Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I returned home Sunday night from ten days in Utah doing research on family stories, visiting with family and attending LDS General Conference. Yes, I really did attend two Conference sessions. When we attended the conference last October, I had to spend most of the session out in the reception area sitting in a corner by myself, so I was a little leery about trying to go again. However, after finding our seats, I went out into the reception area and waited (as far away from people as possible) until just a couple of minutes before the meeting was to begin. Then I went back to my seat and did pretty well for the rest of the session. The Conference Center has a good ventilation system, and as long as I wasn't sitting too close to someone wearing perfume, I handled it pretty well. The biggest problem is during the hour before the meeting begins, when everyone is shuffling in and out.

We attended both the Saturday afternoon session and the Sunday afternoon session. On Sunday I was stopped by a Conference Center volunteer as I was leaving (after we initially found our seats). When I explained why I needed to go out, she was REALLY sympathetic. She told me that all the volunteers are told in their training that they are NOT to wear anything scented while in the Conference Center. She seemed to know quite a bit about MCS, so there must be some good information given in their training. A couple of other volunteers also stopped to talk to me while I was waiting for the meeting to begin, and they told me the same thing. One of them told me that they had had an incident on Saturday in which a man in attendance at the conference had a respiratory reaction to something severe enough to call in the paramedics.
Then, after I had been out there for about forty-five minutes, the first volunteer who had spoken with me came out to look for me and make sure I was okay. This whole experience was so encouraging, to know that someone understands the serious problem of chemical sensitivities and is training these volunteers as well. I've been told that it takes about 1000 volunteers to handle the two days of General Conference. That's a goodly number of people to become educated about MCS.

Another encouraging experience I had in Utah happened when I went to do some historical research in the Perry Special Collections at the HBL Library at BYU. Because of the sensitive nature of the materials there, you have to go into a small enclosed area to use them. You fill out a request sheet for what you want, and it is passed to you through a window. The first person to help me was a young woman who was wearing some strong perfume. When I told here that I would have to keep some distance from her because of her perfume, she apologized and got someone else to help me. She was not actually in the room where I was working, so this made a big difference.

When I went into the Utah State Historical Research Center in Salt Lake City to do some research, I had no problem at all. These historical research libraries are kept clean and free of dust (probably with air filtration systems) and no chemicals are used, in order to protect the old books and papers. I had thought that there might be some mold problems with the old books(since used bookstores can be a real problem for me), but measures are taken to protect the books from mold. If only people were as protected as were these old books.

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