• Welcome to Phoenix Rising!

    Created in 2008, Phoenix Rising is the largest and oldest forum dedicated to furthering the understanding of and finding treatments for complex chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), fibromyalgia (FM), long COVID, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), and allied diseases.

    To become a member, simply click the Register button at the top right.

Advice Columnist Ignorantly Slams MCS

leela

Senior Member
Messages
3,290
Perhaps those of us with MCS/EI should write to this columnist and educate her a bit; she clearly just googled MCS and went with the first main-stream info she found, then added a layer of sarcasm and disdain. How insensitive and rude, considering the woman in question likely misses out on so many of life's little pleasures, and the family was actually willing to accomodate her for this family landmark event.

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/...y_husband_monitors_me_through_my_laptop_.html


Dear Prudence,
My fiancé and I are planning our wedding. My future mother-in-law has multiple chemical sensitivity. This means that she is unable to be around any kind of chemicals or scents—no scented hand lotion, cleaning supplies, petroleum-based products, or perfume. We are looking for venues that are either outside or well-ventilated, but that won't completely solve the problem if a guest wears perfume. As the mother of the groom she deserves to be present and involved during the entire event and not secluding herself away. I am thinking of enclosing a little note in the invitations asking our guests not to wear perfumes and am looking for a cute way to make the request. Do you have any clever suggestions? Or any other thoughts on the best way to alert guests who are unfamiliar with her condition?
—Scent Free
Dear Scent,
Your future mother-in-law is very lucky to have a daughter-in-law who is so sensitive to her sensitivities. No doubt your mother is suffering. But MCS is not recognized as a distinct medical condition by the American Medical Association or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others. As you have learned, sufferers have an endless list of substances that can trigger an endless list of symptoms. Clinicians have not found a biological pathway that explains this condition, but many people who say they have MCS also have a variety of psychological disorders. (And surely these patients would say their mental distress is caused both by their physical problems and by the skepticism they endure.) Dealing with a mother-in-law who says she has MCS means you’ll have to approach this if not with kid gloves (tanned hides must be a no-no), certainly with latex-free ones. It is both kind and smart for you to simply accept her illness as a fact and express no doubt about it. But there are limits to how much others have to accommodate someone who is incapacitated by almost every chemical in any amount in the ambient environment. It’s fine if you put a note in the invitation envelope saying something like, “Due to medical sensitivity within the wedding party, please refrain from wearing perfume.” But that’s hardly going to solve the problem. Guests will still be emanating chemicals, from their dry-cleaned outfits to their shampooed and gelled hair. It may be that your mother-in-law simply can’t be very present and involved in the wedding if it requires everyone there to wear hemp clothes boiled in sea salt. It will be best if your fiancé makes clear to his mother that her participation is desired and welcomed, but everyone will understand if there are times she has to be absent because she can’t take another whiff.
—Prudie
 
Messages
10,157
Well, you can't really take the comments of a journalist (using that term loosely) who signs her name 'Prudie' seriously.

I guess the best thing to do would be to add a response on the site with links to a site that provides helpful suggestions regarding accommodating people with MCS and information related to MCS.
 

taniaaust1

Senior Member
Messages
13,054
Location
Sth Australia
Im glad to see that link links to the "advice on manners and morals" section and not the "health section" advice. I cant find the MCS article.. maybe it was removed?
 

Wayne

Senior Member
Messages
4,269
Location
Ashland, Oregon
I just tried to post as a guest, but they are trying to make me log in and register first, something I don't have any interest in doing. If anybody else has an account, feel free to post this:

You obviously do not know how serious MCS can be, otherwise you would not have included such an ample amount of sarcasm in your reply. Would you have made similar comments regarding someone who had life threatening peanut allergies? This is the first time I've ever seen anything written by you, but it certainly does not meet my own standard of someone who claims to be some kind of authority on morality and manners.
 

taniaaust1

Senior Member
Messages
13,054
Location
Sth Australia
Wayne.. I hadnt thought of the irronicity of her writing in an "morality" section till you just pointed it out.

It is very bad morals to gain fun out of a disability. I do hope someone points that out to her.
 

Merry

Senior Member
Messages
1,378
Location
Columbus, Ohio, USA
Thanks, leela. I saw that disdainful response last week but didn't get myself organized to do anything about it. Her link goes to an information page at the Cleveland Clinic. So her knowledge of MCS comes from the Cleveland Clinic, but that doesn't explain her disdain.

The journalist's name is Emily Yoffe. She inherited the Prudence column from Margo Howard, daughter of advice columnist Ann Landers. Wikipedia says the original Prudence was Herbert Stein. Emily Yoffe's flippant, sarcastic sense of humor undercuts her effectiveness as an advice columnist.
 

Wayne

Senior Member
Messages
4,269
Location
Ashland, Oregon
Thanks for posting this link Dreambirdie. My MCS isn't nearly as severe as it used to be, but Slide 18 (very sobering) did bring back some memories. Slide 22 gives a very brief description of how the author was able to improve her MCS.
 

leela

Senior Member
Messages
3,290
I was not in the mood to register either, so I just wrote directly to Emily Yoffe at:
prudence@slate.com

I don't know if she reads the comments section, but she does sometimes course-correct when readers offer other points of view.