Monday, August 31, 2009

Multiple chemical sensitivity

When I was on tour and someone asked: how long have you had MCS, and I don’t generally think in abbreviations except when I’m making a joke so I thought she said MS, as in multiple sclerosis, or MCS registered as MS, so I said no I don’t have MCS, I have fibromyalgia. But then I realized oh, multiple chemical sensitivity, well I guess I have that too.

And that’s what I’m thinking about now, now after surviving a bed of chemical allergies, a residue in the laundry, even though they always say they don’t use anything except one detergent that doesn’t have any scents -- where are these toxic scents coming from? I mean I guess they’re just lying, and then I keep sending my laundry to them anyway because it’s the only place that even advertises that they don’t use commercial detergents, fabric softener, other poisons, and I keep trying to think of ways these scents get in my laundry without someone putting them in the laundry machines, like maybe it’s a perfume someone is wearing, or an air freshener someone sprays, but the truth is that someone is using detergents that contain perfumes in the machines, I’m sure of that.

Especially when I’m lying in bed, surrounded by these fumes, every time I wake up it takes longer to fall back asleep because I notice that my nostrils are clogged my eyes dried out my face flattened and then my brain starts racing and if I angle myself towards the windows I can feel the fresh air entering my nostrils, except when I smell pot smoke, or the tandoori ovens. Eventually I fall back asleep, but then when I wake up there’s that knot in my forehead, sinus pain, and it’s like I’m hypersensitive to any scent -- you’d think that when you’re face feels sealed shut you would be less sensitive, not more, but unfortunately that’s not how it works. And then I guess I’m always hypersensitive so maybe this is hyper-hypersensitive, and I guess that’s what multiple chemical sensitivity means.


Liberty said...


I just wanted to mention that if a laundry service is washing other people's clothing in the same machine as yours, the machines will definitely retain fragrance chemicals. fabric softener is especially bad for that.

I hope you find a way to have laundry done safely for you
take care,
fellow person with MCS

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Liberty, thanks so much for writing, and for the support!

Here's the thing: supposedly this place never uses any fabric softener, or detergent with artificial scents -- but maybe you mean the scents already on people's clothing, what a nightmare! I wish I could have a laundry machine in my apartment, but there's no place for one, and there's barely enough water pressure in the shower anyway!

I will keep searching for ideas...

Love --

Liberty said...

hi Mattilda,

sorry for the confusion - I meant that if clothing with fabric softener (evil!) and scented detergent was washed and dried in the machines used for your clothing, then the machines will smell. And that smell will get on your clothing.

Laundry woes are a huge issue for anyone with MCS who does not have their own private machines.

Dryers are a particular problem because heated fabric softener residue seems to really attach to clothing - permanently.

People with MCS that I know who have to use public machines have to only use the washers and hang the stuff to dry in their apartments.

Or if one has the physical ability to use it, there is handwashing or, much better, the Wonderwash.

Leslie (a funky MCS person who blogs) has written about it here:

Using The Wonder Wash

that was my attempt to make an actual link show up - hope it worked!

I hope you find a good solution. I suspect that with Fibro, hand washing is a non-option and even hang drying may be an issue due to the weight of wet clothes :-(

take care

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Liberty, thanks so much for getting back to me -- I'm going to look up the wonder wash right now -- and yes yes, it's true about handwashing and hanging, not really an option unfortunately -- and this place where I send my laundry is the only place that advertises that they don't use any commercial/chemical detergents, oh no...

Love --

Anonymous said...

I might be purchasing a wonder wash soon, I am really excited about it. I will let you know how it works. A note. If you do go about thinking about buying one, you will also need to get the spin dryer.

It doesn't dry your clothes, but you need to either spin the water out before hanging them out to dry, or wring them out, which I don't think is an option.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Darling, I can't wait to hear how it works -- it wouldn't really be an option for me due to all the pain drama, but I still want to hear about it!

Love --