This morning I went early to the clinic for my annual ECG. While I was sitting back out in the waiting room, waiting to see my doctor for the results, I pulled my bottle of fragrance free hand sanitizer from my purse and slathered the contents all over my hands. Normally a great thing to do, but this morning it couldn't have been a worse move to make. Sigh....
A younger man sitting two chairs down the row from me suddenly sat very erect, dug into his pockets for a large piece of cloth, threw it over his nose and began gasping for breath. He jumped to his feet and raced over to the reception desk to say he would be outside getting some air and if they called his name to see his doctor that is where they would find him. He was gasping like a fish in the bottom of a boat. The receptionist asked him what was wrong and he managed to choke out that MY fragrance free hand cleaner had given him a terrible, instant respiratory reaction and he just had to get out of the building.
I nearly died of shame. The poor man. He was NOT faking it in any way. I know this because I have an identical reaction to cigarette and wood smoke. It hits instantly and so hard you have to see it to believe it!!
So, I called out my apology and told him I would go instantly to the washroom and wash it off my hands. He went outside for a few minutes, then returned to see if I had indeed done what I said I would do. I had, showed him my hands, let him smell my fingers and he began to relax. It took nearly 5 more minutes for his breathing to start returning to normal and the purple colour to leave his face. He explained he has a terrible reaction to all acohol based products as they do have their own particular odor.
Having a good friend who has very bad reactions to all fragrances and chemicals to the point where she was literally trapped inside her own home for about 30 years, I felt even worse about what I had done to this poor fellow. I know what my friend still goes through, even though she is able to manage much better as her body has healed somewhat after a terrible few decades of recovery from chemical poisoning.
What a terrible way to start the morning....for me, but more so for that man!!! He was called into his doctor shortly after that and after nearly a half hour emerged with an emergency atomizer, clear breathing and a face colour more indicative of a healthy person.
So, by the time I was called to see my own doctor, having survived the terrible looks and loudly expressed sentiments about what a horse's ass I must be to use such a terrible product in a public waiting room, I was glad to get away from the other patients. Sigh......
The good news is that even with the heart murmur, my ECG results were excellent and the problems I was having previously were most likely the result of the virus I suffered earlier this winter. Whew!!!
I slunk back out through the waiting room, deliberately not making eye contact with any of the patients still waiting who had expressed their opinions of me so succinctly, stood outside the building to put my coat on and fled to my car!
Today I learned something new and that is that I should not use my particular brand of hand sanitizer in an enclosed public space...and I won't ever again.....just in case.