Monday, January 31, 2011

My fellow Endo Sisters were invisible passengers on my recent trip. I thought of them often. I pondered over my story, just one of an estimated 89 million ongoing tales of pain, isolation, exhaustion and sorrow. How many of us have been forced to watch our lives speed by from the sidelines?

We aren't the only ones. My thoughts and concerns were not just with my Endo Sisters. The travel environment also brought Multiple Chemical Sensitivity patients to mind. (It is not uncommon for Endo sufferers to also be afflicted with MCS). While I do not suffer from this condition, exposure to strong chemicals can cause me to develop headaches and nausea. I have avoided the perfume counters at department stores for as long as I can remember.

I encountered several heavily-perfumed women at the airport. One woman's cloud of perfume enveloped an entire waiting area. The scent invaded my senses and lingered in my mouth, like I'd taken a gulp from her perfume bottle. My head began to pulse. My husband and I rushed to a different area and I prayed she would not be seated near us on the plane.

The restrooms had their own overpowering smell, an unpleasant combination of cleaning products, air fresheners and hand soap. Seemed the airport toxins were inescapable.

Though we were lucky enough not to be seated next to the crazy-perfume lady, many other passengers carried-on their own toxic smells. It remains a mystery to me--Are people really this oblivious? Do they not realize their powerful fragrance may be offensive to others? (Especially in the stagnant environment of an airplane!) Do they really need seven squirts to be able to smell their own perfume? How do their loved ones stand their over-the-top aroma?

These issues continued throughout the trip as I confronted similar problems at our hotels.

I realized, with much sadness, many people are unable to travel--grounded by the adverse effects of hazardous products. Even worse, some folks are confined to their homes because of these pollutants. It's not fair.

You don't have to suffer from MCS to be affected by the toxins in our environment. The truth is--we all encounter harmful substances every day in auto products, cleaning products, cosmetics, pesticides, pet care products, air fresheners...the list goes on and on. They are unhealthy for everyone.

If you'd like more information about MCS, I encourage you to visit my friendo Jeanne at her blog, Chronic Healing. You can read her letter to Oprah, written as part of a concerted effort to raise awareness about MCS. You can find her other posts about MCS here. The Canary Report is an excellent resource for MCS topics and links.

The trip really opened my eyes. I want to empower myself as a consumer and research more toxic-free options. Do you  have any tips? What are your favorite toxic-free products or manufacturers? What websites do you trust to deliver truthful information? I'd appreciate any comments or suggestions.