Two main reasons my blogging hasn’t been up to snuff recently: Firstly, I’ve been busy planning a charity art auction.
And secondly, I have survived carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced as a by-product of incomplete fuel combustion. Anything that burns can produce carbon monoxide, which is also known as CO. A flame with perfect combustion burns pure blue—any yellow, orange, or red in the flame is a sign of incomplete combustion. A sign of the presence of carbon monoxide.
The gas is called “The Silent Killer” because of its nearly undetectable nature. But the name can also be considered a chilling metaphor for its anonymity.
CO is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States alone…yet when does anyone ever hear about carbon monoxide poisoning? For myself, the only instances I had ever heard of were from old movies—when someone wanted to commit suicide, they locked themselves in a garage with a car running, or stuck their heads in an oven with the gas on. I’d heard the term “carbon monoxide,” but it was a vague reference. It had little meaning for me.
And then I survived it.
Thanks to old movies, “acute” CO poisoning—exposure to high levels of CO during a brief period—has received most of the recognition. But less well known—making it all the more insidious—is “chronic” CO poisoning, an exposure to varying levels of the gas over an extended period of time.
This is what my family and I experienced, four years ago. Acute CO poisoning can result in unconsciousness and death within minutes. Chronic poisoning hangs on for days, weeks, months…even years…masquerading as a plethora of other ailments. Some symptoms resemble those of the flu—headache, nausea, dizziness. Symptoms such as fatigue, numbness, tingling, forgetfulness, and fuzzy-headedness can be associated with any number of other causes. And often are.
Do you think your house is haunted?
Maybe it isn’t. Not by a supernatural being.
Carbon monoxide is a documented cause for complaints of paranormal activity. Hallucinations; feelings of foreboding and dread; sensations of a cold chill; unexplained noises. Each of these becomes apparent as CO slowly claims its victims.
What does all that have to do with blogging? The same thing it has to do with putting my mascara on in the morning. Or waking up in the morning, for that matter. Carbon monoxide causes brain damage—it robs your body of oxygen, resulting in hypoxia…literally, suffocation. As a result, among other things, I have a constant tremor in my hands—which makes using mascara a rather interesting experience. Four years later, I still suffer from fatigue and depression, which on some days make it a battle to simply get out of bed in the morning. My thinking ability is impaired—I can no longer multitask easily. When I try to do too many things at one time, I burn out, and can’t think at all. Hence, my blogging falls by the wayside while I focus on other things.
Believe me, you don’t want to experience this. As winter comes on, we heat our homes and crank up the kitchen appliances to bake things for the coming holidays. We focus on sealing up every crack in the house with the goal of fuel efficiency—but first, let’s focus on safety, please. Have your homes tested right away for carbon monoxide. The fire department and gas company will perform this test for free, and a heating professional may be hired to do the task, as well. If there is anything in your home that burns fuel—a fireplace, gas appliance, a kerosene heater—please be aware that it needs proper ventilation.
If you are experiencing unusual symptoms that you think may be related to carbon monoxide poisoning, go to the emergency room immediately. A blood test, if taken right away, can show evidence of CO. But time is important. The Silent Killer leaves the blood rapidly…even though the damage it has done still remains.
If someone you know is showing signs that resemble CO poisoning, please make them aware of it. A person who is suffering CO exposure experiences a limited ability to think clearly and make decisions. Victims of CO may seriously be unable to save themselves from the situation, which is why vigilance is so essential on the part of others.
For myself, I am everlastingly grateful for the person who saved us.
And right now, I’m living to be a voice about the Silent Killer.