My husband, Don, and I have been married since 1967. We have two children and four grandchildren. Don has been sick with multiple chemical sensitivities since 1988. He is now in the extreme stages of this illness. Let me tell you how it all began.
He was an apprentice painter before he worked in pest control for two years, using horrible chemicals and poisons, which he handled and inhaled. He then went back into painting full time for about 24 years. To top it off, he became a volunteer firefighter in Florida for 10 years along with being a painting contractor. We now live in the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina.
It is easy to understand how, being in all these toxic, life-risking professions, he has come down with MCS. He has been diagnosed with toxic inhalation syndrome, chemical bronchitis and MCS.
He loved to help at the fire department; he spent many hours at the station. He would come home exhausted in the middle of the night after a rescue or fire call. He was getting bad headaches even then. One day, in 1988, he was with a fellow fireman, fighting a fire in Florida. There was an accident and his respirator mask malfunctioned. He inhaled burning plastics and toxic smoke. Right after the accident, the fire department turned their back on him like it didn't happen. The chief told the men not to even talk to him.
The department’s liability insurance person said, "No problem, Mr. Holliday; we will take care of you." But they didn't follow through. So we had to get a lawyer. It went to court, but Don didn't want to hurt the department financially. Because we could not foresee the future, we signed off the lawsuit for one month of lost wages and our doctor bills. His symptoms when he gets an allergic reaction are: a headache that stays for days; chest pains; shortness of breath; anxiety; nausea; diarrhea; blurred vision; rash; and depression.
The ongoing lifestyle and isolation has really taken a toll on him and us. He is having trouble coping with it all. He said he could cope somehow if he just had a suitable, comfortable place to lay his head down at night to feel safe from it all.
Somewhere, someone, somehow may have an answer to our problems. Please help us, research for us. Please respond to my letter.
— Arleen Holliday