Dad blamed ‘splitting headache’ on smell of Lush shop but was having a stroke | UK News

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It’s a long-running concern that the strong fragrance rolling out of Lush shops on our high streets can leave shoppers with a headache.

But one dad who thought he was feeling unwell due to the fragrant bath bombs was actually suffering a stroke.

Gary Smith blamed the ‘intense’ smell in Lush for giving him a splitting headache while he bought bath bombs for his wife – but he realised the situation was more serious when he tried to buy painkillers.

Gary, 52, left the Lush branch in Stone, Kent, with his daughter Rebekah Eller to buy pain relief at a nearby Boots.

But as he walked over to the pharmacy his left eye’s vision became blurry, and when he tried to pick up a box of tablets he couldn’t manage it ‘like his arm was frozen’.

Rebekah drove Gary to hospital where tests revealed he’d suffered a major stroke – which a specialist told him had killed around an eighth of his brain.

An eighth of Gary’s brain died during the stroke (Picture: Kennedy News/
He’s posted a video of his experience on TikTok to raise awareness of the symptoms of strokes (Picture: Kennedy News/

Gary, from St Albans in Hertfordshire, said: ‘When I was in Lush I had a headache and I found it overpowering.

‘I was getting intense senses and you don’t want that because it’s going to make it worse.

‘When we left to go to Boots I noticed I’d started to lose vision in my left eye. It was like I had a smudge on my windscreen and couldn’t see through it.

‌’In hindsight this was the point I should have said I have a massive problem here, but I didn’t and we carried on to Boots and things started to go massively downhill.

‌’When I went to pick up the box my arm went towards it but I couldn’t pick it up. It was like my arm was frozen. I wasn’t in pain but it wouldn’t work. I was confused.

‌’I put the bath bomb down and picked the box up with my other hand to tuck it under my arm but once again it wouldn’t work.

‌’At this point I lost spatial awareness and Rebekah asked me “what’s up?”. By that time I was worried.

‌’It was as if I was drunk. Everything is not doing what you want it to do. You can see stuff but everything’s a bit fuzzy.

‌’When I saw a specialist weeks later he told me I’d had a big stroke and that people who have this usually have permanent paralysis and that was a huge shock.

‌’I used to race motorbikes and you always have an attitude that it’ll never be me and I still had that with a stroke.

‌’When you’re having a stroke you can’t stop it and you’ve got to see what happens but I knew I wasn’t right and kept pushing on like an idiot.

‌’If you get a couple of symptoms then listen to your body and tell someone.’

Boots staff called an ambulance once Rebekah told them Gary wasn’t feeling right, but she decided it would be quicker for her to drive to hospital.

At first he thought the strong smell in Lush was to blame for his headache (Picture: Kennedy News/

‌Within 30 minutes Gary said he’d had a brain scan and the headache had turned into a pain in his left eye and at the back of his neck.

‌He says he struggled with hand-eye coordination while at hospital, including difficulty completing a form and using the key for a locker.

Gary says that because he’s healthy his brain is ‘rewiring itself to compensate for the area that has died’.

‌The engineer insists he doesn’t smoke or drink heavily and was told he doesn’t have high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

‌Gill Eldridge, assistant store manager at the Boots store, said: ‘When the customer described his symptoms, I immediately thought it sounded like a stroke and so called 999 straight away.

‌’It is great that he is now raising awareness of his experience to help others understand the signs and symptoms.’

Lush said they wished Gary well.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

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