The Open Boat

Shipwrecked in Ideology

The purpose of this website is to raise public awareness to the plight of the chemically sensitive and to give people the opportunity to learn about the direct correlation between environment - particularly home environment - and human health.

When I was first diagnosed with chemical sensitivity, I was completely unprepared; I was both physically and financially debilitated and dependant on family and friends until I could get disability payments.

I was naive then about the tremendous amount of control the chemical / pharmaceutical industry has long exerted over conventional medicine and of their efforts to discredit the growing number of people succumbing to illness caused by chemical injury - also, the ongoing efforts put in place by these corporations to malign the efficacy of appropriate treatment. The problem remains covered up; and the chemically injured are without necessary energy and resources to work through appropriate channels in their democratic government to change policies the error of which have become glaringly obvious to them. As the public remains uninformed, the list of the chemically injured grows quietly and steadily.

My friends and family were also naive, and succumbing themselves to propaganda or sundry other motivations, they ostracized me at this time, or when my pain became unbearable, involved me in treatment that was extremely damaging to me. The end result was that after some months, when my disability payments began, I could scarcely verbalize any longer and had trouble walking and talking correctly.

The money I received from disability, which might have been enough in the beginning to take care of myself and regain my health, was now woefully inadequate due to the new severe nature of the illness and the concomittant supports and restrictions necessary for any kind of functioning.

I struggled alone and constantly over the next few years to remain functional and provide the minimum environment I needed to stay alive. At one point someone gave me a computer and access to the Internet. Still affected verbally by the illness and the shock of realizing that responsible members of society - doctors, nurses, trusted friends - could be led to participate in what is manslaughter, I found expression for my own sentiments in the timeless writers available on the Internet and through analogies with their stories.

The first words I found to express myself were in Stephen Crane's The Open Boat. Though I have found a myriad of other writers and other stories since, and over the years I have regained most of my own verbal skills, I always come back to this story for the pathos and the humor and I think it is a good metaphor for the chemically sensitive in our society. That is why I have used it as a theme for this website.

I speak not only for myself. There are now millions of people in this country and around the world (not to mention the plants and animals in our ecosystem) who due to the same longstanding errors in place face on a daily basis,..."waves...most wrongfully and barbarously abrupt and tall, and each froth-top... a problem in small-boat navigation."

Nightline ABC's Clattering Train

One Day with Life and Heart

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"Shipwrecks are apropos of nothing. If men could only train for them and have them occur when the men had reached pink condition, there would be less drowning at sea."

"The light-heartedness of a former time had completely faded. To their sharpened minds, it was easy to conjure pictures of all kinds of incompetency and blindness and indeed, cowardice. There was the shore of the populous land, and it was bitter and bitter to them that from it came no sign."

"...the main thing in his mind for some moments had been horror of the temporary agony. He did not wish to be hurt."

-Stephen Crane
The Open Boat
[click here] for story