Living Without a Sense of Smell

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Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut /

I lost my sense of smell when I was about 7 years old, and to be honest, for most of my life I didn't notice a huge distinction between myself and other people. It wasn't until I started reviewing products and watching people on YouTube that I noticed how much people talk about how things smell. I mean I worry how things smell, but I think I handle it the same way the average person does. However, it honestly never crossed my mind that everything had an odor, like makeup primers or plain lotions. It just didn't cross my mind at all. So I've been thinking lately about what makes my experience different and how its dictated the way I do things in life.

I lost my sense of smell after I walked into a double swing my dad was pushing my sister on. It knocked me clean off my feet and I was totally out. I can remember the ride to the hospital, a little, and actually being at the hospital, because I'm pretty sure that was my first big trip there. Surprisingly I didn't have a concussion but after that my dad said I just stopped smelling flowers. I don't remember the transition and having not smelt anything in 20 years the idea of smelling flowers sounds weird. Now I do remember how a few things smell. As a result my brain will play tricks on me every once in a while, which is extremely annoying, and possible inaccurate given that I think honey, butter, and peanut butter all smell the same, and maybe even chocolate. 

So what does it change in my life? A lot more than I realized when I lived at home. I always thought it was an advantage not smelling stinky diapers when I worked at a nursing home; but its a big disadvantage when you have a baby. I can't smell when something is wrong with my car, like leaking gas or when it gets too hot, but I oddly enjoy working on my own car when the opportunity presents itself. If something is burning anywhere I'm none the wiser, gas leaks have almost taken me out a few times, or if something has gone bad in the fridge. I mean I'm not complaining, I could really care less because its not going to change, and I don't envy those of you who can smell bad odors. I get that there are a lot of good smelling things in this world, but there are enough pretty things to look at and hear that I figure I could have it a lot worse. My grandfather and all his siblings, parents, aunts, and uncles were all deaf; so if I was bound to have a genetic defect I'm glad it was my smell, and not my hearing. My grandpa could hear until he was like 7 or 10 and his siblings weren't born deaf either. They lost it after either getting a knock to the head or a very bad infection/cold. So that tells me there is a genetic weakness in the family and mine could have been a lot worse.

Yet I'm not gonna claim its all roses all the time. It does effect my taste to a degree. I can't taste wine (it's just putrid awful alcohol), herbs, extracts, zest/fruit oils, or subtle notes/flavors. However, I still cook with all of those things. Why? Well I was raised by people who can smell and taste just fine, so I was taught to cook with these things, and I still add them because other people tell me how they taste. The taste ordeal is more frustrating than the smell thing to be honest. Over the holidays I made lemon, rosemary, thyme, and parmesan bread which I was very excited about. Sometimes I forget, not very often but here and there, and couldn't wait to taste it. I did and it tasted just like the plain white bread I made the day before. I was really bummed, which to be honest is an understatement, when my husband told me how fragrant and favorable the bread was. Yet I still make it and cook lots of things that call for herbs. I can taste certain spices as well as sweet, sour, salty, and bitter but I have to rely on the actually juices of lemons or an excessive amount of an ingredient rather than a pinch. Most of the time I just cook like everyone else because I'm cooking for my family and I want my daughter to have a wide range where her pallet is concerned. I'm a very picky eater because I rely heavily on texture so I honestly don't eat a lot of the fancy stuff I cook, because it does not interest me or the flavor is lost on me. There are a lot a dishes I will never fully appreciate, but I can still eat a peach right off the tree and tell you why its 10x better than the one in the store. Its weird but the simpler the food is the better off I am when I try to tell you what it taste like. 

So when it comes to fragrances, if the bottle can't tell me what it smells like, and comes up with clever name like "How Love Makes You Feel," or something like that, you won't see this girl buying it. I gravitate more toward body sprays like Moonlight Path by B & BW because they tell you all the notes, like lavender and rose, and they even go so far as to explain which notes sit on top and which ones are very subtle. I have to go entirely on description, so companies that explain that stuff are more likely to get my business. For some reason I love lavender. I can't smell it or taste it, in my tea, but I really love it. I think its a combination of how it looks and its soothing and calming properties but if I could only wear one scent for the rest of my life it would be lavender. 

In the future I suppose it will pose more problems than it does now. I can't smell alcohol or smoke and will have to rely on my husband during my daughter teenage years. If her friends do it I'll never know and they'd be able to sneak a lot of things past me. so I'll have to adjust, cause lord knows I would have never made it past my mom. While she's young though I enjoy watching her learn what things smell like and how she reacts to things. She smells, or comments on smells, more things than I would have ever imagined had smells. It just doesn't cross my mind but I'm glad she enjoys the world around her and gets to experience all of her senses. So I guess the point is to just appreciate the gift of smell and taste. Most people are thankful they can see and hear but for some reason smelling doesn't come across as something you can lose or never have. 


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