Poverty and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
by Susie Collins
Coping with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is a challenge on every front in a person’s life. It impacts employment, housing, social activity, personal relationships, personal care, eating habits, exercise, recreation, and leisure. Health care becomes confusing and disorienting because medical doctors do not recognize MCS and therefore do not know how to help. To add insult to injury, some MDs believe MCS is psychosomatic, and either dismiss complaints or send the patient off to the shrink.
And when people with MCS are forced to seek out alternative health practitioners, it’s a crap shoot. While most practitioners– acupuncturists, nutritionists, dentists, and others– have good hearts and surely want to help, chances are pretty good that the patient will be led on a wild goose chase, and waste precious financial resources on alternative therapies and supplements, hoping for that magical cure.
But a cure for MCS is most likely going to be elusive. After all, MCS is not a disease or allergy, it’s a reaction to low level poisoning from toxic chemicals. So the more practical course of action might be for the sufferer to find safe housing and employment, stay away from toxic friends and family, dump toxic clothing and replace with natural fabrics, eat organic foods, buy a HEPA air filter and vacuum, find a good water filter, move to a place with cleaner air. But how easy is that course of action for anyone let alone someone who is sick with depleted resources?
So you can see how MCS can catapult a person into poverty. When forced to leave employment because the air is too toxic to breathe, there is no paycheck. When there is no social or familial support system and no safe housing, a person is out on the street. If there’s not sufficient money for fresh organic food, nutritional supplements, air and water filters, and a HEPA vacuum, then a person’s health further deteriorates. And a life on that edge can very quickly spiral into poverty.
This is why too many people with MCS are sleeping in cars or in aluminum trailers in a friend’s back yard. Many who can’t find safe housing or employment hunker down, strip down, go zen, go without, and struggle to adapt to the newfound state of limited resources. This is the world of poverty, and if anyone with MCS thinks this scenario isn’t a heartbeat away, they are fooling themselves. There is no safety net for people with a health condition not recognized by the government or mainstream medical community.
Such is the life of canaries. It’s not just sensitivity to toxic chemicals that people with MCS live with, it’s acute sensitivity to the social injustice of a negligent health care and governmental system that refuses to even acknowledge there’s a problem.