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Civilian Exposure - Trichloroethylene - TCE

TCE & Me, Part II

by Terri Pace
Civilian Exposure - Contributing Journalist - Terri L. Pace

Terri L. Pace

Our newest contributor to Civilian Exposure, Terri L. Pace continues sharing her personal experience with her own TCE exposure. Plus, Terri will share her ongoing work and research into the origins, uses and health impacts of TCE in upcoming research and reporting


As my children grew and expanded their worlds, I did too. From the ‘70’s to the 80’s I was a foster parent, taking in approximately 50 children over a period of many years. Then I joined the entertainment industry by building a talent and event corporation. I had no idea what I was doing but through picking brains of other agency owners and managers of talent, I became a bit of an expert. I gathered 1200 musicians, shows, comedians, magicians, other agencies and a plethora of venues. It was a fun experience, however, sometimes life throws a curveball at you and when this happened to me, at age 36, it was a surprise package that knocked me for a loop. I wasn’t happy about it at first but, let’s just say, the idea grew on me. My youngest son was on his way.

I attempted to continue to work, but at 36 my OBGYN insisted that I was old and that I should avoid overwork, stress, and for some reason, toxins. I had a beautiful office near my home, on the West Coast. Down the hall from my office was a huge room with a stage for bands to audition. It was a great set up, but the tiny company down the hall from my audition room was manufacturing specialized tools and they were using chemicals that my doctor felt could be toxic. So, I immediately relocated my agency to the second floor of a mall.

The mall didn’t have an audition room, but they did have a coffee shop below my office on the first floor. I am a coffee connoisseur. My mother told me that I was weaned onto coffee and I tell people that I drink so much coffee that my blood is brown.  However, I could not handle coffee during my pregnancy, nor could I stand the smell of it. I also could not concentrate because my hormones seemed to be preoccupying my emotions. So, I sent my secretary and agents home, closed my business and went home and cried.

My doctor soon insisted that I have amniocentesis performed during this pregnancy. As I mentioned before, he sincerely believed that I was old. He felt that the odds were high for me to have a child that was subpar. I told him I did not care, I would love a child regardless of its condition.

He made it mandatory.

I went to the hospital in a big city. By the time I arrived, I decided not to go through with the procedure, but I talked to their “counselor” who insisted that I was a terrible parent if I did not go through with it. Those emotions from my pregnancy flared up and wouldn’t you know it, rather than logic, my emotions took over, I believed her.

Now for those of you who do not know what amniocentesis is, well, simply put, it is where they take a needle that they should be using on an elephant instead of a human, insert it into your pregnant belly and take a sample of the amniotic fluid from your pregnancy. They told me that it would not hurt a bit.

They lied.

It felt as bad as what I would imagine it to feel like if someone were to pull my intestines out of my nose. All of this to have the amniotic fluid lay in a petri dish long enough to grow results to tell whether or not my son would be healthy and “normal” when he was born.

To this day I am positive that it was an unnecessary procedure in my case because it would not have mattered, I would have had my child anyway. After what seemed like months, and already being in my fourth month of my pregnancy, I received a call from their lab. Low and behold, they told me that my son was perfect.

My response, “Of course he is.”

A year later, while my beautiful and perfect, youngest son was sitting in his highchair, playing with some Cheerios, I opened a letter from the Mattel Corporation. I thought, “score!” Maybe it’s a coupon for diapers or toys. It wasn’t. Evidently, they bought the company that I had worked for when I was seventeen years old, GAF, and in doing so, they gained more than just the View Master.

They also gained a huge problem of 25,000 employees who had been exposed to TCE. I was the youngest. The letter suggested that I go to one of their doctors in Portland to see if my kidneys were okay. My mother, who had worked there as well, received the same notification. We both decided to toss the letters in the round file because we did not trust them.

How often do you get a letter from a corporation that wants you to travel hundreds of miles to have their doctors put you through a battery of tests after you were poisoned for a year, 20 years before?

To Be Continued…

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