Elephants Dancing Off (off off) Broadway

Since before Thanksgiving I’ve been sick.  Sinus infections which persist and won’t go away have progressed into what I believe is bronchitis (no diagnosis other than for my husband and we have the same symptoms).

Ironically, my husband and middle daughter both went to urgent care on Sunday, saw different doctors, had the same symptoms.  My husband was treated with respect and due diligence, got his diagnosis and prescriptions.  My daughter was treated disparagingly, was told she needed to suck it up and just deal with her “cold”, yet her symptoms are more pronounced with breathing being a significant issue.  She was given medications but had to fight for them.  What is wrong with our medical system?

When I went to ER because my bp was too high and I couldn’t breath, the ER doc was rude, disparaging, condescending, and suggested I take a drug I’ve been allergic to for more than 25 years.  He also told me to go off my daily decongestant.  I did – it was a total fail.  On top of my symptoms I was already struggling with, I then added in more breathing problems – asthma attacks, more congestion, and more struggling with breathing.

One other thing this lovely ER doctor did, he doubled the dose of the antibiotic (one of the few I could take) which then caused me to have issues with it – similar to ones I have with other drugs in this family.  Now I’m not sure I’ll be able to take this drug again because every time I’ve taken it since then, I’ve had some pretty severe side effects.

My daughter and I both feel like we have elephants dancing our chests and want this feeling to go away but the medical community don’t seem to know how to take care of us.  It shouldn’t be that hard to listen but apparently doctors don’t know how – perhaps in all their fancy classes they should add in one about compassion, concern, and active listening.  


Some people wear perfume and other scents and some people seem to bath in them.  My problem with people who use strong perfume or even spray strong scents in a public place is that it does a couple of things to me.  Generally it attacks my nose and makes me sneeze.  It gives me headaches.  It makes it difficult for me to breath. 

If I’m unfortunate enough to have all three occur then I could end up having to leave work.  I get that you want to smell nice according to your standards.  I just want to be able to breathe.  I think that is more important than the aesthetic of a certain scent. 

I have to say I used to wear perfume and really understand the appeal.  However, once I had kids, my allergies changed and worsened I found less tolerance for the smells of other people.  How do you tactfully tell someone their scent makes you sick? 

It started with my daughters.  When they first put on their perfume, I can’t be around them.  I had to tell them to stay away until they had aired out a bit.  It isn’t just perfume though.  At one of my jobs, someone came in and sprayed disinfectant on a co-workers keyboard and work area who was out with the flu.  This is a great idea except that I was in the room and the smell of the disinfectant set off my asthma.  I ended up having to leave work. 

I’ve had to tactfully ask people to step back from me as their scent was strong.  In order to not embarrass them I always say I’ve got a sensitive nose and allergies to perfume.  Then I politely request that they sit/stand further away.  I almost always apologize and assure them it is my issue not theirs.  No one I’ve said anything to has ever taken offense as far as I’m aware. 

If you are a perfume wearer, I suggest you find out if anyone in your immediate vicinity has issues with scents and try not to wear too much.  The thing is when you love a scent you wear it often.  This means you get used to it and that you may feel like it hardly is apparent.  The best thing to do is ask someone who isn’t normally around it.  They can tell you how strong it is.  Also in a lot of work environments they are starting to ban perfumes and aftershaves.  You might want to just carry a small bottle of it so when you are going out immediately after work you can spray it then. 

No one wants to tell someone else that their very odor makes them sick.  It is uncomfortable but for some of us it is imperative to speak up.  The key is to do it respectfully and politely.