Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The nose knows not (reposted)

Anyone who knows me knows the darkest secret I held throughout most of my life. Embarrassment kept me from revealing it to all but a couple of people. I have no sense of smell. Nothing. Nada. I couldn't tell if a skunk were sitting right behind me. I've had this condition my whole life. When I joined the military and was working in liquid fuels (a job where smell is required), I finally told the military doctors during an evaluation about this condition, and they ran dozens of test to find a possible cause for it, but of course found nothing. The first, and my favorite of these tests, was that I take a scratch and sniff book home and tell them what the pages smelled like to the best of my knowledge. Well, I am ignorant to smells. I simply asked the Doc, "How am I to do this if I have never smelled these things before. I couldn't tell you the difference between the smell of an orange to the smell of poop if by some chance my nose did start to work overnight."

He replied, "Just try it."

Military doctors are idiots.

After that I started to research the web for others like myself. It's uncommon but there are a few out there like myself. Many of them lost their smell after having taken a nasal spray, or gone through some sort of head trauma, and there are the even more rare people like myself who never had it to begin with. It's called anosmia, and in most cases, it is incurable.

 I finally broke down and explained it to my friends and family. I got several of the same responses. "If you can't smell, can you taste?"

 Yes. It doesn't affect my taste.

 "Well, how can that be? I thought the two went together."

 Heck if I know.

 When I started to write, I learned that you need to write what you know. That's hard to do when you a missing one of your senses. How do you explain what a summer night smells like when you have never smelled it, or freshly baked lasagna? I turned to my mom, who has a super nose. It was hard for her to put smells into words, but she was able to help me in the end and has been an encyclopedia of smells since then. She now concentrates on a smell, and will voluntarily put it into words to explain to me what I am missing. It's been a great help, and an even greater experience. For the first time in my life, I understand smells.

Thanks Mom!

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