Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cry Me a River

I am starting to have a new and very distressing reaction to environmental chemical/corn exposure these days. I cry uncontrollably in public and feel horribly depressed and overwhelmed for hours after. My last trip to Sam's Club (and I do mean my last trip because I'll never go back), I had a hard time even making it to the parking lot before I burst into tears. I know you're thinking I should wear a mask, huh? Well, I had my mask on the entire time.

I am not only distressed that my reactions are increasing in intensity and frequency, but that they result in such emotional distress. This is the new pattern: I gradually get more and more exhausted as I walk around in the store, then I start feeling very sad and overwhelmed. Then I start struggling to keep it together, but the horrible feelings of depression and crushing anxiety don't stop. Before I know what's  happening, I'm crying in public and feeling so overwhelmed that I can hardly pick up my arms to drive home. The last two times this happened, I was unable to drive until I sat in the car for a while with the air conditioner on high (recycled air only so outside fumes don't get in the car). With experimentation, I've found that compounded diphenhydramine doesn't help at all to mitigate these reactions. Generally, after I somehow get home, I crash hard and sleep for a few hours. After I wake up, I'm still groggy and feel drugged for the rest of the day. Oh yeah, my feet are too sore to walk on by late that night and on into the next day, too.

I just can't describe how horrible I feel when this reaction is underway. I just feel so hopeless and overwhelmed. I start feeling as if I will never be able to cope with the huge list of things I struggle to do every day and that it will never get better. I am normally a very optimistic and upbeat person so these feelings are too much for me. Now that I can't shop at Sam's, I'll have to buy those few safe items I was able to get at a bulk discount from Kroger at a higher price. I guess I just need to be thankful that I can still tolerate Kroger with my mask.


  1. Oh gosh, Kristy, how frustrating that must be. Do you have any theories on why the fumes still make it through your mask's filters, or if there is any kind of filter material that would boost your mask's efforts?

  2. I'm not 100% sure, but I know that I smell especially stinky places and people through my mask. I've considered doubling up on the filters, but I can hardly breathe through it now. I'm also not sure whether I am absorbing the particulates through my eyes as well.....they are mucous membranes. Have you read anything about that?

  3. Oh....I didn't even think about eyes, but that makes sense when I think of some of my non-food allergens.

    I know what you mean about mask filters -- I used, for the first time, a respirator when we stripped paint off a cabinet several months ago and I found it somewhat claustrophobic-feeling having that mask on....something about not being able to *easily* breathe. Once I acclimated to it, I was sure glad to have it on to help cut the fumes, but it certainly didn't eliminate ALL the fumes.

    I'm glad you have Kroger as a back up option. I hope it's not too restricting food-wise though.

  4. I know that boo-hooing sure clears out the nose and eyes, so perhaps it is my body's way of expelling allergens? I guess we'll get by without Sams Club. I can buy everything I get there from Kroger, but it's just more expensive.

  5. What kind of mask are you using? If you can smell through it, then it's not doing the job. For it to be 100% effective, you need to get fitted for it based on the shape of your face, and then you need someone to do a test with you to make sure you can't smell anything.

    I had to go through this process for disaster preparedness training, and it's not something you can just buy out of the package. Not sure if it's comparable for environmental allergies or not.

    Also, I'm brand new to this site, but have been struggling with allergies for years. What I've found is that my environmental allergies are at their worst when I'm eating things that I'm allergic to. I'm doing (another) elimination diet right now, and I was winded just walking to the mailbox. Guessing it's the eggs I've been testing out for the past two days.

    Anyway, I don't know if any of that is helpful - I know all about people giving helpful advice when you're struggling with allergies.

    I've left many a grocery store on the verge of tears, mostly because I had no idea what on earth I was going to eat. It's a feeling I know well.

  6. Hi Sabrina, I use a simple "I Can Breathe" mask that I ordered. I tried every mask and respirator in the hardware store and they all caused reactions from materials (I am guessing). At first upon entering the store, I feel fine. I think they are becoming saturated early in the shopping trip and then are rendered useless before I can finish. There is a lot of perfumey stink in those retail stores.

    Do you have MCS? If so, which mask do you wear?

  7. Kristy,

    I don't wear a mask - I still suffer through what I need to do and hit my inhaler if I need to. My environmental allergies only tend to rear their ugly head when I'm dealing with a food allergy. The pulmonary doc finally figured out it was irritation from acid reflux that I get when I have a reaction, that ends up mimicking the symptoms of asthma.

    My worst triggers are cigarette smoke and exhaust, but strong perfumes also tend to give me migraines - and of course all of these things tend to happen at once because my whole body is essentially under assault.

    I only mentioned the thing about the mask because I used to work for the health department, and there was a big push to get us all "fitted," meaning you can't smell anything. They actually spray stuff at your face to make sure it's fitted right. I don't think I even have mine anymore because it got crushed in my glove compartment, but basically you're looking for anything that can be fitted (they usually have a metal piece along the bridge of the nose).

    You might even want to check with your local health department to see if they do it locally - it's worth a shot.

  8. Hi Sabrina,

    The "I Can Breathe" masks have a metal piece along the bridge of the nose that can be adjusted. I think the problem is that the filters get saturated early in my trips. I think I am doing fine and then a really stinky person comes my way and I can smell some of it penetrating the mask. It's all downhill from there.

    Thanks for the suggestions.

  9. Kristy,
    This just sounds awful! It does give me a little insight to what my young daughter must be going through at times with her corn allergy. So, for that, I thank you! Our most recent dilemma is dealing with the 2-month corn harvest process going on right in our neighborhood. We've had to resort to keeping her 100% indoors, in our house. No going outside for at least another couple of weeks. Have you ever experienced something like this? I'm curious to find out how you cope(d).
    Sincere blessings,

  10. Hi Jenny, I feel for your daughter. I don't have to worry about that here, but I do always have to keep my car's vent on recycled air to cut down on the amount of ethanol fumes we are exposed to when out of the house. It's frustrating because when I turn it on heat, it automatically switches to outside air. I've read about others having a lot of issues around corn fields and harvesting on the Avoiding Corn forum, though. There are corn allergics dealing with all sorts of issues like avoiding corn in preschool, struggling with public school vs. homeschool, how to survive in college, dating non-corn allergy sufferers, cooking for a multi-allergy family, trying to find compounded medicines that are truly corn-free, etc. If you haven't stopped by yet, you really should. There are lots of other moms out there with some ingenious ideas and practical solutions. If nothing else, it helps to get support from other moms who are struggling with the same issues you contend with every day.

  11. This sounds horrible! This year I have come to really understand my corn allergy after spending 4-5 months on medical leave due to all of my allergies. I was not able to go to my gym to exercise in a long time and am finally feeling a lot better after months of learning to change my diet and lifestyle. So I returned to my gym recently to workout to discover that they had added two or three air fresheners to every room in the gym because people were complaining about body odor. Plugins, Renuzits and those automated Lysol air freshener sprayers that mount to the wall. I really HATE those things! Then there were all the women wearing strong perfume. I couldn't tolerate being in the gym longer than 30-45 minutes. I could feel my throat and nose swelling. I had a sore throat and headache for four days after. I am considering trying to find a mask and wearing it there. But your experience doesn't make the mask experiment sound too promising. I just really don't want to have to cancel my gym membership and quit going because I don't want to become too isolated. I've already had to eliminate eating out with friends and family, barbecues and decline invites to eat at other people's homes or even visits and have had to limit visits in my home from others because they always have air fresheners in their home and/or wear perfumes. It is very distressing.

  12. It can be very isolating and it doesn't help that people try to imply that we are imagining the whole thing. My reactions have lessened since I wrote this post, though. I am crediting the anti-candida diet with my lessened sensitivity. It's not an easy diet by any means, but it is really helping my daughter and me. Look up candida overgrowth and see if any of the symptoms sound familiar to you. It could be the answer for you, too.

  13. Dear Kristyreal,

    Please forgive how forward I may seem, I presume much of what I will write you will have thought of previously.

    Forgive me but, Have you thought of enlisting a volunteer service to shop for you? I'm not sure what local amenities you have available to you but I pray you have an angel out there who can help. Sometimes private companies deliver some of your specialty items meats and the like. Can someone else help you get your supplies, one of the teens?

    It seems like you risk your life to venture to the grocery store. I don't think it is safe for a person to be away from the sanctuary of one's home with such a condition.

    As you know the internet can host a myriad of services and I pray you find your needs fulfilled before you exhaust your resources of support.

    Knowledge is power and you empowered me to overcome an abscessed tooth and I hope you find the holy motivation to persevere in your pursuits to achieve a long and lasting quality of life.

    Live it up,



  14. Thanks for the concern, Lex. I do have a very helpful young friend that shops for us in all the stores that are the worst offenders (Walmart, Home Depot, Target, Lowe's). The problem is that the Sams membership is in my name so I have to be present. A couple of weeks ago I used the "Click 'n Pull" method at Sam's and it was much better. I didn't have to venture any further than the front desk and it was the fastest I've ever gotten out of there. I highly recommend, if only every stinky store offered that service.

  15. What makes you so sure your reaction -- particularly your emotional reaction -- was caused by your corn allergy?

  16. I'm not sure it is a corn reaction, exactly, but it is definitely a chemical reaction. This has happened several times since that first scary reaction and it is always after exposure to strong chemical fragrances in public places.

  17. It it's a reaction to an odor, it might be psychosomatic. It's very easy to get trapped into a cycle of fear: You smell a strong chemical odor, which makes you suspect you've been exposed to something nasty, you start paying really close attention to every feeling you have that COULD be a reaction, and then when one of those feelings DOES seem like a symptom of exposure you get scared, and the fear can literally make your body experience more symptoms. Bam, a new substance is on your list of "this gives me a bad reaction" and the next time you smell it you're even more afraid, feeding the cycle.

  18. For Fungus, bacteria, viruses, etc., I would check out this video it may change your whole life: "What Do You Use Oregano Oil For? #717" (KevinGianni channel)

    Where to buy Wild Oil of Oregano P73 (Oreganol):

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  19. This blog post is a bit old, but I felt the need to comment anyway.
    I am so sorry that happened to you!
    Strong odors bother me, but thankfully I can still mostly shop in public. I have a similar reaction that you had, if I've eaten something that corn snuck into. First I get really emotional and overly sensitive. Like PMS on steroids. Crying ensues. Then the mega-fatigue hits, similar to drinking a bunch of nyquil. Then comes the migraine that can last up to 3 days.
    I'm just thankful for blogs like yours and the delphi forum that helped me figure out it was corn doing this to me!

  20. I'm so glad this post helped you. I was reluctant to post it because people tend to treat us like we're crazy, but it was such a shocking reaction that I felt I must. We have gotten a little better with environmental fumes, but it's still difficult to shop and certain stores are "dire emergency only".

  21. I too are very sensitive to certain corn products. It is hard to imagine for people that don't have any food allergies. I am severely allergic to corn, corn starch, or any artificial sweetener made from corn. It can be very difficult some days. I have shopped at Sam Club in MtPleasant Michigan without any problem. I have had breathing problems with places that have lots of cheap candles and such through out there stores. Fumes can be a problem.

  22. I think one of the most frustrating things is that the average person not only doesn't understand, they think you're making it up. Even people that have known me my whole life, watched my declining health, and know that I am so honest it's scary still would rather believe I am making this up. Why is that?

  23. Kristy,

    I don’t know why people are that way at all. I just read your post today and your last comment here. I have been trying to understand myself why it is easier for people to make someone out like they are crazy instead of truly seeing what has happened to our food supply and environment. My only guess is that if people are honest than they would have to do something and maybe people don’t want to do anything and rather live pretending everything is fine.

    A good friend this week who I thought understand me the past year about the girl’s food allergies had been so mean. She told me that I should find a doctor and get them weaned onto normal food. It hurt because all our conservations about doctors and food this past year went out the window. It was like she had been just humoring me the whole time.

    Every day I struggle dealing with corn, wheat and the dairy allergy here. When my little one was just one and had an anaphylactic reaction I was so thankful for all your kind replies and help. I think you have helped many corn sufferers out there.

    You must keep yourself strong and find a way to never have to go in those places that make you sick. See if you can talk to a Manager and see if you can make arrangements to have someone else shop and pick up the foods. It is not worth getting yourself sick at all.

  24. I am so sorry your friend let you down. I think it is just plain old fear. She is terrified that something like this could happen to her. After listening to your woes for a year, I'm sure she has come to the conclusion that you've done nothing to bring this on your family. It really is just luck of the draw. That terrifies people.

    It's the same irrational fear that makes people shun someone who's had a death in the family. Logically, they know it isn't "catching", but they are still too terrified to offer comfort. That same thing happens when people encounter an obese person. They laugh and make fun, but it's more like whistling when you pass a graveyard. It's just gut-wrenching fear that the obese person didn't bring it on themselves - if that's true, then it could happen to anyone and no one wants to face that.

    I guess you should just be thankful that she told you to your face instead of "testing" the girls' allergies behind your back. I've seen it go both ways.....It's really hard to forgive someone when they've been so hurtful, but it is important to realize that it is just a character flaw that made her act that way. Most people aren't strong all at once....they have to grow into it. Maybe she will find her courage and seek your forgiveness after a while....and maybe you'll be able to forgive her. Let's hope, anyway.