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Chemical sensitivity can strike anyone down, even if you have been born healthy. Kim Palmer's story shows how simple long term exposure to a gas leak and other everyday toxins turned a healthy, attractive and very talented musician into someone so sensitive to environments most of us consider normal, that she has to live in the desert in a porcelain lined trailer.

Kim Palmer's Personal Story

Well as I say, the first 3rd of my life was fun, the second 3rd has been hell; I sure hope the last 3rd is somewhat liveable!

I grew up in a suburb of Toronto, a top-of-the-class student receiving my high school Ontario Scholarship while already on the road playing keyboards and singing with a well known recording act. My childhood, teens and early 20's saw normal health dotted with flus and headaches (which, had I only known then, were due to a food allergy to dairy products!...)

In the early 70's I went to California with one suitcase for a 2 week vacation - and never came back. (I loved it and was pursuing a spiritual path there.) After a couple of wonderful years, at the height of my happiness and sense of well being physically mentally and spiritually, in /78 I moved into a small one room apartment in Orange County.

I have never been the same.

After 2 years of quickly detiorating health, a girlfriend, noticing my plants were always dead, said "Kim, you can't be THAT bad of a gardener, you better call the gas company!" And sure enough there had been a slow gas leak the whole time I had lived there, sleeping with the windows shut. I had also bug bombed, freshly painted, was using Malathion on the roses as part of my rent discount (I remember it dripping on my hands and arms through the gloves), could smell the neighbors' pesticides, had pulled up a very moldy carpet after the room flooded, had a gas leak in my car, and, the topper in my opinion, was on a faddish-low-protein-raw foods-lots-of-juices-lots-of-fasting diet that I believe opened my cells further to the environmental toxins. I would wake up every morning spinning, wondering what was inside me that was so wrong, not knowing the problem was outside.

I quickly became allergic to almost all foods, could barely digest anything, was pale as a ghost, went down to 95 pounds (at 5' 7") and then began becoming sensitized to all things chemical, losing tolerance for the normal world and always being in a state of reaction, exhaustion, and mental confusion.

This still being the early 70's and no medical professionals yet having a clue as to this syndrome, I began a disheartening journey through both the traditional and alternative medical realms, seeking answers and not only receiving none but being disparaged, told it was psychological, and put on treatments that worsened my condition. After 5 years I figured things out from my own reading and began treatment for Candida, allergies etc., finally definitely receiving benefits though short-lived. I tried everything from desensitization shots in Texas to live cell therapy in Mexico to anti-parasitics in Arizona to cavitation surgeries in Oklahoma to drops in British Columbia to diets to herbs to mega vitamins to hormone therapies to auto-urine to drugs to acupuncture to energetic desensitization to IV's to hypnosis to anti-fungals to homeopathy to energetic medicine to mercury removal to sauna detox to extensive testing to Neuro Peptides to Thyroid to NAET to scar neutralizing.... to other unmentionable therapies! In my early ignorance I even found out one traditional MD had me on experimental fertility drugs during which time I could have born quintuplets!

After 10 years of this, moving into places that made me sicker and sicker, and somehow still working/diving for the bed when no-one was looking, following a doctor's advice I replaced my mercury fillings with plastic. I was then bed ridden for almost 3 months and became sicker overall, thinking the symptoms were mercury detox as suggested by practitioners - but now suspect the petrochemical leakage from the plastic may have pushed me over the edge. (There is much evidence supporting this for the chemically sensitive today). I next headed to Austin to experience a clean house in clean air. There I "unmasked", a phenomena where you reach the baseline of your senstitivities and find out how sensitive you really are.

That was 10 years ago and I have been completely disabled ever since.

During my last stretch in LA I tried a sauna detox program, got kicked out for being too weak, and took on an EI room-mate I must have caught something from as my muscle pain has been extreme ever since. Then began a wild series of searches for a tolerable place to live, beginning with a friend literally carrying me to a $15,000 glass room he had constructed for me in the cleaner air of CA's Central Coast. I never tolerated the glass room and had to cover the bathroom walls/celing etc. with aluminum foil and lived in the bathtub for 2 years. After that another series of foiled rooms until I became allergic to foil, finally losing my safe place (a 9 room house in which I was again holed up in the bathtub). I then tried to rent the safest place I could possibly find, ending up having to sleep outside with a bronchial infection the house had caused and which there was no hope of getting over without a place to live. With much help I somehow flew to Austin where a porcelain trailer made for people w/ MCS was for sale - which saved my life.

After learning how to ground it I seemed to handle it, halleluja. The idea was to buy it and take it west to escape the very oppressive humidity and mold of Texas, which for me was so flattening I was bed-ridden and in pain there most of the time. But I got stuck there 5 years, every summer driven West by a friend as I lay in the truck on oxygen searching for a safe place to put my RV, sleeping on a cot in the open (as there is no tent I can tolerate) on California porches, in New Mexico backyards, under Texas canopies and Arizona stars, with already frail health. And every summer for 5 years we'd come back, totally exhausted, mission failed. Finally, after living outside for 5 gruelling months straight last year, I found a place in the one small desert area I do best in in the whole country (being very limited by my altitude, mold, vegetation, cold etc, sensitivities). My challenges seem to never cease, having just completed a move I don't know if I could do again.

I have tapped funds and tried homes and treatments for 21 years now. This is my story as I sit here, masked and tired, in a metal box. I don't know how I'll make it, but still will not give up.