Helping women with chronic illnesses

Putting Out Fires And Coming Up Roses

This is the longest span of time there has ever been between blog posts here. I have been really busy offline “putting out fires”. I just wanted to make an appearance here so that no one thinks I have abandoned my blog.

The flare-ups of various conditions that I mentioned previously are ongoing. So, things are just challenging at the moment but I will try to get back into the swing of things as soon as I can.

I have been feeling quite overwhelmed lately and I look forward to getting things to calm down. I have been dealing with multiple crisis situations and it has been frustrating.

The fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis and irritable bowel syndrome are all doing a little better now than they were a couple of days ago. Once I get through my third period in a month, I might start to feel better still. Let’s hope so.

Right now, I am trying to switch from fighting fires to implementing better self-care. I’m working on it.

I had a doctor’s appointment today. Someone on the staff wears a fragrance that makes me extremely ill. Despite the fact that it was rainy and cold, I waited outside until the doctor was ready to see me because waiting in the waiting room was completely out of the question. The receptionist was kind enough to bring my receipt and paperwork outside because I was unable to make it through the check-in process.

THAT is how strong the fragrance was. It is an hour drive home and I wasn’t going to risk fainting in the office or being unsafe to drive myself home from the appointment. On a more positive note, it isn’t snowing yet and there is a bench outside that is under the overhang of the roof. So, I didn’t have to get wet waiting outside or get sore (neuropathy) feet from standing. I was also extremely grateful that no one was smoking outside while I was there waiting!

The head pain that my primary care physician narrowed down to either cluster headaches or migraines a few months back is happening consistently with every period now. So, my head already hurt before I got to the fragranced office. I certainly wasn’t going to add to my head pain by staying in the waiting room. On a separate note, I asked my PCP to order a Vitamin D test. I got the lab results this week. Come to find out, my Vitamin D level is low. So, I owe my friend a thank you for encouraging me to get that checked.

To end things on a brighter note, my husband got a call today about a job he had interviewed for. I had written previously about the job situation. This company has interviewed him nine times. One of the interviewers wants to do a second interview on October 22nd. My husband is extremely excited about this interview because it is for the position he was the most excited about! (The company interviewed him for multiple positions in those previous nine interviews). So, let’s hope everything will be coming up roses soon with the job situation.

This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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Reading: Putting Out Fires And Coming Up Roses


1 Matthew SmithNo Gravatar { 10.15.10 at 5:00 pm }

I had another “fragrant encounter” on the London Tube the other day; a woman sat down right next to me and her stinky perfume was pretty strong. Not as bad as the “poison” incident I mentioned in a previous comment, but it was still pretty unpleasant (which kind of defeats the object of wearing it in the first place).

Why is it, some women (well, perhaps there are male offenders as well) don’t realise that the excessive amount (and type) of perfume they wear is hazardous for some people who might be around them, and unpleasant for pretty much anyone else?

2 Jannie FunsterNo Gravatar { 10.16.10 at 10:01 am }

October 22nd! October 22nd!! OCTOBER 22nd!!!

Okay, excuse my French, but WTF with wearing fragrance in a medical office. Come to freak ON, people. That is just crazy. What extremely selfish behavior.

Could you write a nice note to the Drs about that?

I tell my hubby to go very very sparingly on his aftershave becasue of this.


I got a head ache a couple weeks ago from left-over ciggy smoke from a couple hours before I was in an office. Then whiffs of paint fumes. NOT a good day at all for me.


At least it’s not snowing here yet! WAIT — it almost never snows here. 🙂

In the 50s last night but I imagine back up to the low 80s today.

.-= Jannie Funster´s last blog ..Live From The Tree House =-.

3 JeanneNo Gravatar { 10.16.10 at 2:48 pm }


The really unfortunate part is that synthetic fragrances containing toxins that make some people ill immediately (particularly those with multiple chemical sensitivity, those who are chemically sensitive, those who have asthma, those who experience migraines, etc.) are not healthy for anyone.

So, while the wearers of such fragrances may feel no immediate ill effects, these fragrances are unhealthy for them too. In the long run, they can be making themselves sick by wearing/using fragranced products. (An example of “using” fragranced products would be fabric softener sheets… which contain a horrid combination of chemicals).

So, it’s a lose-lose-lose for anyone exposed to them – whether directly (the person wearing/using it) or indirectly (people who encounter that person and wind up inhaling the fumes). Sadly, fragrances are unregulated and may contain items such as neurotoxins, endocrine disruptors, and even carcinogens. Many people assume such products undergo safety testing before being allowed into the marketplace. This is not the case, however.

As far as why the wearers of such fragrances don’t realize how much they stink, it is my understanding that such fragrances can become addictive resulting in the wearers using more and more of them because they have somehow grown accustomed to the smell. What smells perfectly lovely to them can literally knock someone like myself unconscious if I don’t move away from the source quickly enough.

As far as gender is concerned, fragrances are marketed more heavily towards women (thus tend to be used more) but men are certainly not “offense free”. One trip to my dentist involved noxious fumes from men’s cologne. When I inquired about the overpowering smell, the dental hygienist informed me that a man with very strong cologne had been in the exam room two down from where I was… about 5 hours before I arrived. Yes, his stench lingered behind hours later in a different exam room. Another time, we went out to eat and the male server’s cologne was so intense that we ended up having to get boxes for our food and take half of the meal home to eat it because I was so ill from what he was wearing that I couldn’t make it through the meal. Now, increasing numbers of men are using fragranced products as companies are marketing to men more and more to expand their market.


4 JeanneNo Gravatar { 10.16.10 at 4:33 pm }


Yes!!! October 22nd will be interview #10 with the same company for Hubby alright! Please cross your fingers, toes, eyelashes, etc. There were multiple positions they interviewed him for. This is the one he was most excited about. So, this will be a second interview for that position (bringing the grand total of interviews with the company to 10)!! He describes this position as, “the job I’ve been looking for for 10 years now”. So, we are very anxious for Friday!! Please send positive energy for Friday. 😉

On to the fragrance in a medical office… What can I even say? I don’t think any medical office should allow any fragrances. Awhile back the Centers for Disease Control ruled to make all CDC office space fragrance free. To me, that signals an era where medical offices will eventually be mandated to enforce fragrance free facilities.

Let’s just say that I had a long conversation with the doctor about it and basically said everything I possibly could say to get across how this fragrance affects me. This is a wonderful doctor who I cannot lose. I had tried to get in with him a few years ago and the wait was too long. I was just too sick too wait. 🙁 So, I had gotten in with another doctor. To make a long story short, that other doctor nearly killed me (literally) by not monitoring my medication properly.

I kept telling him (my former doctor) all of my symptoms (actually they were medication side effects from the dose being way off) but he blew me off. I then ended up getting rushed to the ER and then getting admitted to the ER for observation while they worked to undo the damage done by that doctor. It is a long and very upsetting story.

The point is that it should never have happened. I know now that the doctor I was seeing then could have and should have prevented all of that from happening. I literally almost died.

So, I fired that doctor after that happened and tried again to get in with this doctor. There was again a wait to get in (because this doctor is really, really good). My primary care doctor helped cover the gap until I could get in with my current doctor.

So, I can’t go elsewhere because he’s the best doctor I know of and I really like him a lot. I am not certain but I believe that the woman (in his office) who wears the fragrance is related to him. So, bringing up the topic was not easy by any means. (People tend to get defensive about fragrance or view it as their “right” to wear what they want).

It became clear from that conversation that he was not inclined to ask this woman to stop wearing the fragrance. Needless to say, I was disappointed. He suggested making my appointments first thing in the morning (before she comes in).

I did this a few times (which was a big inconvenience for me since the office is an hour away and morning is my worst time of day for pain, etc.) Anyway, either my appointment would run late or she’d unexpectedly come in early and I’d end up being there the same time she was – PLUS have the huge inconvenience of timing to have gotten there so early. 🙁

This was even WORSE because catching her fragrance when she first arrived to work like I was meant that she had JUST put the fragrance on and it was even stronger. I would end up leaving without checking out/making the next appointment… and I’d make the appointment by phone. I literally couldn’t check out. I’ve had too many occasions of fainting in public. I couldn’t take the chance.

Once I realized going early made it WORSE, I implemented the “wait outside” method. I’ve waited outside there in the snow before. I honestly don’t mind waiting in the snow as opposed to sitting in the waiting room and inhaling fumes that make me dizzy, nauseous, feel faint, and make my head hurt. Do I think I should have to wait outside? Of course not. But I can handle snow in my parka if it means clean air to breathe!

In order to be safe to drive an hour home afterwards, I have to go the fresh air route, no matter what the weather. If anyone smokes (and that is the spot where people would… right outside the entrance door where the bench is), I’ll just hole up in my car and call them on my cell to let them know I AM there and then I can just watch for them to come out and get me. I will not sit in that waiting room anymore! I have learned my lesson from trying to force myself to do so in the past. It’s not worth passing out on the drive home while I’m at the wheel.

So, no… a note to the doctor is not going to change anything. I talked with him about it face to face, at length, months ago. I really, really like this doctor. He is a great doctor and a vast, vast improvement over previous doctors who I saw before him. I just get really, really sick from the fragrance that permeates that office. It’s unfortunate.

Hmm. I don’t know what aftershave your hubby uses but you may want to check this database for it:

Skin Deep

There, you can plug in the name of a personal care product (fragranced products, soap, shampoo, sunscreen, etc.) and it will show you a safety score and will tell you about any ingredients with safety issues. The database doesn’t have everything in it but it is a large database that has a large number of products.

I’m sorry you had a headache from cigarette smoke and paint fumes. 🙁 Fortunately , there are low VOC paints available now that are much better.

Well, it may almost never snow there but I do remember one time it did:

Rain of Terror in Austin 😉

It’s 54 here and that’s fine with me. It’s a gorgeous sunny day. While I am most definitely still having a fibromyalgia flare (it has been about 3 months now), it is letting up a little the past few days. So, I am seriously considering (gasp) stepping outside shortly for no particular reason but to get some fresh air. (Normally going outside is saved for “going somewhere” or “doing something” when, like now, I’m trying not to let my muscles get too cold… but the sun is so brilliant today that I am getting tempted to make a short venture outside. I can always come back in if my muscles scream at me). Wish me luck!


5 AnnieNo Gravatar { 10.16.10 at 8:55 pm }

Oh, how wonderful that your husband has that interview for the job he wants! I’ll be hoping and praying that it works out so you can at least have one big stressor removed!

6 JeanneNo Gravatar { 10.16.10 at 9:42 pm }


Yes, we are trying not to get our hopes up too high. To have 10 interviews with one company in a matter of about a month’s time is really something. We have been told this company has a long hiring process but we were starting to be a bit concerned and then – boom – they called for yet another interview. So, we are hopeful and very anxious. Of the various positions for which they have interviewed him, this truly is “the one” that he told me after the prior interview would be the best fit. Let’s just hope next Friday’s interview goes well!

One of the people interviewing him has already interviewed him before. Another person who will be interviewing him Friday is new to him. So, please cross your fingers. With my husband’s last job being contract work (working on a 1099/self-employed), he is not eligible for unemployment benefits. So, you can imagine how anxious we are for a decision to be made. The position he is interviewing for doesn’t technically exist yet. In other words, they want someone for this position but they don’t have it in the budget yet. I think that is part of why things are taking a bit of time to get moving. It looks hopeful, though, that this next interview truly may result in what we’re hoping for! Please send some positive energy our way on Friday that this will work out. 😉


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