The main man in my life has some sort of problem. Worse still, we don’t know what it is.
There are names for it, but as far as we can tell there’s not a scientific or medical explanation so technically it doesn’t exist, we are no better than pseudo scientists making it up. Well that’s what the doctor says.
I call it a perfume allergy or a chemical sensitivity, if I’m being kind. I’m not an expert in allergies but in reality I suspect it’s not a true allergy in that it’s probably not his immune system that’s reacting. As for chemical sensitivity, well all things are made of chemicals and one hopes that we are by nature of evolution, sensitive to at least some.
So here it is, he reacts badly to some chemicals in perfumes, but we haven’t managed to identify what they are, We don’t know if it’s one chemical, or several different ones.
It started with my perfume years ago, I couldn’t wear certain brands because it would give him a headache. I say headache, he’d describe some weird heady mix of pain, nausea, some disturbance of vision. He must lie down. I thought with his previous career in theatre that he’d done very well to get a lie down out of this. Life went on, but not very smoothly.
The realisation that he was not faking it came from my stubbornness to believe him, so rather unethically maybe I would wear a product on purpose without telling him. It would be in small quantities, and sometimes fragrance free, so he couldn’t possibly have known. However, he proved to me that he wasn’t acting on the nocebo effect.
Years later we reach a situation whereby I don’t wear perfume at all, and that in itself is worthy of a separate post about how liberating it is not to go round smelling like a bunch of manufactured piss pot of flowers. Joking aside, if I’m feeling a little less than sparkly clean, I miss using a bit of Oh-duh-twalette to cover up sweat or baby puke. Although I’m partial to a bit of milky spit up sometimes, it smells sweeter than some people out there who seemed to have have bathed in perfume.
It doesn’t stop at perfume. Personal products that affect him include moisturisers, nappy creams, shampoos, any hair products, deodorants, make-up. The biggest battle for our family is just starting. Sunny days!
I need powerful sunblock, as I’m almost a pasty blue mottled colour, and the toddler, well yes he needs it too. Sun creams contain goodness-knows-what. It’s a minefield. Have you tried keeping a wilful outdoorsy threenager inside the house to avoid the sun?
Sunblock will be explored in more posts no doubt, as I have the expense of buying bottles to try, then cannot use again.
Cleaning and laundry products are just as bad and getting worse. It’s not good enough to clean microbes from your toilet, the pan must smell like fresh African orchids with hint of rainforest. In other words, migraine.
Washing up liquid must smell of fake food. Who needs their clean plates to smell of peaches?
Kitchen sides, floors, walls, all of these things must be cleaned with a separate mixture of a variety of smells, which you’ve guessed it, ends up in a migraine.
Well, no, for most of the above we use vinegar. We’ve gone all pre-war, and make much our own cleaning materials. Not because I really have the time, but even if I end up divorcing the awkward one (honestly though, after all this it’d be a shame to start again), I probably wouldn’t resort to rainforest toilets. I would still be making my own washing powder, at least I know what’s in it. Not for lack of research and time and effort. He complains of course when the toilet and the kitchen sides smell of a fish and chip shop, but he doesn’t get a migraine.
All that remains is that he never ever leave the confines of our boundaries, and he won’t get a migraine from anyone else’s perfume or hair product or make up. Oh and we can’t invite people in to see us either. That’s the bit that we cannot control and it affects him everyday.
Why am I telling you this? It’s a bit cathartic if I’m honest. I can’t fit this on Facebook, but if I did, I’d get sympathy but it wouldn’t achieve much. Just maybe if enough people are aware of perfumed products then that would be better than nothing. Maybe someone else suffers similar and feels less alone by reading it. Smile, I HEAR YOU.