Relocation: Part 2

 

In the fall of 1995, I first networked by phone with Jennifer Rozines, a young woman with CFIDS and MCS who told me she was about to relocate to Wimberley, Texas.  When I caught up with her with a survey in late April, she had already returned home to upstate New York.  Jennifer kindly agreed to write a description of her odyssey for my readers.

In October 1995, my health was deteriorating as the cold weather set in.  The dust, mold, and heating system caused rapid deterioration.  I decided to move from upstate New York to a warmer, sunnier climate.  I rented an EI-safe airstream trailer outside Austin, Texas.  I’d never been to Texas prior to my move.

At first my health improved in the warm weather and sunshine.  However, by Thanksgiving I was reacting SEVERELY to the cedar.  (It is also known as mountain cedar and is part of the juniper family.)  I spent December and January shut up in the trailer.  I could barely go outside.  Inside I was fine.

In January, the mold season kicked in, and cedar burning was rampant.  I had horrible asthma and flu symptoms and went to Dallas to stay in the EI condos.  I was so overloaded that one drop of hydrogen peroxide put me into medical crisis.

A friend drove me out west in search of safer air.  I was hooked up to oxygen and was having mini-seizures (new symptoms never before experienced).

In New Mexico, Arizona, and the California desert, I reacted miserably to the juniper, creosote, dust, and constant sun assault.  (Only in West Texas did I find relief.)  We traveled to the California coast.  From San Luis Obispo down to LA was too moldy, but at Oceanside, I finally found relief.  After sleeping in my car for four days and being unable to walk, I revived on the ocean.  I was able to detox and walk five miles a day on the beach.

After two weeks and antigen therapy at a California clinic, I was driven back across the country, stopping in Austin, and made it back to New York.  I was able to sleep in motels, and my reactions were only mild.

Prior to my move, I was your “average” person with MCS.  I was restricted, but not horribly sick.  I believe I detoxed too quickly in that safe trailer and was subsequently unable to tolerate things I could previously handle.  I later learned that Austin and the Wimberley area are extremely high in pollens and molds, and many people cannot tolerate these areas.

Now back in my original home, which is chemical-free but not totally EI-safe, I am doing much better.  I’ve heard of many people who relocate to the desert or South who just cannot tolerate the pollens.  I strongly recommend testing for Southwest pollens before attempting a stay.  Terpenes from cedar, pines, and other trees can also be a major problem for EIs, and a year-round one at that.

 Editor’s note: The term “EI” (for “Environmental Illness”) was more widely used in the past to refer to a person with multiple chemical sensitivity.

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Jennifer’s account raises an important point.  Some people report that they feel better initially in a new location because they have left behind many substances to which they were reacting and have not yet sensitized to substances in their new location.  Sometimes it takes two or three weeks for these new sensitivities to become apparent.  For this reason it is paramount when attempting relocation to retain a home-base to which you can retreat if a new place doesn’t work.

A minimum trial stay of two weeks was one of the twenty-six “absolutely nonnegotiable” items provided by Pam Montagne, who traveled in a trailer with her husband for 3½ years, covering over 100,000 miles in the West and in Mexico while looking for a safe place that met all these requirements.  Only Dolan Springs, Arizona, where she now lives with several other chemically sensitive people, met her criteria. [Editor’s note: I once passed through Dolan Springs, population of about 2,000, and found it a place to which the term “god-forsaken” could readily be applied, so I wouldn’t recommend putting it on your relocation possibility list. I’ll never forget the intoxicated couple who were having a loud argument on the porch of a down-at-the-heels place one could buy drinks or a few groceries. (And it was only 4 o’clock in the afternoon.) If your MCS is making you feel depressed about your future prospects, living in Dolan Springs will not help.]

At any rate Pam’s list of criteria for relocating is a very useful one for those considering moving to a different area:

 

  1. Within 100 miles of metro center, but no closer than 50

  2. Arid

  3. Southwest

  4. Under 5000 feet elevation

  5. Low mold

  6. Summer dominant climate

  7. Very rural

  8. Cheap real estate

  9. No through roads

  10. No industry

  11. No pulp mills

  12. No refineries

  13. No railroads

  14. No agriculture

  15. Clean air, out of all Med Fly and smog drift patterns

  16. Organic food available

  17. Well water

  18. Low EMF

  19. Low growth area

  20. No terpenes, no forest fires, low wood smoke

  21. No roadside spraying of herbicides

  22. No pesticide spraying

  23. No lawns

  24. No dew

  25. No bodies of water

  26. Two-week minimal trial stay