Life smells. Sometimes, it stinks.

Wet dogs, raw eggs, the inside of the dirty dishwasher, cat pee – these are all things that smell foul (in my opinion). Then there’s this stuff: coffee, bacon, certain flowers, rain, my family, fresh-baked cookies, home (which often smells like fresh-baked cookies), babies. Mmmm.

About six weeks ago I came down with a nasty bug: cough, congestion, the blahs. It was yucky but not epic by any means. I lay around on the couch for a few days drinking ginger tea and watching the first season of Desperate Housewives. My nose was totally plugged up and I couldn’t smell anything.

The thing about not being able to smell is that you can’t taste anything, either. (If you don’t believe me, try eating with your nose pinched closed. Enlist the help of a friend if you are eating something requiring both hands.)

Actually, the taste buds work just fine; even without your sniffer you can still perceive sour, salty, bitter and sweet. It’s flavor that goes out the window. Chocolate vs vanilla, pinot vs cabernet, tuna vs egg salad, coffee vs tea.

Although I’ve felt fine for the past month or more, I am still waiting for my olfactory apparatus to start working again. I can’t smell (or taste) a thing. Some foods taste either vaguely salty, sweet, bitter or sour. Others taste like, well… nothing: meat, vegetables, bread. Certain ordinarily enjoyable items – such as sandwiches – are downright unpleasant. Eating is a chore. If you struggle with your weight, you may think this is a problem you would like to have. Banish the thought.

Looking at the bright side (not normally my strong suit): cleaning the litter box is a breeze, and I don’t have to hold my breath when I load the dishwasher.

Without scent, without flavor, life is strangely flat. Lacking the olfactory feedback I have come to expect while going through my day, I walk around as if in a bubble. At times I feel disconnected, disoriented, isolated. The eyes in the back of my head no longer see. It’s even been harder to approach strangers.

Odds are, I’ll get my sense of smell back sooner or later. When I do, I hope I don’t ever take it for granted.

To never smell again? That would really stink.

These don't smell but they sure are pretty

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7 Responses to Life Smells

  1. Heather says:

    LOL Jill,
    I’m on the “getting my senses back” end of this… and finding it rather uncomfortable. I’ve have chronic sinusitis for who knows how long. I didn’t realize how much of my sense of smell I had lost. Well, now that I’ve finally started taking care of myself (I was always “too busy” for that) I’m starting to get it back. Life really does stink! Everywhere I go I’m being assaulted by “parfum-de-people” LOL. I’m hoping it’ll all settle down (soon) and I’ll only notice the coffee/roses/spring rain/etc 🙂

  2. Sheena says:

    I have two aunts who were born without a sense of smell, except when (and only when) they were pregnant with each of their kids. One of them lived near us and was pregnant with her first child when I was a teen. I remember her trying to describe scent – this new sense she had never known before. I’ve always had a pretty keen sense of smell, so it was a fascinating twist for my teenage brain to try to imagine what that was like for her!

  3. Haralee says:

    While I was going through chemo, I could smell more than I wanted. I had to walk out of stores that had a greasy deep fat fryer somewhere or office buildings were some one had been sick. Cooking onions, garlic or meat and I had to go to the end of the house and put those foods on hiatus for 6 months.
    No smell is no good and too much smell is no picnic either. Somewhere like normal is perfect!

  4. DJan says:

    My smeller doesn’t work as well now in my late sixties as it did. I can still smell the unpleasant stuff, and sometimes the pleasant, but I notice that either side of the olfactory experience needs to be pretty strong for me to get it these days.

    The only thing that really is difficult is perfume: I can still smell it and some kinds actually make me feel sick! Hope you recover your sense of smell just the way you want it. Oh, and thanks for the sweet comment you left on my blog. 🙂

  5. Pru McDonald says:

    Dear Jill,

    So sorry you’ve been ill, and missing your sense of smell… rotten news, pardon the pun! I have been
    immersed in several serious crises all at once and am
    totally overwhelmed, but happy to hear from you, to know what’s happening, and not taking one single GOOD thing in life for granted! Love, Pru

  6. Jill Ginsberg says:

    Thank you all so much for the comments. How wonderful it would be if we could choose to smell only pleasant odors! I was always among the first to complain about a noxious smell, so I guess I should count that part as a blessing. The taste part is different because we DO get to choose what we put in our mouths. I really look forward to being able to enjoy food again.

  7. Kimberly says:

    I had the same problem recently. Was eating these “delicious” cookies; I could tell they should be tasty but I couldn’t get a hold of the flavor (no matter how hard I tried!). It was definitely a drag.

    Hope you recover soon! Everything is blooming and despite my allergies, I love the flowers 😀

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