Pass the Benadryl

This week carried an important lesson in toxic chemicals. They are…you know…bad for you.

Oh sure, I already knew to be careful with chemicals. As a should-have-known-better middle schooler I spent a peaceful afternoon mixing supplies from under the sink until they accidentally formed a toxic gas. Cool! Or wait…maybe that’s bad? Quick, find a big brother and open some windows before Mom finds out!

I wear gloves when using cleaning solutions in the bathroom, and use milder sanitizing options like vinegar in water when possible. At baseline, I have the world’s most sensitive skin, something that always fascinates doctors: “You have sensitive skin? Oh wow, you’re right! Your arm is turning red where I just touched you! That’s really sensitive! Interesting!” *touch* *touch* “Look at that!” *poke* *poke* *itch* *itch* STOP THAT!

But still, after all that, there’s some “I’m invincible” five-year-old attitude floating around in my brain. This weekend I painted the cabinets in our master bathroom. Since they were previously stained dark brown, it was a time, labor, and chemical-intensive process: scrub everything down with mineral spirits (paint thinner), scrub everything down with TSP solution, prime with shellac-based stain sealer, add a coat of oil paint, add another coat of oil paint. I wore gloves and a mask when possible, but at the end of it all I’m an itchy, welts and hives afflicted, slightly nauseous mess.

It doesn’t help that the bathroom exhaust fan ventilating the room…wasn’t. It ran and ran, but I only discovered after the third primer and paint round that it has no suction. Instead of dissipating, the fumes built up over three days. This morning I sniffed, wriggled, scratched my arm, placed fans to draw air out the bedroom window, pulled at a burning ear, added “replace bathroom fan” to the ever-growing home repair list, and smeared hydrocortisone cream on my rash-covered neck.

In the meantime? If you’re looking for Chemistry class supplies, I have the entire periodic table of the elements on my scarlet bump-covered arms.

Picture source here

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