Tuesday, March 31, 2009


We spent this past weekend in Washington visiting family and a new baby (she's beautiful!). It was a quick trip, which always aggravates my fibromyalgia, but I am feeling much better today, after a good night's sleep in my own bed. I am so glad to have my travel version of the Cuddle Ewe, but it doesn't take the place of my full size one at home, which, of course, tops a luscious foam mattress.

If you have fibromyalgia or arthritis and are unfamiliar with the Cuddle Ewe wool mattress topper, you really should take a look at it (just google Cuddle Ewe). It's expensive, but I can't tell you what a difference it makes. The travel version comes in it's own carrying case, and I made a washable cover for mine out of a sheet. (The Cuddle Ewe itself is not washable.)

Beyond the problem of finding a comfortable bed, the chemical sensitivities are always an issue when traveling, particularly when it comes to lodging. I have great family members, who keep their homes safe enough for me to come stay, but motels are another matter. We knew we would have to stay in a motel at least one night on this trip, so I got on the phone well in advance to see what could be done to accommodate my needs.

Ideally, I like to stay in a place that advertises itself as fragrance-free or chemical-free. There are really quite a number of bed and breakfast inns that fit this description, but mostly in Canada or on the east coast of the U.S.

We were lucky this trip. We spent Friday night at the Post Falls, Idaho Sleep Inn. It is entirely non-smoking. The manager was familiar with chemical sensitivity and went out of his way to be accommodating. I called almost a week before our stay and made a reservation for a room which would not be used in the interim time period. The best part about the room was that it had a window, which I opened as soon as we arrived and left open a crack through the night. I ran into only two problems at this motel. They have an indoor swimming pool just down the hallway from the main lobby, so the lobby smelled slightly of chlorine. However, they had the lobby doors open to the outside, so that helped. The other problem I encountered was when I got out of the shower the next morning and grabbed a towel, which had a slight scent. (It goes without saying that I never use soap or any other personal care products supplied by a motel.) I will remember to bring my own towel next time.

On our way home Sunday night we got stuck in a snow storm and couldn't make it over the last pass to get home. So we stayed in the Best Western at exit 101 in Missoula, Montana. I had not called ahead on this one, so I was a little apprehensive, but it turned out to be a very positive experience. This motel is all non-smoking, and I couldn't smell anything at all when I walked into the lobby. Again, I asked for a room that had not been used for a few days, and then I went and looked at the room before paying for it. I sniffed the sheets and the towels and could smell, ahhh, nothing at all. This was the best motel room I have stayed in for a long time.

Of course, there's nothing quite like home sweet home, but it's nice to know that I can get away once in awhile.

Friday, March 20, 2009

New Disabilities Web Site

This week I spent some time searching the new disabilities web site published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Designed to provide help for people with disabilities and people who serve them (families, teachers, friends, church leaders), the site is a treasure trove of information on disabilities in general and on some specifically. Included are scriptural passages about caring for each other, as well as specific ways that others can meet the needs of those with disabilities, enabling them to serve and fully participate in the church community.

Unfortunately, chemical/fragrance sensitivities are not addressed specifically on this site. However, much of the information given is applicable. There is a place for feedback that enables you to send an email (a short message) to the site managers. After looking through the site, I took the opportunity to send a message about chemical sensitivity and the unique problems it presents to church members (both those with it and those who should accommodate it). I may never hear back from anyone at the site, but it does feel good to know that I have said something.

For anyone who cares about people with disabilities (which I hope is all of us), this is an excellent site. You can take a look at www.disabilities.lds.org .

Monday, March 16, 2009

Random Thoughts

I have been caught up in a writing project and haven't kept up with the blog world. Coming up for air, I have just some random thoughts.

  • I have been making some connections with other chemically sensitive people, through this and other blogs and through the MCS-America email list. In so doing, I am continually amazed at the difficulties so many people face and the grace with which they do so. My heart aches for young mothers who can't attend their children's school programs, for talents that go unshared because of the isolation of MCS and for devout church members who can't even attend a regular sacrament service, let alone a potluck dinner or family funeral. Yet they carry on with courage worthy of any arctic explorer or war hero. I will be forever thankful for the miracle of cyberspace that allows me to reach beyond my caged existence and enter into their worlds.
  • Yesterday (or the day before; I have lost all track of time this week), I read of a study which concluded that people who wear face masks in heavily polluted areas have a lower risk of heart attacks. In some big cities, like Shanghai, air-filtering face masks are common, but until this study, no one was sure if they were really doing any good. I have to admit that I have been sceptical, but after the experience I had today of traveling a mile or more behind a big pickup truck and breathing in its exhaust (Montanans and their big trucks--it's a culture thing), I'm ready to try the mask. The article suggested that the best masks are those that are designed to filter out dust, like construction workers wear. However, I haven't a clue where to buy such a thing--Home Depot? Lowe's? Anyone out there ever use one of these?
  • We had yet ANOTHER storm blow in here last night. It is not as cold as the -17 F we woke up to one day last week, but it came with plenty of snow. I was not a happy camper as I ventured out into it to the health food store. There I ran into an old friend, and as we were talking she glanced out the window and exclaimed with delight, "Oh, look how beautiful it is, all that snow coming down!" The flakes were those big chunky ones that float, rather than fall and cover everything so completely that even dirty Montana cars look like giant marshmallows. Even I, so VERY tired of winter, had to admit that it had its own kind of beauty... sort of. T.S. Eliot wrote: "If winter comes, can spring be far behind?" Ahh...words to live by (this time of year anyway).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

International Women's Day

Today, March 8th, is International Women's Day, celebrated worldwide. (In some countries it's actually a national holiday!) So Happy Day to all of you wonderful women out there!

The whole month of March is Women's History Month here in the United States. The theme for this year is "Women Taking the Lead to Save our Planet." The National Women's History Project has a great website at www.nwhp.org , with resources for use in homes, schools and communities.

Women's history and a healthier environment are two subjects near and dear to my heart. Combining them into one month of activities and celebration? Wow, that's cool.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Little Miss Perfect

I was flipping through the channels on Directv last night (chilling out after a long day), and I came across a show called "Little Miss Perfect." This reality TV show chronicles the week before a little girl beauty pageant (Little Miss Perfect) in the lives of two of the contestants. In this particular episode, the two featured children were about six years old.

Now, I have objections to all beauty pageants (regardless of the age of the participants) on many levels, but I'll leave most of that discussion to a different place and a different time. The thing that was most striking as I watched what these girls go through was the use of make-up and hair styling products. Little girls as young as three years of age not only had their faces covered with everything from eye shadow to blusher to thick foundation, but they also had their entire bodies (or at least everything that wasn't covered by the scanty bikinis they wore in the competition) sprayed with a false tanning solution. Then, after all that, their hair was teased and sprayed repeatedly to produce bigger-than-life hairdos.

As I watched this purposeful poisoning of innocent little girls, I wanted to reach through the television and strangle a few necks. I am aware that the whole child beauty pageant business has been under attack recently (and rightly so, I believe), but I haven't heard any of those attacks address the very real physical danger to these children from toxic chemical exposure. Yet there it was, right before my eyes, plain as day. I'm willing to grant that much of this is due to just plain ignorance on the part of many of the adults, and I know that I have a different perspective on chemical exposure as I look at it through MCS eyes, but that does not excuse what I see as blatant child abuse with the potential of causing irreparable physical (not to mention psychological) damage.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I have mixed feelings about just how much government (i.e. legislation) should be involved in my life, but I ran across these two quotes this past week, and they gave me something to think about.

The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.
Hubert Humphrey

...human rights exist independent of governments--they are not granted or taken away by those in power--only pretected or violated.
Christine Kaufman, Montana State legislator