Thursday, July 26, 2007

Phantom smells, sounds, and visions

Of course they are called hallucinations. Phantom smells are olfactory hallucinations and sounds are auditory hallucinations. There are other hallucinations, too.

A hallucination is any sensory perception experienced without a corresponding physical stimulus. An illusion is a misinterpretation of a physical stimulus.

I hear things most frequently. I will be asleep and hear dad holler for me. But I get up and go in there and he is fast asleep himself. Of course sometimes he isn't asleep but I am not always able to tell when he actually did yell for me. Sometimes he is asleep but talking in his sleep, too. I actually have observed that. So some of my experiences may be real. But I'm pretty sure that at least some are not. Sometimes I hear my name or "Hey" or "Dad" or something else.

Once when we first entered hospice I was downstairs at the breakfast nook table with 2 people from hospice. I heard dad holler for me. I looked at the hospice people and told them I had to go back up because dad was hollering for me. They hadn't heard anything. And when I got up there he was hollering for me, too. So sometimes I just can't tell whether or not it is real or phantom.

Next most often is smelling things. I don't know if these are triggered by something else or not. But sometimes I can be sitting somewhere and suddenly I will smell one of the odors I am accustomed to smelling at home. And I will look around and there is just no way that odor is anywhere near me. It happened at church a Sunday or two ago. I even looked around to see if I could find a source. I'm pretty sure it was phantom.

A few times at home I will "see" a shadow out of the corner of my eye. I always think it is my Mom. But of course it isn't. I notice now that this happens much less frequently. I suppose it is because it is so long since she died.

I've read some about hallucinations. The interesting thing is that they are apparently experienced by a huge percentage of the population - maybe near 100%.

I tell you though that there is a lot more concern about them if experienced by Alzheimer's patients.

One of the blogs I read has a quote from Elwood P. Dowd. Elwood P. Dowd is the character from the play, "Harvey", later made into a very successful movie starring Jimmy Stewart. Stewart played Dowd who is the only one who can see this 6' tall white rabbit named Harvey. Harvey is a "pooka" or a spirit according to Dowd at least. I really loved Stewart's portrayal of Dowd.

No point here - just think it is interesting.


nancy said...

interesting post. i too have heard russ calling out many times when i'm not actually sure he has. i as well loved both the book and movie "harvey".

~Betsy said...

I have often seen phantom shadows from the corner of my eye and assumed it was someone who had passed on. It didn't frighten me - it actually calmed me. I imagine it's just my mind playing tricks on me. Sometimes I think us caregivers are so physically and emotionally exhausted that our minds really do run away with us.

Lori1955 said...

Oh I can't tell you how many times I have jumped out of bed at night thinking Helen was calling me only to find her fast asleep.