My 5 Christmas Wishes as Someone With Multiple Chemical Sensitivity


Dear Santa:

It’s that time of year again… time for me to send you my wish list. I have been a good girl this year, so I am really hoping you can grant at least a few of these requests for me, and for the rest of the canary (people with multiple chemical sensitivity or MCS) community. I narrowed it down to what I think are the five things many of us canaries want most. Here goes:

1. A cure for MCS.

Yes, I am feeling pretty confident all of us canaries would request this one. I know you probably can’t make this one happen yet, as there isn’t much research into what causes MCS, let alone what could make it better, but a girl can hope, right?

2. Recognition.

So, since my first wish probably won’t be coming true anytime soon, I think this one is a very close second and a lot more realistic to ask for. I would really like it, Santa, if you could somehow help medical professionals to recognize MCS as a real physical ailment, not a mental one. In my experience, far too many medical professionals write us off as being “crazy” or having a somatic symptom disorder, and when they do this, we can have a difficult time getting the kind of specialized medical care we need.

3. Safe housing.

There are so many of us canaries who need a nonreactive place to live. I’ve seen several of us become homeless or live in our cars because finding a home that hasn’t been contaminated by new paint, carpet or even scented cleaners is really difficult. Some have managed to stay where they are but are always sick, and some are reduced to just one small room, rarely venturing out into the world, or even the rest of their house. Building a “safe” home can be considerably more expensive than a standard home, so even that is out of reach for many of us.

4. Truly “scent-free” zones.

Santa, you know how much a canary can truly appreciate when businesses and health care facilities adopt a “scent-free” policy; it genuinely warms my heart. Sadly, though, it is often not enforced, or people might think it doesn’t apply to them. Sometimes, people are just not aware that scent is everywhere in our modern world, so even their laundry soap or hair spray could make someone very ill. And this applies not just to us canaries, but also to people with migraines, asthma, epilepsy and even some types of head and neck cancers as well. It doesn’t take that much extra effort to be scent-free, and it could truly help some of us.

5. Family and friends who believe us.

It is so very sad that some people with illnesses have to fight to be believed by people around them, but many of us have to do the same “inside” our circle of family and friends. Santa, you know how much we love our family and friends, and how much we need their support. Do you think you could somehow grant my wish that they would not only believe us, but support us and respect our requests for accommodation? It can be a very lonely world living apart from everyone else, and I feel it isn’t fair that some of us have to choose between getting sick just to see a loved one, or risk alienating them by asking them to be totally unscented when they come to visit us.

Santa, thanks for taking the time to read my list, and I hope it helps you understand what so many of us need and want this year. There were lots of other things as well, but let’s just try to work on these for now. Merry Christmas!

Image via Thinkstock.

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