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My Quilt Show Adventure

This weekend there was a quilt show called Quilt Knit Stitch! here in Portland. I went and had quite an adventure… but not the kind I was expecting. Not a good kind.

Long story short, the toxicity of the carpets that were being used in the exhibit made me sick to my stomach. It also induced an anxiety attack. It was a little scary there for a while. My heart was racing, I was sweating with chills, my limbs and mouth were vibrating, I felt nauseas, and lightheaded, and really felt like I was going to pass out! So much so that there were a few times I was ready to call 911. After sitting in the lobby for over an hour (away from those carpets) I was able to get myself to an Urgent Care facility.

I was told I have something called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) which makes me very sensitive to smells (light, sound, and touch too). The anxiety attack was purely a reaction to the poisonous air. They also gave me some medications to help with anxiety.

mcs what is it?

Not really a surprise to me! I’ve been sensitive to smells (tires, shoes, perfume, cigarettes etc.) for a long time. Usually they would only give me a bit of nausea… but this kind of ‘anxiety’ was something new to me altogether!

mcs info

The scary thing is the thought of this happening in the future. I never want to be in that situation again! Luckily, at the quilt show, I had many friends who were around to sit and talk with me and bring me water. *can’t thank you enough!*


Right now, I’m still feeling anxious… this feeling just won’t seem to leave, and it is fairly uncomfortable. Not painful, just uncomfortable. I’m afraid that it may not change back to normal.  A friend of mine told me that it can take days to weeks to recover fully from a panic attack like this and to give it time and the feeling will pass.

This is great advice – but what happens if I’m around something toxic again? It’s not caused by a mental state, but a physical reaction. No matter how much meditation and breathing I do to calm my mind, my body can still take control… and then promptly lose it!

I know there are not too many people who follow my blog, but if you have any experience with anxiety or MCS, I would really like to connect. This is a new (and a bit scary) world to me and I would love to talk to someone who is familiar with it – especially if you’ve experienced this type of anxiety from it.

I’m not posting this for sympathy, but as an educational aid.
It’s a learning experience for me for sure: Realizing that these commonly used products are actual toxins (not just bad smells), and they can make some people very sick. 

The sad part is that I missed an awesome show. There were a few quilts I was able to see before getting sick, and what I saw was pretty amazing! I really hope that I have no issues at the Expo Center when it comes time for the Northwest Quilting Expo show in Sept. I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

4 thoughts on “My Quilt Show Adventure”

  1. Oh Gail, this is very difficult for you. I've heard of MCS but didn't know how dramatic and sudden it could be. I know I have some sensitivities to commonly used chemicals, feeling ill or developing a sore throat from things like carpet, fragrance and even unwashed conventional quilting fabric (no problems with organic fabric). I hope you can find answers to your questions.

  2. I was very surprised at how sudden it was too! I didn't know it had a name, there is a bunch of information out there about MCS and now I'm starting to learn a lot. Information is power! Thanks for your concern 🙂

  3. So sorry you had this awful experience, Gail! At least it has a name now so you can find out more about it and perhaps discover some new coping strategies. And it's a shame you couldn't see all of the quilts on display at the Quilt! Knit! Stitch! show. It was really a terrific show this year.

  4. Gail, that comment above labeled MPS is actually me — Dawn White. MPS is a local quilt guild — the Metropolitan Patchwork Society. I've started helping with its blog and didn't realize I was logged into the MPS profile on gmail when I made that comment on the 19th. Sorry 'bout that. Hope you are feeling better! — Dawn
    PS I just previewed this comment and see that it it still showing as MPS. Not sure why — I'll look into it.

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