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A Chemically Sensitive Day: Knocked Out

Saturday at the furniture sale I’m having on weekends I had four chemical exposures. By 2 p.m. I was knocked out, closed the sale early and had to rest.

I woke up before the alarm feeling well. I bathed, dressed and cooked a couple eggs on the propane tank-top pan holder. I stopped in town to pick up water and nuts for lunch. The clerk working always wears a cloud of perfume, and I always just endure the subsequent reactions.

This morning a woman wearing a cloud of bug spray followed me into the store and ended up in line behind me. So as I put my selections on the counter, the clerk’s perfume mixed with the bug spray. Covering my nose and mouth with my shirt made no difference.

My energy was therefore lower as I set up for the sale, but I was still functional. Then a customer came in wearing a LOT of perfume. Being half the room away from her did not help — it filled the space. I tried to hold my breath, not wanting to say anything as she did not seem really engaged and I figured she would leave soon, which she did.

I went out the back door for several deep breaths of fresh air. I felt more tired, my head was achy, and I was overall feeling poorly. I lay my head on my arms on the desk and napped a short while.

A couple hours later a woman came in and stayed a long time talking. I kept backing away, trying to stand in the doorway to get fresh air, and she kept stepping forward.

I pulled my shirt up over my mouth and nose and finally said, “I’m sorry, but your perfume is getting to me.” “Oh, I’m not wearing any,” she replied. “Well, there’s something,” I mumbled. “Oh, it could be the fabric softener on this dress.” She left shortly thereafter.

It was 2 p.m. I felt slightly nauseous. My body was heavy with fatigue; lifting limbs took effort. I could not finish the sale, which was scheduled to go until at least 3 p.m. “That’s it,” I thought. “I can’t make it to 3:00.”

I wandered around figuring out how to do what I routinely do at the end of sale days: Leave my dogs in the room, lock the front door — or is it the back? No, the front, I keep the back open while I collect the signs around town. I locked the front door before bringing in all the signs and items for sale out there. Unlocked, got them in the room, wandered back to the desk, stared at the back door, talked to the dogs. Right, I have to bring my car from the front parking lot around to the back. Close the back door, again open the front door, but I want to be sure I left the back door open so I go back and test that door handle, out the front. Which signs to get first?

Get the picture? Or the feeling? That’s brain fog. That’s what it’s like to be chemically sensitive.

I’m writing this two days later, so I don’t remember what I did next. I think maybe I went to a restaurant for a burger. I do remember I revived later in the afternoon; the food likely helped.

Two perfumes, one bug spray, one fabric softener = not able to finish what I set out to do. It is this kind of unpredictability that makes me hesitate to make any schedule commitments. I just don’t know what I will be exposed to, when the fatigue will hit (which can be triggered by other factors besides chemicals), and whether or not I will be able to do what I’ve committed to do.

The psychic readings let me take calls when I am able to, and sign out when I am not able to work.

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  1. Hi Deborah,
    I read an article in the Tucson weekly which made me think of you. The organization is called wingsforwomentucson.org
    520 406 6345. Their mission is to help homeless women get back on their feet, thought they could help with the laptop or something. Still holding you in daily prayer, sorry to read of multiple chemical assaults. Deb

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