No Wonder I'm Sick ...
UPdate March 2000

In the last issue of the UPdate we encouraged readers who were having problems with the air quality at their office to contact us, register their building and tell us their story. Here is one response:

     No wonder Iím sick Ö

     My boss gave me a copy of the Sept./99 edition of Shunpiking with the UPdate insert. Iíd like to register the Centennial Building, 1660 Hollis Street, Halifax, as a sick building. 

     This is my story:
      In June of 1996, I was working at a large furniture store in Nova Scotia. I became increasingly unable to work there due to several symptoms ó right leg dragging making walking difficult, speech became slurred at times right in the middle of a word, lack of coordination even to use a keyboard, very sensitive to noise (the sound of the dot-matrix printer would make my eardrums vibrate to the point of being quite uncomfortable),  extreme fatigue and overall weakness, difficulty focusing my eyes making reading anything more than a paragraph impossible, constant dizziness and off-balance. Even though I was sleeping eight to nine hours every night, Iíd wake up as tired as when I went to bed.
 
     Finally by the end of July 1996, I had to stop working there. My boss was great and held my job for me for a few months, but I never went back to work there.

      After five months of seeing my family doctor and various specialists and having numerous tests done, all the tests came back negative even though I was still very sick. I was no closer to finding out what was wrong with me. The neurologist told me that I should consult a psychiatrist. Needless to say, I never went back to him!!!

      Since the medical community had failed me miserably, I decided to see a naturopath. Through nutrition (and expensive supplements) and not being at work, I eventually became more or less symptom-free.

      In July of 1997, I went back to work in an older building that actually had windows that could be opened. However, I left after eleven months and started to work at the Centennial Building with my present employer.

      In August of 1999, six professional men moved into the area that I was working in. (We work in cubicles.) The building is sealed so I couldnít open a window when the after shave lotion they wore affected me. One guy wore some stuff made by Calvin Klein that was so offensive to me that about half an hour after he came in, I had to go home sick, as many of my ďoldĒ symptoms came back.

      By the end of September 1999, I was getting worse and worse. Then my employers offered that I work from home. I jumped at the opportunity.
My contract with them is almost up anyway so I am very thankful that I donít have to be in that building except for a few hours a week. My contract was supposed to be up at the end of October and I just found out that Iíve been extended until the end of November. I think thatís great considering Iím sick and have to work from home. My boss is the bestóso considerate.

      In conclusion, through a lot of reading over the past three years, Iíve learned that formaldehyde is a trigger for environmental illness, or as I prefer to call it, multiple chemical sensitivity. They make new furniture, among other things, using formaldehyde! I donít have to be a rocket scientist to know where I was exposed to that chemical. Now Iím extremely sensitive to the chemicals found in perfumes and aftershave lotions. I canít work in an enclosed building for many reasons, one of them being the fluorescent lights which drive me crazy, never mind the re-circulated air full of perfume, after shave lotion, mould, dust, etc.

     Iím still digging out of the financial devastation that this illness caused me.

      Iím sure I havenít communicated all the problems (challenges) Iíve faced due to working in an enclosed office building. Iím nearly 38 years old and have worked since 1983, mainly in enclosed buildings. Itís no wonder I got sick!!!

      Getting sick has actually been a huge black cloud with a silver lining because Iíve learned so much about natural health and healing and have met some really wonderful people.

 óAmy Brennan, Dartmouth, N.S.

Editorís Note: At Amyís request we have protected the identity of her employers. Also we would like to mention that the symptoms Amy experienced were not all inclusive of symptoms experienced by people having adverse reactions to the air quality in their office.