My Incredibly Weird Medical Issue

I'm 48 and have generally been a healthy person. I don't deal well with discomfort or medical issues. So, apologies that I'm being indulgent with this blog post. I'm grappling with a new, weird medical situation, and writing about it is therapeutic for me.

My Incredibly Weird Medical Issue
Photo by Giuseppe CUZZOCREA / Unsplash

About two weeks ago, on a Saturday morning, I was getting ready to head to lunch with my wife and mother-in-law here in Jakarta. I had just brushed my teeth and went to gargle with some citrus-flavored Listerine. When I brought the open Listerine bottle close to my mouth and the scent hit my nose, it triggered what I'm now calling an "episode."

I smelled an incredibly intense rotten odor that wasn't real. That odor was then coupled with a wave of dizziness and breaking into a full-body sweat. I had to lay down. After a few minutes, I felt better. Then, sniffing the Listerine didn't provoke any response at all. It smelled perfectly normal.

Long story short, episodes like that one have continued over the past two weeks. They are no longer triggered purely by smell. They can come at any time of day. They can come when I'm physically active or when I'm sedentary. Sometimes, they are intense with rotten odor, dizziness, and sweating. Sometimes, I just suddenly feel like my whole body is tingly and that I'm a bit winded. My energy level drops significantly after each episode. It's lovely.

I've met with a doctor and gone in for an MRI scan. The MRI has found two issues.

First, the mucosal linings of my sinuses have become abnormally thickened. This is generally caused by high blood sugar or a sinus infection. But, I don't have either of those conditions. The cause of the thickening is currently unknown.

Second, I have localized swelling in my brain. There is a lesion affecting my left hippocampus and my inferior temporal lobe. In the vast majority of cases, this is caused by high blood pressure. But, I don't have high blood pressure. The cause of the lesion is also currently unknown.

On Wednesday, I will be getting a Transcranial Doppler ultrasound scan. I will then be meeting with a neurologist to review the results and consider any possible next steps. I'm also starting to research medical options outside of Indonesia should I need them.

If you've read this far, thanks. It feels good to get all of this out.