WHAT DO I SMELL?
I don’t smell. I lost my sense of smell over 30 years ago. You not only lose your sense of smell, you also lose your sense of taste. That’s two of the five senses (hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting, smelling.) It is medically called Anosmia.
I missed smelling my second baby. I’ve missed 30 years of smelling rain, flowers, Christmas trees, baking.
You do have occasional phantom smells (always bad, like rotten fish or burning tires.)
Most people can’t smell when they have a cold and say, “I don’t smell either.” It has a different meaning when you have come to the realization that it is never coming back. It took me 10 years of going to doctors to finally accept it wasn’t coming back.
I have a very good friend (Tee) who worked with the deaf, and she was great about figuring out ways to communicate. She would explain smells to me.
If it was something I had smelled before, she would say, “Oh, it smells like bacon’s cooking.”
If it was something I had never smelled, she would compare it to something I had smelled before: This building smells musty.
If I had no memory of a smell, Tee would try to compare it to something visual:
How the color yellow or a cloud and make you feel.
There are some dangers in not smelling: fire, gas, bad food, etc. I have relied on neighbors and friends for years in that regard.
Over Christmas, I was at a relative’s home when the smoke detector went off in the middle of the night. I ignored it until the alarm said Fire Fire. Talk about panic. Which way do you run? I felt the door knob and it wasn’t hot, so I went out. Thank you Lord it was a false alarm.
One time, a friend dropped by my house. When I opened the door she yanked me out because it was filled with gas. I had been sitting there watching TV oblivious to the danger.
Then there are mean people. The ones who come up to you in a panic and say, “I smell fire. Do you?”
I have said to people, “Oh, this is the best steak.” Tee would ask me how I knew (what are good friends for!) I started think about how I would know what things tasted like when I can’t smell. → It’s memories.
Memories And Sensation
If the food is something I remember, then it’s really tasty (even if it’s rotten. I’ve gotten food poisoning that way a few times.)
Sensations also help determine a taste. For example, a lemon hurts the sides of your neck. Sugar tingles different areas of the tongue. Etc. That’s something you have to remember.
Do you know when you have a hankering for something to eat but you don’t know what it is? Then you finally hit on it → I want an Oreo. If you can’t taste, that sensation is never relieved. You eat and eat until you realize you’re not going to find it.
I’ve posted a couple of websites below if you want more information. There’s also an excellent book I’d recommend you read written by someone who lost her sense of smell and what she went through.
Remembering Smell: A Memoir of Losing–and Discovering–the Primal Sense
by Bonnie Blodgett
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