Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Phantom of the Casino

On March 23, 2004, something really strange happened to me. We were in Bossier City, Louisiana at the Horseshoe Casino & Hotel. We stayed two nights. Casinos are really smoky. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me, but this time it did, especially at night when I was trying to sleep. I kept waking up with the strongest smell of smoke, and we were supposedly in a non-smoking room, 17 floors up from the casino. I whined about it several times to K, but didn’t think much of it since we were, after all, in a casino most of the time we were there.

After we returned home, I kept smelling it. I figured the smoke had permeated my sinus cavity and would wear off soon. I don’t even know if that’s possible, but that’s what I told myself. After several days, I started searching the house like a mad woman looking for the source of the smoke smell. I’d stand up on ladders and chairs with my face in front of the air conditioner vents to see if that’s where it was coming from. Nope. The smell was with me 24 hours a day and at times made me nauseous because it was so strong. Weeks, then months, went by and the smell was still there.

I started doing some research on the Internet because by this time I was sure I had a brain tumah. Does everybody pronounce tumor like Arnold Swartzenegger since Kindergarten Cop, or is it just me?

This is what I found all over the Internet. I even found a support site for sufferers of this phenomenon. (I don't need a support site. It's mostly just annoying.) It has a name: Phantosmia.

From Wikipedia.com (A great site, by the way)
Phantosmia: The phenomenon of smelling odors that aren't really present, AKA Phantom odors. The most common odors are unpleasant smells such as rotting flesh, vomit, feces, smoke, etc. Phantosmia often results from damage to the nervous tissue in the olfactory system. The damage can be caused by viral infection, trauma, surgery, and possibly exposure to toxins or drugs. It can also be induced by epilepsy affecting the olfactory cortex. It is also thought the condition can have psychiatric origins.

After about a year, I didn’t smell the smoke every day. Now it usually only happens about once a day or less. It seems to be stronger when air is blowing across my face, like if I have a fan on or when the air conditioner comes on. I haven’t been to the doctor about it. From what I’ve read, there’s really no cure anyway. Some people have gotten relief from a doctor in Chicago who specializes in this affliction and does olfactory surgery, but I’m not doing that. There are no guarantees that it will work. At least I don’t smell rotting flesh, vomit, or feces. Can you imagine?

5 comments:

  1. Geez! And I thought I had all the weird "conditions" in the family! Wow! That's really interesting... never heard of this before. You really need to look up SYNESTHESIA on the internet. Maybe you have that too! I don't think it's synesthesia though since you can actually nail down the day this thing started for you. I think you have to be born a synesthete. Anyway, that is fascinating. I'm going to look that up for sure!

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  2. Anonymous8:04 PM

    I smell cigarette smoke all time too and beer. That is weird.
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  3. Anonymous3:09 PM

    I have HAD the exact same condition. I suffered with it since 1989, and finally in 2006 on May 30th, I had the surgery (an ablation of the olfactory mucosa). I am symptom free now for almost 3 mos. This disorder, most likely will only get worse. I have spoke with Dr. Donald Leopold @ the University of Nebraska Medical Center, he specializes in this disorder. I then forwarded the info to my ENT specialist @ the Cleveland Clinic (ohio) and I have never felt better. Just wanted to let you know that if it gets to the point that it makes you sick... the surgery is worth it... only in the hosp. one day... good luck. you can email with any questions @ dmpennell@aol.com

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  4. Anonymous3:09 PM

    I have HAD the exact same condition. I suffered with it since 1989, and finally in 2006 on May 30th, I had the surgery (an ablation of the olfactory mucosa). I am symptom free now for almost 3 mos. This disorder, most likely will only get worse. I have spoke with Dr. Donald Leopold @ the University of Nebraska Medical Center, he specializes in this disorder. I then forwarded the info to my ENT specialist @ the Cleveland Clinic (ohio) and I have never felt better. Just wanted to let you know that if it gets to the point that it makes you sick... the surgery is worth it... only in the hosp. one day... good luck. you can email with any questions @ dmpennell@aol.com

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  5. Scotty....
    Wow... You have come the closest to describing exactly what I have had for 3 years. I have gotten a lot of help from a Yahoo Group on Parosmia. There are more people out there with Phantosmia than I imagined.
    You are right, the second year of my condition was probably a little more bearable than the first (but maybe I was just getting used to it) But this third year has been worse than any other time.
    Scotty, I would like to visit more with you about your condition and your surgery.. The ENTs in my town don't seem to know much about Phantosmia. My name is Tom Turbiville from College Station, Texas and my email is turby@suddenlink.net. Please email me back. Thanks

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