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Environmental Sensitivity - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
cbertsch
cbertsch
Environmental Sensitivity
I was doing well this morning despite the fact that I'm fighting off a bug. But then I started coughing uncontrollably at work. Luckily, my colleague has an inhaler I could use. Even after numerous puffs and lots of black coffee, though, I was unable to get my lungs anywhere near normal function. The culprit? Someone on my hallway smokes inside, against university policy, despite having been told many times to stop. I have a hard time with cigarette smoke anyway. At this time of year, though, when the inversion layer is at its worst and I'm warding off my exhausted students' end-of-semester germs; when I'm spending lots of time in my office, where the circulation is poor at best; and when I'm struggling every night to avoid the particulate matter problem caused by the chimneys in our neighborhood, the cloud smoke that insinuates itself under my door and into my "breathers" is a huge health problem.

Right now I can tell that I won't sleep right tonight and may well get the bug I had been keeping at bay as a consequence of my currently weakened state. And I'm pissed. I like the smoker in question. I like many smokers. But rules are rules and rules created for the sake of community health are especially important. Although I'm generally the last one to lodge an official complaint, I did so today. Maybe someone in my Department will suggest, as they did the last time I made a fuss about this, that I change offices to be away from the smoker. Frankly, though, I like my office and am there a lot, so I think it is not me who should be punished with the hassle -- and it's a big hassle when you have as many books and papers as I do at work -- of uprooting in the middle of the year. The worst aspect of the situation is that the smoker has a good reason to smoke and is a gracious and friendly colleague. Still, there are times to draw a line in the sand. Given how sick I was last winter, I can't afford to sit back and take it. Anyway, I had other things I was going to blog about today, interesting things, but they will have to wait until there is more oxygen in my bloodstream.

Tags:
Mode: short of breath

32 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
pissang From: pissang Date: December 15th, 2005 06:28 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Try Airborne. My aunt swears that her friend swears that it works. You take it the second you feel sick and the cold goes away. Or so I hear. See the rambling incoherent entry I just posted about it seconds ago.

By the way, I got the letters you left for me. Thank you very much.

And...I love allusions to H.W.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 15th, 2005 06:31 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Sadly, it's beyond that. Once I cough for hours, my night is shot completely. I'm too out of it to understand what allusion you mean, even!
masoo From: masoo Date: December 15th, 2005 03:41 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Charlie, if you feel guilty about taking medicine when you are sick, then you should REALLY avoid something like Airborne. There are better ways to judge something's efficacy beyond "my aunt swears that her friend swears."

http://www.ncahf.org/digest05/05-04.html#airborne

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airborne_health_formula#Testing_and_Research

"'If someone had a cure for the cold, we would all take it,' Eric Larson, MD, chair of the board of regents of the American College of Physicians, an internist at Group Health Cooperative and director of the Center for Health Studies, both in Seattle, reminds WebMD."
-- http://www.webmd.com/content/article/101/106091.htm

Or just look at the company's own website (http://www.airbornehealth.com/). There you'll learn important scientific facts like "Created by a second grade school teacher!" Or how about this, the company's own answer to "Why Airborne? (quoted in its entirety):
The FAA estimates 600 MILLION PEOPLE pass through American airports each year. A recent government survey identified “unhealthy air” and nausea as the leading concerns of airline customers.

Workers within our highly technological society now spend close to 90% of their time indoors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that our exposure to pollution may be as much as five times greater indoors than outdoors! Best selling Airborne formula was created by a second grade school teacher. 100% satisfaction guaranteed.
Where exactly does this tell us "why Airborne" works?

Of course, their website also tells us "This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."

Oh, but Kevin Costner and Oprah Winfrey take it.
frostedfuckhead From: frostedfuckhead Date: December 15th, 2005 07:21 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
It's a shame your lungs are so sensitive. Are there any affordable air purifying systems on the market that you might be able to use in your office? The smoking thing is strange. I tend to side with smokers inasmuch as there is very little evidence to corroborate the second hand smoke = cancer thing. But then I read an entry like yours and I am totally sympathetic to your plight. There is no doubt that any sort of extra particulate matter in the air is likely to disturb sensitive lungs, and it is a shame that you can't be comfortable in yoru own office space as a result of someone else's addiction.

Of course, the smoker can then argue that he/she is far from comfortable in his/her office space without the ability to smoke. Your case is stronger, obviously, because he/she *can* actually leave the building to smoke. Still, it is a crying shame they can't kill themselves in peace.

I suggest the air purifyer as a gift to the colleague more than to yourself. I don't know how advanced the technology has gotten but you never know... it might really help. Perhaps the air will be even cleaner than it could be otherwise?

All I know is... don't move to Beijing. Everyone smokes and no one gives 2 shits about your lungs. And the air... is just... awful here.

I'm lucky that I've been a social smoker (very light social smoker) for 10 years and can actually sit in a car with a smoker with the windows up and not notice it, often to the shock of my choking, smoking companions.

derdriu From: derdriu Date: December 15th, 2005 07:36 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Of course, the smoker can then argue that he/she is far from comfortable in his/her office space without the ability to smoke.

Taylor, I love you, but that's a terrible argument. I am thinking of 800 counter-examples and can't pick one at present... but seriously. When something you are doing is affecting the health of someone else (there are a lot of people allergic to cigarette smoke I am coming to find), then I think you are obligated to make an effort to stop, especially when smoking indoors isn't necessary (you aren't trapped in the building).
Maybe I'm bitter because I've had to smoke outside all of the time, but I've never seen it as that big of a deal (even on those awesome days when the wind is blowing the rain sideways into my face). It's a minor inconvenience for a choice I am making.

Okay, enough procrastination.
gpratt From: gpratt Date: December 15th, 2005 07:22 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

What a suck ass situation

Mostly it sucks because you're friends with the smoker(s). I'm wondering if you talked with the smokers directly- before making the complaint formally. Is the complaint anonymous? Will the smoker(s) find out it was you from the complaint? Do you care? I'm just full of questions I would get stuck with if I were you.
Your poor lungs.
derdriu From: derdriu Date: December 15th, 2005 07:31 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Note: This comment might possibly be due to sleep-dep, but I doubt it.

Smokers who do that are completely ridiculous. I say this as a smoker. I smoke outside in Portland where it is hell of cold and rainy and (now) windy. If I can freeze my ass off outside to satisfy my addiction, the smoker in your office can go the hell outside. I lived in Arizona and I know it's "cold," but, really, it's too damn bad.
Then again, I could be an overly sensitive smoker. I do a perpetual dance around my non-smoking friends when I'm outside to make sure my smoke is not blowing around anyone. . . because I think it's rude and don't want to throw my habits in their faces.
Still as a smoker (a fairly heavy one), I side with you. Rules are rules. Not to mention, there's something to be said for being polite. Also, it is odd that you have to worry about it when you aren't doing anything. If you are friends with the smoker in question he/she should feel terrible for being such an ass.

Once again, the tone of this post could be entirely due to finals-stress. I have the exhausted-college kid germs. Either way, I'll still think that it's awful tomorrow (after I've slept).
frostedfuckhead From: frostedfuckhead Date: December 16th, 2005 02:33 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I bet Charlie is in awe of how much response this thread has generated. Seems he's touched a nerve. Haha. I honestly empathize with both parties here, and I can tell Charlie does as well. It is far from black and white, Charlie just happens to be significantly 'more' right and I always find situations like this to be a shame. I only suggested the air purifier as a means to a better end -- absolute personal freedom for all parties concerned.
katieengl From: katieengl Date: December 15th, 2005 03:52 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

smoking indoors=gross.

cant you just go into his office and tell him how incredibly rude he is being? its his choice to smoke, yes but its your choice not to and hes taking your right to choose away from you. five bucks says its berkhout.
flw From: flw Date: December 15th, 2005 05:30 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
face it, you don't like the guy. Give me a break. Knock it off, you panty waist. Ohhh, the smoke makes my lungs and I have an allergy, and my eyes are watering... cuff, cuff... can't Daddy hear me coughing? Why won't Daddy stop being mean to Mommy... You PANSY!

Did that help?

Didn't think so... hmmm...

Guess you're shit out of luck.

What's really going on? Go down there and throttle the jackass. You can't smoke inside. PERIOD. It's annoying.

BE A MAN!

Ahh, but he "outranks" you, eh? BE A MAN!
flw From: flw Date: December 15th, 2005 06:35 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

abuse

Sorry, brother. Smoking "allergies" and any sort of "Environmental Illness" trigger dormant abuse cells in my brain. It makes me think that at some point in the past someone in a nurturing role called into question your own internal assessment of your body. And that they continued to use their authority over you externally to try to force you to internalize their worldview. The result of this thing is the people with the hypochondria and the mold allergies and the coughing when they're standing forty feet away upwind from a smoker. They try to force their internality on the external... you know?

No, no. Your suffering is real. I validate. I validate!

I also validate parking.
hollsterhambone From: hollsterhambone Date: December 16th, 2005 02:07 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'm glad you lodged a complaint. You shouldn't have to buy an expensive air purifying contraption just because someone else wants to smoke "in the house." You should be able to sleep at night. You should not have to smell like ass after going to work.

I smoke a lot. I have some rights. But so do people who don't smoke.
frostedfuckhead From: frostedfuckhead Date: December 16th, 2005 02:41 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Are they really that expensive? I have no concept of what their price may be. I'm sure smoke isn't the only thing bothering Charlie's lungs. I was thinking it might improve the entire situation -- pollution, dust, smoke, etc. But honestly I have no idea how good they are, nor how costly. If its really expensive, fuck that noise and fuck the smoker. I agree that no one should have to suffer for a trifle.

I guess it's all really moot anyway since the complaint is already lodged. Is anyone else fascinated by how much response this generated?
danthered From: danthered Date: December 16th, 2005 03:42 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Erm...a "good reason to smoke"...?
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 16th, 2005 04:26 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Just getting to read all these comments. Wow. I had a rough day, but it's fun to see so much debate. The smoker in question apparently has a condition that makes it very hard to do manual tasks, particularly typing. The nicotine -- gum would work too, I suppose, but takes longer to kick in -- steadies her or his hands. Or so I'm told. Knowing the smoker somewhat and seeing the struggle that simple tasks inspire, I can believe it.
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