Archive for September, 2008

Warning: Whining ahead!

I finally broke down and ordered some FF shampoo and conditioner from Amazon. The brand is Earth Science, apparently a pretty popular one. Shipping was $9. Eek! But seeing as how I’d have to drive all the way to OKC to MAYBE find some in a store it’s going to work out the same.

And now I absolutely must find some dish soap that I can tolerate until the dishwasher is fixed. For the dishwasher I use a mixture of equal parts baking soda and borax and it works just great. But in the sink, as I said before, it ain’t cutting it. The borax seems to lose its grease-cutting power when dissolved in water, and the body-wash doesn’t last long enough, nor does it take the greasy fingerprints off the glasses. It’s just a nightmare. I want to cry thinking about the sink full of dirty dishes, knowing that I will spend a futile hour washing them, only to have it full again in another hour. I can’t keep up.

And my sink stopper doesn’t work right, and I hate the bits of food floating in the water, and I can’t seem to get to the store for some rubber gloves, and the kitchen smells like lard from my third batch of soap, and I’m fat and my hair’s falling out and I need new clothes…

So how are you today?

Adventures in FF alternatives

I did it. I made soap. It has tiny oily pockets inside, though, which may or may not disappear with curing. It may have been caused by overstirring (?) since I had to redo it three times to get it to set up. Time will tell.

On the plus side, the non-oily parts work like soap, if not as sudsy as I’m used to. It also rinses well, leaving no scent whatsoever, which I can’t say about even the fragrance-free Dove soap I’ve been using. My oldest says the Dove smells like puke.

I’ve been trying different things as shampoo since the stores around here don’t carry it. Things like oatmeal body wash (too drying), a moisturizing liquid soap (doesn’t spread through the hair well), and the Dove bar. So far the Dove is the best. It lathers with a little elbow grease, and doesn’t dry out the hair as much as the body wash.

I did find out, however, that the body wash works well on the dishes. My dishwasher went out again so I’m washing by hand for a while. There is no such thing as FF dish soap as far as I can tell. The first night I used Borax, which, though a miracle on most other jobs, did not work well for this one. The body wash won’t  work on a greasy pan because it’s too mild, but it’s fine for the plates and glasses. The greasy pan was made for Borox. Like I said, it’s a miracle.

Making soap: How NOT to

I decided to try making my own soap so I could control the ingredients. An acquaintance pointed me at Miller’s Homemade Soap Pages, which has all the advice you could ever want on how to make your own soap. It’s not a fancy-schmancy site, but it is quite useful.

Unfortunately, it seemed all the soap recipes on the site were for huge batches, and I just wasn’t comfortable committing that much raw material on my first attempt. I search around on the Internet and found a recipe (and wouldn’t you know it, I forgot to bookmark it) for a batch size I thought I could handle.

I collected my ingredients.

  • Lye? Check.
  • Almond and coconut oil? Uh, no. Substitute canola, which is what I had in the cabinet.
  • Glycerine? Noooo, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Skip it.
  • Honey? YES! I have honey.
  • Flower oil? No, I don’t want this to give me a migraine. Skip.
  • Oatmeal? Yes! Woo!

Does it sound as if I were a bit cavalier in following the recipe? I paid the price for that cavalier…ness. I got a soap the consistency and color of grainy peanut butter. Looking at the Miller site’s troubleshooting page, I think I should have adjusted the amount of lye I used, since each oil has a different soponification value.

But do you know what the most amazing thing is? It’s still soap! It doesn’t lather well, but it does clean, so I know this is possible!

Onward to a bigger batch. I’ll keep you posted. And this time, I’ll even try to keep detailed notes.

Symptoms of my fragrance sensitivity/allergy/whatever

This is an edited version of a page on my other blog, Sherri Blossoms, where I tell a bit about my story and list my symptoms.

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I’ve brought up my symptoms to doctor after doctor, and the most common response is one of dismissal. To be dismissed by your doctor is disheartening, to say the least. They just don’t know about this problem.

So here I’ll list the chronic symptoms which I’ve recently been able to directly link to my exposure of fragrance. Don’t forget that your symptoms may not match up perfectly with mine.

  • sinus pressure
  • migraine headaches
  • eye fatigue
  • blurry vision
  • asthma-like symptoms
  • sore throat
  • inability to concentrate (such as not being able to follow a conversation or read a book or follow a movie plot.)
  • dizziness

All these symptoms seemed to worsen throughout the day, and especially while shopping. I thought I just had no stamina, now it’s apparent that the exposure to chemicals wore me down. I got an inhaler for the asthma, nasal spray for the sinus pressure, migraine drugs for the headaches, glasses for the blurry vision. None of these things helped much, if any. I felt stupid when interacting with others because I couldn’t speak intelligently with them.

~~~

It’s much nicer to be able to recognize the symptoms for what they are, rather than hypochondria or weakness or idiocy. I haven’t brought it up with my doc yet, because I’m broke. And I don’t think he’ll be able to help, since it seems about the only thing one can do is avoid the offending chemical(s). But when I do see him, I’ll have plenty of subjective data to present, and hopefully he won’t dismiss me. I don’t think he will.

Think of me and go fragrance-free!

I’ve recently found out that my chronic illness is caused by fragrance. I thought I’d share my journey here, where my discoveries may be of use to someone and where I am sure to attract like-minded people.

In case you’ve never tried to rid yourself of all fragrance, it is impossible. It’s everywhere: in the schools my children attend, in every public place and in every home, even in my back yard when my neighbor’s dryer is running. It’s in products you’d never expect, like unscented deoderant and detergent. You’re bombarded by fragrance chemicals while standing in line at the check-out counter by the perfume inserts in closed magazines; by walking down a corridor that was mopped yesterday; by hugging your children after school, where the ambient chemicals cling to their clothes and hair. All of these things make me sick.

By now you may be labeling me a kook. “I go to the store and hug my children and use unscented deoderant, and I don’t smell anything,” you might be saying. “How can that make you sick?”

I would counter with these points:

  1. The average person doesn’t notice the subtler scents anymore. She is used to the smell because she’s around it every minute of every day, even in her bed at night. Think of a smoker who can’t smell the smoke that clings to his clothes, but a non-smoker can.
  2. Not being able to detect an odor doesn’t guarantee the chemicals are not in the air. Many times I’ve had symptoms without actually smelling anything, only to find out later an air freshener was used, or the person I was with had put perfume on that morning. The overt scent had dissipated, but the chemicals were still doing their job, which is vaporizing into the air and traveling up my nose.

The thing that really gets me about fragrance is that in most products it’s unnecessary. So the next time you’re shopping for dryer sheets, think of me and go fragrance-free.