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I personally do not think anything is more painful than being ignored — or not having your feelings validated. I taught in a science department (mostly men). When I vented about something, they went crazy trying to fix it. My closest work buddies I had to literally “train” them to think like a woman when I vented. That I didn’t need them to go do anything. I needed them to stand and listen. If I was really heard that was all I needed. And THEN if I needed them to do something, I would let them know.

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Well for five years, I have been talking at work and few people listened about issues with MCS. I felt great shame as if I wasn’t worthy of being listened to. The last few Board of Education Meetings, I spoke out about synthetic fragrances and their toxicity. I asked that they be removed from our schools.

Today I felt heard — coincidentally on the first day of Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. I met with the superintendent of schools this morning. He told me this issue is a now a priority in the district.

We hear in the news all the time about diabetes. This is a serious illness. I have low blood sugar, I get the seriousness. I also have MCS. Which do you hear more about?

Diabetes affects ~6% of the population. MCS ~16% of the population has been diagnosed with. I emphasized diagnosed because I had MCS for twenty years before a doctor actually noted MCS on my chart as a diagnosis.

This week I will be writing about my experiences with MCS. I am pleased to be able to start with a positive note. Educating an entire school district about an invisible illness, may seem like a daunting task, but the resolution of ALL issues start with listening. And today after five years, I felt heard.

This will not take away my disability from MCS. BUT it is a huge step toward making sure kids are not deprived of having a healthy, full life because someone sitting next to them in class knowingly or unknowingly is wearing scented products that are made legally with undisclosed toxic chemicals.

Thank you for listening.

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