I’m moving to a new “environmentally sensitive” housing unit in Ottawa!

Imagine my surprise when two weeks ago I received a phone call saying a unit had become available at Barrhaven, one of the specially built units that have the potential to meet most of my housing needs!

Linda standing near some trees. Shes' wearing a cap and has a mask dangling loosely from her neck.

This photo was taken the day before my birthday last July, after being at the cabin about three weeks.

It’s already June, over a year since I was forced from my previous home without another place to go to due to my disabling medical condition of severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Environmental Sensitivities, Fibromyalgia, and Electro HyperSensitivity, none of which is properly recognized in this country. It’s almost a year since I (barely) made it to the summer cabin owned by some in my family. And half a year since my father passed away.

Despite a lot of struggle, I made it though winter with the help of a local woman and her family, some assistance from several canaries, a few friends in Toronto, and my uncle’s wife in Massachusetts (who had been paying the electric bill for the cabin for years and continued with my winter heating costs), as well as the hopes and prayers of many. I’m eternally grateful.

A small bear up on his hind feet, leaning up against the screen door, head cocked and looking straight at the camera through the screen.

Yearling bear climbing on the hand railing beside the door at the cabin.

I also was blessed by the visits of a young screech owl, wild turkeys, numerous other birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and for a short time some young raccoon siblings. I’ve learned a lot from these creatures and will treasure the photos I was able to take, as otherwise the memories would likely be lost in brain fog. The other night I was visited by a bear, a yearling, who was looking for food, alone. I got a blurry photo of him as he was about to climb on the hand railing beside the door to eat the moths circling around the light.

My challenges at the cabin have been great. No running water, no indoor toilet, no fresh organic food close enough to get for myself and too far for others to drive regularly, no insulation, no proper storage for the things I couldn’t have near me but needed to live, inadequate winter clothing, getting snowed in, and more challenges that should not be endured by anyone in a rich country like Canada, especially those with disabilities.

Through the course of it all, I discovered my situation does not fit into any official safety net mandate. There are only seven medically required housing units built for people with environmental sensitivities in Canada. I’ve been on a wait list since 2006, maybe 2007. Meanwhile, I’ve gone from a moldy home to an apartment balcony, and spent winter in a summer cabin. But despite the healing effects of the external environment at the cabin, I’ve lived here with the threat of being forcefully removed by a certain member of the family. The need to find a safer place has been a constant worry.

So imagine my surprise when two weeks ago I received a phone call saying a unit had become available in Barrhaven, one of the specially built units that had the potential to meet most of my housing needs! They wanted to know if would I please go there within a week and spend a night or two to see if it was actually suitable for me (people with MCS/ES are affected by different things, and some people are not able to tolerate the materials in these units, or the noise of the air handling system).

I actually cried for two days, mostly since the location is in the middle of a suburb that has grown around it since it was built and I thought for sure I would lose my ability to go outside for fresh air because of the toxic laundry product fumes from neighbourhood dryer vents, a problem I’ve had previously. Being able to be outside here at the cabin– to witness the seasons, the wildlife, and most especially to breathe the fresh air– has been so important to my recovery. The idea of being locked inside again was devastating! I had my heart set on finding a place near the middle of nowhere, where I could plant an organic garden and to try to be as self sufficient as possible, since finding people with the time and inclination to help is sometimes impossible. So this came as a shock to me!

Yet despite the initial disappointment , I was ready to jump at the opportunity to have a safe enough home to live in, one with safe running water, indoor toilet, places to put things I couldn’t be in the same room with safely, a home where I wouldn’t be threatened with having to leave without much more than a moment’s notice, a home where the structure wasn’t falling apart, a home where I could heal the trauma of living under siege for so many years. But first I had to find help to make the trip to check out the unit.

I am blessed that my friend (guardian angel and lifesaver) here was able to re-arrange her plans in order to drive me there and back, and able to find places in the Ottawa area to spend those two nights, as staying with me there was not an option. There aren’t many people in the world who would do something like this for someone they barely know! She is truly an extraordinary and special woman.

Preparing and packing for the three-day trip was difficult: food and water, my cot, my cooking utensils, toilet paper and other essentials needed to be taken. Then the day came, and three hours into the trip I was so sick I thought I wasn’t going to make it. I had to ask to stop, got out and was barely able to walk around, trying to get some air. As we continued, the highway got bigger and busier, and cell towers started appearing at the sides of the road, sending piercing pains through my head. Things were not looking good.

We eventually arrived there, about four hours after leaving the cabin. It was very strange to be in a place with so many other people again. “My” unit was at the very end, with trees and a grassy area between the building and the train tracks, and there was a small shared garden and patio stone area in front with a tall evergreen hedge between this area and the baseball field on the other side. It was not as bad as I feared it could be.

Linda in her new home, looking straight at the camers, a bare wall in the background with a ventilation duct running across the ceiling.

Testing out my new home!

Inside reminded me of an Ikea loft. Polished concrete, bricks, and wood paneling. I was perplexed by the lack of kitchen cabinets. Apparently mold was a worry so none were installed. I’ve lived with open shelving before, and things get dusty and greasy, so this was a concern. The air wasn’t too bad though, although it seemed the Heat Recovery Ventilation was pushing some fragrance through it. That was disappointing as the air could have been better filtered.

I was able to determine that there wasn’t anything life-threatening there, so it would be ok to remain overnight alone after removing the CFL bulbs that I could and replacing them with regular bulbs my friend went out to buy for me (which I had to scrub down to remove the fabric softener contamination from!). We made plans with my friend that she’d drop by the next afternoon to see how I was doing. I unpacked a few things and made a cuppa coffee! (Fair-trade and organic of course.)

The coffee revived me a bit, and I felt strong enough to go outside and look around. I wanted to see who my neighbours would be, and was able to meet the ones on my side of the building. I went back inside my possible new home, knowing a little more about the area, and settled in. When I felt a bit better, I started exploring. I was surprised and pleased that I was able to do this, after a long trip and all the exposures! I found several storage areas that did not quite agree with me, so I kept those doors shut. But the main living room and kitchen area were fine for me! The air system though was very noisy. So noisy that I hardly heard a train go by 50 feet away, and I hardly heard the airplanes flying directly overhead. Paradise not. But the air in the living area was good. I was not getting any sicker or feeling any worse. And this was a great sign!

I dragged my cot and bedding upstairs and set it up in the small bedroom with my little portable air purifier. There was something not quite right in the larger bedroom but not life threatening; I thought of ways to work with what was there, with what I needed, and what I was capable of doing to make it work. This was promising!

When I woke up the next morning and wasn’t completely dragging ass, I knew I’d be ok there, that I’d found my next home! As long as water filtration is installed, I believe I can make it work. And if I can find safe containers to grow food in, and certified organic soil around Ottawa, then I could even grow some herbs and greens there!

That first morning in my next home, I sat to meditate, and prayed for help to heal and release much of the trauma I’ve been carrying around. I’d brought my laptop and the DVD of my father’s memorial service, and as I sat on the little stool I’d brought, I realized it was exactly six months since he’d passed away. Bittersweet. If I could change anything, it would be that he’d have had the peace to see me settled in a safe home. I move there at the end of the month. I think some of those earlier tears were tears of relief.

I’m back at the cabin now and focusing on what I need to do in preparation for my move to Barrhaven:
• Find a safe and reputable long distance moving company to move my things from storage in Toronto to my new home near Ottawa, and hope the Ontario Disability Support Program will cover the actual cost.
• Find help to get myself and my things from the cabin to Barrhaven.
• Find a new all-metal top loading washer and dryer, and funding source to acquire them.
• Find a safe shower curtain (oh to be able to have a safe shower or bath when I need one!).
• Find help to put my old car in for a check-up and renew my license plate before I go.

Oh to have a home again! A home where I am not threatened by other people or their product use! A home where I can heal.

51 responses to “I’m moving to a new “environmentally sensitive” housing unit in Ottawa!

  1. Linda,
    Allow me to be the first to say WAHOOOOOO!!!! I am so proud of you sis. You are an amazing lady and you hung in there through all the storm and cold and hardship and look at you!! Coming up smelling of roses and sunshine!!! It has been SO good to see you blooming with the new spring.. Bless you for your strength and your courage and your incredible friendship. I am so proud to call you sister… you live in my heart always.
    {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{ BIG BIG BIG brother hugs }}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

  2. That is wonderful news Linda! Thanks for letting us know, keep us posted on how you like Ottawa.

  3. On the edge of my seat reading this…thinking how scary all this is. Trying to think of you and your struggles but relating so much to myself… How lucky I am to have my home on an acre (to keep space between myself and others) just seconds from the city. This is my wildlife and my “haven” in the woods. The fears of fabric softener, the worries about things that other people just have no ideas about – dance through our heads. Those who don’t have a clue will think we are fussy – MY GOODNESS, you are amazing, moving to the bustle and noise of your new BARRHAVEN from the peace of your wilderness! We don’t just roll over and die – some canaries are actually amazingly tough birds! Oh, and congratulations on finding a home, at last!

  4. Congratulations! I’m so happy for you!
    May the lesser challenges be easily and speedily resolved in your new home.

  5. Thank you Paul, Rita, Elaine and Katrina. Your well wishes and support mean a lot to me
    : )

  6. What a lot you have been through. I am so happy for you that you have found a safe place to live. As a person with MCS who has not had a permanent home for a year and has had to live outdoors at times I was so moved by your story and so happy you shared it. Your expressions let me feel your pain and that helped me with mine. May it go well with your new home and may it provide you healing.

  7. Anita, thank you. I sincerely hope you find safe housing soon too!

  8. Nicki McFarland

    Congratulations! Finding housing is one of the biggest challenges we face. Having a place to somewhat heal instead of getting worse is a major feat! The nightmares we go through that no one seems to understand. It is a difficult fight and hard to maintain hope when it is most difficult!


  9. Congratulations! I’ve been wondering how you’ve been doing since I read about your story a few months back. This is great news. I contracted this illness after chronic exposure to fabric softener exhaust and if it weren’t for an understanding friend of a friend who had a room available and the selflessness to do her best to get rid of all triggering chemicals in her home, I would have been homeless. I need to find my own place but with limited funds it’s a bit daunting, especially when there are so many variables I now need to consider. In any case, I totally sympathize with what you’ve gone through and you deserve a safe home !!

  10. A great inspiration, never give up hope and always be around positive people! 10 years with Mcs Steve

  11. YAAAAY…..!!! This is the best news I’ve read in a long time. I’m full of admiration for you, Linda. I don’t think I could have managed it. I just have to stay put in my present apartment, hoping that I don’t get worse with my MCS & Fibro. Gotta get rid of many, many books which I love, last summer (southern hemisphere) they were attacked by moths and book bugs, not sure, really. But somebody else has to do that for me, cos just moving them sets me off, same as rummaging in closets to empty out old stuff. My policy, until I get some help, is to not move anything, just clean surfaces with damp cloth. You’re fantastic ((((((Linda))))) Take care, all the best from Argentina, where a Chilean volcano has spewed tonnes of ashes over half the country, and hasn’t stopped yet. It’s an emergency situation for our agriculture & tourism in the Patagonian region. More hugs, LInda!

  12. sharon bradshaw

    linda , ithink of you everyday, many times a day.
    just knowing your safe, safer at last, has acutally destressed me just a little bit. lol I did not know i carrying that around,until i found my self letting out a little sigh of relief for you.
    this is incredible news.
    funny , just when your sure cant go on…………………
    keep us posted “introduce’ us to your new cananry neighbors as you get to them.
    more peple for TCR.
    IM SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!!!!!!
    sharon formerly of duncan az, now bellevue washington.

  13. hi linda,

    this is the first time i’ve actually been to your blog. i love that people blog!

    i’m so happy you found a home. with enough motivation and creativity, you can make it an absolute paradise. and finally breathe…. both metaphorically and literally.


  14. LInda this is just wonderful! I remember when Barrhaven opened- about the same time as Ecology House. So nice to see that it’ still helping people- and especially glad that it’s turned out to be a “haven” for you, too! Many prayers for a safe and easy and *paid for* (!!!) move and the beginnings of a great new chapter in your life!

  15. Nicki, Terry, Steve, Sylvia, Sharon, Denise and CJ > Thank you all!

    Preparations are taking a long time and are stressful as they aren’t going as smoothly as I would like (and can handle well), but they are progressing.

    Today is a much welcomed nice and peaceful day.

    I’ll keep you all posted with more when I’m able.

  16. Hi Linda,

    It’s Rochelle…do you remember the “Jew (who was) living in her car” published in the Canadian Jewish News (CJN) approximately three years ago.? Though we have not communicated much since that time, you have been on my mind and I have tried to get word out to you through other various means, for example , Shelter Angels website..

    Throughout my own struggles I have made concerted efforts to follow you and pray for your welfare. When I am as stressed as you have been, I am unable to think about much other than my own survival. When I am doing a little better, I focus on how to find a way to make things better. Like you I am tenacious and fierce on living a real, meaningful life once again. I am just tired of just coping and tolerating the world around me. I want to enjoy life even if that means choosing only one or two aspects of it. First , let me congratulate you on all of the hard work, patience, courage, and determination ! What you did takes real guts ! It’s ten times harder than those reality shows about survival ! They have a choice to do what they do….WE , (and many others like us) DON’T have the luxury of opting not to struggle to survive.

    Now I will give you a quick update.with regard to my situation.After helping a wonderfully kind and loving woman look after an her ill, elderly husband, I found a small bungalow which wasn’t too bad on the inside. The landlord was surprisingly compassionate, and has tried to be as flexible and accommodating as possible. He even feels for me and thinks about me when he smells strong olfactory triggers.
    The problem are the neighbors who are nice people but whose entire family and circle of friends wear such a huge assortment of scents, use chemicals any and everywhere possible, and who come and go so many times a day and night that I cannot even keep count. They are heavy smokers, back their cars into the driveways which put their exhaust pipes literally at the headboard of my bed in the bedroom .Then they will let it keep running in the winter for as long as half an hour ! The daughter of the homeowners drops off her kids at this time every week day. It wakes me up every day at 6:00 AM , Monday through Friday. You would think that they could be a little more considerate than that. The summer is the worst of course, with the cleaning of their garages, their laundry being hung outside,and driveways being paved,for starters/

    There was no way I could offer these accommodations to you, Linda. ! It has become so bad that I must move soon-and so I am looking again.Renting the bungalow on y own was way over my budget and so, that is not sustainable. I mist find someone compatible to share a comfortably large enough house with me.I must leave soon or I will be too far gone to plan and execute the actual move out and move in. I have struggled to remain here for almost two years. I wish that I could connect with someone like us who has very specific needs and limitations.Though many of the family still don’t understand how and why I am so sick, My brother in law and younger brother appear to really want o help me even though they believe that it’s a mental / psychological illness.

    You are so right , Linda. The city is no place for us with all of its thoughtless and unnecessary ‘ assaults ‘.I would leave in a minute if I could find someone like myself –
    honest, kind, patient , flexible, intelligent, positive, good sense of humor as well as warm and friendly. We have to find friends in each other because we need this quite a bit. I still keep in touch with those whom Avrum put me in touch.t They were MY guardian angels, and I will always treasure them ! Having said that, I still need for new angels to come into my life. I am getting closer to my goal to become well and to live as normally s possible with others.

    When I find a better, more permanent , safe residence for myself, I will contact you again, Linda. So until then, be well, be safe. and be happy !

    Warm regards, and the best of good wishes to you, Linda.


  17. Rochelle, of course I remember you, so good to hear from you! I’ve never heard of the Shelter Angels, so I didn’t get word…
    Thank you for updating me (and others) on how you have been doing, it is so difficult to keep track of people when we can disappear so easily.
    I truly hope you are able to find a more suitable living environment without as much hardship. It really shouldn’t be so difficult, sigh…
    Did you hear that the Environmental Health Association of Quebec is getting closer to building their safe housing project? You could apply there http://www.aseq-ehaq.ca/ma_wwd/wwd_hh.php .
    Also, you could put your name on the wait list for Barrhaven.
    I’ve had my name on wait lists for subsidized housing in several areas, detailing that I needed environmentally safe housing which they did not have, as that also indicates to them that there is a need.
    I will pray that you find new angels to help you on the next part of your journey, and that it leads to safe housing and community.
    Please do keep in touch… and stay safe!

    • Hi Linda,

      Good to hear that you remembered me.I wonder how you are doing now.
      I value your advice and recommendations, and so will keep them in mind in my journey to better health and a better way of life.

      I am still in the same house as I have not found anything that is affordable and which might prove to be better. It is so daunting to even contemplate moving because of the risks and multiple obstacles. The moving costs alone are out of reach. The potential for becoming very ill throughout the process is high. Contamination of items being moved is also very high even with as many of the variables as possible being controlled. Not to mention the drain on our energy levels and as you cite, the demand on our skeleton and musculature which in turn flares up the fibromyalgia.

      I have come to the realization that in all likelihood, my best shot re housing is to allocate a large spacious bungalow with a substantial perimeter around it that renders the occupants safe. My preference is to be alone, but I have to be realistic-that is not feasible ALONE. However,if I were to seek out room-mates with MCS as suitably (MCS ,educational/professional background, personality, values and attitude etc.) matched as possible, it could be doable and sustainable.In terms of health, finances, security, safety, and companionship. We (four of us) could pool our strengths, and resources to benefit the ‘collective good’ I am a positive person…a survivor with tenacity and a determination to succeed as you well know. I feel intuitively, that this is the way to go.

      This is the way I am going to go because I don’t want to have to keep depending on others, fate,or circumstances. No more related waiting , hoping, and when good fortune finally does present itself, dreading the transition praying that it proves to be a good choice for longer than say a few months ! We have all been there haven’t we ?

      I wonder whether some of the good people who have followed you as I have, might be interested in such a venture in Toronto. Toronto is a tough place to live …no argument there. But, one has to be cognizant of the fact that we need to be close to hospitals, good doctors and nurses, dentists, pharmacists, organic and healthy grocery shopping, and supportive family and friends if we are fortunate to have them ! If you could be of assistance (as you always strive to be – I know) that would be greatly appreciated. Any suggestions to that end?.

      The time has come for me to step forward and make this happen. I will do my best to obtain financial support if at all possible.

      Linda, have you met any friends who are similar to yourself, or who are empathetic where you are now? Are you surviving or thriving there? I would love to hear from you in the way of an update good or bad. So please, when you feel up to it, get back to me. I know that you are very good at that. As always, I think of you and your plight, I pray for you and wish you better health and optimal life circumstances.

      Warm regards, Rochelle

      • Hi Rochelle,
        Good to hear from you again. I am still settling in here, but hope to be able to do a blog update soon.
        In the meantime I wanted to mention (before you get your hopes up too high) that sharing isn’t always a good solution for people with MCS/ES. It is very difficult to find people with the same level of sensitivities and to the same things.
        Never mind all the other interests and compatibility issues. For example, If one of you has one last soap that is tolerated and the other cannot tolerate it, it’s game over.
        Or different sensitivities to foods, as we often do.
        If one person shops at a regular supermarket or store, and brings contaminated things into the home, even the fridge can become toxic… As well as the shared laundry machines if one person tolerates 2nd hand clothing since the laundry product residues can contaminate the machines…
        And things can change almost without warning.
        So even the nicest people may end up having big and insurmountable problems with each other, there might not be any room for compromise, simply because our bodies can be affected by different things.

        The above is of course is for people with disabling “sensitivities”. For folks who are not disabled but have MCS/ES, it could be a solution very much worth exploring.

        • Hi Linda,

          So good to hear from you ! I look forward to the post you say you are planning soon. As always, your words of advice are sound ones. It is true that the undertaking to create our own private MCS ‘pilot project’ residence would be a daunting one to say the least for all and more of the reasons you cited, However, for those of us who cannot live in any conventional public dwelling such as apartments, condos or affordable small individual MCS houses, we have little else to consider even knowing that there rare potential major challenges and yes,even potential catastrophic outcomes. This is why I an wanting to screen the candidates very carefully.
          Even if the scenario is far from ideal, it will be better in the sense that there would be respect for the concept of sensitivity leading to illness. and THAT would be the most basic of all requirements. If someone is affected badly by something , it must be avoided at all costs in the future. No exceptions. If that poses a problem, then the person who feels it is absolutely necessary for their welfare must vacate. The same would hold true for the other residents.. Above all the arrangement would be designed to provide its residents with safety, security, comfort and peace….something that eludes most of us almost all of the time!
          I am sure that if you asked Jen’s friend who lives in her car most of the time, it would be a small compromise on her part for all that she could have to gain from the aforementioned necessary cooperation. I have always believed that if there is a will, there is a way.You merely must be prepared to ‘ think outside of the box ‘ to create the solution. It is there, you just have to find it or create it !
          It might just be the first step towards the allocation of an entire apartment building set up to accommodate those with MCS. isn’t that still better than being in an apartment complex where people are allowed use scented products everywhere in addition to the laundry room? One step at a time is to be expected…and that is better than nothing for those of us who are suffering so badly for so long now.
          Thanks for taking the time to contemplate all that you did and to take the time to put it to pen. Jen did reply to me as you will note . In hope you don’t mind that we connected on your website. I will keep you posted, Linda. I will watch for your update. Be well, and find happiness and peace where you can.

          Warm regards, Rochelle

  18. Hi Linda,

    I’m new to your blog and would like to help. I also suffer from MCS and am going through a health crisis now; hope to get to the other side somehow. It sounds like you have been struggling for a long time, and could use some assistance. What type of clothing would best help your needs now? Thanks,

  19. Hi Chris,

    So sorry you are also suffering, I hope it passes quickly…
    It is very kind of you to offer to help.

    Re clothing, my biggest challenge is the detox process that even the most natural clothes I’ve tried need to go through. (things need to be pretty well made and not delicate to withstand so many many overnight soaks and washes, and then several hours of boiling and rinsing and repeating after that)

    And because the past week or 2 have been so wet here, with so little sunshine, a number of things I had hanging on the clothesline outside to air out waiting for a time I have safe water to start soaking and rinsing them, (I’m still at the cabin) have now gotten moldy!

    My challenge at the new place is that I don’t yet have funding for a washer and dryer, and the bathroom doesn’t have an extraction fan, so I can’t leave toxic things to soak in there, and still use the bathroom, as I would be exposed to the fumes … and the place is a 2 storey place so triggering fibro flares is not a good idea…

    Carrying big pots of water outside, where the air is bad for me, will also aggravate my FM and other symptoms too, so until I have a washer and dryer, I can’t do anything else about my clothing situation.

    If anyone can find any sources of funding for the medically needed washer and dryer (I can’t share machines, or buy used either), then I would be very grateful.

    With the machines, I can slowly over time work on making some more clothing safe to wear, I’d like to have 3 changes of clothes (summer and winter) so that if something gets dirty and I’m not feeling well, I don’t have to wash them right away, but can wait a few days…

    I also need to get all new bedding (and possibly a new bed now, as the frame/base did not fit upstairs, and the mattress may not be safe for me after a year in storage) and start a whole detox process on the bedding… …sigh….

    Stuff, and needing (safe) stuff, is so problematic these days…
    Laundry and laundry issues are probably the greatest use (waste) of time for people with severe MCS/ES.

    It shouldn’t be so difficult to find clothing that doesn’t have petro-chemical residues…

    The less residues, the less time it takes to make them safe, it cut maybe a week off the 3-4 weeks it took me last summer to detox what I had from rawganique over some other things that had some dyes and store contamination

    (best to have no synthetic dyes (even low impact), fixatives, etc., organic fibers, with organic cotton it’s best not to have the seed in, no pesticides from shipping containers, no fragrances from retail or warehouse storage…and with drawstrings instead of elastics, I don’t know how to fit pants without trying them on)

    I need shirts and pants. And something lightweight for hot summer days with no a/c.

    If anyone knows of any chemical free wool sweaters, a sweater for fall and winter would also be great (and scarf)!

    Sorry for the rambling, my brain has had too much to process lately, and there’s mold in the air from all the rain… equals no ability to edit…

  20. Hi Linda,

    I’m so sorry, but am a bit confused regarding your needs. I understand that you have issues with not having clean water and a washer, and don’t want to send you clothing if that would not be helpful. Please let me know if clothing would indeed be of help, and where I would send it.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Chris, sorry for that. The short answer is that until I have a way to detox the clothing, I can’t use it. If you can wait until I have a washer and dryer, or at least a laundry sink, then I would love some clothes!

  21. Hi Linda,

    Not a problem. I’ll keep watching for an update and good luck with that!

    Thank you,

  22. Im really happy for you. Im glad i hesitated to send in my application because id be on a special priority list as well as having ei and they probably would have had to give it to me because of the special priority. You are alot sicker than me, thus you deserve it much more and im truly happy for you. Although sadly we have both experienced about the same degree of hardship from this city toronto. This is a reminder to mail my application xoxo thanks linda, enjoy and i will likely see you one day if toronto continues to torchure me and if i live.

    • Jen,

      Are you looking for a better place to live… given you have MCS like me?
      I too have MCS (moderate form) and have been ‘rooting for Linda’ for quite some time now. I am interested in carefully screening three other people to come together and create a sustainable ‘permanent’ , safe, healthy environment for ourselves.We could pool resources, strengths and finances to maximize the collective good’ potential. With any luck , we could convince the government that this is a good way for people with MCS to go and then secure increasing subsidization which thus far has been a long time in coming ! it would resemble a pilot project , so to speak.

      You sound like me …..( kind, caring , and altruistic in nature) What do you think? Regardless , could you please let me know that you at least received the e-mail? All you need do is reply to this comment.

      Thanks, Rochelle

  23. Hi jen, so sorry to hear of your difficulties. Please do make sure you have your application in. We never know when our turn comes up, but for sure it won’t if we don’t put in the application. I have also discovered that it is possible for municipalities to give private subsidies if you were to find something safer on your own. You’d probably have to have an advocate to access the subsidy, but by law it can be done. It’s called the “Strong Communities Rent Supplement Program”. Perhaps CERA could help with that, I don’t know. Then of course there’s still a matter of finding something that is safe enough for you. And I hope and pray you find something safe soon! We need safe communities!

  24. Hi linda, thanks for this info, it may prove very useful in the long run. As soon as i can find the psyche strength, i will fill you in on all my details. Its just very hard on me discussing it all. I know you understand.

  25. Message for rochelle, would an option be to attend my court hearing with me? I am suing the city for discrimination by disability type and failure to provide accomadation… or at least I think i am… things change on a day to day basis. I am interested in a long term solution and i have a friend as well in the same shoes… she sleeps in her car frequently and the only reason she doesnt leave her building is because she doesnt want to loose her subsidy, but she rarely is able to stay there anyway. Im sure she would be in. I guess the reason im suggesting that you come to my court hearing is that the issue would be right there on the table and if others were there then the need would be tangible… the people

    • Message for Jen. Accompanying you to your ‘court hearing’ (do you already have a court date?) could be an option depending on where it is being held. Remember, exposure to the various court members could pose a problem not only to me but to yourself and any others who might be considering joining us. Also, I feel that one should try to approach the system in the least intimidating manner. If asll else fails, then one musrt proceed that way.
      I think that I would be interested in speaking with your friend as well re joining the proposed living arrangement. Do you reside in Toronto? Perhaps we could speak on the phone, at least initially then we could take it from there. Have you considered lining up a disability advocate-lawyer who could help to proceed in the best way possible knowing “the system”. I do have the name of such a person.

      Thanks for getting back to me Jen. Hope that you, Linda and all of the others like us are as well as can be given our circumstances. Look forward to hearing from you again, I will watch for your reply.


  26. I am encouraged to see you discussing solutions here, and truly hope you and others are able to join forces and create some healing environments.
    It makes an incredible difference to live in a place, among others, where our health concerns are taken seriously and respected.
    When we trust ourselves, and do our best, we can eventually find what we need to do next, and the help we need to do it.
    I envision safe, healing environments for all of us…

  27. Thanks Linda, It is encouraging for me too to know that you recognize the potential, the hope and the determination for me and ideally speaking, others to “join forces” as you say in order to change the’ status quo’. Such an undertaking may not be easy and it may take quite some time to happen, Nevertheless, we deserve it, we need it, and we will be grateful and appreciative to have it. So, let’s do it fellow MSC’ers. To do that we must first create a starting point. That is what I am now striving to accomplish here. The sooner, the better. I would settle for “safe” first. Then, I would aim for healing. Rochelle

  28. Hi Linda!!! Trailblazer that you are!
    Happy Healing!
    ROCHELLE – my name is Marilyn –
    I live in Toronto…. let’s go see that Disability Advocate Lawyer together.
    Now I know why I went through what I did to get here… let’s instigate change!

  29. Linda I am getting to know you through your blog sorry for all the trouble you have had and hope all is better now. Have you healed being in your new home? I hope your better.
    As I am contemplating where to live I was wondering if there are any areas of Ontario that are less toxic then others… pollution wise? I thought you would be a good person to ask. I have heard that pollution travels so the country does not guarantee clean air ect.
    I am not sure if I am over reacting or not a day ago I was thinking to live alone without others chemicals might be enough… now I want to live on the moon.
    It has been my idea that I will heal this completely one way or another but it seems that is not what I am reading about online. What is your take on that do people heal and go back to their lives?
    Just curious as I am learning as I am able.
    thanks for answering my questions

    • I improved a great deal during the first years here, despite issues, but have suffered some setbacks, and there are still unresolved issues here, along with the area being too toxic for me, keeping me from making progress.

      When one has more more financial resources and support from others in the community to do some of the things that we can’t do ourselves, then a lot more healing is possible. For some reason, I’ve faced a lot of obstacles, and as a result am still housebound with some serious challenges.

      If you are able to get away from exposures and do your own shopping etc before you become disabled to the extent I was, then your prognosis is also a lot better.

      If you are on fb, I can suggest some groups to join, where you can pick more people’s brains and learn from everyone’s experiences :-)

  30. Charles Black

    I would like to build a small MCS home on wheels in Ottawa that I could move around to different areas to see which is best for me. If anyone has any ideas on how to build one let me know. My name is Charles Black and my number is 613-828-6558. I am getting sick just siting at this community computer reading everyone’s comments.

  31. “There are only seven medically required housing units built for people with environmental sensitivities in Canada. I’ve been on a wait list since 2006, maybe 2007. ”

    Linda are there 7 different places to apply or one place Barrhaven with 7 units?
    I need to move …

    • It’s one small building with 7 units in it. The area is not really MCS/ES safe, everyone in the regular units uses toxic laundry products and the prevailing winds come from there, there is pesticide use in the area in the spring and summers, you need a car or long bus trips to get anything that can’t be delivered, the mail goes to the toxic lobby of one of the other buildings, the repair people are never MCS safe, and there are other issues. So… I’m alive, but not really living.

  32. I am sorry to hear that Linda. I had hoped you found a good place I guess the same could be said of any place that is not your own single family home even if it were single family outside can’t be controlled.
    10 years ago when the foot dragging and head drops started… I could not keep up with my house. I also could not think was beyond burned out.
    I had a home single family 4 bedrooms and inground pool.. ten years later.. renting a room and struggling.
    I checked the “Strong Communities Rent Supplement Program”

    I had thought they would help cover rent for a suitable unit if one could be found.. what I learned is they ware part of the same housing program for which I have been on the waiting list for 10 years. In my search I found the list of service managers as I thought they were the missing link… :) not so but there they are in case anyone else needs them.

    They were not missing it is the same old housing wait list same people no new program. I talked to a manager in my area she said there is nothing for single people still. The above is referring to landlords who will take housing rent supplement for their houses… which has always been part of the housing program.

    Linda have you had a chance to have testing or treatment in the Ottawa Clinic and or do you know anyone who has been cured there?

    • I had looked into the rent assistance programs years ago and the other problem was they are not portable, so were only good in predetermined places which are not accessible or leave us completely disabled and unable to function because of course we also can’t access safe help…

      I haven’t had any testing or treatment as I haven’t had the financial means or access to home health care, so I can’t advise or comment on things I have no experience with and don’t discuss with others because I’ve been too sick to discuss things in person with people in this area since I moved here.

  33. “I’m alive, but not really living”
    Living one thing.. things could improve with avoidance I keep reading that… but not improvement to the point of cure…is what your saying. I keep asking about the clinic in hopes they offer an actual cure.. is that ridiculous? In your opinion.
    I know it costs money still I want to know… is there hope of ever curing mcs to the point of living a normal life?

  34. Hi Linda, Don’t know if you are still checking these messages, as I see that the last message and reply was 2017, but I’m so interested in your experiences as I’m chemically sensitive and originally from Ottawa but moved to California (the San Francisco Bay Area) decades ago (about 10 years before I became ill). I’ve always wondered what my life would have been like if I had stayed in Canada (though I can’t be sure that I would have become chemically sensitive if I had stayed in Canada, as its quite likely that my chemical sensitivity was caused by a tick bite and subsequent Lyme Disease and I have no way of knowing when or where I received that tick bite…) ( I have been fortunate enough to get treatment for Lyme disease, actually a Lyme co-infection, and I have experienced a lessening of my sensitivities as a result – I definitely still have the sensitivities though, enough that I certainly require special housing). Honestly I don’t see how I would have survived through a winter in Canada as I experienced a total of 18 months of homelessness due to this illness here in California (I never could have stayed at a homeless shelter of course), and that was horrible enough! ( I did manage to find indoor accomodation during the winter, staying with a fellow MCSer). (Not sure if you use the term Multiple Chemical Sensitivity up there?, or have a different term for it.)
    By the way, I do hope you are doing well in your Barhaven housing, – I know that safe housing does not necessarily mean we get better, but I hope the housing is working for you and that you are able to have a decent life!
    I’m just wondering if the Barhaven housing is the only housing for chemically sensitive people in Canada? Here in the U.S. there is only one apartment building for MCSers (at least only one that was built specifically for us and that is subsidized by the government and run according to government regulations) ( the rent amount is dependent on the person’s income) and it’s in San Rafael California, in the Bay Area just over the Golden Gate bridge from S.F. I’m very lucky to be living in it , though I was 10 years on the waiting list! My apartment is good and safe for me, though the outdoor air is usually not very good ( due to laundry fumes mostly).
    Anyhow will stop writing as I’m not sure you’ll get my message, but it would be great to hear more about what kind of housing/support is available for MCSers in Canada.
    Wishing you good health!
    Lisbeth Pollard

    • Hi Lisbeth,

      I’m still living in Barrhaven, very grateful it exists and provides me with a warm non-toxic place to live that has running water from the taps, despite all the shortcomings that prevent me from having a life off the computer. The management here haven’t understood the needs of the people in this building and there have been far too many unnecessary frustrations due to a lack of consultation and communication.

      I’m glad you were able to find a relatively safe place to live.

      As far as I am aware, there are currently no other similar places in Canada, although a community is being planned by EHAQ in Quebec. I know they already have an extensive wait list for the amount of units they have planned.

      There is a definite need for safe communities everywhere.

  35. This is making me cry. I finally sm reading about me. For 25 years I have tried to fix me a safe house. What I ended up with is a house falling down around me. I have changed my whole life after I was exposed to x-ray developing chemicals that where heated. The only thing that has saved me is a doctor that knows what is wrong with me. And I moved from town down into a canyon. When you mentioned the chemical smell from your neighbors dryer vent, I cried. The scent from new clothing. Trying to be able to afford a pillow or mattress that I can sleep on without my body shutting down has been a long, lonely road. I know all of these things wont happen for me in my lifetime. I am still alive and fighting. But it is a lonely fight. I have to have all my teeth pulled but I wont be able to wear dentures. Dentures are very toxic. I have sleep apnea. The pulmonologist wants me to wear a device that is made of plastic. Everything is made of plastic. I wish you luck on your new home. I am happy for you. God bless you and thank you for your story. I am not alone, but I hate to think that there are others out in the world that have this terrible illness.

    • Hi Charlita,

      I am glad you have survived all this and wish no-one had to experience any or all of this (except perhaps those in the chemical industry and their bought out anti-regulators who know the harms they cause and yet continue to profit from causing harm).

      I’m also so glad you have had a supportive doctor, they can be hard to find too. I did find an accommodating dentist who has pulled out many of my teeth in my living room, and I have at least a couple more for him to pull in the next months. No dentures possible for me either.

      Almost all the plastic medical devices hurt us, and things like tygon tubing (which is safer for us) for oxygen are hard to find and end up as extra out of pocket costs.

      We human canaries have been telling the world that all is not ok, but some have tried to silence us… and childhood illnesses are on the rise, cancers are on the rise, other chronic health conditions are on the rise…

      Thing is that for so many of us, if we could have safe (= non-toxic) housing (in areas where the neighbours don’t pollute), safe furnishings and clothing, organic foods, etc, then we don’t have all the horrible symptoms. It’s the exposures to toxic chemicals that cause this harm…

      I keep hoping and praying that we will see change in our lifetime, and that we will be able to experience some relief, compassion, and caring from society too.

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