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Living With MCS: Symptoms

Symptoms    Family Living    The Life I Lost    Coping    Being Accommodated    Reflections   

Here is what I must avoid:

  • anything generating a synthetic fragrance
  • clothes treated by chemical fabric softeners
  • clothes washed in fragrant or petroleum-based detergents
  • clothes exposed to dryer sheets
  • fragrant lotions, colognes, perfumes, deodorants, sun screen
  • smoke, cleaning products and air “fresheners”
  • chemical cleaners, window cleaners, bleaches and ammonias
  • vehicle exhaust
  • road tar and new asphalt or heated roads from hot days
  • newly copied papers not in sheet protectors
  • phone books, daily newspapers, new mail
  • working copiers, working fax machines, computer fumes
  • molds and toxins produced by molds
  • building materials and paints (formaldehydes, phenols…)
  • pesticides, mothballs
  • people coming from banks, office etc. where any of the above are transported on their hair, skin or clothing.

Avoiding petrochemical byproducts (fragrances and laundry supplies for example) and these triggers is an all-encompassing task. I am only at ease at home where I can control my exposures. This vigilance has radically changed the quality and activity of my life, as well as those close to me. If I have a chemically free day I do not experience symtpoms listed below. If I remain at home I usually do not experience them barring the arrival of triggers on daily mail, arriving family, or some introduction of other outside interferences, such as fragrance coming in the windows. Learning how to cope with chemical intolerance has developed over the years in which I've experienced it. All mail or papers I would have to put them into sheet protectors. Once covered, I couldn’t write on them but I could read them, air them out on my porch and finally answer them or file them.



Upon exposure, I experience the following pains and symptoms:
  • almost instant dizziness, brain fog, confusion
  • closing of the throat, inflammation, mucous plug, cough
  • extreme, extreme fatigue
  • tingling in extremities, numbness (fingers and toes mostly)
  • headaches and feeling of head swelling and heat
  • muscle & joint pain (in ribs, shoulders and knees especially)
  • nausea (not always)
  • burning eyes
  • burning throat and/or chest
  • metallic taste in my mouth
  • skin tightness, redening and burning, like an extreme sunburn

This is an exposure-driven illness, and when I can control my exposures, I control my health. I often say that I am actually well, however, the world is not.

Upon exposure all thought functions are difficult. Paying attention, remembering things, general abilities are impaired. Words come with difficulty, I feel extremely fatigued and don’t remember things, cannot breathe without pain and inflammation and cannot easily type, complete sentences with ease, nor feel in total control of my mental capacities. Without exposures I can draw upon my many skills, which lead me through a once professional and productive life outside the walls of this home.


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