Are we ever really safe?

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I think the answer is yes, at least I hope so.  I found out that our front desk attendant was spraying OFF.  I think she was using it like a room spray.  It was all over the room.  I informed her that that was not a good idea.  I went down again this evening and the fragrance from it was very strong.  Unfortunately she had just sprayed it and I am trying not to have a reaction.  When you have had success in recovery from having had 20 years of MCS, you really don’t want to be covered in bug spray.

I think my amygdala is trying to go into overdrive.  I have done the short version of the retraining several times.  I am feeling better, not really symptomatic, maybe just exhausted from the emotion of it.

I don’t often blog in real time, but tonight I feel it is important.  Yes, I think we can be safe, but there will always be surprises.

Happy recovery!

Onward and Onward

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Stress is tricky.  I got the smell of a particular perfume in my nose this past week and I couldn’t get it to go away.  I went for a couple of days thinking that I could “think” my way out of it.  That didn’t work.  I returned to a complete retraining process and it went away without me thinking about it. 

There are times now where I still think that I can think my way out of chemical sensitivity.  It is pretty rare these days to have reactions, but I still don’t like certain smells.  A quick retraining is very helpful in those situations.  And, it is entirely okay to still not like certain smells.  It is all about balance.

I do think that stress is a factor.  It may mostly be a factor in reverting to the belief that you can think your way out of the situation.

The retraining involves very concrete steps to use.  You are changing the way your brain responds to stimuli.  But, you are not thinking your way out.

So far so good

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I passed the two year mark in October of starting the Gupta Progamme.  It has been quite a journey.  I am not one hundred percent and I don’t know if I will every consider myself to have reached that milestone.  It is interesting that as humans we have trouble going for the “thriving” part of life.  We too often settle for just getting by or for getting well enough.  And perhaps, that is just okay at times.  It all depends on the sum total of our life experiences I suppose.  If we have been through a lot of challenges then good enough is a very fine destination indeed.  It really is all relative, isn’t it?

I pretty much go where I want when I want without much attention to exposures.  There was one episode during the holidays at our local hardware store.  The store has been sold this year and they have made some changes.  The gift section is pretty much full of scented candles, air fresheners, and lotions, etc.  The air fresheners are those type with the sticks coming out of a bottle.  They had every variety open on display with the sticks in the bottles of liquid air freshener.  I was truly shocked. It was one of those instances where, even though I am better, I can still hold the belief that this is a very dangerous thing to do in the long run.  There is always balance to be had, but this was way over the top.

I firmly believe that as a recovering survivor of MCS, I still can hold certain beliefs about the health of our indoor, in particular, environments.  I very seldom have the capacity to change anything other than my own home environement (and sometimes not even that) but I can have opinions.  Now the trick is to not let those opinions slide over into fear of a particular environment.  I have to say that I was quite proud of myself at the hardware store.  Even with all of that fragrance, I knew that I would not have a reaction because of my work with the Gupta Programme.

So I continue in deep gratitude to Ashok and the Programme.  What a way to start a new year!

Happy New Year!

Westgate Travails or “Why isn’t anybody listening?”

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They have switched the cleaning schedule for our building lobby to the early evening hours.  Those are the hours during which I retrieve mail and packages or exit the main entrance to take an evening walk.  I had a rather severe reaction last night to the cleaning chemicals.  I am better this morning.  I did a full retraining, but the flood of memories of more perilous times came roaring back.  I felt the helplessness, the hopelessness all over again.

It seems I always want to change people.  I am reminded of an episode in an office where I once worked.  It was a small office in a converted Victorian house.  There were ants all over the front stoop.  (Which by the way was seldom used).  I had what I thought was a very respectful and informative meeting with the office manager. I was armed with pamphlets about the uses of harmful insecticides and their effects on even the non-reactive humans.  I thought she was listening rather attentively.     At the end of the meeting her only comment was “I just need to kill the ants”.  And the pest control people were dispatched that very afternoon.

I don’t know that you can change people’s minds.  When you are in recovery from anything, really, there is a feeling of constantly having to let go.  When can I just be heard?  Isn’t anybody listening?

I’m still here

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I am still here.  This is not a simple statement.  I will celebrate two years in October of working the Gupta Program.  Sometimes I start to notice smells and I get discouraged thinking that I have not made much progress.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  I was reading a success story which Ashok circulated the other day.  I was reminded of all the things I did for almost twenty years to accommodate my MCS.  I have to remind myself how far I have come.  Smells are really just irritations.  I still do the seven step process and the irritation disappears.

Two years ago I was actually considering lining my living space with foil.  I was spending most of my time in my car.  I was using public facilities according to the safety of their bathrooms.

I went shopping today.  I walked into a department store right through the perfume section.  I thought about the perfume, but I knew that it would not hurt me.  Yes, it was strong, I still don’t care for perfume.  But the big difference is that I knew that it would not hurt me.  The amygdala cycle did not kick into high gear and start running like a hamster wheel.

Yes, I am oh so grateful.

The days go on

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I am just now thinking about how nice it is to not worry about new things.  I don’t worry about a new car.  I even made it through new carpeting in the hallway of my building.  I do notice things still, but I have to stop a minute and feel the enormous gratitude in how far I have traveled in this journey.  I just ordered a little pressure point therapy ball and I didn’t even think about whether or not it will smell when I receive it.  Just 18 months ago the MCS prevented me from having anything new.  I would have to air things out for weeks before I could have them inside the house.

I am just sitting here in the afternoon as the light is fading and feeling very grateful.

Needing to be Well

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Do you need to be well?  The answer to this question seems obvious.  Who wouldn’t need to be well?  Life would be so much different and I would be free.  What does that freedom look like?  How would new life look?

Many of us suffering from long term chronic illnesses have become very used to the lives we are living.  Rutted paths can be very hard to change.  It takes a lot of thinking to uncover our motivations and the roots of our illness.  Even if we are offered a magic pill we may still have doubts about taking it.

There is magic or there is no magic.  Is the choice ours?  What do we do when we are well?  What is life going be like without the illness?  What will I do with all of the energy that I put into managing my condition?

These are questions that need to be asked as we are recovering.