Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Worldwide Debut of Me in a Mask

I received my I Can Breathe Sport Mask yesterday.  Since I am fragrance sensitive I hand washed the mask and exhale values with soap to which I am not sensitive.  They air dried overnight and were ready to go this morning.  It was very simple to put the values into the carbon filter and then attach the carbon filter to the interior of the mask.

I wore the mask to my moms group this morning and it went really well.  My group of moms was very supportive and had even skipped things like showering and using perfumed items on my behalf.  We do eat breakfast together so I couldn't wear the mask while eating or drinking; otherwise I wore it.  Those at the group who didn't know me really just ignored the mask.  I could tell that they maybe looked twice but that was it.

The mask does make me breathe a little heavier since it takes a bit more work to pull air through the mask and carbon filter.  I don't think it was noticeable to anyone else.  The wonderful news is that the mask did diminish my reactions.  I did have an asthma attack and maybe a few hives but both were minor and probably were caused by what I inhaled while eating and not wearing the mask.

I'm not sure that I have shared what reactions I am currently experiencing when I go to a store or am in public.  I'll list them here in no particular order:

Asthma attacks
General itchiness
Extreme fatigue
Nasal congestion and runny nose 
Joint pain 
Nearly passing out
Swelling of tongue/lips/throat
Memory/language issues

I do not necessarily experience all of these symptoms when I go out.  Something always happens and usually isn't singular.  Symptoms generally escalate even if I immediately return home and can last a few days.

This all returned quite suddenly about two weeks ago.  While my baseline symptoms had increased when I was about five weeks pregnant, my overall sensitivity to other people's personal care products and whatever is randomly in the air at stores was at the same time greatly diminished.

A new symptom in the last week is an irrational feeling of being overwhelmed.  Having never really experienced this as a symptom before I'm a bit at a loss as to what is going on and have just been pushing through it.  I am seeing an endocrinologist for the first time on Monday and will mention this to him.

And here is what you have all been waiting for!  A picture of me in a mask, looking quite tired and experiencing swollen top eyelids (they are common for me once again):

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

You might soon spot me wearing a mask

Since I stopped the Quercetin between the eleventh and twelfth week of pregnancy things have continued to worsen. Right now I am about 24 weeks pregnant.  Everything with the baby is going well and we currently have no concerns regarding development..

I am having escalating reactions every time I leave my house again.  I am experiencing severe headaches, sore throats, nasal swelling and itchiness.  For the remainder of the day, I am exhausted and feel very overwhelmed. Currently, I am still on the max dose of Diclegis for morning sickness and it contains the Class A antihistamine doxylamine succinate.  The instructions state not to take any additional antihistamines while taking Diclegis so I am not sure what medication I can safely take when I leave my house.  I have had to take Benadryl a few times.

I did send my midwife an email but I do not really expect her to know what to do.  Since I obviously don't want to hurt myself or the baby with medication or anaphylaxis, I am looking at buying a high quality mask to wear when I leave my house.  The two that I am most interested in are:

Does it shock you that enough people have environmental, fragrance and chemical sensitivities that numerous companies sell reusable masks with carbon filters?    Are people like me the canaries in the coal mine and soon nearly all of us will be wearing masks because our air quality is so poor?

I would like to add that I have zero conventional allergies and these reaction don't occur when I am outdoors away from people.  Reactions above my baseline symptoms occur indoors or when I am with a group of other people who have put some sort of fragranced product on their bodies or clothes.  I actually am unable to live in an apartment or a building with doors opening into a common area.  I absolutely can not share laundry machines with another family.  I have to wash clothes given to my family as many as ten times before the leftover fragrances stop making me ill.  Some things I have to toss or give away.

This illness is an isolating one and my natural tendencies are toward withdrawal  There are some specific ways that you can pray for me regarding this:

1.  Pray that I would have discernment to know when I can handle exposure and when it would be too much.  Pray that fear and the desire to withdraw would not play into my decisions.

2.  Pray that I would have the courage to wear a mask even though others will likely react negatively to it.