First of all Happy New Year to everyone! I hope 2009 brings renewed health and happiness to all visitors to The Environmental Illness Resource. I will continue to do my small part to bring you information and resources to make sure this is the case!
Over Christmas I couldn't help but reflect on how far I have come on my own personal journey in the last 4-5 years. This can best be illustrated with photos (Apologies in advance for the poor quality of some of them!).
Christmas 2003 - Mask Required!
1. This is me Christmas 2003 playing video games with friends while wearing my I Can Breathe! mask with carbon filter:
At this time I would occasionally visit friends wearing my mask like this but was still mostly confined to my flat/apartment. The masks were great as they enabled me to be around people without getting sick but it gets very hot, sweaty and uncomfortable in there after a while!
2. This also Christmas 2003 with my dad and grandma again wearing my face mask:
Obviously I wanted to spend Christmas with my family so I spent the day at my grandma's house wearing my mask the entrire time except for when it came time to eat. I was willing to endure the ensuing symptoms to sit down and eat Christmas dinner with the family!
Fast Forward to 2008
My Christmas this year has been a total contrast to that of 2003 and I am grateful for every day that chemicals no longer affect me.
1. Christmas 2008 started off with me serving as an usher at a close friend's wedding on December 21st:
It was an honour to be involved in the wedding and I have to admit I do enjoy getting dressed up in a smart suit as it doesn't happen often!
2. Here we are back at my grandma's eating Christmas Dinner but this time my face mask was in a draw at home where it has been for a number of years untouched:
Now I am able to enjoy eating with the family fully without worrying about reacting to chemicals and feeling terrible for the next few days. Of course I can also enjoy pulling silly faces for the camera once again!
3. Finally here I am enjoying bringing in the New Year at the pub with friends:
Back in 2003 I would never have imagined I'd be able to have fun and going out with friends on New Year's Eve again but here I am! Of course I stick to drinking water these days but I certainly don't feel like I am missing out as much as I did 5 years ago.
Recovering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)
I had the idea for this blog a couple of weeks ago and wanted to make sure it got written to show any of you out there suffering deeply with MCS that it is not a life sentence and it is possible to overcome it and reclaim your life.
I was just like you, reacting to minute amounts (that I often couldn't even smell) of fragranced products, soft plastics, inks, glues, vehicle exhaust and all the rest. I put my recovery down to strict chemical avoidance, an organic diet based on fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds, improving my liver function and detoxification capacity with antioxidant and liver friendly nutritional supplements, and improving my brain chemistry and stress tolerance by optimizing hormone levels (DHEA and thyroid hormones) and getting as much natural light and sun exposure as possible year round to maintain neurotransmitter and vitamin D levels.
These measures will almost certainly help you too although there may be other pieces to your puzzle you need to address as well. The point is you CAN recover from MCS! Search online to find others' stories of recovery and then take action!
Please read through the multiple chemical sensitivity articles on this site and search online for others.
Also have a look at the multiple chemical sensitivity books section of the book store and reviews section.
I'd particularly recommend Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Survival Guide by Pamela Reed Gibson, Ph.D.
Knowledge is power is a phrase that rings true for MCS and environmental illness so learn all you can, put your knowledge to use, and look forward to getting your life back!
My very best wishes to all.
About: Matthew Hogg ("Maff")
Diagnosed with M.E./chronic fatigue syndrome aged only 11 years old and subsequently associated illnesses including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Despite his own struggles he has constantly sought to educate and support others suffering from such "invisible illnesses" through his website, The Environmental Illness Resource. He fully recovered from MCS using his own approach and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutritional Health.