Perfume Hangover

I woke up at around 3 A.M. with sinus pressure and knew it was not going to get better. I propped my head up with a second pillow and regretted the perfume party the day before. You’d think I would get up and take something for it and go back to sleep, but the last time I did that I spent the next 4-6 hours sick and retching from taking the pill on an empty stomach. And you can imagine how fabulous a headache feels when you’re throwing up.

I finally forced myself to move my head and get up. I shuffled into the kitchen and groped like a zombie after fresh brains for the coffee, something to eat and pharmaceutical relief.

So what was the culprit of today’s chemical sensitivity reaction? Did I go out to a perfume store as kind of a controlled-exposure treatment program? No! A friend whom I have not seen in a long time, called to say she was in the neighborhood and wanted to stop by. Sure! Why not?

For anyone who does not get headaches, ringing in the ears and dizziness from the scent of being in the same room as someone wearing perfume, a friend stopping by wouldn’t be given a second thought. But for over 11 million people who have moderate to severe MCS this can end up feeling like a zombie did try to eat your brains.zombie-perfume

During the visit, I sat as far away as I could without leaving the room and after her departure I opened the windows to air out the room. I did what I could with nasal spray and staying out of the “affected room” until the pressure in my head subsided, but invariably when this exposure happens, sinus pressure and a headache starts up again after I go to bed.

There’s a reason friends don’t stop by very often and why I don’t go to their houses. It is IMPOSSIBLE for them to accommodate me. And how could they? Am I going to tell my impromptu visitor, “No, go home first. Shower, wash your hair, don’t put on any lotion, deodorant or hair product. And oh, don’t wear any clothes that have residual scents from being worn before.” Yeah, that’ll really keep the visitors coming!

According to “Women are more susceptible to auto-antibody and autoimmune illness and chemicals induce auto-antibodies. Women have less of an enzyme that detoxifies both alcohol and chemicals called alcohol dehydrogenase (Freeza et al, l990).”

Apparently, hangover is the right analogy for this phenomenon of recovering from a chemical exposure temporarily, then waking up with a raging headache and weakness.

I had to cancel an appointment this morning and recovery is slow, but it was nice to see my friend because that doesn’t happen very often anymore.