Wendy is NOT a Widget and She Shouldn’t be Treated Like One

Wendy is NOT a widget. Widgets can go anywhere. Wendy can’t.

“Widget” is used in texts and speech, especially in the context of accounting, to indicate a hypothetical “any-product”. Companies in such texts will frequently be given names such as “ABC Widgets” or “Acme Widget Corp.” to indicate that the particular business of the hypothetical company is not relevant to the topic of discussion.
(Widget economics – wikipedia)

“Economists often use the term widget to refer to an abstract unit of production.”

Wendy is NOT a widget as her local housing authority seems to believe. They have a capacity problem, but instead of addressing the need for improved (and accessible) capacity, they want to re-arrange people’s lives as if they were widgets, with little to no regard or understanding of the consequences.


“The widget manufacturer may be able to produce 150,000 widgets in a month. However, due to downtime because of equipment maintenance and worker illness, only about 130,000 widgets can actually be produced per month. Over the long run, a business can increase its capacity and output by acquiring more factors of productions. For example, if market demand for widgets spikes, the widget manufacturer can buy more equipment and hire more workers, and thus increase its capacity to 175,000 widgets per month.”

Wendy is not a widget. She is a living, breathing, human being, a human being with a complex, chronic environmentally linked condition and disability related needs, needs that widgets don’t have.

Wendy Kearly photo by ADAM MACINNIS – THE NEWS

Wendy Kearly photo by ADAM MACINNIS – THE NEWS

The housing authority from which Wendy rents her safe home has deemed her over-housed, and are in the process of evicting her, despite the fact that Wendy has no other option for medically required, safe housing available, and no safe access to any of the other places most people take for granted (see below).

In the following audio interview with Wendy, among other things, she talks about the process her grown children take to detox themselves enough to be able to safely visit with her, so that she is able to safely hug them when they come to town.


 Please listen to Wendy being interviewed by Natasha MacDonald


From Wendy:

The best case scenario would be for me to be able to stay in my safe for me home that I’ve lived in for over 20 years. The home that meets the recommendations of my medical specialist.

More info and how we can help: http://www.wendyshouse.ca/

Wendy also needs a pro-bono lawyer, or funds to hire one, otherwise she’ll be forced to represent herself. Are you a lawyer who can help her?

barriers to access on black 4

Due to the toxic chemicals in everyday laundry and personal care products, I haven’t been able to hug anyone for years. The only physical contact I have had with other living beings is with the local chipmunks, before the neighborhood cats get them. Now I can’t allow myself to get close with them because I get too sad when they are killed.

As for Wendy’s housing situation, I was there a few years ago. Some of my story was public. Some of you may remember… What I went through, no-one should have to endure, yet Wendy is being subjected to a very similar experience, an experience that in other circumstances (when done to prisoners) would rightfully be described as torture.

Due to everyday barriers, she cannot access the places most people go, even just for a change of scenery. For people with severe MCS/ES, there are no accessible libraries, no malls, no movie houses, no vacations, no restaurants, no workplaces (see image below for more). There’s no anywhere but home, the only safe place in a world that is full of exposures that are dangerous to one’s health and abilities, and for that safe home to be taken away without having a safe replacement available, is nothing less than cruel! Would you force a peanut allergic person into a new home full of and surrounded by peanuts because you could? Because the book of widgets said you should?

Why are there almost no medically required, accessible safe homes for people with this disabling condition? I now live in the only multi-unit building that was built for people with MCS/ES in Canada, and it was a church group who organized it. There are some serious drawbacks due to budgetary issues, and there’s still little to no access to other basic needs (for example, contrary to the description in that link, this is NOT walking distance to shopping when one is disabled, with or without MCS/ES).

The barriers are systemic, even though almost 3% of the Canadian population have been officially diagnosed, despite the fact that most people are unable to find doctors who have learned how to diagnose MCS/ES.

Wendy HAS been diagnosed, and her doctors HAVE specified what her housing needs are, so why is she being treated like a widget and having her human rights and medical needs ignored?

Now imagine what you can do to change this!

 Wendy is not a widget, and neither are you!

10 responses to “Wendy is NOT a Widget and She Shouldn’t be Treated Like One

  1. I like Wendy Kearly suffer from the debilitating disease called multiple chemical sensitivities. After I found out what was causing my serious ill health it took over 2 years of searching for a safe home to live in some 12 years ago, with now much better health. Where we lived in a city the neighbours sprayed round up weed killer on our fence line every few weeks as did the ones over the road. On the other side of our house, we had continuous cigarette smoke, burning smelly oil,and using perfumed dryer sheets, not allowing us to have any doors or windows opened which is important to clear the inside stuffy air daily,and also making me continually so unwell not being able to care for myself. We people that have MCS have similar health issues some are life threatening, such as anaphylaxis needing immediate life saving injections, also seizures caused by every day chemicals, It is imperative that Wendy’s home and surroundings are as free from chemical as possible as there is no known cure for this disease of our immune system. It is not like that Wendy would be even able to look to find another home to live in with the severity and life threatening affliction she has,having to avoid so many everyday chemicals like perfume, car fumes cigarette smoke, gas or oil stoves, laundry and cleaning products which normal people take for granted every day, also when we are assaulted with these products our system shuts down called the universal reactor syndrome, and our foods no longer agree as food allergy is common and part of MCS ,and this can take some weeks to get that level of health back, and sometimes we don’t. Knowing how serious it is If you are unable to find Wendy a safe house to live in, would you please consider letting her stay in her safe abode the stress of all this will not help her condition.

  2. Here is a new 30 minute BBC Radio story:


    Every day we’re exposed to a multitude of man-made chemicals in the food we eat, the air we breathe and the products we clean our homes and wash our bodies with. For some people, like journalist Jane Little, the burden can be almost too much to bear. Certain chemicals trigger extreme physical reactions, leaving her ill and exhausted for days at a time. It’s a debilitating condition for her and many thousands of fellow sufferers. Some estimates suggest that 15% of the American population believe they experience ill effects from domestic chemicals.

    The trouble is that most members of the medical establishment in the US and the UK refuse to accept that Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is a disease. It’s not a straightforward allergy and there’s no diagnostic test or clearly defined treatment programme. So what is Jane actually suffering from? To find out she takes a global road trip from the foothills of Cumbria to the deserts of Arizona.

    Jane suffered her first extreme reaction whilst staying on the family farm in Cumbria. Exposed, alongside her father, to the cocktail of disinfectants used during the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001, she believes this could be the origin of her condition. In Texas she meets clinicians who say that they can explain MCS with a new theory of disease whilst in Arizona she drops in on a community that’s retreated completely from a chemically-based society. Living in self-built homes stripped of plastics and petro-chemicals they discourage visitors tainted by perfumes, deodorants and detergents.

  3. I forgot to mention in the post above that I have still not recovered from the housing ordeal and exposures I went through. Wendy isn’t young anymore either, so recovery from exposures takes much longer and can create more problems that get compounded.

    With MCS/ES, the human body does not function as intended, and a whole cascade of health problems can occur when we are exposed to the substances we must avoid in order to be functional, and when access to safe health care supports (housing being one of them) are not available.

    It’s hard to fathom how the people working in a social services system that has a mandate to help people can believe that it’s right to evict Wendy under the circumstances, just to have an extra bedroom for someone else, when a someone else who does not have MCS/ES could live anywhere without ill effects.

  4. There is no chance to recover if those of us with MCS have no safe place to live. I was fortunate to build my house as MCS safe as possible 13 years ago. I have vacant lots on all sides of me and still it can be dangerous to walk to my mailbox if my neighbors are doing their laundry. I’ve been informed someone may be building on the lot next to me. If they use scented laundry products my now safe house is going to become very unsafe. I pray that Wendy gets the legal help that she deserves.

    • Sadly this tends to be the case. People with MCS/ES can sometimes build somewhere isolated, and then someone else comes and builds nearby and starts polluting the air. We have no recourse or resources and can’t keep moving when there’s no place left to go (most built homes are too toxic and building from scratch is costly and time consuming) and there are no laws to protect us from encroachment or pollution.

      If people wonder why we tolerate where we are, and not another place, it’s because as we developed MCS/ES years ago, we were able to clean up and eliminate sources of contamination, many of which didn’t even exist over 15 years ago. Air “fresheners” didn’t get advertised and used heavily until sometime in the early 2000s. A place that had them plugged in is usually impossible to ever make safe for anyone with MCS/ES. Same for scented candles, cigarette smoke, cleaning supplies, pesticides (among others). Any remaining triggers have been gradually and with great difficulty adapted to in some ways, but a move to a new and toxic environment would cause a complete crash that cannot be recovered from, even minimally.

      When we speak of recovery, it usually means from the disabling effects of an exposure, not from the MCS/ES itself. It doesn’t mean we get to go to a party or have fun, it means we can cope with making dinner and maybe washing the dishes that week.

      Total load, the amount of ongoing, intermittent, and occasional exposures can be seen as a bucket. When the bucket is full, the body cannot detox or heal due to a lack of clean, safe air, water, organic foods, and targeted healing protocols (which are expensive, not covered by health insurance… the right alternative medicine supplements etc usually help a lot, while mainstream medicines contain many of the synthetic chemicals we do not tolerate)…

      For her health to possibly recover enough to make a move eventually (if a safe enough place were found), she would require much more financial resources to cover the costs of targeted to her needs alternative medical help and a budget for only organic foods, and this process could take several years.

      Wendy does not have the ability to recover from a move to a toxic place. She needs to stay where she is.

      • Thank you for clarifying the meaning of “recovery” for someone with MCS. I react EVERY single time I am exposed to toxic chemicals. Recovery means my body detoxes enough to get off the couch and if I’m having a really great day — go for a walk or vacuum.

  5. Pingback: Update: Wendy is NOT a Widget and She Shouldn’t be Treated Like One | Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution

  6. Pingback: Even the Cats Say: Let Wendy Stay! | Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution

  7. Pingback: When a Friend’s Life Is Being Threatened | Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution

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