By the time I got the computer fixed and back to her dorm it was nearly 6 p.m.  I woke her up and visited with her for an hour and then decided to make the drive home. The goodbyes were hard for both of us.  She was now in San Francisco with no car and not really knowing how to get around town.  She was worried that she would not be able to find her way around.  I was upset because I was leaving my baby in a strange city and would be a two and a half hour drive from her if anything should happen. Reluctantly, I got in my car and drove off, both of us in tears.  I reversed my route and headed for home.  Things were going well.  I had been nervous about driving home by myself in the evening especially because I was not that familiar with the area. The sun began to set and brought with it unexpected challenges.  The glare made it difficult to read the road signs and the traffic was worse than I thought it would be at this time of the day.  I was supposed to take a certain highway number towards home, but there were two of them.  One said east and one said west.  I was confused and there was not much time to make a decision because the traffic was bumper to bumper.  I chose the one that had Oakland written on it. That turned out to be the wrong decision.  After a few miles I began to realize that nothing looked familiar.  It was dark by now and I was not about to get off the highway to ask directions.  I was in an area that was not familiar to me and there were not any major gas stations or restaurants that I could spot from the road. I continued to drive.  The next thing I knew I was crossing a bridge that I knew for sure I had not crossed on my way in.  It was a toll bridge and under construction.  Hesitantly, I paid the toll and crossed the bridge.  I was hoping that I could find some road sign that would give me a clue where I was or where to turn.  My fatigue and exhaustion had become almost overpowering.  I wanted to cry but controlled myself.  I had to get home.  I thought about calling my husband and asking for help but how could he help me if I could not tell him where I was. There was still some time before I was expected to be home so I decided to wait until I could offer some explanation of where I was.  I drove and drove.  Finally, I saw a sign that read Sacramento.  Hooray!  If I could get to Sacramento, I could find Hwy 99 and make my way home. Another hour passed and I was in Sacramento and had found my way home.  I needed to phone home but did not want to admit that I was so horribly lost and that it would be another two hours before I got home.  My husband was worried. He asked me how I could have gotten lost since I had very good directions.  I told him that I did not know and promised to keep in touch as I drove home. Nearly out of gas I found a station that looked to be in a safe area and pulled off the highway.  There would have been plenty of gas if I had not decided to go “sightseeing” instead of driving straight home. Sometime between 11:00 p.m. and midnight I made it home, a little over four hours after I left San Francisco.  Exhausted, embarrassed and hungry, I crawled into bed.  Early the next morning, I got up, got dressed and headed for work as usual. That weekend my husband and I took my daughter the rest of her things and took her grocery shopping.  On our way home, my husband asked me to try to remember which exit I had taken.  In the light of day, I easily discovered what I had done wrong.  The exit I had taken actually took me in a circle and then in a direction completely opposite of where I was headed.  The trip from hell was not one I would ever forget or one that I would ever want to repeat.  I have never made that trip by myself again! I need to explain that a few months earlier I had been on so many medications that we had stopped everything, including my thyroid, to let my body calm down and see what would happen.  My thyroid was a mess and I had just started taking medication again a few days before I made this journey.  I was fatigued and sick.  The drive from here to San Francisco still scares me now so much that I wouldn’t dream of attempting it myself. Have you experienced a never-ending drive that leaves never wanting to do it again?

I know this feeling well!

Hello All

Well I have finally run into the wall so to speak.  My body hurts like the flu (but I know it isn’t the flu).  I know this feeling all too well.  It happened when my husband had his heart attack and by-pass surgery.  I was making the same hour-long drive to and from the hospital day in and day out to make sure he was okay.

My sister is taking mom today.  I will ride up later with my daughter (she is driving) because she has an appointment near the hospital.  I will pop in and come back home.

I am spending the morning and  most of the day just resting.  I tried going to bed to see if I could sleep but that wasn’t happening (most likely because I slept soundly all night despite what my body is telling me).  I just poured myself a cup of hot green tea and will just sit and clean out my email.  This doesn’t require any unusual energy expenditure and I am sitting (not cleaning my dirty floors that haven’t been done in the nearly two weeks dad has been in the hospital, not cleaning toilets that need cleaned, or doing any other household chore).  Sitting here quietly is keeping me engaged and my mind busy enough to override the intense desire to clean house.

Keep me in your thoughts.  I actually have some ideas for posts which, if my mind will allow, may get drafted today.