Accounts: Their Stories

Though the following is a fictitious short story, real people with real chemical illness come under this menu bar of “ACCOUNTS: Their Stories,” starting with “Assaulted with Perfume.”

After the short story is a poem on how far reaching toxins can be–where one would hope to least expect them.

Nadine’s Concerns

A short story….

Nadine’s salty tears flow, releasing her heartfelt sobbing sadness; but it was not happening.  Her mother was in bed next to her, allowing Nadine her moment of grief to stream away.  It was not easy to watch her since Nadine was a sensitive child who sought earnestly to understand the causes of illnesses through her training in epidemiology.

Nadine noticed her mother try to lift her head and shoulders off the pillow.  Stopping her staccato sobs, Nadine asks, “Are you all right, Meem?”  “Meem” is Nadine’s habitual, endearing name for her mother after Jimmy’s “But Mom [Meem]” protests in “South Park,” the funniest parody on TV.  Her sobs—like mourners of Sardinia who stop — had left the room.

“I’m fine, dear,” replies Meem in her thin voice.  “Tell me what’s on your mind, because, you know, I don’t want you to have this grieving attachment overwhelm me in my bardo.”

mother and adult daughter x

“I understand,” Nadine states, “Too bad the Ad Council was never approached ‘to inspire and improve lives’ with PSA’s on your condition and 17 million others living in the United States alone…Corporate greed has twisted our law of the land:  ‘We the People of the United States to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,…and promote the General Welfare’ could be accomplished so that you and others who will follow don’t suffer.”

Mildly jocular and patting Nadine’s hands, which rest on the bed, “You’re beginning to sound like me, Child.  I remember when you thought it was all in my head.  In part, it has been in my head—triggering the flight or fight amygdala into action.  Repeated, unwieldy exposures to toxic chemicals often cause multiple-organ symptoms.  I told Dr. Younghusband to identify the problem as toxic overload syndromes of the liver.  The pathology is clear, and the data has been analyzed—You KNOW.  It bears repeating, the medical community, the CDC, even universities, are attempting, with some degree of diligence, not to be sued.”   She stops short when Clara, a visitor, steps into the eco-friendly facility wearing “pollutants” in her clothes.

Nadine jumps up from the chair and rushes to Clara, making it clear.  “You must leave imme-diately.  Understand, in here, you do not have the right to choose to use fragranced products on your body because my Mother has to right not to breathe their toxic VOCs!”

Clara is shocked. “I’m sorry, I’m really sorry.  I’ll go to the bathroom to wash the lotion off.”

Adamantly, Nadine responds, “Clara, I do not mean any disrespect; but you have the toxins in your hairspray and in your clothing.  There’s at least 1,4 dioxane , e.g., in Tide Free and Gentle.”

“How did you know I use Tide Free and Gentle?

“I didn’t.  Don’t you think you should be asking, ‘What is 1,4 dioxane?’  I’ll tell you.  It’s a known cancer-causing chemical linked to increased risk of breast cancer.  Proctor & Gamble lost in court and agreed to get rid of it in its products sold in California by September 2013.”

“But the ads say Tide is a healthier choice by mothers for their children,” Clara states as she rushes to the door and turns around to confront Nadine.

“Yeah,  and Madison Avenue convinces us dumb mothers that Tide does its job best without considering that P&G should not put the health of families at risk in the first place,”  reacts Nadine.  “It claims it is ‘dye and perfume-free’ and ‘leaves clothing fresh and clean, too!  So tell me, how does fresh and clean smell or feel?”

Nadine finally peels Clara’s fingers off the frame of the doorway.  “Don’t answer.  Go home.  That’s the best thing you can do for us today,” looking her squarely in the eyes, “—really.”

Clara escapes down the corridor of the nursing home, yelling to her friend, “I’ll call you.”

“Nadine, be gentle with Clara.  She has a fragile ego, because she believes she means well.  Be compassionate…Let us not allow our last days to give you these types of memories.   The waves of positive intentions need to remain high.  Diffuse your anger, Nadine.”

“How so, Meem?  Was I angry?  I thought I was being passionate.”

Meem reaches out for the tubing of her portable oxygen concentrator to diffuse the toxins going through her wrecked liver.  “Cool the fires; lower your stress.   Activate your parasym-pathetic nervous system…Come here, sit.”  Her magnetic heart waves reach Nadine lovingly.

Calmed, Nadine returns to the bedside, “Want to hear about my UK-grant findings?”

“Yeah, tell me.  I want to hear what the UK wants to know about the welfare of its citizens.”

“The list of uses for toxic chemicals is endless and quite frightening.  The numbers show that one out of three Brits will one day have cancer!  The cancer is often one symptom of the high-toxicity levels found in the body.  More children suffer with ADD, ADHD, eczema, and asthma, too.  To think that parents accept these conditions as normal; to cope they roll over and play dead…Your parents never needed all these toxic chemicals in their daily products as we think we do today.  You did your best to follow in their footsteps.  Their food was wholesome, made from scratch, too—like the way you cooked.  It’s outdoors and indoors, everywhere.”

“True,” says Meem, “What else is on your mind?”

She shares, “It’s not just industrial plants that pollute our air and homes.  The Porcellinis next door run their wastewater into their front lawn instead of the septic.  I will  to report them to the County; you couldn’t tend to your garden for fear of breathing the Febreze 87 VOCs in the air.  Wow, talk about odor eliminator!  It overwhelms all other odors, wouldn’t you say?”

Accepting Nadine’s mood, Meem says her final protest, “One’s property rights should not be a right to prevent a neighbor from breathing clean air on their property.”

Agreeing, Nadine offers, “What would you like?  I brought you some ’Dr. Grinspoon’ and ‘Canna Sutra,’” as she takes a puff of the marijuana strain, ‘Haze,’ and wonders if she would file a wrongful death lawsuit that covers negligent acts of another person or persons.   She adds“Tomorrow I’ll bring you the best, ‘Purple Kush’ for your chronic pain, Meem.”

Related articles:

Comic Relief

bar mellow yellow


“Poor dear,” he noted.

Now for a brisk walk back,

I darted down the dirt trail

Mask in hand and over nose and mouth.

A loud and red-garbed walker talks into her iphone

As she slides unengaged in her environment.

The sparky walk continues,

Taking in irregular treetops against the bright sky.

Sidewinder-like Black Racer laterally undulates away from me–

I am aware and love it straightening itself out–

Into the grassy ferns it went.

Deceptive silence picks up.

Crunching rocks alert the senses:  Two more hikers approach,       broken distance apart,

The couple not happy, frowning, in each world alone.

Masked again, they glance and return inward, uncaring.

Too soon removed, unmasked, I smell the toxins

A hint from their sweaty clothes lingered past them.

One whiff, one gasp…I could not escape the Febreezies’ breeze.

Expanse of air surrounding above, deep in its spaciousness, what is  happening?

New focus, any new sites for the electronic eye?

Keep the pace, note the blue-bird houses, empty:  ‘Do not disturb.’  It  is too close to the road!

The Purple Martin’s shelter, tree obstructing, thus, abandoned;

Migratory fights, 6,000 miles, dwindled amidst pesticides north and  south of the  Equator,

Among the first telluric species to be affected.

I calculate the new holes in the complex pattern of our web of life,

In the cypress shade, cool breeze behind my back,

Mother and child swing languidly.

Masso’s muted tones now in sight, shirt fully open–

“Hardly any songbirds today unlike the North.”

Beset, I ask, “Did you encounter the Febreezies?”


“Did you smell anything?”

“Oh, yes, I picked up the scent.  Amazing.  How sad.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

From a Yellow Canary of the 21st century, living in our disabling biosphere

%d bloggers like this: