Superpaige's Pad

The Trials of a Busy Mom

It’s not a tumor (say it in your best Schwarteneger voice)

A few weeks ago, I walked into my bedroom and smelled a smell. Kind of a dusty-electrical kind of smell. Like when the curling iron heats up or you turn on the heat for the first time in the fall. That’s the best way I can describe it. I sniffed around the room a bit and couldn’t figure out what it was, but decided that the telivision area was the culprit. It’s not just the tv, but a DVD player and some other random “equipment” that I don’t really know what it is or what it does. Not wanting to come home from my errands to find the house in flames, I turned off the power strip. It probably messed up some kind of settings, but I thought it was best.

I smelled a similar ‘burning electrical’ smell in the bathroom a day or so later. After sniffing around and finding no clear culprit, I unplugged the hair dryer and curling irons. I asked my husband Ryan if he could smell it, but he couldn’t smell anything. But that’s not unusual. I seem to have SUPER smelling powers, and can smell a rotten potato from 30 feet. Ryan, on the other hand, tends to suffer from allergies, and can never smell the offending smell, UNLESS, of course, it is lotion worn by me.
If I happen to put on lotion and then (gasp) use his computer or walk by his office, his ‘stuffed up’ nose immediately perks up and stages a revolt. He claims my lotion smells
a-make him sneeze
b-give him a headache
c-just about cause him to break out in hives
While he can’t prove anything, I think he would blame ‘smelly lotion’ for wrinkling his shirts, causing weeds to grow in the yard, and leaving streaks on the windows as well.
But I digress.

As the days went by, I was smelling the burning smell with increasing frequency, and in more and more places. In the family room, in the kitchen, and in the laundry room. Yes, all of these areas have lights, electrical appliances and other things plugged in, and the heat could have come on. When I smelled it in the car, I knew something strange was up. I smelled it at rehearsal one night, and asked my friend Diana, “Can you smell that burning smell? Like a hot curling iron or something electrical?” She did NOT smell anything.

So I resigned myself to the fact that I was either
a-crazy or
b-had a brain tumor

While it’s not burning feathers, it is a burning smell, and I seemed to be smelling it with more and more frequency. I stopped asking other people if they could smell it, since I was pretty sure they could not, and I didn’t want to SOUND like I was going crazy, even if I felt like I was.

Curious, I consulted “dr Google” to see if there were other people out there having strange smell issues. Well that was less than reassuring. I read: This symptom, which is known to doctors as an “olfactory hallucination,” is potentially very worrisome. Olfactory hallucinations are occasionally a symptom of a brain tumor, so you need to bring this problem to the attention of a neurologist immediately. Olfactory hallucinations may also be a symptom of epilepsy; once again, you would be best served by consulting with a neurologist. While I was reassured that I was not the only person in the world who was smelling things when other people were not, all the “answers” or advice I read suggested brain tumors or worse. And how could I go to my doctor and say, “I just keep smelling this burning smell that nobody else seems to smell”? I’m pretty sure he would laugh at me. Seriously. So, I kept my little neurosis to myself and just silently thought, “I hope I don’t have a brain tumor. Or worse.” whenever I smelled that smell.

Well, it’s been over a month of the on again off again smelling of the smell. Today I was walking to the bathroom and I smelled that smell. Walked a few feet and it was gone. Back up–smell it. Walk forward–don’t smell it. I looked down, and saw an innocent looking pair of sandals on the floor. Could that smell be connected with….? I picked them up, and smelled the smell.

Seriously? This smell is coming from a pair of sandals? It makes sense. I could smell the smell in the car, at rehearsal, at a friend’s house, even outside because I had been wearing the sandals! The sandals were causing the smell!

I don’t have a brain tumor!! I’m not going to die! Well, at least not from that silly phantom smell. I can’t tell you how relieved I am to find the source of that smell! Big old sigh of relief here, folks!

And what have I learned from this situation? A couple of things.
First–Never consult google with your own symptoms. Unless you want to spend days deliberating about all the reasons you are going to be dieing very soon. Especially if you tend to have a touch of the hypochondria. I’m not going to mention names here, but I have told one friend this more than once, so I don’t know why I couldn’t follow that advice.

Second–Smell your shoes before you buy them. This whole mess could have been avoided, had I taken a whiff of these cheap sandals from Target and noticed that they had a smell before I bought them and brought them home into my house.

Third–Enjoy life. Enjoy every day. Because you never know when something bad really IS going to happen, and you really don’t want to waste time worrying.


  1. Haven’t you learned ANYTHING from me? Stay off of WebMD.

  2. Oh great. Now I’m going to worry about tumors or epilepsy every time I smell a phantom smell that nobody else can smell.

  3. I am happy you do not have a brain tumor. Did the sandals come with the smell or did they develop the smell from contact with your feet (not to disparage your feet or anything)? I’ve had shoes that were marketed as “no socks” that absolutely reeked after a week of bare feet in them.

    Oh, and for future reference, smelling burnt toast can be a sign you are having a stroke 😉

  4. That was soooo funny! But I’m very glad you don’t have a brain tumor.

  5. This so didn’t turn out the way I thought it would.
    Lesson learned–smell shoes before purchasing.
    Thank you for the life lesson.

  6. I will just put it out there on-line, “the friend” she is referring to is me. Did you know that usually only men 80 and older get bladder cancer but it sometimes can occur in 37 year old woman? I won’t tell you what my symptom was but leave it said that once I stopped drinking 2 Large Diet Cokes from McDonalds, my symptoms went away.

  7. That turned out to be much more funny than I thought. I was really pulling for you to NOT have a brain tumor.

    Funny, I wrote about smell recently. THE smell. It’s not shoes, though.

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