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You Can Help Provide Medically Required Safe Housing!

Safe, non-toxic housing is the primary medical need of people with MCS/ES and EHS. The number of lives affected and needing this kind of medically required housing is growing, and far too little is being done by the various governments or medical associations to address the needs of all the people who are being injured and disabled by common everyday chemical and EMF/EMR exposures.

For us, safe housing is like the cast after we break a bone. It protects us and allows us to heal while preventing re-injury, especially if the housing is in an area where the outdoor air is also safe for us to breathe. Especially for those of us who have been repeatedly and seriously injured. That means no dryer vents that emit hazardous laundry chemicals, no pesticide use, or industrial emissions or busy roads nearby.

The good people at  the Environmental Health Association of Québec (ASEQ-EHAQ) see and understand the need and are working to do something about it, by developing an ECOASIS in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, but they need your help to make it happen.

Help Provide An ECOASIS

If you are already convinced this is a great cause to support and just want the link to where you can donate, then please click here.

If you need to know more about why this is so important, then please keep reading…

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The move, part four

This is the fourth and final post in a series about my move to Barrhaven. (After this, I’ll be blogging about my life at Barrhaven.)

My front door.

Making new friends.

I’ve hung up a bird feeder and made friends with a chipmunk and a couple of black squirrels. One of my neighbours has some similar interests as I do and we’ve been able to spend a little time in each other’s company, mostly talking while sitting out on the stoops. The air is sometimes safe enough to do so, and for me to take little walks in the side yard. She picks up my mail from the building it is delivered to, as the laundry product residues in the lobby were making me really sick, even if I went only twice a week. And she took me on my 1st trip to Ottawa the other day, to check out two farmers markets and an environmentally friendly products store (where I was hoping to be able to get some safe toilet paper from, but they were sold out). I was able to actually appreciate some of that trip, beyond merely surviving it, despite the pain from cell towers, traffic, and other exposures. I am not in a hurry to do it again, but know that I could manage a trip every now and again with someone else driving, and as long as I don’t go inside anywhere. Ottawa has some nice sights and places to see for better days ahead.

Close up of the sign on my door.

Passing storm out my window.

My health continues to improve here (it hit a wall at the cabin, despite the fresh outdoor air and good well water I got from my friends, all of which I do miss). I hope I can get another stage of water filtration installed, as what is here now isn’t enough for me to be able to drink it. The RO water I’m getting delivered is also not great, but better than the double filtered tap water. There is no spring water available in glass bottles around here, and it’s too far to drive to get filled myself.

The sun came out after the storm, just in time for sunset…

My remaining challenges her aren’t life threatening, (as long as the lack of some of my supplements and toilet paper doesn’t become so ;-p) and can be dealt with over time. I feel pretty good about being here (when I’m not missing the wilderness) and feel fairly confident that I can continue to improve my health and brain function. Some of my old self is returning, and most of my PTSD is gone! I have my collection of odd treasures around me, many which make me smile when I see them. I have my knife sharpener and pots and pans so I can cook well again. I have an oven again (which I got sick burning off fragrance residues from) so I can bake veggies and gluten free bread soon, I can hand feed a chipmunk, watch some flowers grow, and I have some nice neighbours. It’s feeling like a safe enough home. Life is good.

The move, part three

This is the third in a series about my move to Barrhaven.

This room is still in progress but taking shape.

Close up of floral chandelier/centerpiece made of painted old metal.

This whole process of moving was interesting to me, as my previous memories of unpacking and settling in to a new home were all from when I was healthy (or much healthier). I didn’t have a map in my brain for making a home when doing things alone is so difficult, when I can’t run out and take care of things I need myself… (it’s also the 1st place I’ve had to myself since I was 18) so on the one hand I was impatient that things were taking so long, while on the other hand marveling how quickly I was able to accomplish these things, and how much healthier I am now, after the year at the summer cabin.

What is really amazing is that I didn’t experience a huge crash from moving here, or from being re-acquainted with my things from a place that had had some mold problems and which were then stored for over a year in a locker that was not entirely sealed at the top (except by plastic tarps that were hung up with black clips, and tarps we laid on the floor), nor was it climate controlled, as I discovered too late, hence the beginning mustiness on some of the textiles and clothes (luckily in double plastic bags) that had been stored on the floor, or they would not have been salvageable.

A painting by my great aunt Helmi reflected in a wall mirror.

I had reluctantly faced the possibility that my things might be contaminated to a point I’d need to get rid of almost all of them, which has happened to so many others with similar circumstances. Had they been so contaminated, they might have made this place a nightmare to be in too… I am so lucky that I am able to live with most of my old treasures, and have time to make decisions on the others.

The HRV (heat recovery ventilation) changes the air often, and some areas are specially vented, so some of the things that would otherwise be problematic, aren’t remaining in the air and affecting me as much. My activated carbon air purifiers are filtering out other residues. Every once in a while the HRV sucks in some “eau de skunk,” or even worse, some heavy fabric softener fumes. I’ve had a few bad experiences with that, but fortunately, those exposures are no longer life threatening, and I’m recovering much faster from them!

I’m now also able to drive to one store 5 minutes away to pick up rice milk, rice cakes and cereal by the case as soon as it arrives, where they bring it outside where I pay, and they even take it to my car for me. I will have to find someone to fill the car up with gas very soon if I am to continue driving it. I still haven’t found sources for some of the supplements I need, and some foods are only available from stores where they get saturated with incense, so I will have to see what happens without them. I don’t want to trouble people in Toronto to mail some of them to me, but I might have to. The closest Natural Foods Coop group wasn’t interested in having me join as a member when I contacted them from the cabin, and I am also still trying to find a way to get safe toilet paper, and am going to be desperate soon!

I also still need to get a new bed. My old one is not safe for me to sleep on as it is, the base would not fit up the stairs anyway, and it’s barely safe enough to have in the living room. Without the HRV it would have to go, but when I can detox some heavy covers for it, it should be ok as a couch.

My TV cabinet. Some day I'll hook it up to the VCR and plug them both in! Right now it's supporting my sound system.

I did realize last week that the sheet of mylar I was using as a bedroom curtain might be a problem, so I took it down and covered the window with bbq foil. That evening the room seemed fresher when I went to bed, and in the morning it didn’t hurt as much to go down the stairs. The 2nd morning much more of my fibromyalgia pain was gone, making the stairs so much easier! I’d been struggling every day for almost 2 months with those stairs, something in the air from the bad side of the mylar was affecting me like that! Last year there was a change in the product, one side is still ok, but the other was not. I usually sealed it somehow, but I kind of hoped that since it was against the window and wall, it wouldn’t be a problem. A nagging feeling about it got stronger once I’d unpacked the books, and what a difference it made! I have 2 sheets bad side to bad side as a shower curtain until I have something else I can use, so will probably see another improvement when that is successfully addressed.

To be continued…

Part one. Part two.

The move, part two

This is the second in a series about my move to Barrhaven.

Barrhaven. My place is the last one. I share a stoop with the person who lives in the middle unit.

I was unexpectedly blessed with an amazing (slow and steady) energy and a sub-conscious clarity for the first 4 days after moving into Barrhaven that allowed me to unpack the boxes and shelves for my kitchen and get it functional almost right away!!! The kitchen is the most important space for me now, as preparing healthy food is the one thing I have the most control over and nourishing food is so important for my health. When I was barely alive, that was my priority every day, to make and eat one good meal. That and feeding my cats and cleaning their litter-box. If nothing else got done, so be it. I needed healthy, nutritious food to keep my body from completely giving up the ghost. So getting the kitchen set up here asap so I could cook was a priority, as then I’d be able to keep myself from spiraling downhill again if I collapsed for any reason.

Kitchen before: the window looking in from hallway, looks out to a green space with a few trees, the railroad tracks are beyond.

Kitchen after: not quite finished, but getting there. I really want kitchen cabinets, open concept is too busy

I think I mostly did collapse after that, for a week or four, but I also had to air out bags of textiles, curtains and clothes that I’d kept in hopes they might someday be made safe again, as some got musty in storage. I also had to detox some curtains in the bathtub for the living room window to give me some privacy. I was lucky that one set of sheers I had took comparatively little work, as the others were making me really sick, bent over the tub breathing in the fumes as I washed them. There’s no window or extraction fan in the washroom, and no laundry tub in the laundry room, so I had to give up on trying to detox more curtains for the other windows, or other clothes for myself. The bags are now all in the walk-in closet that Christian came over and helped me cover with sheets of mylar. There was something in the walls in that space that was making me sick when I opened the door, so we used 2 sided painters tape and foil tape to affix the mylar to the walls and maybe even the ceiling (I don’t remember!). Now I get sick from the old previously safe soap residues on my things when I open the door, but I can’t do anything about them until I am able to get a washer and dryer.

Michel has made more than one trip to IKEA and Home Depot for me, picking up a few things I needed. The shower curtain and toilet brush from IKEA are still outside, not safe to bring in. And the lamp has a questionable part, I’m not sure if I will be able to use it. The toxic perils of modern products… sigh…
Surprisingly, though, I am almost all unpacked now! I really wanted to get the packing boxes out of my space as quickly as possible because they were so nasty. So nasty in fact, that my immediate neighbor complained when I’d put the empties outside. They made her sick too! I think it’s the glue and type of paper they used. So, whenever I’ve had the energy, I focused on unpacking things to get those boxes out of here.

I was finally able to tackle the “office” 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately my books and files were packed in those boxes for over 5 years, and now have taken on the essence of the boxes. I don’t know yet if I’ll have to get rid of them or be able to salvage some. That’s a project for another time. They are all in the 2nd bedroom, and someday I’ll don my mask and eye glasses and look through them to see what’s there. I now remember and miss being able to snuggle into a comfortable chair with a good book… I hope one day I’ll be well enough to be able to do that again.

To be continued…

Part one

The move, part one

This is the first in a series about my move to Barrhaven.

In my new home

It’s been pretty well two months since I arrived here at my “safe enough” new home.  For anyone familiar with brain fog, you’ll understand how it’s all been a rather dream-like experience. It still doesn’t feel exactly real, but at the same time it’s just the way things are now.

I would not have made it here without the help of numerous people who made it possible… After weeks of refusing to commit to pay the full cost of moving my belongings from Toronto to the Ottawa area, the Ontario Disability Support Program finally agreed to pay (the little push from the Ombudsman’s office made a big difference). Ani J found some movers who charged much less than the others and could bill ODSP directly so that I didn’t need to play middleman, she and Bruce were at my locker in Toronto to supervise and help  prepare the truck for my things, and Christian and Michel were at the new place to help with the unloading (and my what a job that turned out to be for them, partially because the truck had to be parked so far away, and also because it was FULL of stuff, much of which I’d forgotten I had). I was told that the rain was heavy all day except that it stopped while the truck was being loaded and unloaded!

The property manager had shared my info with another tenant, Mountain, who helped me arrange for the weekly home delivery of organic produce, which was coming the day I was to arrive. Emile was generous enough to say I didn’t need to pay for it until the following week in case I wasn’t already there in time, and Mountain accepted it at her place, so it didn’t have to be left in the sun in front of “my” place.  Having safe food arranged gave me peace of mind, as it isn’t always easy to acquire.

Then, a couple of weeks later, with my other arrangements made, with a new grandchild born and settled in, my guardian angels Cheryl and Dave loaded up his pick-up truck and my car with my things from the cabin, and she drove my old car with me in it, to my new home. When we arrived after about a 4 hour drive, getting a little lost on the way in, as we didn’t have a GPS and I didn’t remember the turns and couldn’t make any sense of the map, the look on my face must have shown my shock at all the stuff piled up everywhere (instead of being neatly tucked away in the storage areas… which was of course impossible, since there was so much stuff that they didn’t know what to do with)…

Cheryl kept saying “don’t worry, it will be ok” … Then Mountain arrived with the food and Cheryl got to work cleaning out the new fridge so the food could go in it, while Dave and I tried to find places to move things so that I could cope here alone after they left. I was stunned, in a state of shock, but Dave was focused, strong, and able. With their help, we got  the boxes out of the main breathing areas, the other odds and ends out of the way, the little bedroom completely emptied for my cot to come in, the stuff out of the car and truck, the food into the fridge,  all to a point where I said I could cope. We then did a toast with a 3-way share of an organic bottle of beer I’d picked up in Minden when buying vodka to clean with, and they went on their way. I think I collapsed after. I don’t remember my first night here.

To be continued…

Part Two

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).

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