Anosmia: Life Without Smell
When I First Became Anosmic
I first noticed my anosmia (the inability to smell odor) in 2004. I don't remember if it was sudden or it was gradual, but one day I realized I could no longer smell anything.
At first, I thought it would come back, but it never did. Because I'm uninsured, I'm unable to find out why I'm anosmic. From what I've read on anosmia, I'm almost certain that regardless of the cause, it's a permanent disorder.
Shortly after becoming anosmic, I started culinary school, which was a dream for me. Due to my anosmia, I could not perform well and left the school. This was very frustrating for me.
The Effect on Sense of Taste
Since the sense of taste relies on the sense of smell, when a person becomes anosmic, they often have problems with their sense of taste as well.
There are two types of taste loss:
- Ageusia - The complete loss of the sense of taste
- Hypogeusia - A partial loss of the sense of taste
Fortunately for me, I have hypogeusia. There is a game where you close your eyes, plug your nose, and someone feeds you some type of sauce. Then, you're supposed to guess which sauce it is. This is what my sense of taste is like.
There are some flavors I can't taste at all, particularly garlic. I cannot smell or taste garlic at all. In fact, I made (and ate) brownies once using garlic oil thinking it was vegetable oil. I noticed the texture of the brownies seemed off and asked my mom if she thought the eggs were bad. She noticed the garlic right away.
I also can't taste spices very well, so I often over spice my food just to get a vague taste. Nutmeg is something I can't taste at all. I find this to be strange because I can taste cinnamon and clove just fine and nutmeg always seemed so similar.
I'll dump loads of condiments on food to as much flavor as possible. I put so much salad dressing on my food that my friends joke that I have the soup and salad.
Like many others with anosmia, I rely VERY heavily on textures in my food. I won't eat anything that has a uniform texture like mashed potatoes or sloppy joes. For some reason it's not enjoyable. I do enjoy eating things like salads (with lots of add-ons), sushi, and burritos -- things with textural variation.
No sense of smell at all?
There are three things I swear I can smell -- roses, toast, and melted butter (on a frying pan.) I'm not sure if it's a psychological/memory thing, but when I smell a rose, I really think I can smell it. How can my memory be that vivid?
I do get phantom odors at times. It a strange occurrence, though, it's usually a single scent that stays with me all day and I can't pinpoint it's source. It's usually a smell I remember, but usually can't remember what thing smells like that.
Sometimes, though, I do know what has a similar odor. In these cases, there is almost never recent contact with whatever has that smell, so it seems like a memory thing. For example, a few weeks ago, I swear I could smell this face mask gel that you put on your face, wait for it to dry, and then peel it off. However, I do not own any nor have I used any in years.
I also experience certain sensations in places where I know there is a strong odor. For example, my nose burns when I pump gas or go to a Yankee Candle store, but I'm unable to smell anything.
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