Across America, chemically hypersensitive people who call themselves “canaries” know all about isolation and social distancing, they have been doing it for years. They would love to share all their tips and tricks, because at the same time, they can explain to people how they got to be so good at quarantine. It’s just another day for them. MCS, also known as Environmental Illness, or Chemical Injury, affects 140 million Americans.
Just another day in isolation for canaries
As of today, the U.S. has 715 thousand confirmed Covid-19 cases, forcing the country into isolation lockdown because of the “pandemic.” A lot more than 140 million Americans have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and most people never even heard of it. The majority of them have been in self-quarantine for years.
“It’s too bad governments don’t call upon the people that already deal with chronic issues to consult,” one sensitivity expert laments. People never really understand something until they experience it. Perspective is shaped and limited by personal insights and expectations.
“While everyone’s lives have been severely impacted by Covid-19, for those with chemical sensitivities, dealing with the virus, and precautions taken to reduce its spread, present some unique challenges, and surprisingly, some benefits,” a canary posted on Facebook.
One MCS advocate posted some great insight to a social media support group. “I remember reading someone’s post about how when the guidelines for staying safe in this pandemic were released that it was basically a normal day to day for most of us with MCS. It made me think, why are the ones most affected not the ones consulted? It’s the basic bullying scheme, keeping the disenfranchised in their place, but there are days when I’m tired of being bullied.”
Another good piece of advice posted in a support group says, “This may be one area where the chemically sensitive have an advantage, since we already know a lot about masks and staying away from other people! We are also quite experienced in air hugs, paying attention to what touched what, decontamination, putting potentially harmful items outside or in isolation rooms, and spending time alone.”
Killing the canaries with anti-virus chemicals
One of the reasons canaries are so anxious to share their stories is because the response to the virus is making things a lot worse for them at the same time. They have spent years in isolation for a reason. “The bleach smell is killing me,” a sensitive reports. “Burning my eyes and throat. The bleach is more toxic than the virus!” A fellow canary agrees. “That’s one of my worst triggers.” Another chimes in, “mine too. Even causes heart palps.”
Another group member posted, “Has anybody else a problem now going to the store? I went to the grocery store yesterday and started having an asthma attack, headache, and itchy throat. I think it is all the disinfectant that they are using now. It cleared up on the way home and after using my inhaler. I react to most chemicals, including lysol and cleaners. I hope this will not be norm for too long.”
The increased use of hand sanitizer and disinfectants is a huge problem to the chemically sensitive. “Many of us do not tolerate bleach, rubbing alcohol, phenol (Lysol), and other chemicals being used to disinfect surfaces and hands. Some of these products also contain fragrance which only adds to their toxicity.”
Another media poster is “very concerned about how all these products being used are affecting me.” To her, “staying home to avoid the toxins is more of a priority than my concern of getting the virus.” Another member of that canary flock notes, “This virus has got me playing defense and it’s causing havoc on my breathing.” It’s a good thing that masks are “becoming a fashion statement.” These are “pretty amazing times,” she adds.
The advocate has been helping canaries deal with both their illness and the effects of isolation. She notes that the current crisis is adding a lot more stress and strain in the chemically sensitive community. One of the biggest concerns is the fact that for MCS patients, every chemical exposure is cumulative. They add up. Each separate exposure incident makes the whole disease get worse.
The MCS researcher asks, “how many more will be chemically sensitive in the aftermath than die of the virus?” The careless “overuse of disinfectants “will surely degrade us all. There’s no way to protect against or mitigate this when we share air and water.”
There aren’t many old canaries
One of the biggest concerns to chemically sensitive patients was expressed by a group member. “If we contract the virus, many of us could not tolerate a hospital environment or medications and life-saving procedures being used to treat severely ill patients with Covid-19. Nor are we likely to be able to tolerate a vaccine for the virus.”
So far, there have been 37,625 deaths from Covid-19. Statistics aren’t kept as to how many people have died from chemical sensitivity complications, but there aren’t many old canaries. The suicide rate among the chemically intolerant is however, considered an “epidemic.”
According to “the unofficial mayor of one of the emptiest towns in America,” Susie Molloy, “People here suicide themselves.” In 1995 she turned some private property east of Snowflake, Arizona into an isolation refuge for a small group of those forced to deliberately quarantine themselves from the world.
Susie estimates that it happens “around twice a year,” which – in relation to their population – a Guardian reporter pointed out, is “an epidemic.” We “bury our own dead,” Molloy replied.
The mainstream media is hammering home the fact that the virus is affecting people of color worse than most because they are more vulnerable medically to begin with. The same thing applies to the chemically sensitive. And they can’t tolerate medical facilities.