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Meet The Team: United States of America

Kathy Fitzpatrick:  State Representative for Michigan

Kathy Fitzpatrick, MCS International State Representative, Michigan, USA. The Chemical Connection:  In the early to mid eighties i lived in a home with a mold problem and then added to the mix by having foam [as in formaldehyde] insulation installed. Afterward i began suffering from chronic sinus infections, fatigue, severe PMS, and was continually sick with flu like symptoms.

Some ten years later, i got divorced and moved to a different home and began feeling better. I changed my diet from vegetarian to vegan and got rid of the sinus infections. Then in the summer of 2001 i woke up with a bug bite on the back of my neck. It itched like crazy. I wasn't sure if i'd been bit during the night or if it was from moonlight gardening.

The bite soon turned into a bacterial infection followed by a horrific case of cellulitis. For the most part i self treated with herbal remedies, [ having no doctor or insurance] especially comfrey from my garden which i used to draw out the infection. I would get better then worse then better, then much worse. The rash on the back of my neck would come and go and seemed to move around. My lymph glands were swollen most of the time particularly in my neck. I tried everything i knew to Detox, but it just would not go away.

When I couldn't take it anymore [approximately 3 months] i went to a med center where a doctor confirmed that indeed i had been bit by something and that what i was doing was working. She prescribed a course of antibiotics and gave me a tetanus shot. Not much changed i still went from bad to worse to okay to bad again. Shortly after the visit to the doctor i refinished the oak floors in my home. My lymph glands became so swollen it terrified me. It looked like i had another head growing out of my neck.

I didn't to go to ER. or a doctor, because i was too afraid of what they might do to me. The few times i saw doctors i would explain about my compromised immune system but they never took it seriously. Then last year while at work i left the one building to go to another and stepped into the chemical mist of the Terminix man. It immediately felt like as if an electrical current was coursing through my body. I was so tired i could barely function. I couldn't think and all i wanted to do was go home, but i was in no condition to drive. After this incident my life changed dramatically.

I started reacting to everything and it was frightening. My new husband is chemically sensitive so i knew what was happening but couldn't figure out why it was spreading so quickly. I was afraid to go anywhere and knew with complete certainty i did not want to see an allopathic doctor. I was referred to an Environmental Doctor but had to wait three months to see her. During the wait i was hanging on by a thread, missing lots of work, struggling with severe depression and suicidal thoughts. I wasn't safe anywhere, not even in my own home.

The EI doctor told me she was also chemically sensitive but not as severe as you are. I am what is known as a Universal Reactor and am essentially allergic/sensitive to everything in the environment and just about every kind of food. She told me i had been chemically sensitive ever since the bug bite some 5 years ago. I was diagnosed as having an autoimmune disease [which i believe is really Lyme but cant afford the testing], MCS, type 2 diabetics, chronic fatigue, candida, malabsorption, adrenal exhaustion, dangerously low choloresterol, extremely low levels of B-12, mucked up cortisol and hormone levels, Hypothyroidism and several other things. I no longer know what to expect from my body or the people and places around me. I have long forgotten what it feels like to be well.

Background Information:  I am a 53 year old wife, mother, artist, activist and avid gardener. Even though i have had six and a half years of higher learning have learned far more on my own studying what interests me.

I am deeply interested in the politics of food and medicine. I support local and organically grown food. For the past two years we've had a farm share with a local organic CSA and have a small veggie patch in the midst of my no grass allowed urban lot . I eat whole foods, exercise, take homeopathic remedies and supplements and have recently started the Salt/Vitamin C protocol for Lyme and Adrenal Exhaustion.

I am working my way back to health and slowly getting back to my meditation and yoga practice. I feel fortunate to still be employed and work with those experiencing homelessness. Because i am not visibly DISabled work isn't always easy. MCS reactions are caused by the everyday products most people use and wear so the issue immediately becomes personal.

The Wider Context:  This DISease brings out the best and the worst in people. It challenges those around us in ways that often create discomfort. It challenges legislators and corporate powers and even the way we live.

Most people feel this could never happen to them. They remain unaware of how bio-accumulation works and of the synergistic effect of chemicals on the human body. Statistics state approximately 30% of the population is affected with MCS, but I believe it be much higher.

I also feel those mired in poverty are at greater risk from this neurological disorder due to a lack of access to information and buying power. They are also the ones who will likely only be allowed to see traditional doctors. These doctors, paid for with government funding, who typically treat symptoms without tracing them back to the root cause. Many will be labelled, as far too many already have, with a mental illness. Their requests for accommodations will be brushed aside because of an "it's all in your head" mentality.

I hope to advocate for education that will allow people to make informed decisions regarding medical care and how to approach a traditional doctor in order to be treated properly. There needs to be more information about the everyday things lining the shelves of supermarkets, health food and department stores. More needs to be done in regards to labelling and we need to work to dispel the myth that the FDA and government actually work to protect us.

We need to model living a non-toxic, chemically and fragrance free lifestyle so others can see it doesn't have to be expensive, it can be done inexpensively with safe, non-toxic products. Many things most people need to clean with or use for personal care can be made quickly and easily at home. Far too many lives have been devastated by MCS. But by working together we will not only increase awareness but at long last justice will prevail.

Meet The Team Menu Visit MCS-International.Org's Volunteer Pages MCS-International.Org Email-Me Button Subscribe to the free MCS-International.Org newsletter - Newsflash Meet our next team member: Jonathan Neiss, State Representative, New Jersey, USA...
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