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Susan Darlington is allergic to life and stuck in a toxic hell

Saturday 29 May 2010

Susan Darlington
TRAPPED: Susan Darlington suffers from multiple chemical sensitivity and needs a new place to live.
Source: The Courier-Mail

Australian newspaper The Courier-Mail has a profile of MCS sufferer Susan Darlington (pictured):

Susan Darlington is allergic to life and stuck in a toxic hell

Jason Tim | The Courier-Mail | May 27, 2010 11:00PM

SUSAN Darlington is allergic to the life most of us take for granted.

For more than a decade, the 61-year-old has suffered from "environmental sensitivity", more commonly known as multiple chemical sensitivity.

For the past 10 years, she has unsuccessfully lobbied the Department of Communities for a transfer from her unit, northwest of Ipswich, which she believes is damaging her health.

Ms Darlington said her MCS meant she was hypersensitive to direct sunlight, noise, odours and a range of chemicals.

"The (reason why) I'm so desperate for a transfer now is that it's only a matter of time before I get to a point where I can't care for myself," she said.

"I don't have a family – there's no one to care for me."

A Department of Communities spokesman said "a number of offers of alternate accommodation" had been offered to her during the past 10 years "which she turned down".

Ms Darlington claimed the design of her unit, along with its proximity to four roadways, exposed brick and carpet and the fact it shared a wall with another home, exacerbated her condition.

Ms Darlington, whose only income is a disability pension, wears industrial earmuffs for most of the day.

Each window is covered by white sheets to block to sunlight, she wears gloves and completely covers herself when leaving the house. She said prolonged exposure to direct sunlight felt like she has been "smacked in the face with a baseball bat".

Ms Darlington said she rarely left her home, as her appearance made her the target of harassment, ridicule and verbal abuse.

Her request for a transfer has been supported by two doctors, a representative from the Tenants Union of Queensland, the former president of the Queensland Disability and Housing Coalition and an occupational therapist commissioned by the Department of Communities.

John Ryan, an expert on environmental medicine, first diagnosed her with MCS in 1997.

The diagnosis is supported by her treating GP of 11 years, Dr Philip Goldston.

Dr Ryan said MCS was more common than most people thought, and often went undiagnosed.

"You can't test for multiple chemical sensitivity like normal allergies," he said. "It's based on a lengthy consultation period and review of the patient's medical history."

Dr Ryan said the condition was a physical disorder that meant Ms Darlington had no "buffer" to a range of chemicals, noise, odours and sunlight.

"Things that most of us are fine with, she can't cope with," he said.

Last month, Ms Darlington submitted a complaint against the Department of Communities to the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland.

A department spokesman said the department was "continuing to work with Ms Darlington to resolve her housing needs".

The article originally appeared here.


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