Submission to: National Headache Foundation (also posted on my Facebook)
My story begins in my teens, at least that is where and when I can remember 1st experiencing what I would call migraine debilitation onset.
A strong olfactory sense is what I knew and shared proudly with others. “I can smell a fire miles away.” I always wondered why my parents’ cigarettes chose to emit a trail of smoke against the wind, no matter what speed it was blowing, directly into my waiting nostrils as if I were a Hoover vacuum set on high.
Headaches recognized but not dealt with then becoming headaches with lethargy then add vomit episodes then even asthma-like reactions to strong odors others could tolerate… or like in the case of bathroom & car- equipped cherry-bombs, others felt necessary to counteract the less-potent for me corresponding odors of human-waste and car-mildew.
I can still recall the exact scene of opening my work’s men’s restroom door, inhaling a gulp of extremely toxic chemicals (the cherry-scented deodorizer) hockey puck-sized open metal can. Immediately like within a micro-second, severe throbbing of my sinus cavity, brain feeling like it is going to explode, gasping for air as if a tear gas canister ignited in a small space I was stuck in. Losing all energy to simply turn and walk away. I describe that experience as my kryptonite. I was powerless to continue, to fight it, to overcome the influence… I was lost, dying and utterly naked to defend myself.
Those around me probably found me over-dramatic, emotionally weak and overall an enigma in such situations. I could not blame others or force them to conform to my needs.
Today, my voice here just may be my saving grace, my ability to help someone else, to inform the “normies” just how devastating and debilitating the world’s perfumes, deodorants/deodorizers, essential oils, nature’s strong-scents, and man-made chemicals, impede, pounce on and otherwise derail some like me from being able to relax, enjoy and experience any prolonged happiness and joy.
My sense of depression was not clinical rather situational/environmental and was the trade-off we get for our “abnormal” acute hypersensitive olfactory!!! Those like me literally have a million or more workers punching the sensors that put us over the edge time and time again. We never get a chance to dismount the horse on the merry-go-round… as life becomes a not-so-merry dizzy ride.
The day I drove myself to the hospital, falling asleep at the wheel, noticing every insignificant smell, sound, glaring afternoon ray of light while a pounding heartbeat drove me to my knees begging for help. Alas, I told all my symptoms to the intake coordinator who escorted me to the other end of the hospital for a quick injection of Imitrex. Literally within 3-seconds, my symptoms were alleviated. Of course, my good doctor was concerned as to why I subsequently needed many Imitex refills so in my guilt, I stopped taking them.
Fast forward many years, maybe 25+ to an opportunity to play in one of my cherished joys in life, pitching men’s softball. Before I knew it I was face-down bleeding profusely out of my left eye. I got hit with a line-drive comebacker directly into my eye-socket subsequently losing my vision in that eye, my sense of smell taken away completely and my taste buds diminished.
It took all this for the migraines to end. I have not had a debilitating migraine now for over 8-months. Am I happy it happened this way? Obviously not. Yet maybe my experience and being able to share it here can help someone cope, help others sympathize and try to curtail toxic smells and scents, pungent odors and even some of nature’s kryptonite from the innocent intersecting pathway of us outsiders, the canaries in the mines, the 1st to notice, the last to know.
Thank you for allowing me this expression. I smell compassion and love. May we have consideration for the weak among us or in our case the too too strong for our own good.