Monday, November 30, 2009

Makes No Scents at All

Oh, no. Holiday travelers beware! This news comes straight from corporate Holiday Inn headquarters:

“Holiday Inn has over 3,000 properties across the world and each one is getting a facelift with improvements in bedding, landscaping, and believe it or not, a Holiday Inn scent. Every hotel is now obliged to plug in a lobby 'scent machine' producing a mild aroma of ginger, white tea, citrus and musk. The cheaper Holiday Inn Express sites will be pumping out a scent of sweet grass and green tea.”

It’s enough to make me gag, along with this warm and fuzzy little article posted below:

All I can say is: What are they thinking??? Who are they fooling???

First, good hotels – just plain old regular hotels that want to stay in business – should continually improve their product if they want to attract and keep our business. They should be well-lit outside. They should be neatly landscaped. The beds should be comfortable and the pillows as well. So, what do they want? Applause?

But hotels lobbies should not smell, nor should franchise owners be obliged to make their lobbies smelly unless they want to dramatically limit the number of people who will even consider using a Holiday Inn hotel. When hidden scent generators send chemical cocktails wafting through the air, sinuses and airways will suffer. And after a long day on the road or in the air, the last thing we want to do is choke in a scented hotel lobby or nurse a headache or tight chest all night because someone thought it might be a good idea.

I mean, where are you going to go? How will you book another hotel at the last moment? And will you get the same rate? How many times will you need to walk through that lobby during your stay? Is that where the free breakfast will be served? Where is the scent piped in from? At the lobby desk? Will Holiday Inn reservations clerks notify potential customers that they scent their lobbies?

What if you have asthma and you work there? Will you be conveniently dismissed because you miss too much work due to asthma? Will you have to file for workman’s compensation or unemployment? Will your health insurance rates go up when you file for COBRA?

Whose bad idea was this? Leaves me to wonder if the scent machines were simply a cheaper alternative to changing out musty carpets and drapery or mold growing behind the wallpaper.

To be honest, I’ve never made a hotel reservation thinking how nice it would be for the lobby to be chemically infused with imitation molecules that leave a slimy feeling in my nose, mouth and throat and that grip my chest. The real kicker is that the cheaper hotels get only two scents and one of them is green tea (why not just serve some) and the other is sweet (freshly mown) grass?!

I want my hotel to be a respite, one where the people who work there are happy for my business. I need their smile more than a scented reminder that I have asthma and will need to reach for my inhaler before handing over the credit card. It’s not too much to ask for clean bedding, a comfortable bed, a clean bathroom and clean air filters, clean ductwork and no mold. And every bit of this can be accomplished without ever using a scented cleaner.

I know because I’ve experienced the PURE Room hotel room now installed in many hotels across the country. Once you’ve tried one, nothing else compares. When making hotel reservations, don’t just ask for a non-smoking room and a scent-free lobby - ask for a PURE Room. It’s what every hotel room should be: clean and odor-free.

By way of disclosure, PURE Room advertises in AANMA’s quarterly magazine, Allergy & Asthma Today but has no idea I’ve written this blog. Please share this blog post with your friends and let Holiday Inn know what you think about their stinky plans.

Safe travels,

Monday, November 16, 2009

ACAAI Meeting Yields Real World News...And The Saga of the Stinky Sink

Sandra, Marcela, Carol and I just got back from the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.

Sandra Fusco-Walker, AANMA's Director of Patient Advocacy and I attended many meetings relating to preserving and increasing patient access to the medications our physicians prescribe (don't you just hate it when you pick up a script at the pharmacy and it isn't what you and your doc discussed?), to diagnostic and monitoring testing, and of course access to our allergists (they go beyond the diagnosis and symptom treatment to address the problem at its core).

There are a lot of justified concerns among sister organizations that the current health care reform tornado sweeping through Congress will leave many of us breathing its dust. We encourage you to be in contact with your members of Congress. I just wrote my Senators and asked them to take the time necessary to do this job right. Our system isn't completely broken but it might wind up that way if we rush legislation.

Carol Jones, RN AE-C presented a poster on the impact of the CFC to HFA Transition on people contacting AANMA's Patient Support Center. She'll be sharing results in an upcoming issue of The MA Report newsletter (are you on the email list to receive it? If not, sign up at She also worked at our booth along with Marcela Gieminiani, AANMA's Director of Programs and Services. Marcela also directs AANMA's Hispanic Outreach Publications and Services (HOPS) - a busy lady.

On a lighter note: While at the conference, Jim Burnett, President of Ecology Works, stopped by our booth with a sample bottle of Vital Oxide. Because he knows I'm a stickler for details, he had a boatload of scientific evidence at the ready to support the miriad of claims made on the Vital Oxide label and then some!

Vial Oxide Disinfects as it Cleans  Kills 99.9% of Bacteria MRSA, Norovirus, E. coli, Salmonella enterica, Staphylococcus aureus, Legionella pneumophila, Aspergillus niger.

My first reaction was, "this stuff has got to stink" and since I'm extremely sensitive to some scented or chemical sprays, I was reluctant to give it the whiff test. But I did and wow! I was so impressed I read further:

...provides mold and mildew preventio, broad-spectrum disinfection and odor elimination.

I thanked Jim and tucked the sample in my bag before heading off to my next meeting. Over the next few days, I used Vital Oxide to disinfect my hands instead of the hand sanitizer I'd packed (which dries my skin terribly). At the conference, in the hotel, at the airport.

It was middle of the day when I returned home, opened the door and caught a whiff of something foul. My husband swears I was a beagle in my former life because he could smell nothing.

Following the odor up the stairs across two rooms and into the kitchen I zeroed in on the culprit within seconds. The garbage disposal. Before unpacking my suitcase, I tackled that stinky monster, wrestled with every cleaning trick in the book until it was spotless. But the smell was still there.

Remembering the Vital Oxide sample was in my roller bag, I retrieved it for the ultimate test. Could it get rid of the smell? Following instructions, I sprayed every reachable component of the disposal and waited for it to dry. After unpacking my bags, I returned to find that NO smell remained. I didn't get another foul whiff from the sink again until four days later. I Vital Oxided it, waved my arms and commanded "stink be gone" as my husband grinned and shook his head. But it worked!

I will get to the bottom of the stinky sinky even if I have to call a plumber but I figure if this product can do what commerical disposal cleaners, lemons and rock salt, vinegar and baking soda, and ice cubes could not do alone, what could it do on other things? We'll just have to wait to find out because normally, our house doesn't stink.

But seriously, we saw a lot of great products and news at the American College of Allergy Asthma & Immunology meeting that we'll be sharing with you over the next few blogs or so.

A post script: I sent an email to Jim about the experience and he wrote back that he had the same stinky sink issue we have and he did the same thing. Then he said, "Its funny, we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on tests proving we take out hospital-grade bacteria like norovirus, MRSA, and H1N1, but the fresh clean absence of odor is always what most people are first to notice. This quick odor removal is a result of the magnetic like attraction to sulfur and nitrogen bonds. Vital Oxide "disassembles" the malodors on a molecular level - no nose numbing cover up or heavy masking fragrance."

By way of disclosure: This blog is not a paid endorsment of Vital Oxide, Ecology Works, or National Allergy Supply Company , but I sure hope they will advertise in a future issue of Allergy & Asthma Today and support AANMA's patient education, advocacy and outreach efforts. Don't you? Drop a hint at:

Monday, November 2, 2009

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try Another Doctor’s Office

After hearing from many of my neighbors about how difficult it was to find the H1N1 flu shot, I called my doctor’s office. No problem. He fit me in that morning, no lines, no waiting - in and out of the office within 10 minutes.

I’d also heard that the H1N1 vaccine was supposed to hurt more than seasonal flu shot. Maybe it depends on who’s giving it. No pain and all gain for me.

A few neighbors said their docs weren’t giving the shot at all because the paperwork was onerous. So I expected it would take more time to fill out the papers than it would to get the shot. But it didn’t! So I asked the nurse what the squawk was about. She said she had no idea. I signed my name in three places on three different clipboards and headed to work.

I called my son in Atlanta, and he reported a similar experience. While at the pediatrician’s office for the baby’s well check, the whole family received their vaccines. The pediatrician was adamant. Said he’d seen what happens to the little ones who get really sick. No one was leaving his office without a vaccine as long as he could help it. I’m relieved.

Now that I’ve had both flu shots, I feel free to go to the movies, go out for dinner, spend hours in a bookstore, stand in line at Starbucks (venti decaf skim cap), shop for groceries or get on a plane without fear of seasonal or H1N1 flu or the horrible, lingering airway inflammation, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath lasting months after recovery from the virus.

NEW: Adverse Reactions to Vaccines is a special supplement to Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (October 2009, Volume 103, Number 4, Supplement 2) just released by the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI). World-renowned allergists and immunologists wrote and edited this supplement for primary care physicians and allergist/immunologists who encounter patients (or parents of patients) like those of us with an elevated risk or history of adverse reactions to vaccines. Find out more at Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) in my blog post, To V or Not to V: This Is the Question.