Hello, fellow sufferers of Environmental Illness or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity !
I HAVE AN EXTREME VERSION OF EI.
I wanted to share my story. When I was 18, I was a heavy crystal meth user for a year. A year later, when I began detoxing, I noticed the symptoms that would be classified as EI. It first started off with an immediate allergic reactions to ANY soap, detergent, shampoos, etc. Anything that was applied to my skin led to my heart racing fast, difficulty breathing, nausea, a " cloudy " feeling, an intense irritability. etc. I seeked over 12 doctors to figure out what this condition was. Lazy HMO doctors would dismiss it as psychological and refer me to a therapist. The therapist realized that my severe depression stemmed from this condition that cannot be classified by traditional medical terms. ( I could have told myself that. The therapy sessions were a waste of time for me because it did not address the physiological condition that was causing my depression. )
I was a mess. FINALLY, a Kaiser Permanente doctor told me straight up what my deal is. He said that through this HMO system, they cannot do anything with me anymore after numerous allery skin tests ( in which the tests indicated that I am NOT allergic to anything ! ), therapy, numerous blood/urine/stool tests, various antihistamines and anti-allergy pills like Claritin ( both gave me severe reactions), Chinese medicine ( more allergies ), etc. He told me I was on my own to do my own experiment to see what worked for me.
Well, folks, I felt like the Boy in the Bubble except I would probably be allergic to the bubble, as well ! It took 15 years of severe depression, missed opportunities, self-doubt, missed work, misunderstandings by loved ones and colleagues,....but I have finally found a regiment that allows me to live day to day. Now, my regiment may not work for everyone and it may appear unsanitary ( at times ), but I have tried everything and this is what works for ME. I hope it helps somebody out there.
FACE AND BODY : I use Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ONLY ( I spent countless hours and money in the maze of the Los Angeles natural market and homeopathic scene but nothing including KISS MY FACE olive oil soap worked for me. )
SHAMPOO : I used to use Cetaphil on my head but I got an allergic reaction. I only use it on my face and body. I used every homeopathic shampoo from Whole Foods and home cures ( olive oil : baking soda ) but they gave me a bloated, dizzy feeling. I only wash my hair with extreme cold water, now. I also shaved my head so I don't have to deal with any oily build-up. I know this is EXRTREMELY GROSS but it is the only thing that has worked for me....I've tried everything. I know this would be hard for the ladies to do....unless you're an avant-garde performance artist....
TEETH : Every homeopathic toothpaste and home cure alternatives like baking soda has given me severe reactions. NOTICE I AM AN EXTREME CASE. I now brush my teeth with just water using Colgate's Extra Soft toothbrush for ages 2 !!!!Dora the Explorer one, no less ! It's REALLY embarrasing..... but it works. I tried using vinegar, witch hazel, Listerine, tea tree oil as mouthwash.....severe allergies. So I make sure I brush 2 minutes/ 3 times a day. I get deep cleaning done with my dentists to compensate. Now, I plan any deep cleanings later in the day, because I know that afterwards I would have severe reactions to the numbing tools and the mandatory Listerine rinse at the dentist. Afterwards, I drive home fast, take a Tylenol, and stay in bed. I'm usually fine the next day.
LAUNDRY: I tried EVERY laundry detergents that claim to be hypoallergenic.....severe allergies ! Since I live in an apartment, I use the communal washer. I only use vinegar for my washes. ( Say goodbye to whites....wear alot of dark colors....your sunny disposition can offset your all black ensemble....) Before I dry my clothes, I check neurotically for any fabric softener from previous users.....then I dry my clothes normally. You can dry them using a clothesline but I don't live in the Irish countryside.
DRYCLEANING : I only buy clothes that don't require drycleaning. I explain my conditions to friends so I don't look underdressed at formal occasions like weddings and funerals.....well, I live in L.A., and we dress very casual. I have heard of people buying their own complete drycleaning kit to control the amount of chemicals used for their suits....I'm not there yet.
VITAMINS : I'm allergic to ALL vitamins. They make me bloated. So I drink LOTS of V8 and juices to make up for it.
COLOGNE : Forget about it. Maybe you can disguise an orange peel in your front pocket so you can smell ZESTY...
CONTACT LENSES : I use Clear Conscience Multi Purpose Solution. I have soft Optima Torics for astigmatism ( what a winner am I ! ) I rinse with water first. Then, I rinse with the solution. Insert. Then I use Blairex Preservative Free Sterile Saline Solution as eye drops. At night, rinse thoroughly with the MP Solution.
TRAVEL : Despite all these problems, I have travelled to 32 countries from Croatia to India. I bring my own pillow cases and small towels ( washed in my own way ). I do laundry in foreign countries with my same vinegar method.
Now, I have food allergies to ginseng, dairy, green tea, and honey, as well. I risk the dairy part because I can't give up cheese.
When I get an allergic reaction, only Tylenol Extra Strength can decrease the bloating.
But this regiment has been working for me. I know it may not seem sanitary at times. What's the other option ? Resort to self-pity ? Wallow in bed like I did all these years to find my regiment ? NO WAY. Also, even when you are down or having a reaction, get OUT of the house for a brisk walk so you don't feel mentally trapped and claustrophobic. Exercise your stress away.....nothing extreme if you are feeling a reaction. Also, this experience made me realize who my real friends are. Real friends are patient.
GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF YOU AND BEST OF LUCK AND I HOPE YOU FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.....DON'T GIVE UP !.....IT TOOK ME 15 YEARS !!