Advanced Camping And Chemical Chaos

I was on a pretty good writing streak for the last half of October and into November, but Thanksgiving this year has brought some new challenges and disruptions and we’ll see where the Universe is going to take me now.  Still plenty to be thankful for.

So, what’s the new chaos??

And I suppose you could call this Part 9 of my series on marriage and divorce, because separating from my last wife is what placed me in the environment that spawned the challenges I now face.  A product of many factors, but economics was one of the primary triggers.

Not that I couldn’t survive monetarily, but the loss of assets lead me to the house I would end up in, and that would lead me to a different type of deterioration.


After my first divorce I took the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory.  I scored well over 300 points which is supposed to be predictive for an 80% chance of a major health breakdown of some type within two years.  I remember I laughed this off as it seemed I was always in an adaptive state from stress.  My family also has a history of overcoming challenging situations.  This resilience is in the genes.

No major illness developed.

After my second divorce, I retook the test.  Again, well over the 300 mark, but other stressors were about to cascade.  I was about to lose my job due to politics.  My mother died.  My daughter’s house burned down.  Even my dog died.

Splitting with my now second ex left me in a situation of only being able to rent a small house.  Mind you, she was able to purchase two upper middle-class homes with cash and still have money in the bank with the assets she walked away with.

At any rate, when I moved into this place, the landlord had just acquired it and had just begun the demo.  But I needed a roof over my head and I needed it fast.  So, the remodel has been taking place around me now for the past five years.  And the chemicals I was exposed to marked the beginning of the chain of toxic exposures that has led to my current state of health.

When I first moved in, the bathroom had just been gutted – no toilet, no sink, no shower, no bathtub.  No kitchen either.  No kitchen sink.  No kitchen cabinets and no appliances.  We put in a mud sink so I’d have water in the kitchen.

Dry wall was still going up and being taped, mudded, and painted.  Carpets were going down in the living room and bedroom.  The laminate flooring was being installed in the kitchen and dining room.  It was a far cry from the custom home I had built on eighteen acres of woodlands, and where I had spent the past twenty years of my life.

And the exterminator was coming regularly.

You see the prior owner used to rescue dogs and the house was infested with fleas and cockroaches.  How anyone would live like that without trying to correct it is beyond me, but correcting it meant I was adrift in a sea of insecticide.

Without cabinets or counter tops, my microwave, coffee pot, and toaster all sat on the floor, and each day I would have to clean the roaches out.  I did discover that cockroaches, indeed, could withstand a nuclear holocaust because if I fired up the microwave while they were still in it, they would simply run faster and faster in circles and never die.

Unlike the flies that would explode within a few seconds.

I slept on my futon in my future dinning room as we worked on the house.  New front door to replace the plywood board on hinges.  New windows and window coverings. Appliances arrived so I could actually refrigerate food and cook.

My wood stove was installed two months after I moved in.  It was now December– heat at last!  Then some actual living room and dining room furniture; a big step up from empty boxes serving as tables.

I laughingly refer to this time as advanced camping, because I was basically in the shell of a home when we started.

You can just imagine me awaking each morning to a coffee pot and microwave full of roaches, throwing together some breakfast, donning a suit among the rubble that surrounded me and heading into the office.

And the exposures were numerous – insecticide, glues for flooring, carpet fibers and the formaldehyde that gasses off that new carpet.  Just to name a few.

That major health breakdown struck, and I’ve contracted multiple chemical sensitivities; within that two-year predictive window for the stress inventory.  The strong genetics didn’t hold up against this massive shock to my system.  The minutest amount of a substance that normally wouldn’t bother anyone now sends my body (and almost 13 million other people’s bodies in this country) into molecular hysteria.

Your common laundry detergent, for example, would make my clothing unwearable.  To have skin contact exposure to any of that detergent’s residue, for me, would produce dizziness, confusion, brain fog, memory loss, a headache, fatigue, an increased heart rate, an irregular heart rhythm, abdominal pain, and even the loss of my voice.  And all within just a few short minutes of exposure.  The only soap I can use for bathing and washing clothes is Ivory bar soap.

Of course, all shoes are constructed using either tanning agents or rubber agents, and those substances also cross through my skin and into my body.  Right through the socks I wear.  The socks, having elastic materials are also composed of neurotoxic agents.

Mold has been a particularly bad trigger and once the chemical sensitivities started, I faced new challenges, especially with that mold.  And these challenges couldn’t be fixed by adding backsplash behind the new countertops.

A new AC/furnace was installed, along with a super air filtration system.  Air purifiers were added throughout the home.  A reverse-osmotic water purifier was added to remove lead and mercury from the water.  (I discovered I also have heavy metal poisoning) And plans were made to correct the water leakage in the basement fueling the mold.

New gutters and an outside drainage system were installed to carry water away from the foundation.  All of the cracks in the basement floor and walls were sealed.  And this was working well.

Well that is till we got to the electric fuse box.

Once we had sealed up the basement, we were going to need to replace that box.  Installed in 1951, it was rusted out and the wiring, while hot, didn’t look so hot.

There is always a chain reaction when one renovates.  One project necessitates another and another and another.  And the electric box was no exception.

Box replaced, and all feeds attached to new circuit breakers, we noticed some suspicious wiring.  And most of the wiring had been covered up by the prior owner.  He had used spray foam to entirely coat the basement ceiling and most all of the wiring was hiding in that foam.

We tore out a little bit of the foam and began discovering bare wires, splices that were incorrectly done, circuits that were way overloaded.  It was all going to have to be replaced and that meant tearing out all of that foam.  Every last bit of it.  I had been living in a total fire trap this last five years and didn’t even know it.

Now this was a challenge.  Is still a challenge.

Some fifty, 55-gallon trash bags and a full twenty-two-foot dumpster later we are still removing foam.  And you can guess what happened.  The entire basement filled with floating particulate matter from the foam, and we discovered multiple spots of mold where water pipes had leaked underneath this foam so no one knew to fix them.

Even with the advanced filtration in the AC/furnace and the air purifiers, the house is now totally contaminated.

So, after five years of living there, I can no longer enter this house.  This house where all of my possessions remain imprisoned.  Not even for two minutes as my brain will be overwhelmed with neurotoxins.

I am officially homeless, like so many others with MCS.  This trail is at its end.  And where I go now remains a total mystery.

Chaos rules the day  . . .

In Metta

Photo:  An old barn with living space in the loft.  A reminder of how old structures deteriorate over time.  Decaying.  Left to fall down or be torn down.  Symbolic for how the body deteriorates.   And it’s symbolic for the beginning of my journey into home refurbishing.  At least how we traditionally define a home.  And this is one adventure that has ended with the quite the opposite result of what was intended.




35 thoughts on “Advanced Camping And Chemical Chaos”

    1. I’m ok George. I am homeless, but I have a temporary place to sleep while I shop for a trailer or an apartment or something else. So far everything I’ve looked at is also contaminated. New trailers gas off formaldehyde from the carpeting and upholstery. Apartments are sprayed heavily with bug spray and air freshener – all dangerous to me. I will still have to keep my possessions stored in the contaminated house until I figure out a place to move. Then I will have to see if I am able to use any of that stuff anymore or if it has become contaminated. If I can put a trailer on site here, I will at least have better access. I will be out looking or else spending time in the public library writing. Not too many places to hang out now that it’s winter.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks LA! I will eventually get settled somewhere. The hard part is finding a place that is not contaminated. You can read stories on the net about others with MCS who live out in Az sleeping in their trucks or in trailers. I tried my old tent, but nylon causes me to react- just touching the material setting it up threw me into a reaction. It is even difficult going to the store to shop because of the fumes. Right now is especially bad because perfumed Christmas items are on display everywhere.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL – maybe so on the movie. I’d like to read that screen play. I’m trying to cool the inflammatory processes and calm my brain – multiple supplements and meds, and I will probably add to my regime – looking at adding oxygen for one. Maybe I should do a blog post on my regime – some 22 to 25 pills/capsules per day baseline now – including my asthma meds. I’ve researched them all and think it is a good regime. I do worse if I try stopping it for sure. Now I need to chill. Today I was reacting to wearing my cold weather gloves (polyester) and reacting to the steering wheel of the car (rubber accelerators). Crazy shit


  1. Man ,that’s so awful! I hope your health improves after getting out of that chemical mess. Living in a big tent can be okay . You can make it quite comfortable. Can you put it in your yard ? Sorry if I misread this post .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh never mind, I just read the replies above mine . Can you move south ? It’s still pretty warm in Texas and Florida. They still sell canvas tests I think. Or a old one might work .

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! That may be a viable option. I have checked out apartments here and it seems the owners like to soak them with semi-trucks full of air freshener – no way they will work. Time is a factor as I already have plans to return to the road in May. Right now I don’t have access to my safe washing machine to keep working on making my clothes safe. My few items of safe clothing are wearing out. I’m thinking of getting a travel trailer so I can stay on site, with my belongings, and maybe able to get inside long enough to wash clothes and salvage some of my property. Travel trailers need to be gassed off too, but I might be able to speed the process up with my air purifiers.


      2. How do you safely wash your clothes? Can you use detergent? What is a safe washing machine? I’m very sorry you’re having such a hard time . Could you live in a wooden cabin or is still too many chemicals?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I had cleaned out any residues from my washing machine by doing multiple cycles using epsom salt and vinegar. I also ran multiple cycles using just the Ivory bar soap – essentially washing my hands in the water feed until the water is soapy enough. Followed that with multiple plain water rinses. That cleaned out the residue from other detergents I used to use and made the machine safe for me to wash the good clothes I have without cross-contamination – only using the Ivory soap. If I use any other machine, my safe clothes will be ruined. I also have a portable drum washer I take with me traveling – hand crank to wash and then air dry. Ivory bar soap is the only soap I can use on me and for clothes. I also can no longer use certain brands of sunscreen and skin lotion. No cologne. Can no longer use shaving cream. Have to be careful with shampoo and conditioner. No carpet cleaners, no wood oils or dusting chemicals. Before the house was contaminated I was already unable to sit on my sofa because I had cleaned it with Resolve carpet cleaner. I can no long sit at my desk because I treated it with Murphy’s oil soap. I can’t wear nylon or polyester clothing. Any clothing with elastic materials cause a reaction too (rubber accelerators). I have one pair of tennis shoes that are safe and falling apart. I used to wear plastic bags on my feet before putting on my shoes, but that made the fit too tight and I developed a neuroma from that. Can’t be around perfumes, air fresheners, newly paved roads, air polluted cities, shoe stores, and now stores have put up perfumed Christmas displays – can’t go in those stores. There are certain foods I can longer eat either. It is very complicated. I tested positive for reactivity to three categories of chemicals which cover hundreds of products. I react to chromium which is used as a dye in foods, soaps, and shoes, and it’s even in multivitamins. I also have heavy metal poisoning from mercury, lead, tin, and antimony. Surprise, they put tin in toothpaste and in clothing as a biocide. Antimony is a fire retardant put in clothing and bedding materials. I can only wear 100% cotton or linen clothing – and only some work out because no matter how many times you soak, boil, or wash the clothes you can’t get the chemicals out. They started dumping the chemicals big time into clothing starting around 2004. Only sleep on 100% sheets and pillow case. Goose down pillows – no synthetics


      4. I might try building a cabin, but that’s long range for now. I am checking into travel trailers, but they will have to “gas off” before I could stay in one. I will post some articles later about people living in card board boxes in their living room with air purifiers, sleeping in the beds of their trucks in Arizona – it is a very debilitating disease. The only treatment, according to the doctors is “avoidance.” Kind of hard to avoid clothing and all of the other chemicals flooding into our society.


    2. Thanks! It’s a bit crazy right now. Going into winter so it may be hard to try the tent life. I set my tent up in September trying to air it out. One of the fabrics I have trouble with is nylon – if I handle it I have a reaction, so setting up the tent was a bit of a problem. In the Spring I can try again.


  2. Two thoughts. I grew up before regular laundry detergent was used. My mother took Ivory bar soap and put it in a jar with water and let it dissolve. This was used for washing clothes. Using a lesser amount of water she made soap for washing hands or dishes. This worked really well. I have thought about that often.
    Second thought. There is an amazing book by a Dr. Li, “Brave New Medicine”. She spent years researching her diagnosis of chronic fatigue and made many life changing discoveries. I think you would find her book a good read and maybe helpful. She sounds like someone who would be willing to communicate with you. So sorry about all of this. If you cannot afford a copy I would be happy to buy and sent you a copy. Peace, Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Suzanne!!! I can afford the book and I will get it! And I’ll try that with the soap. I’ve been doing a lot of research. There are independent chemists and functional medical docs working on this, but Big Pharma always shuts them down – Big Pharma doesn’t make any money by allowing people to get cured, and they aren’t developing any treatments for MCS yet. Research is happening in Europe, but not much in the US. Anyway, I have adopted parts of their supplemental protocols and it has helped some, but not enough.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I downloaded a Kindle version of the book. I’m about 3/4 of the way through. Good book. So far, I have done everything the author has done and more. Although. I admit I need to be more consistent with my meditation practice and more consistent with a non-inflammatory diet. The disruptions of life routines doesn’t help there but I hope to get that all back on track. I take a daily regimen of supplements in addition to medications. I have added them one by one after researching the current theories by chemists and functional medical docs who are researching this – BigPharma always shuts those guys down and America lags way behind Europe in MCS research. I had no problem accepting alternative therapies as the author had to adjust to because of her training. It’s costly though. I spent a full third of my income on health care in 2018, and Trump eliminated the medical tax deduction. I’ve got that down to about a quarter of my income this year. We’ll see how long I can afford to practice healthy living. The environment seems to keep shrinking. Scary


  3. Dude, your treatise on marriage moved me, ’cause I’m a classic ‘caregiver” married to a narcissist. Anyway, my caregiver button has been pushed, and…since I don’t know what town your in, can’t visit you, I can send information your way. If you want to get paid to write (you do have talent! Use this blog as your “portfolio…” follow this indeed link. I was a freelance writer for over 10 years and made bank. Not doing it now, but you can pursue this if you want. You gotta report back tho! Could luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thanks George! I will definitely inquire and let you know what happens. Sorry to hear you’re married to a narcissist. It’s a bad combination – empathic caregivers with narcissists – we get stomped on pretty hard. I’m exploring solutions to the housing situation – all sort of gambles, but have to start moving on it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not sure if you need money, but that link can get you paid writing gigs. Looking forward to your next post! It’s business writing. They give you the info. You turn it into English. It’s not that difficult for someone with your talent. I may start doing it again, but I really don’t have “the chi…”

        Liked by 1 person

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