Sunday, 10 November 2013

Beyond 'elevator clearers' - the man who was felled by the smell of Chanel

Glynn Parry and his wife Carrie: Source ~ News North Wales
My friend David sent me a link the other day to this remarkable news item about a 36-year old man from Coedpoeth in North Wales who has only to catch a whiff of his wife's Chanel No 5 perfume to drop like a stone.  For Glynn Parry suffers from a rare genetic condition called familial hemiplegic migraines, where each attack lasts about 24 hours and is accompanied by weakness and paralysis on one side of the body, numbness, speech difficulties and vision problems.

Glynn has suffered from these episodes for some 20 years, and has learnt to recognise the signs of one being imminent:

"If I'm lucky, I get a warning and see blurred lights and then self-preservation kicks in.  I try to find a bench, a chair or a bed to land on and lie down on, because I know I've got a matter of minutes before I collapse.  It leaves me completely paralysed down my left side and the attack can be so bad I can't move a muscle, I can't even blink.  I have two to three attacks a week."

Sadly, Glynn's worsening condition has meant he had to give up his job in the financial sector, and his wife is now a full-time carer to him and their three children.

"It's a difficult thing to live with and it impacts on every aspect of my life."

The triggers for these migraines vary from individual to individual and include chocolate, cheese, alcohol and caffeine.  Glynn has now cut all of these out to be on the safe side, but for him smell remains a particularly key cause - including, on one memorable occasion, his wife's perfume.

" of my strangest and strongest triggers is smells.  I'm very sensitive to them...My wife Carrie once wore some Chanel No 5 and I just dropped."

Unexpectedly hazardous material: Source ~

Well, this sobering tale certainly takes the notion of a person's scent being 'overpowering' to a whole new level... ;-(

And presumably there is now a used bottle of Chanel No 5 looking for a new home in the Wrexham area...

Read the full story in News North Wales here and listen to Glynn Parry talking about his illness in an interview with the BBC here.


  1. Migraines are the worst and Glynn's must be at the most extreme end. Two to three attacks a week though? Poor man.

    Thank goodness your migraines aren't triggered by perfume, V.

    1. Hi Tara,

      His life must be a complete misery, poor chap - and to be so immobilised as well. Apparently Glynn is also supersensitive to magnetic fields and can't walk too close to a pylon. If he even had time in between bouts of collapsing from other sensory triggers... Also, his wife has switched to lots of unperfumed household and toiletry products, but still the migraines strike.

      And yes, I do count myself very lucky that my migraines are not linked to my love of perfume, though an existing one would be aggravated by that for sure. That would be a very sad day!

  2. I don't get headaches too often. But every time when I do I catch myself thinking a horrifying thought: is it my perfume that caused it? I don't know it with a 100% certainty but I hope that those are just groundless fears.

    Poor guy. These conditions are not fun at all :(

    1. Hi Undina,

      It is always a thought at the back of our minds, isn't it? Cumulative exposure of skin to chemicals - hard to know what effect that might have - though in my own case, even if my rather frequent headaches were proven to be perfume related, I would soldier on, defiantly fragrant...;-)

  3. Oh dear, this guy has it tough! I'm thankful that I seldom get headaches, whether from perfume or otherwise. The one time I did get a headache from a perfume, it was a cheap knockoff of Opium that was in oil form, and I'd spread a copious amount of it on myself. I daresay half the office around me that day had trouble breathing and were sneezing profusely. I've never worn it since. On a sidenote, Vanessa, I know you do like evaluating copycats (Suddenly Madame Glamour, anyone? :D), when I'm back in Singapore I'll try to send some for you to evaluate. They've got anything and everything from Chanel No. 5 to Estée Lauder Pleasures - pretty much everything on the designer market that sells, and do smell almost exactly the same, actually, especially on the top notes! :)

    1. Hi thesmellyvagabond,

      LOL at your knock off Opium oil office gaffe! That sounds like a classic elevator clearer for sure.

      I would be interested in any famous dupes you might bring back from your travels - you are right that I do like to review these copycat scents, even if they are slightly morally questionable, some might say!

  4. What a bizarre and horrible condition that sounds like. Poor guy.

    1. Hi Natalie,

      'Bizarre and horrible' pretty much sums it up. Consider myself very lucky to suffer from headaches of normal intensity.