Wednesday, December 26, 2007

no good approach

Momma has asthma. It is very seldom a problem, though we will finally finish paying off an asthma related emergency room visit from just over a year ago some time in February of '08. That's the thing. While it isn't usually a problem, when it does act up it can get bad fast.

There are a couple of triggers that we know of that will cause some minor problems, and we can't ever know when the minor problem will get worse. It's a whole separate rant that the US medical system is so fucked that we can't afford the insurance that would allow her to have a regular doctor to help her better understand and control her particular asthma issues. We won't go into that here.

One of the triggers is perfumes. That's right. If you wear perfume and Momma spends even a little time near you, she will begin to have some trouble breathing. Another trigger, and the real reason for this particular rant, are the various products currently available to introduce scents into the home. Scented candles, anything from Glade, whatever the hell her mother uses that sit on little electric warmers, all these things or even any one of these things will make her asthma kick in, and she will begin to have trouble breathing.

And the sad fact is that this isn't even the real problem. The real issue here is the attitude of other people. A coworker of hers once got angry because Momma mentioned to this person that she was growing nauseous and having trouble breathing because of this person's perfume. She got mad at Momma for getting sick, not concerned, mad.

But we are only now getting to the real rant. Momma's mother and grandmother are fans of the products mentioned above, candles and such, often having several different products in use at one time. They refuse to believe that their desire to create fake odors in their homes creates an unhealthy environment for their child and grandchild. They honestly believe that we are lying to them when we explain this problem.

I have gotten into the habit, whenever we visit either of these homes, of going through the house to the usual places where these devices are being used. I blow out all the candles and turn off all the electric devices. I always miss one or two, and within a couple of hours of arriving I can hear Momma's breathing growing labored. When she has to walk outside to get some fresh air I know that it's getting serious.

And with every visit it seems we tell them all of this once again. I've even tried a few times to explain to them that they are basically creating fumes of unknown chemical compounds, and those compounds are harming someone they are supposed to care about and protect. And each time they are flippant and act unconcerned. They just don't believe it, and her mother has actually suggested that it's all in Momma's head. Seriously. Momma's mother has even argued that she used many of these products when Momma was a child and that they never bothered her then. I could argue that she also kept birds in the house (birds in the home are known to contribute to children developing asthma) and had cats (Momma has cat allergies) and that Momma hasn't taken nearly as much allergy medication as she did when we met those many years ago while she was still living at home. But that wouldn't matter. She would continue to belittle our issue, and she will continue to create harmful fumes of unknown chemical compounds to pollute the air of her house.

Is it ironic that Momma's mom wanted to burn the cookie scented candle on Christmas day? the day that sees more cooking and creating of natural and harmless odors that actually smell good? And she acted upset with me for trying to put out the two candles that she was burning while her daughter was obviously and audibly having a growing problem trying to breathe.

Merry fucking Christmas.


audrey said...

I don't know what to say. That is very, very sad. I'm sorry that Momma has issues with these products (I'm not a fan of them either, but don't have asthma). I can't express how it bothers me so to hear that her own mother and g-ma won't make one tiny adjustment to their spaces out of consideration for her.

I mean, for fuck's sake! Even if she didn't have asthma and had just said she really can't stand those strong scents, you'd think your own fucking family would give a little for you.

I'll stop now before I get really pissy.

Christine said...

Hearing that irritates the piss out of me too. Even though it's not a problem for them, why is it so hard to understand it can be a life and death issue for someone else? It would be so simple for them to make a tiny adjustment for a few hours. WTF? We've had similar problems with relatives, you think they would be the most understanding, but it practically takes a threat to get compliance sometimes.

Sue Doe-Nim said...

Next time Grandma should skip the gifts and just give Momma a coupon for therapy.


Maggie Rosethorn said...

I'm so sad to read this. I have problems with tons of scents too (nausea, not asthma, thank goodness). We have a cat, and allergic people are made aware of this before they come over. We do NOT put the cat in the room with them, on their lap, or anywhere near them. We try to put allergic people on the "cat-hair free" chairs. But if someone had problems with candles, can bet I wouldn't have them burning if they came over. I value my friends more than my scents.