Monday, June 02, 2008
Recently I went to Edmonton AB to get a haircut. Yes, you read that right. I flew 3,000 kms to get my hair done. Edmonton has the only hair salon specifically for those with allergies, chemical and scent sensitivities. (Ok, I also went to visit my mom but don't tell her the trip was more for my haircut than anything. I mean she is moving back to Ottawa in 2 weeks...)
The first problem was getting there. Airplanes are notoriously smelly. Small area, everyone wearing scented and chemical products, poor air circulation. I was really worried I would have a problem mid-air and as I was traveling alone, I wouldn't have anyone to help me or be able to explain why I even needed help. I prepared as best as I could. I made sure I had 2 of each inhaler with me, that I had my mask, that I had the little air nozzle on high. I chose an airline that sat 2 to a row instead of 3 and I chose an aisle seat so that I could easily get up and move around if I needed to.
The trip to Edmonton went off without a hitch. Well almost. I did at one point have to use the bathroom. Air Canada uses Fruits and Passion scented soaps in their lavatories. I walked in and just about keeled over from the smell. It did however explain the scent I was smelling everytime someone walked past me. Other than that fateful bathroom visit though, I was fine.
I was also concerned about staying somewhere other than the safety of my own home. As much as you try to educate a person, often times they don't fully understand and I usually end up having issues. However my mom and step-father did a great job of detoxifying their home and making my stay a safe one.
First on the list of things I wanted to see was West Edmonton Mall. Yes, I know it's just a mall but it is the biggest one in Canada and it was something I wanted to see in my lifetime. That was a mistake. I was told afterwards, that is the worst mall you could go to if you have issues with scents and chemicals. Wish I had been told that before I went. I made it around the first floor. It was terribly hot (I guess they still had the heat on) and it seemed as though everyone was wearing perfume or smoked. But I muddled through that first floor and took some pictures for the boy back home. After the first floor, I couldn't take anymore and headed back to my mom's house where I promptly went to bed. I was really feeling ill and was worried that I would have to cancel my hair app't the next day. Thankfully, after a good nights sleep, I was raring to go for my hair app't. the next morning.
Dtox is a home-based salon that is owned and operated by Ashley Smith. Ashley, also suffers from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity due to Chemical Injury more than 15 years ago. At one time she ran her business out of a public salon, however with more and more chemicals in our society, she was forced to down scale her business and run it out of her home. I was so excited about this hair cut that Renzo kept telling me to not to expect too much for fear it wasn't as fantastic an experience as I dreamed. He needn't have worried. I arrived and found her home to be as safe as my own. Ashley allowed me to test smell everything before she used it. At one point another client arrived who was wearing a scent that while it didn't bother her, she was concerned that it would bother me so she requested the other client change into a robe that was deemed chemical and scent free. There is a sign posted on the front door indicating that this request could happen and this client was a regular and had no issue with changing. In fact she even apologized to me! I don't think I have ever had someone apologize for possibly making me sick. I knew right then that I was in a special place.
We decided that my hair needed a good cut with layers (took about 6 inches off) and blonde highlights with dark auburn low-lights. After not having my hair cut in about 4 years, it had become quite dark with a lot of grey. This colour put me back to my former natural hair colour. Even more than that, I got to feel like a normal person again for 2 hours. I got to sit and be pampered and feel pretty again. Renzo of course felt I paid too much for what he deemed as "just a haircut" but for me to feel like a normal person again, even for a short while, it was well worth it.
I also got to go to Jasper National Park to see the Rocky Mountains. That was a once in a lifetime experience for me that I will never forget. The views were beautiful and the wildlife was truly a sight to see. My photos are on Flickr for your viewing pleasure.
My trip went off beautifully. Then I got on the airplane to go home. The air conditioning system wasn't working properly and they were blasting heat through it trying to get it to restart itself. It was about 30C and the heat was making everyone smell even more than they already did. About 30 mins into the flight, I was over heated, dizzy and couldn't breathe. I ended up getting sick and passed out for a minute. When I came to, I was covered in cold clothes and ice packs and apparently had a temperature of 103F. Thankfully I was sitting beside a Doctor who was able to help me but that was the longest 4 hours of my life. Due my voice disability, I was unable to effectively tell them that I have a lung disease and scent sensitivities and was simply ill due to the heat and chemical soup that resulted so they just thought I was a nut-job who didn't like to fly. I have never been so embarrassed and will likely never fly again as a result.
Apart from that disastrous flight home, my trip was a welcomed break from my day to day routine. And getting some sexy new hair made it so worth it!