Those [Expletive] Cinnamon-Scented Pinecones
Dear Cinnamon-Scented Pinecones,
You make me sick. I don’t mean that in the figurative sense. You literally make me sick. If you had your way (and you usually do), I’d wind up with a migraine every time I shop from September through December. I don’t mean I get a headache when I’m around you. A headache I could deal with. No, I get a migraine that renders me non-functional for at least an entire day, often two or three. For another few days after that, the migraine hangover continues to drag me down.
Every sense feels heightened
Beyond not being able to function, those migraine days are horrible. My head screams in pain. I’m so nauseated I can’t eat. I can’t think well enough to work or even carry on a conversation. I’m so fatigued I don’t even have the energy to get up to pee (which, by the way, migraine makes me have to do all. the. time. during an attack). My neck and shoulders are tight and sore. Lights are as bright as if I’d just left a movie theater in July. Sounds are so loud that listening to the radio or watching TV at a normal volume is like being in a nightclub. Smells are so bad that I run a medical grade air filter even though I use no scented products in my home. (I also hallucinate odors that aren’t even there, like the time I was sure there was a cigarette butt in my clothes dryer). I can’t stand being touched. My teeth yelp in pain every time I take a drink. My ear aches and itches.
Not just migraine attacks
Those are only the highlights of my symptoms during a migraine. And they’re only my migraine symptoms, other people have all sorts of different symptoms. Despite what you might think, I have not lost my marbles. Many people have migraine attacks after forced to spend time with you. Fragrances can also instigate asthma attacks, impair the breathing of people with COPD, trigger allergy symptoms, and cause those with multiple chemical sensitivity to become ill. Scented products are irritating to 30.5% of the population and 19% experience adverse health effects due to scents.1
No escaping you
You mostly loiter at grocery stores, though you also congregate at craft stores, home goods stores, and even some clothing stores. Thanks to online shopping, I can avoid you everywhere but grocery stores. (Though I wonder if the stores who use you to “entice” customers know how many you turn off). No matter how much shopping I do at farmers’ markets, I still have to go to the grocery store at least twice a week. And, thanks to you, I have to drive an additional 30 minutes each time to get to a store that confines you to an area where your presence doesn’t spill through the produce aisle or permeate the parking lot.
The last time I went to my usual grocery store this fall, I explained to the manager that I become physically ill every time I shop in that store for nearly four months of the year. He said there was nothing he could do because you have seduced someone in the corporate office. He was kind, but couldn’t help. At least he didn’t balk when I started crying about pinecones.
Do you even understand?
I wasn’t crying about pinecones, of course. I was crying because, for a third of every year, going to my regular grocery store makes me so sick, I spend days in bed. Can you imagine how awful that is? If I didn’t drive an extra hour each week, I would spend months each year in bed because of you.
Do you get what I’m saying? Every time I’m around you, I lose at least two days of productive life, more often it’s four or five days. Life is so short and I’m losing precious time because marketing departments think your odor is festive. I’m far from the only customer in this predicament. If you’re not sympathetic to people with migraine, at least think of those who literally cannot breathe when you’re around.
Please move along
I’m the loving, accepting type, which makes these words difficult to write. But I need you to know that I will always, always, always hate you. There’s only one thing you can do to change my mind: cease to exist.
Actually, I take that back. I could coexist with you if you’d just stop polluting the air of grocery stores. Please, please hang out somewhere that’s not required for everyday life. At the very least, wrap yourself in plastic so your stench doesn't permeate the store. I, and many others, would be forever grateful if you moved along.
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?