Monday, March 15, 2010

Ups and Downs of Anosmia

I've been smelling for about a week.

(I'll wait while you think of all the one-liners this statement attracts.)

Several years ago, I noticed that I was detecting phantom odors. Sometimes wood smoke, usually chemicals or vinyl. Nothing was ever really there -- no one else smelled these things. It was all in my head, so to speak.

Then I got a sinus infection. A killer sinus infection. When I finally recovered from it, I couldn't smell anything. Not a bar of soap shoved up my nostrils, not a clove of garlic, not my stinky dog, nothing.

I remember crying in the shower one morning, sobbing over my inability to smell shampoo. I kept trying to smell, and I prayed hard that this sense would be returned to me. Nothing happened. I was crushed. Even though it was only my nose that didn't work, scent is perhaps the most memory-evoking sensory experience. No more fresh Crayolas. No more onions and pot roast in the slow cooker. No more babies' sweet scalps.

Over the weeks and months and then years, I adjusted to not being able to smell. When we got a puppy, I didn't have to be the one to track down the location of his accidents. Driving past the dairy farm, it doesn't matter to me if the windows are open. Unwashed, halitosis-laden library patrons get unbiased treatment from me.

But for the past week or so, at random times, I've smelled a sweet detergent odor. I think it's like the windshield-washer in my car. (Have you ever sprayed your windshield and had the scent come through the vent?) It's pleasant. It's nice to be smelling something once in a while. It brings back some of the longing I used to feel, to be able to smell everything again.

But it's all in my head.


The Williams Five said...

Might be all in your head but it's interesting. I wonder if you might end up getting your smell back afterall. All those times I never had to worry about my breath around you. It was great! Hee hee.

K.M. Weiland said...

How interesting. About ten years ago, after a bad cold, I was certain my sense of smell had diminished... or warped would maybe be a better description. (A train derailed several miles from my house and spilled chemicals everywhere. I thought it smelled like fried chicken.) My smell has returned almost entirely now, so perhaps yours will too!

Katharine said...

Erin -- You're right about the breath thing. What breath???

Katie -- If I were to guess, I'd call that dysnosmia. Not such a bad thing, was it?

Anonymous said...

I have to say, having never lost my own sense of smell, it's hard to imagine what it is like. But, obviously, it is a big deal! I hope your recent "smells" will lead to a return of your overall smell-ability. :)