A brief rant on scents.

Trigger warning: mention of anti-chronic-illness ableism and some discussion of such ableist sentiments.

As I mentioned in my first post, I have asthma (feel free to call me asthmatic, I don’t mind it – the asthma community seems about split on person-first vs identity first and I’m one of those fence-sitters who don’t really care either way).

Among the many things I’m sensitive to (seriously, look up a list of “common asthma triggers” and there’s maybe one or two that doesn’t trigger me at least a little), is scents. I’m really sensitive to scents. Particularly floral scents. And, for me, so-called “all natural” (I will never cease to find it highly amusing that this mix of heavily-processed and purified chemicals is somehow “natural” because the smelly parts came from a plant or animal and is touted as chemical-free which is physically impossible, whereas that mix of heavily-processed and purified chemicals is “artificial” and “chemical” and therefore evil because the smelly bits were made synthetically, but that’s a rant for another day) scents are actually worse because not only do I react to the airborne irritants of fixatives and alcohol bases and what have you, my allergies get in on the fun, too.

So, when you, unknown woman using a public restroom and change area before I entered, decide to spray the whole changing area, shower area, and adjacent bathroom with your perfume because, I dunno, maybe you want to fool people into thinking your craps don’t smell bad or something, that puts my health at risk.

On a good day, I just get some mild discomfort and go on with my day. On a moderate day, I cough up a storm for then next half hour or so and need my inhaler. On a bad day, (*sarcasm alert*) thaaaaaaanks ever so much for triggering a week-long flareup and breaking my good streak (*/sarcasm alert*). On a really bad day, I probably shouldn’t be going to the gym at all but because I’m stubborn like that sometimes I will anyway and then I could end up in the hospital because you wanted to smell pretty.

So, yeah. If you absolutely must wear perfume, don’t wear it in places with scent-free policies, don’t apply it in public restrooms and change rooms with bad ventilation, and especially don’t apply it in a public restroom and change room of a place with a scent-free policy. I go to this gym specifically because it has a scent-free policy and thus I can be reasonably confident that nobody’s going to assault my airways with their scents. Unnnntil someone like you decides that consideration is for chumps and us asthmatics must be unable to function in society, are probably hypochondriacs anyway, and really should just stay home all the time if we can’t handle scents.

And if you think my last sentence is hyperbole, I will posit that you don’t have asthma. Because if you did have asthma, you would have noticed that people actually say shit like that with a straight face.

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4 thoughts on “A brief rant on scents.

  1. autisticook says:

    There are places with a scent-free policy?! *boggle*

    Can I move there permanently? Pretty please?

    (PS. I don’t have asthma but scent-free sounds like heaven).

  2. mymindbursts says:

    Ditto. I first became aware of this age 15 or 16 snuggled close to my girlfriend who was wearing Chloe or Anais Anais. It was a dinner party for some well-heeled daughter. Possibly the first hint that I had a problem too. Decades later in a male changing room I find myself changing alongside a guy who sprays every inch of his body in some substance, whilst it didn’t cause a flare up I did feel as if he had just taken out a cigar in a no smoking area. Non-asthmatics cannot possibly know and are a long way from being educated about how they ‘pollute’ the air – burning garden waste and leaving these bonfires to smoulder is another trigger for me. The answer has to be lifestyle and location. I have joked for too long that I need to be ‘in the middle of the Atlantic’ i.e. on a boat at sea, or living on an island or in a house by the sea facing the prevailing wind. Here in England there used to be asthma clinics at coastal resorts, indeed there was one at the top of the shingle beach in Seaford where we lived for a while. I crave the salt air. It is 4.45am in the UK. I have been woken by an asthma crackle …. probably because our bedroom became the dumping ground for the contents of the house when the builders started work a month ago. Or the paint. This despite many precautions and having a good regimen with asthma and allergic rhinitis medication. Good luck!

    • ischemgeek says:

      Where I live, it’s been a bad year for pollen and mold so my asthma is already touchy. The day it happened, it had thundered all night, so my asthma was even more touchy. So, yeah, I feel you.

      I’m lucky to live in a place that usually has excellent air quality. I’ve lived in places that typically have moderate-to-poor air quality, and that was enough to show me that I need good air quality.

      As for your situation: ai, construction dust is one of my worst triggers. My sympathy.

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