Day 28 | A Day in Civilization

April 6, 2017

We needed to go to Vegas today to try to find some uncontaminated bedding for me. Unfortunately, my reactions to my sleeping bag have gotten much worse. I now break out in hives as soon as I get into it, even outdoors in the pristine air. Not to mention, it cross contaminated some blankets that had previously felt fine. The sleeping bag didn’t feel great from the beginning but it was much better than the other two sleeping bags I had tried previously. I’m thinking maybe it got more contamination on it when we spent the night in Moab.

Because of the exposures I suffered yesterday, we were already getting low on clean laundry. I had to wash a couple shirts this morning before we could leave for our errands in Las Vegas. We’ve learned from experience that one extra shirt is almost never enough for a day in civilization! I usually experience multiple reactions.

It was a good thing I washed those extra shirts because I ended up needing to decontaminate 5 times today! I think that might be a record! I’m starting to hate going into town.

Now that I sort of know what normal feels like, it’s really hard to make myself do something that I know will bring back dreadful symptoms. I can’t think of anyone who would willingly walk into a world of joint pain, back pain, throat swelling, hives, headaches, cognitive difficulty, panic attacks, and depression. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have a choice today, so I did my best to be brave.

At the very least, I needed to go along so that I could test the bedding and make sure I didn’t react. It didn’t go so well last time when Brett tried to pick out a sleeping bag for me by himself. Besides, I don’t think it would be wise for Brett to leave me alone all day with how sensitive I am right now. What if I went into anaphylaxis? It would take him an hour and a half to get back to me.

So I tagged along as usual and did my best to endure my suffering patiently. Brett went into Target and bought a bunch of blankets. I tested them one by one, by holding them against my skin. Then he went back into the store to return the ones I reacted to. We repeated this process three times until we finally ended up with four safe blankets. Unfortunately, I reacted to all the sleeping bags we tried! I’m starting to wonder if maybe I’m reacting to the flame retardants they’re treated with. It seems odd that I haven’t been able to find a single safe sleeping bag.

After we got everything we needed at Target, we went to Whole Foods to get groceries. I waited in the car as usual because I am still too reactive to enter buildings. I can’t wait for my reactivity to start decreasing! Even if it takes many months for that to happen though, mold avoidance is already worth the trouble. I’m just thankful that I have days where I can remember what it feels like to be normal.

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  • Julia Camara

    Ana, you are an amazing woman. Keep writing. It is a great way to process life. And your story is so inspiring.

    April 7, 2017 at 3:52 pm Reply
    • AnaHarris

      Thanks so much Julia! That’s so encouraging! I definitely agree that writing is helping me to make sense of my chaotic life.

      April 7, 2017 at 4:49 pm Reply
  • Lana

    My son has extreme allergies and we found out that he is allergic to formaldehyde. Then, I read that most clothes, and cloth items are sprayed with formaldehyde, especially if they are shipped to the U.S. So I always wash items before giving them to my son. Do you think some of the new blankets you tried in the Target parking lot could have given you a reaction to any formaldehyde? Just a thought. Praying for your healing!

    April 8, 2017 at 6:21 am Reply
  • Chris Barratt

    What Lana said above could very well be true. Formaldehyde and flame retardants could very well be the problem. And polyester also. 100% cotton can be washed and might be less likely to produce sensitivity. But only organic cotton would not be treated with chemicals. That’s hard to find in stores but available by mail order. But some larger stores will have organic bedding. Calling around might produce some possibilities. But I can totally see this happening, Ana. Formaldehyde can be washed out, but since you’re super sensitive it may take a few washings!! Those chemicals are pesky villains!! (And that’s putting it mildly in your case LOL)

    April 9, 2017 at 9:35 pm Reply
  • Lisa D

    Hi Ana. I am praying for you and Brett. I often call myslef the canary in the coal mine. Thankful I am not – or I wouldn’t be here! (I am not as sensitive as you are and I know my own trials are difficult ) your perseverance is inspiring!

    If you have any way of sewing or attaching snaps or something, you can use a comforter as a sleeping bag ( for the ease of closure). You have probably thought of it alteady – your resourcefulness is amazing! I too found it hard to have bad days after having good days for the first time in years. It really forced mento reach deep and trust in God. Hang in there! Have a blessed Easter! This has been a literal lent in the desert for you and Brett.

    April 12, 2017 at 6:06 am Reply
    • AnaHarris

      Thank you so much for your comment, Lisa. I’m glad you’ve found my blog to be encouraging. We’ve used the canary in the coal mine analogy too. Thanks for sharing your idea! I hadn’t thought of that. I bet it would still be hard to wash by hand though.

      April 13, 2017 at 2:55 pm Reply

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