Oh, My Sensitive, Sensitive Nose

Most people with Migraine are at least somewhat sensitive to smells. This is called osmophobia. It isn’t actually a sensitive nose that is the problem, but an overly sensitive brain. Some patients are extremely sensitive all of the time, where others are sensitive only during the throes of a Migraine attack. I started out my Migrainey life as the latter, but eventually became sensitive to varying degrees, to varying odors that now affect me nearly each day.

In my younger days, before Migraine took over my life, I was a perfume model. The job of a perfume model is to look amazing while walking around a store to introduce customers to a fragrance or two by offering them samples that are sprayed on a small strip of fiber blended paper, or a small pretty tied sachet they can hang onto as a keepsake. The pay for this job was really amazing and remains the best money I have ever made in my life. I LOVED that job!

Migraineurs reading this won’t be surprised to learn that my career as a fragrance model didn’t last very long. I received lots of compliments from those who hired me and worked with me. Unfortunately though, while working I kept getting horribly, violently ill. I liked some of the fragrances, but others were really awful, and I never knew until I showed up for work what I was going to have to carry around with me all day long. I’m not sure it would have mattered though, because even a nice fragrance isn’t nice anymore after 8 hours of spraying it next to your body.

Several times I went to the bathroom for *lunch* where I took acetaminophen or ibuprofen, then sat exhausted in the corner praying not to vomit, wondering why the meds weren’t helping me. I also spent some lunch breaks at home so I could go to bed for a half hour or so, then be so terribly sick I couldn’t even get out of bed let alone return to work. Surprisingly they kept asking me to come back, something I appreciated. Despite the money however, I just couldn’t bring myself to let them down again or “volunteer” to get so sick again, and I stopped taking the jobs.

I don’t often think of my days as a perfume model, so I guess it’s not too surprising that it took until this afternoon and a conversation about working at a cosmetics counter before the light bulb suddenly went on over my head, I put 2 + 2 together and realized very suddenly what happened all those years ago. Oh, if I’d only known then what I know now…

Back then, I didn’t recognize what was happening to me as anything other than a weird recurrent flu that hit only when I was working in the store. I had no aura, and up until that time, all my Migraines (I thought) started with a brilliant, blinding visual aura. As time went along, I began to suffer Migraine without aura too, and I now realize that this is what was happening to me while handing out smelly sachets to smiling customers.

I’ve had Migraine nearly all my life, but I am forever learning new things about my old experiences.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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