The problem with the paint fumes – are you as sick of this topic as I am? – is that I live right next to the stairwell. Management was awesome and decided to use low-VOC/low-odour paint for the hallways in the building, but the stairwells have so much traffic they needed what I call “the nasty stuff”. The fumes linger. And linger. And then linger some more. It’s been a week and they’re still creating some interesting symptoms. I lose my voice. Start croaking like a frog, cawing like a raven, in general sounding utterly unintelligible. After this has been entertaining the multitudes for a few hours, the constriction in my throat progresses, the pain in my vocal cords start and then my lungs start protesting about the giant’s hand gripping (and squeezing) my chest. This is usually the point where I skedaddle.

So I talked to my doctor while I was there for the Enbrel shot, anyway. About moving back home, the fumes be damned and what that sort of strain could do to one’s voice (the voice, without which, I don't write). She mentioned how straining your voice when under the influence of laryngitis could cause you to lose it entirely for a while, although whether that would happen to me was impossible to say. I’d just read about Dilbert’s creator and was already having a somewhat hypochondrial (it is too a word) worry and she didn’t help. However, she suggested spending a little more time here every day to see how it goes. So that's what I'm doing - I go home, do a bit of work, let my poor mother have some space, watch the boarding bill for Mojo shoot into the stratosphere. So far, I've been able to stay about 3 hours.

My doctor also suggested speaking as little as possible while in the presence of fumes.

(herewith a brief pause to allow friends and family to recover from the hysterical laughing fit they’ve no doubt experience upon reading that last sentence)

There is a saying in Danish. Well, actually, there are an awful lot of sayings in Denmark. I have a theory that it’s a dual-layer language. You can say things the normal way or, preferably, you can say it in metaphors - entirely different and more entertaining. Might be because people had to find some way of amusing yourself and others in the long, dark winters. No wonder they say Danish is an impossible language to learn. An example: one can, should one wish, describe me as a woman who talks a lot. Or one could describe me as a woman who was (loosely translated) once vaccinated with the needle from a record player.

Not speak? You might as well ask me to breathe as little as possible.


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