Thursday, November 13, 2008

A wee bit cranky ...

My life is boring.

That’s why no posts lately. Just work, home to fix dinner, watch the appropriately named boob tube, then bed.

But that’s not why I’m cranky.

About this time last year, I started having a strange problem. Rather than reinvent the wheel, here’s what I posted on my Livejournal about the whole situation:

Well, my brain is normal.

No, really. That’s what the doctor said.

Lots of folks might have a difficult time believing it. But the scan said so.

I had been smelling cigarette smoke even when there was no way it could be present. In my non-smoking office. In my very non-smoking house. In my also very non-smoking minivan. (Yes, that’s what I drive. What’s it to ya?) If I were to walk past someone actually smoking while smelling the phantom odor, I could tell the difference between the real and the illusion, but other than that it was incredibly real. And this was no little whiff of smoke. It was as though someone were sitting next to me smoking and blowing it in my face. And I couldn’t even smack him.

Got real old, real fast. So, I went to the doc-in-the-box. Who said he couldn’t find anything, but here, take these antibiotics just in case. And schedule an appointment with an ENT specialist. Which I did. He also didn’t see anything, but prescribed a steroid burst, after promising it wouldn’t make me go nuts and kill my family. Well, not any more than the general desire to murderize them when the house is trashed and no one can see it but me – apparently I have problems with my nose, but some kind of extrasensory power of sight that can see mess where no one else can. And dirty laundry. And available food for meal prep. What eyes!

Smell was still there.

So the ENT guy scheduled a CT scan. Of the brain. Couple that with the silly internet research on phantom odors which suggested that one potential cause was a brain tumor and you have a very nervous, cigarette-smoke-smelling gal.

But my brain is normal. So they say.

The smell disappeared all on its own a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps it felt that $700 spent on doctor stuff (damn $2,000 deductible) was sufficient. Knock on wood it stays gone.

Well, it’s back. It’s been back for a couple of months now. It made a brief appearance several months after its original disappearance and when I called the ENT doc, he said there was nothing else he could do for me.

Gee, thanks.

I’ve been putting off trying to figure out what kind of doctor I should call next because we already spent a buttload of money on knee doctors. And, well, I hate going to the doctor. And I was hoping it would just go away on its own again.

It hasn’t. And since cigarette smoke is one of my all-time least favorite smells (ranks right up there with the smell of our dog when he’s been rolling in poop), I’ve been somewhat cranky lately. So I guess I’ll have to break down and find a doctor who won’t just throw up his hands in defeat.

In the meantime, if any of you have ever heard of this phantom odor thing and have any idea how to get rid of it, PLEASE let me know. I’ll send cookies! And my family, who is no doubt tired of my cranky butt, will help bake them.


Jennifer said...

My phantom smell is strawberry lip gloss. The nasty sweet kind they give four year old girls. Which should be considered abuse.
Anyway. I typed out your incredibly long url with my thumbs. Well first I typed it wrong but that's because my thumbs got tired.
Back to my point. Have you ever had migraines? My phantom odor is a migraine aura. Often I can make it go away by taking magnesium. Something like Mylanta works wonders. I still say that I get them due to a dark chocolate deficiency. Even if you aren't getting a full migraine, it could be related. Some people get auras with no migraine. (Lucky bastards) Just a thought. I hope it is helpful.
Oh! The reason I say the lip gloss crap is abusive is because a lot of it contains aspartame. Major migraine trigger.

Sharon said...

So sorry about the long URL - I'm somewhat technology deficient and didn't realize what the heck I was doing! I curse myself whenever I enter it for someone else on a computer where it's not bookmarked. I'll try the Mylanta - others have suggested it might be migraine-related as well. I've had headaches lately, but none of migraine strength.

Jennifer said...

it is a good blog title. Even if it is long.
Best of luck on the phantom smell. I really hope it doesn't turn into migraines. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

Oda Mae said...

I've only had one migraine that I would qualify as a doozy - and I smelled cigars and oranges right beforehand. Recently, I had a headache for three days - not so bad, but annoying as hell and wouldn't respond to aspirin. The Doctor said I'd had a hormonal migraine. So just because you don't have crippling pain doesn't mean you're not having a migraine! (I find that sitting in a warm tub and ducking my head periodically under water works wonders.)

Jamie Irons said...

There is a kind of epilepsy now called "partial complex seizure disorder" -- formerly "temporal lobe epilepsy" -- which very often is proceeded by an aura, analogous to the migraine aura Jennifer (above) describes.

I believe cases have been described where there was no other seizure phenomenon at all apart from the aura, but these must be very rare. (Put "simple partial seizure" in the Wikipedia search field; since it is Wikipedia, interpret what is said with caution.)

If you can afford it, a consultation with a neurologist might be helpful, especially with one who is familiar with the partial complex seizure problem. The condition is highly variable, often misdiagnosed, and often thought (wrongly) to be a psychiatric problem.

By the way, I do not mean in any way to imply that I think that you have this condition, as I certainly could not conclude that from afar!

I certainly hope you can find an answer for, and some relief from, what must be an excruciatingly unpleasant symptom.

Jamie Irons

Sharon said...

Seems to have gone away again. So, in light of my preferred doctor avoidance behavior, I'll be avoiding doctors for the time being. Should it come back, I've got the names of a few neurologists on hand and will, albeit reluctantly, make a call. Thanks!

Jamie Irons said... light of my preferred doctor avoidance behavior...

Ah, yes, I too prefer to avoid them!

Rather difficult though, as I work with every variety (I'm a consultant), and both my beloved wife and I are physicians!


I hope your problem stays away for godd!


Jamie Irons

Sharon said...

Don't get me wrong - the only time I want to practice doctor avoidance is when it comes to office/hospital visits. Other than that, I find them to be fine folks.

I mean, I work for lawyers so I'm not really in a position to throw stones!

Probably has something to do with our large deductible and my desire to spend any extra income on fun stuff.

Grammie said...

Thanks for checking out my blog (my daughter gave it to you through a swap) and commenting on it about your special Christmas ornaments. It is a lot more fun knowing that there are actually people besides my daughter and daughter-in-law reading it. Sorry I don't have anything to say about your phantom smell, I want to say "what is it with no one else seeing the mess in the house", or maybe it's that no one else "cares". I'm thinking that has more to do with it than their eyesight.