I plan for this illness. I have a whole category on the blog for Big Problems, Slow Solutions. I plan ahead for my kids’ material needs since I can’t shop. I plan family camping vacations since I can’t travel easily. I spent a year replacing sofas. I have Toxicant Induced Loss of Tolerance and the resulting chemical sensitivities require avoidance, forethought and advanced planning. I just want to convey that I know I am in many ways disabled; that thought is foremost in my waking thoughts. And yet I am still constantly surprised by it. I will walk into a place and be caught unaware. Maybe I am more sensitive that day due to previous exposures or maybe an environment has changed with new carpet or a pesticide treatment. My head goes foggy, my eyes go blurry, my heart starts skipping beats, the vertigo kicks in, and I start slurring my words. First thought, I swear after 18 years, is still “Am I coming down with the flu?” Second thought, “No you idiot, you are experiencing a physical reaction to a chemical in your current environment.” Third thought, ” Well, I’ll be fine. It’s just a little scented candle, it’s not hurting anybody else in the room.” Still, after eighteen years! I could have spent hours that morning planning some avoidance trick for a family adventure but in the moment, unprepared, I go into denial. Every time.
The upside to this ridiculous and chronic scenario is that I am not an anxious person. I do not stress in advance or anticipate possible reactions. I go about my day trusting that either I have planned appropriately or that the safe options I am familiar with will still be there. I suspect it makes me a very poor candidate for any limbic or neural retraining. The down side is that I am not always as quick as I should be to extract myself from bad situations. If I have a companion with me, especially my heroic husband, his clear head prevails and I am escorted away. If I am alone, I usually get enough logic through my muddled head within a few minutes to extract myself. I cannot explain why I am still surprised after all this time. It makes no sense and I am a very sensible person.
It is a classic head shaking, quirked eyebrow, shrugged shoulders thing. And it is embodied in the orange chair. I don’t usually name my furniture but this one I have;
It’s a typical IKEA chair made with pressed wood, filled with foam cushions, and covered with stain treated synthetic upholstery. I had no business buying the chair. But I love it. It is small and fits my frame and I love to sit with legs draped over the arms of a chair which this one allows for. It fits perfectly in the sunlit corner of my main room which is perfect for reading. Lingering Denial, aka The Orange Chair really ties the whole room together and I mentally quote The Big Lebowski every time I look at it.
Obviously after the momentary delusion that allowed me to purchase it, sense prevailed and it sat in my carport for a year to begin the airing out process. I frequently covered it in baking soda, baked it in the sun, then vacuumed it off. Then it came into my house, but not in my main room, for another 6 months. Then it came into the main room but I didn’t sit in it for another 3 months. Now I sit in it but rarely more than 5 minutes at a time. I suppose I could rationalize that the orange chair is actually a manifestation of patience and problem solving. But it is not. I will not be self-delusional on top of everything else. Sometimes I just really want something and I don’t want to be limited and I buy it/do it anyway. And then it sits there, in the corner, lingering with my denial all over it.