Aba's Anosmia Story
April 26, 2017 – A day I will never forget. I was in the kitchen preparing to make a pot of soup. I had cut up some meat, added seasoning (onions, ginger , pepper, garlic, salt). Just as I was about to place the cooking pot on the stove, I noticed something was not right. Then it hit me – I could not smell the seasoning! That’s right – I could smell neither the onions, ginger, pepper nor garlic! I had come down with a bad cold a few days earlier – coughing, sneezing, runny nose, stuffed nose, you name it, I had it all. I did not make too much of it at the time – after all I was sure my sense of smell would be back to normal in a couple of days, a week at most, that was the way it worked, right? WRONG!!!!
For the next 3 months I lived in a scentless world. Could not smell a thing! Imagine the irony of owning a fragrance and wellness business and not being able to smell any of the materials I was working with! Suffice it to say, I did not do much formulating during that period. I worried about my business, worried about fire, gas leaks, etc. I worried about whether I would be able to smell again. And I prayed. Thankfully I did not live alone. Thankfully I could still taste and enjoy most of my food.
Visits to the mall became quite interesting; I would walk past the aroma-rich food court and smell nothing; the ever tempting aroma from “Auntie Anne’s Pretzel” stand, that used to assault my nostrils and beckon me to indulge, was silent. Of course it was there, I just could not smell it. I visited the LUSH store – if you have ever visited LUSH, you know that long before you reach the store, you already smell the fragrance of soaps, bath bombs, massage bars etc. Well, here I was standing right inside the LUSH store and I smelled nothing!
Then one day I walked into my work studio and there it was – a smell! To this day I can’t tell what it was, but I smelled something! I was so thrilled! My sense of smell was back! In the days that followed I began to smell oranges, when there were no oranges present. It was very odd and it could happen anywhere, this strong smell of oranges.
The “orange” phase passed. Next came the “strange smell” phase. I began to smell this weird smell from some of my perfumes, and other scented products in our home. I would smell this same weird smell when certain people passed by me. I would walk into a shop and there it was again, that same smell. I figured it must be some chemical that is a common component of several fragrances –I haven’t figured out what it is. I still smell it – one of my favorite perfumes ‘Youth Dew” by Estee Lauder, now has that smell. I don’t wear it these days. Chocolate, cocoa butter and coffee don’t smell like they used to. They all smell sort of like peanuts. I now pass by Starbucks and instead of coffee I only smell peanuts!
But many other things around me still smell the same as I remember, – Dove soap, baby powder, most of the essential oils and fragrance oils I use in my work, my “Spellbound” perfume, osmanthus tea, rosewater, fried eggs. I deliberately take a whiff of some of these every now and then to reassure myself that my nose works! Oh, and I have developed a particular liking for the smell of jasmine.
I am still in the process of recovery. My sense of smell is not as keen as it used to be. I have had and still have my “almost burnt food” episodes because I could not smell the food burning. My hubby still assists with the occasional “smell check’ on my clothes! I am grateful to God for healing and praying for a complete recovery. I am thankful for the part of my sense of smell that has come back. Lately, I have been reading a lot on smell disorders. I came across fifthsense.org.uk and learnt about a process called smell training. I want to try it. The concept of fragrance and wellness has taken on a new meaning for me. My business was developed around the concept of using scent to provide pleasure, relaxation, stress relief and that kind of thing, albeit for people with a normal sense of smell. I now see a more fundamental role that scent plays in our wellbeing; the connection between the ability/inability to smell and our hygiene, safety, memory, nutrition, relationships, mental health and overall “joie de vivre”. Got to figure out how to incorporate this into my work from now on!