Rants and Silver Linings

Counterbalance: Aware Friends



I am still recovering from my misadventures in the workplace. I hate being back in a state of chronic symptoms rather than a baseline of good health with exposure related symptoms. Sigh. It’s getting better but I am not back where I was before. It’s all been frustrating and dissapointing. Then just when I needed some counterbalance to my TILT, a lovely unexpected thing happened.

The other day, I got three texts, within an hour of each other warning me, that the little gym where my daughter takes tumbling lessons was too toxic for me to enter. This triggered some tough decision making which I go though for each potential environment for my kids. Do I treat my kids like they have my health problems or like I am trying to make sure they don’t get my health problems or like one of the ignorant mainstream for this occasion? But todays’ post is not about that; it is about how overwhelmingly blessed I am to have such good friends.

More friends, still outside.

More friends, still outside.

Same friends, very happy to be outside.

Same friends, very happy to be outside.

Some of these folks are the same ones that are recommending I stop trying to find another tutoring workspace and instead commit to using my home. Their opinion is that a healthy tutor is a better tutor which makes for a better tutored child. This gym air quality alert was further proof of my friends’ level of understanding. They noticed something and thought of me. I cannot expect them to adjust everything for me or think of my limitations in advance for every social situation. If you don’t live with this health problem you can’t really understand the scope of its impact. But they are certainly farther along than I thought any friend would ever be.

I hear from so many fellow MCS patients who struggle with not being understood by their family, friends, neighbors and while I have certainly had my share of that, I do not run into it every day any more. I think some of this can be attributed to the fact that the illness is more prevalent, such that more people know somebody who has some degree of a limitation. I also think awareness of how chemicals can effects us is more widespread. But I also think I have lived in this small town a long time, 14 years, and I have worn them down. Kidding, kinda. To clarify – I am lucky enough to have some flexibility in where I can go, I do not have to be reclusive. I am lucky enough to live in a place where a lot of social functions are outside, so my limitations don’t actually limit me as much as somebody living in an urban situation in a cold climate. I can get out there and let them see me, see that I am just a person with a disability. I have carpooled their kids and hosted playdates and book club nights and volunteered on school and town committees. Once they knew me, from largely safe outside exchanges, we moved onto situations where some awareness or accommodation on their part was required. So yes, I wore them down and broke them in. But mainly, I have been blessed enough to find some truly wonderful human beings as friends. Here are the warm fuzzies in their original text form…

My friend: “We just got to Island Fitness and it smells real strongly of paint. They put in a new floor and it is outgassing. It’s making me feel yucky, so be careful if you come.”

Me: “Oh – thank you so much for heads up! So sweet of you to look out for me. It really makes a big difference. I feel a blog post coming on about good people looking out for me.”

My friend: “It takes a village.” “For all of us, I mean. You don’t need a whole village just for you.”

Look how she used outgassing correctly! And that last bit, what a lovely sentiment. We all need a village!

Friends, inside.  But in my house with my no fragrance rules.

Friends, inside. But in my house with my food and no fragrance rules.

11 thoughts on “Counterbalance: Aware Friends

    • You know, even though I put “aware” as a title I had not actually thought of anything I did as raising awareness. I suppose it is – on a small scale. And I did lose friends when it all first happened so this has been a very nice surprise. As are the new friends I’ve made online!

  1. I can relate so much to “This triggered some tough decision making which I go though for each potential environment for my kids. Do I treat my kids like they have my health problems or like I am trying to make sure they don’t get my health problems or like one of the ignorant mainstream for this occasion?”

    That is such a tough one.

    And I am very happy you have friends like this! It’s so wonderful when people have our backs ❤

      • It is complicated.

        I think some of the “mommy bloggers” have been grappling with it over the years, but from a general toxics perspective, not MCS and genetics.

        Part of me had thought that with all the food allergies kids have now, there would be more accommodation for chemical “allergies” in schools too, but that doesn’t really seem to be the case.

        IAQ is still a lagging issue, despite all the research and progress that was made in the 90s.

        And now so many health problems are being “linked” to a lack of Vitamin D, when my gut instinct (and experience) says it is a lack of fresh air (long winters in polluted indoor air) that is the problem, not Vit D levels.

        At least where you are the kids can be outside a lot all year long. That really helps.
        And, you are providing them with a home base that is so much healthier than what most people have.

        Sometimes that is all we can do, and in most cases, considering the reality of the world we live in, that is enough.

  2. What a great post. My first thought when I started reading was “what great friends who noticed the environment and warned you”. Life doesn’t feel reclusive when you have friends like that. I don’t think it is any different than seeking an elevator for the friend who struggles with stairs. Real friends recognize and accept individual limitations.

  3. That is so lovely!
    Can I add my thoughts to your friends about tutoring at home? I teach piano/guitar/voice from my home. I use a front room so I don’t have people going through the whole house and I am able to close the doors so we don’t get interrupted. I have a few protocols for safety – the curtains are always open and the room is well lit, and there is a couch to one side for the parents to wait or observe the lesson. I am able to remain professional while teaching from home.
    However I don’t have kids – I’m sure they will provide noise distractions no matter where they are in the house – and I would be wary of inviting strangers into my home if I had children.

    • Thank you for telling me how you’ve arranged working in your home – it’s very encouraging actually! So far, my students have all been from families that I already knew so they have felt comfortable having their kids in my home and I have felt comfortable reminding them about being fragrance free. But once I have students that I don’t personally know ahead of time…all those conversations will get trickier. Fortunately I am in no hurry to get to that point. My own kids and my health are going to keep my fledgling business small for a while!

  4. How blessed you are to have such good friends. I’m just beginning to get family support. I’ve never had many friends and now, with all the limitations from this disability, friends are few and far between. It’s good to know there are people out there becoming more aware of the toxins BEFORE they get over-exposed.

    My husband, who drives truck, said I’ve spoiled things for him. Now he actually smells the guy coming out of the truck stop shower who doused himself with cologne.

    • Wear them down with kindness Karen! Or ignore them if they’re not worth it I suppose. I think getting your nose as aware as your husband’s is the best kind of spoiling!

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