Allergies in Public Spaces

Once again I tried and failed to be social. There’s a mother goose reading time for under two year old children at our local library and everyone I know recommended it. It sounds wonderful and the actual event was fun. Everyone sat around in a circle and the librarian led us through some wonderful rhymes and the motions to go with them. The problem was that it was held in an enclosed room with twenty adults all wearing scent: scented laundry products, scented body wash, scented shampoos, scented lotions, and other normal things that people use daily. Many of those sorts of things contain chemicals as well as scent, including phthalates.

I can get sick from standing next to a heavy scent or from lingering cleaning residues in an enclosed space so it was pretty much a given that I would have a problem.

Thankfully my reaction was fairly mild and I was able to recover in a few hours but I found it frustrating. I am not going to be able to go back. My reactions only become worse over time.

My frustration was compounded by getting sick from going to our local dollar store the next day and becoming so sick from something that I was down for the rest of the day.

I went online and found that I’m not the only person this happens to.

Interesting that products that say ‘unscented’ can actually use scent to cover smells. Although the term ‘fragrance free’ means no scent.

Sadly these two articles only talk about scent and not chemicals. Then I found this one,

This article was stupid but the comments reflect how I feel about this issue.

I get horribly horribly sick. Sometimes to the point of physically vomiting, mostly it’s headaches, nausea, exhaustion, stomach cramps, fever, shaking, and all around illness. Some of these people get migraines too. I don’t want to impinge on other people but it’s pretty easy to see that something that they are doing is messing up my health. I don’t often go to public spaces. I almost always have to buy my stuff online and carefully air out the things I buy. I have to plan to get sick every time I need to visit a doctor’s appointment or take care of my car or visit the vet. I need to buy special expensive fragrance free body products.

I used to date someone who always reacted poorly to any requests made of him. Say if I had asked him to hang up his towel after showering he would be really awful about it, deliberately leaving his towel on the floor every time afterwards. Thing is most of the time I don’t even think he cared that much about whatever I had asked. It was inconvenient to him to do anything different in order to make a life together.   I don’t think he realized how much of a slap in the face it was. Obviously I was able to leave that relationship.

Unfortunately I feel we live in a society that is very much like my ex. A majority of people have been convinced that nothing is more important than convenience. Unless someone who has a lot of power suddenly develops chemical sensitivities to fragrances or everyone does I doubt that anything is going to change. I desperately want to be able to spend time with other people and not have to take time out to go to bed after doing so but I truly don’t see how that can happen and so I just do my best to keep myself healthy even if it means being slightly isolated.


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One Response to Allergies in Public Spaces

  1. greta says:

    The term “chemical sensitivity” comes to mind, since doctors make a distinction from allergies. It can take as little as some lingering perfume from a transient scent wearer in a good sized room (not to mention elevators, shudder!) to trigger a migraine and stomach issues. I have to take off any clothing and air it out well away from my living space, take a really thorough shower with full shampoo, and even then I can be sick for days. Sometimes I can smell perfume, but sometimes I can’t, so it isn’t just fragrances, at least for me. Hang in there!

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