IT SEEMS like a slapstick joke – a man being literally floored by the scent of a woman’s perfume.
But for Glynn Parry, of Coedpoeth, who suffers from an unusual and extreme migraine condition, it is no laughing matter.
The 36-year-old father-of-three suffers with familial hemiplegic migraines, a rare condition that can cause sufferers to collapse after coming into contact with certain ‘triggers’.
For Glynn it is smells which bring on collapsing episodes and a whiff of his partner’s Chanel No 5 has been enough to cause an attack.
“Some people react to chocolate, cheese, alcohol and caffiene,” he said.
“I’ve cut all of these out just to be safe.
“But one 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.”
Familial hemiplegic migraines are a genetic condition which affects neurotransmitters and causes one hemisphere of the brain to temporarily shut down.
As the brain is cross-wired, the opposite side of the body goes numb and the sufferer can collapse.
In Glynn’s case, he loses the power of limb movement and speech. He’s suffered sporadic attacks for 20 years.
He said: “My family first became aware of it when I was 14. I wasn’t diagnosed for a while because it wasn’t recognised back then.
“Since then, I’ve had a number of attacks.
“If I’m lucky, I see warning ‘auras’ (blurring around lights) and then self-preservation kicks in. I try to find a bench, a chair or a bed to land on, because I know I’ve only got a few minutes before I fall.”
Six years ago, Glynn, who formerly worked in the financial sector but now cannot work because of his condition, had an attack and was taken into the Maelor Hospital in Wrexham where doctors believed he’d had a stroke.
While treating him, his brain reacted badly to an MRI scan and he lapsed into a 24-hour coma.
He said: “I haven’t met anyone else with hemiplegic migraines, but I’ve spoken to others online. Sufferers tend to become very cautious people as the triggers are different for everyone.”
He added: “They’re called familial hemiplegic migraines. In a way, I’m hampered by the name of the condition. People skip straight to the end and think, ‘oh, my sister has migraines. Go and sit in a quiet, dark room and it’ll go away’.
“They miss the hemiplegic part, which is the important bit.”
More than 20 years of sporadic attacks have taken their toll on Glynn. He suspects the temporary shutting-down of one side of his brain has caused low-level damage.
He said: “Sometimes I’ll forget h ow to use a spoon or open a door for 30 seconds and then it’ll come to me.”
According to the Migraine Trust an attack can cause “weakness or paralysis on one side of the body” which can be accompanied by numbness, pins and needles, speech difficulties, vision problems or confusion.
A spokesman stated: “This weakness may last from one hour to several days, but usually it goes within 24 hours.”
However, Glynn’s recovery time has steady lengthened as he has grown older and the attacks usually leave him incapacitated for more than a day.
He said: “When I was younger it was a case of get over it in a day. Now, with the weariness of age, it’s getting longer.
“I used to be very active. I went to the gym and was a member of a squash league in Cheshire. Now I’m out of work.”
Glynn, who lives with his wife Carrie Jones and three children Logan, six, Ffion, four, and three-year-old Sophia, said one of the most frustrating things is people don’t recognise the condition for what it is.
Glynn said: “I’ve collapsed in the street before now. I’m fully conscious throughout. Sometimes I can’t even blink, so I’ve watched people just walk straight past, because they think I’m drunk or on drugs.”
Carrie remembered one occasion when a colleague leapt to the wrong conclusion.
She said: “I had a phone call saying: ‘will you pick your husband up? He’s drunk.’ I said no, he wasn’t, that he’s got this condition, but people just don’t understand.”
Carrie, who is a full-time carer for Glynn and their three children including son Logan who has a form of autism, said the situation was draining.
She said: “The worry is that this could be life-threatening or that he might not quite recover from an attack. After the incident six years ago he hasn’t been the same.”
Glynn however, has retained his sense of humour, and is philosophical.
“There’s not much you can do about it,” he said.
“There’s no treatment as such, although some people are prescribed epilepsy medication, which has strong side-effects.
“Prevention is the best medicine here. All I’d say to people is that there might be more people out there with a similar problem.
“If you see someone collapsed in the street, they might not be drunk. Maybe you could just check on them and ring 999 if they don’t respond.”