Continued from a series of articles about my terrible bout with MCS since the end of Summer 2015. Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4. This is the conclusion of my journey to stabilization before the birth of my first child.
In the last installment, I related how Prescript-Assist helped tremendously in some complications of MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) I’d been experiencing. It alleviated my severely exacerbated allergies following excess mold exposure in my home, and thus allowed me to go back into said home, which had in the intervening time been remediated with dehumidifiers and air purifiers.
Knocked on My Butt by a Bombshell
To my dismay, after 3 weeks of bliss in the safety and warmth of the indoors, I got severely hit with a dose of formaldehyde or acetaldehyde wafting off a queen-sized blanket from K-Mart, along with another surreptitious dose of that construction dust from across the street. This took me almost all the way back to where I’d been before discovering Prescript-Assist. I started to wake up with bad stomach aches and a racing heart again, and I even experienced some very scary symptoms of nerve trauma that are often described in early MS.
I hypochondriac you not—it was really happening. Just sitting Indian style while eating or using my PS3 (with wireless disabled and a wired remote), I would start to experience pins & needles that descended into painful stabbing sensations in the backs of my legs (not just your standard numbness). I even began to have severe sleep disturbances that made me have to start sleeping in my car again, and I was at an almost complete loss as to what I should do.
All of this was happening 2 weeks before my wife was going to give birth to our first child! I slowly but surely fell into a silent but utter panic.
So I did what I could, which is all you can do when you are allergic and your body reacts to so many things in your environment. I tried to remediate all possible sources of sleep disturbance, starting with the formaldehyde/acetaldehyde, moving on to EMF (leading to a successful petition for my parents to finally remove their wireless router–YAY!), and continuing on to the dust. It’s hard to say which of these three external stimuli had managed to retrigger my insomnia. Probably a combination.
It is always hard to tell which allergenic/toxic stimuli are causing MCS, exacerbating it, or being worsened by it. So the only logical thing you can do is approach the suspect sensitivities and eliminate them one by one—or you can elminate all that you suspect, then reintroduce (which is usually a more effective approach, because when you’re in such a state, you don’t take chances).
So let’s start with aldehydes. New items from stores have a lot of formaldehyde/acetaldehyde used to disinfect and “sweeten” their smell. They became a serious issue for me all of a sudden due to the influx of baby gifts as my wife’s due date approached. I had previously determined that formaldehyde exacerbated my condition, as well as became more offensive to me because of my condition. Having identified the heaps of new baby stuff as a problem, I promptly removed as many of the pungent Target and Kmart bags as I could from the house, relocating them to the garage to air them out. Having the added aldehydes out of the vents bought me some serious extra Z’s, but I was still having some problems.
Quickly moving on, I targetted EMFs, which had proven in the past to consistently disturb my sleep and exacerbate existing sensitivities. Like mold and formaldehyde, I believe EMFs can be both the cause and a symptom of the problem, as they are known to kill bacteria (therefore they most likely compromise the gut). I have speculated before that I believe EMFs’ main mechanism of harm to a sensitive individual is devastation of the gut microbiome. EMFs are known to encourage mold and yeast growth. Also, I have pinned down very distinct digestive symptoms upon exposure to two routers at once. My approach for dealing with these biologically offensive frequencies, which helped immediately, was to finally get the entire household to go completely wired! I had to really lobby for this, but ultimately I was shown mercy by the heavy wireless users of the household, and I quickly went about throwing together a workable (albeit spaghetti-like) Internet infrastructure consisting of:
- 8-port wired router (not “switch”)
- 25′ and 50′ ethernet cables
- ethernet cable extenders
- velcro wire bundlers
True safety involves necessary trip hazards, because avoiding EMFs is of paramount importance.
The next thing I dealt with was that construction/soil dust from the housing development across the street, which in retrospect was probably the main culprit for my newfound sleep disturbances. This issue took me the longest to suss out through event correlation analysis. You see, when I first got home from Memphis, I ran a sprint across my lawn barefoot (trying to catch up on some much-needed HIIT). Instantly, I felt that same numbness and tingling in my legs and feet that I’d felt as an allergic reaction to things on the Memphis trip (e.g., dogs and rubber). Clearly, there was still something going on with my lawn. Even before this, I had had at least a half dozen negative reactions from doing yoga or just sitting on the grass in the front in the past couple of months anyway. The lawn also had a certain bitter, dusty smell to it that wasn’t sitting right with me.
This was, I believe, the last element keeping me from sleep. So how did dust from across the street get into my house? It’s a great example of how things tend to descend into chaos quickly when you have this condition. You see, thinking nothing of it, my Mom had sprayed a very powerful and irritating antibiotic aerosol spray to clean (never do this) the back bathroom for our use after the baby was to arrive. The smell (and chemical action of it) was so strong that it made me feel very sick almost instantly. To air out that smell, we opened the front door (where the dust had settled prominently in our front yard) and the door to the exhaust fan–free bathroom where the aerosol lingered, and just let the wind blow in a crossbreeze. It didn’t hit me for several sleepless nights that the particulate had probably blown in the front door and deposited along the floors and on various furniture.
My solution: It was 1 week before Rachel’s due date, and I vacuumed the floors as much as possible and mopped everywhere along that path (especially my sleeping space) with a solution of Dr. Bronner’s castille soap and hydrogen peroxide. That very night, as I was working on making our floor shiny and clean, Rachel went into full-on labor. We slept as much as we could through the night, and at about 8 in the morning, we headed to the birthing center, only to have the baby about 3 hours after we got there. She came fast and furious! That’s a story for another blog entry. When I returned home, I had recovered my ability to sleep through the night inside of the house.
I did have some supplemental, internal assistance along the way. I figured out that heavy doses of l-glutamine in powdered form (building up from 5 g to 25 g/day) were extremely effective in dealing with the abdominal intestinal pain I was having from my sensitivities. I would get this awful gurgling painful sensation in my gut, and a significant dose of l-glutamine would make the pain dissipate instantly. I believe this amino acid is a crucial tool for those suffering from MCS, and really any autoimmune disorder for that matter. It is like a secret agent that goes in and specifically repairs your intestinal lining so that proteins don’t get through (from leaky gut). I will be writing a complete article about my experience with this supplement soon. In the meantime, look over this article written by Steve from SCD Lifestyle. It tells you everything you need to know about this miracle cure.
Results!!! (A Light in the Overwhelming Darkness)
As a reward for my diligence in dealing with these myriad hidden sources of kryptonite, as well as for finding two perfect supplements that deal with my gut problems, I was able to do this at my leisure after the birth of my beautiful daughter:
Victory can be so sweet.
Disclaimer: Don’t worry, we don’t co-sleep very often, and when we do, we try to make sure the other parent is awake so that we can monitor and avoid “roll-overs.”