Planning Our Escape!

August 30, 2018

If everything goes well, we should be on our way to New Mexico by the time you’re reading this. Things are becoming less and less bearable here and the smoke from Washington and Canada seems to be the culprit. I feel like my body is starting to unravel. Even healthy people are feeling negative effects. I can’t help but wonder if the smoke from these fires is particularly toxic. Or perhaps it’s brought along some of the biotoxins I’m sensitive to? 

Whatever the case, Brett and I decided we need to get out of here before the inflammation in my body spirals out of control. Unfortunately I’ve continued to wake up with significant facial swelling. I’m also having a resurgence of joint pain, fatigue and brain fog.

After much frustration and some experimentation, I concluded that the new mattress does irritate my eyes and nose but it isn’t driving the worst symptoms. It’s becoming clear that the smoke is the main problem. 

Sadly, the air quality in our apartment has suffered a lot and I’ve found the only thing that brings relief is being in a clear building that has a good HVAC system (like Panera).

We’ve avoided running the HVAC in our apartment because the heat in our first apartment was part of what triggered my decline last winter. Things improved when we switched apartments and started using space heaters with a window cracked open. That led us to believe the HVAC was better left untouched. 

When the window is open and the air outside is good, our apartment feels great. Unfortunately, when it’s smoky outside, the apartment is either really stuffy (with all the windows closed) or just as smoky as the outdoors. This unfortunate situation has caused us to question our decision to leave the AC off. Still, we don’t want to risk the possibility that dust or mold in the HVAC could make the situation worse. We can’t really afford for anything to get worse right now. 

Last night, desperate for some new oxygen, we opened the windocws to air out the apartment. We closed them before getting in bed but I still woke up at 2:30am with serious throat swelling and pain. I took some Benadryl and waited for the reaction to subside. 

Then, at about 4am, I had a horrifying panic attack where I bit my hands really hard and almost ripped out a chunk of my hair. Thankfully it passed quickly. When I came back to my senses, I was very disturbed by the episode. I had completely lost control. This wasn’t standard anxiety and panic. Something bad was happening in my brain. It was just like the neurological panic attacks I had when I was very ill. 

That was when we started talking about escaping to New Mexico. We decided to get some sleep before making a decision. When we woke up, New Mexico still seemed like our best option. So today Brett is our gathering supplies for our trip and I’m sitting in Panera waiting and writing. All I can think about is laying in the soft healthy dirt and breathing the pristine air. I’m going to be so happy! I can’t wait!

Update: I wrote this post on Sunday and thankfully the smoke ended up clearing out by Monday night. But we are still planning a camping trip to calm the runaway inflammation.

By the way, Brett and I made a beautiful PDF of my favorite resources for suffering souls. I created the content and he made it look fancy with his superduper graphic design skills. It’s available for free to my email subscribers. Click here to sign up and receive 5 Resources for the Suffering Soul.

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  • Lisa

    I wonder if you could find a stand alone air conditioner that would help? I’ve seen some that just sit by a window with air intake hoses.

    August 30, 2018 at 5:56 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I thought about that! I wonder where you can buy those.

      September 1, 2018 at 1:12 pm Reply
  • Ruth Meyer

    Praying for you, Ana! The smoke up here (in Washington) has felt like glass shards in my swollen eyes, making it hard to wear my contacts, which I have to wear because they are hard contacts and keep my perscription from getting worse. I’ve also had headaches from the sinus pressure, and when I take any sinus meds they wipe me out so bad, it almost feels like the life is being sucked out of me. The crazy thing with health, is trying to figure out if the “problem” or the “cure” is what’s bothering you most. And, when the mind runs away, or breaks down, it’s impossible to differentiate anything like that. I’ve felt that before, and was the the point of hallucinating, so so so so so not fun. I will be praying you don’t have any more panic attacks like that, and that the smoke will clear up. I am so thankful for the firefighters working on these fires, and I can’t say I’m courageous enough to stand in their place. My Mama worked in the forest service, and on forest fires before, so she knows about what they go through. It’s pretty amazing. Praying you have a good trip, however long it is, and for daily grace as your body is fighting on.

    August 30, 2018 at 7:48 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much for this comment Ruth. I can relate to everything you shared and I’m so sorry to hear the smoke has been causing problems for you too. I pray you feel better soon.

      September 1, 2018 at 1:14 pm Reply
  • James

    I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area and while the smoke has not been horrible most days, I’ve noticed it is different than the smoke last year (that was perhaps more local). This year the smoke is almost white rather than yellowish in color and the effects are more insidious in my experience. It doesn’t seem that bad in an acute way but over time it wears you down and causes all sorts of problems. I hope your trip to New Mexico gets your health back on track!

    August 30, 2018 at 10:37 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      So interesting! It definitely wears you down over time.

      September 1, 2018 at 1:15 pm Reply
  • IndiaThai

    So this is what go s on in Panera!😂

    August 31, 2018 at 12:28 pm Reply
  • Ben

    Ana it’s good to hear from you again. Thanks so much for sharing your journey. I’m sure it was tough to share when you were camping in the desert but now when you are saying things haven’t turned out like we thought it takes even more. This is just a tough trip but offers hope to those of us who had none before. My wife has CIRS. I remember a year and a half ago loading the ashes of our newly remodeled home that we had to burn and get nothing for onto a truck. Thinking ok now the hard part is over we can go forward now. We moved six times until we found good housing each time losing more stuff. We understand an apartment that is good until you turn the AC on it just works that way. She also couldn’t vacuum there. We are now in our new partly finished house. A month ago we were taking hikes in the very steep mountains and talking about her sickness in the past tense. Tonight I am almost carrying her to the bathroom and her pain is terrible like everything is dying inside. What changed? A 30 minute exposure once a week for a month. That’s all it takes. We’ve learned this over and over. When it gets bad she stays in a safe place for two weeks and starts over and it always works. Her first warning sign is always anxiety and dizziness if she ignores it long enough it’s back to seizures and wheelchair. Our prayers are with you. May God give you a clear path forward. PS allergy buyers club has one of the air conditioners you are talking about that can be cleaned and inspected easily.

    September 5, 2018 at 5:41 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Oh Ben! I am so sorry to hear your wife’s story. I can relate so much! I hope and pray she can go back to feeling strong in the new house. God bless you for all your caregiving.

      Thank you also for the air conditioner recommendation. That’s so helpful!

      September 6, 2018 at 5:21 pm Reply

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