Damned If You Do … Damned If You Don’t

There’s been so much written on The Coronavirus that I don’t need to start this post with any preliminary background. I mean, you’d have to be living under a rock not to have been inundated with all the information about the virus.

So, they stay to stay home, social distance, etc.  I totally agree! We all need to do our part.


For some us, we’re finding staying so contained detrimental to our health as well. Some of us have what’s called Reactive Airway Disease Syndrome (RADS) where certain fumes and chemical propellants set off an immediate and very painful burning sensation/constriction of our bronchioles.

In my case, this offending list of triggers include Lysol spray, Clorox wipes, Pinesol, Ammonia, Windex, and more. In other words, basically everything being used for Coronavirus protection and/or general cleaning.

As you may know from reading my blog, I do not have my own home any longer and must (because of circumstances that I cannot change right now), I live with others.

As such, I am not in a position to control the air quality of my environment, nor would I ever be so arrogant as to tell someone else what they should/should not be doing in THEIR own home.

Fighting A Good Fight Against Coronavirus

Protecting oneself and family from a threat so widespread and daunting and there are lots of articles and videos of what steps to take to do this. Some of the measures being taken in the home where I live include:

  • Spraying money and any/all boxes arriving from Amazon, UPS, or other source with Lysol spray.
  • Spraying doorknobs and bathroom surfaces with Lysol morning and night at minimum.
  • Using Pinesol to mop floors and to clean blinds, window sills, countertops, hard surfaces, bathrooms, and garage floors.
  • Pinesol is also sometimes added o loads of clothes being washed in the washer after a trip to the store.
  • All grocery items are and taken out of the bags and wiped down with Clorox wipes.

Sounds thorough, right? Yes, it is. But the downside of this is that most of the time, these things get done (and hence their noxious fumes released) in a closed and contained space.

The Not So Wonderful Part Of This Abundance Of Caution

It’s still somewhat cold outside here in New England (we had snow flurries yesterday). Leaving the windows open most days makes for an uncomfortable inside temperature.

The home we live in is a two story open concept with high vaulted ceilings. My room is at the apex of the house—at the very back of the hallway on an upper landing—boundaried only by and open stair rail and half-height walls. Converging directly underneath me on the floor below is the laundry room, the hallway half-bath (also sprayed liberally with Lysol) and a very nice epoxy-floored garage (mopped weekly with Pinseol or Ammonia).

The upstairs full bath (adjacent to my room) is often over-sprayed with Febreze, another instant offender.

The two males in the household are wonderfully fastidious about their grooming. It is not uncommon for them to take multiple showers a day, depending on what kind of physical work they did—after which they liberally apply heavy colognes like Drakkar Noir, etc., if they are leaving the house.

It is not unusual for me to wake up from a deep sleep due to the bronchial burning after one of them applies their cologne in the wee hours of the morning. Both of them have jobs still deemed to be ‘essential’, so they’re maintaining their morning regimen as before.

Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention

I’ve tried everything I can think of to deal with the noxious fumes … making make-shift face masks with towels and headbands (now there’s a visual for you!) … opening my window (even when it’s cold outside) … using a fan … and most recently purchasing an $800+ air purifier specifically designed for filtering out chemicals.

Disappointingly, the air purifier doesn’t seem to be working. Somehow the burning jumps ahead and starts before the filter has even had a chance to do anything. It seems to be the propellant that is the most offensive. It’s effect is immediate—surprising even me.

Oddly, I never seemed to have such an immediate problem before this lockdown. Maybe it’s due to constant exposure … ?

Daddy Sang Bass

When the fumes get really bad (eg., days when we can’t open the windows), I get hoarse and my voice gets very deep. Having been exposed to so many chemicals this past month without let up, I’m finding that I wheeze on exhalation all of the time, even long after the burning (which may last several hours) subsides.

Fun Times Eh?

I’ve tried to find articles on this. Toxicity of over-exposure to these chemicals is not something that I see anything written about in the media, and I certainly understand why. Our health experts have bigger fish to fry—focusing their efforts on things like stopping a pandemic and keeping people from dying. I get that.

So what I’m doing is praying for consistently warmer days where we can open ALL the windows in the house and maintain a constant flow-though ventilation all day.

I have politely suggested (as much as I can without being an annoyance) that mail and boxes be whisked out and sprayed on the back porch—just steps away from where they are being sprayed currently.

This hasn’t been adopted as a habit yet; Hopefully, it will catch on.

In any event, we’ll all get through this.

I’m thinking that at the end of this lockdown, I may change my first name to “Weezy’ like the woman on the Jeffersons … but at least I’ll be able to say that I was one of the lucky ones who made it though.

A lot of other good people have not been that fortunate.