I get debilitating headaches when exposed to fragrances for extended periods
of time, for example, when shut in an exam room with it. Those of you that
are telling the rest of us to suck it up or that it doesn't seem that bad,
should count yourselves lucky that it doesn't affect you in the same way.
Hopefully the majority of us found ourselves in this field not only because
we wanted a good-paying job, but also because we have some compassion for
others. Why doesn't that extend to the tech?
When my patients get reminder calls they are asked not to wear any
fragrances and are told the reason - the tech is allergic. Most people are
happy to oblige. The few that don't, I suspect is more often due to the
fact that it is such a part of their routine, rather than outright
nosethumbery. Even so, some fabric softeners, lotions, etc. are terrible
and other people in the building sometimes light candles that really affect
me. For those times, I keep masks handy. If people ask why, I let them
know I'm allergic to fragrances. I've never had a person become offended by
this, because I'm not saying it in a judgmental way and I can explain that
it's often fragrances that others can't even smell. People do not wear
these fragrances intentionally to cause me pain and I don't treat them as if
they do, so it is simply a discussion and hopefully a little education. For
those repeat offenders, the other techs are happy to swap patients with me
and the schedulers know the worst and don't put them on my schedule. I can
suck it up when I need to and also take steps to take care of my own health
to the best of my abilities.
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