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project hot air balloon


By 10:48 PM , ,

Originally uploaded by looseid

I lost it 7 months ago after a severe respiratory infection. I was devastated because I rely quite heavily on my nose, as do most animals. Close friends know that I have an acute sense of smell that can detect many aromas, good or bad, at times to an inconvenient degree.

I realized one day, after my infection cleared, that I wasn't picking up any smells that I would normally expereince. My sickness seemed to have damaged nerves and cells I had taken for granted.

Imagine not being able to hear the person talking to you. You see them moving their mouth and you can even read their lips, but you hear no words, that's how I felt when I could no longer smell things that I knew for certain gave off scent. I'd pick herbs from the garden, walk into a bakery or fold laundry out of the dryer and there was no olfactory input. It's rather like the sensation of having novacaine render your mouth numb. You're supposed to feel pressure when you bite down on your lip, but nothing; sometimes you end up shredding your cheeks and lips just to feel something, anything.


  • I couldn't taste food or beverages.
  • I couldn't check for the viability of food and whether it was burnt or spoiled.
  • I stopped cooking for others for fear of serving something burnt or spoiled.
  • I wouldn't know if there was smoke, fire or gas leakage.
  • The entire coffee, tea, wine, cheese ritual was shot to hell.
  • I couldn't tell whether clothes, home or pets (even myself) were clean or dirty at any given time.

  • I wasn't eating or eating out as much. (but every so often I'd eat like I was out to get revenge just so I could smell something, anything)
  • I didn't have to endure other people's odors.
  • I had something onto which to focus my neurotic and hypochondriac tendencies.

As if this didn't jumble up my life up enough, I actually could smell one distinct scent and that was the smell of Funyuns. It was the darnedest thing. Might I add that there was never any around, nor have I had one in years. But somehow, my nose had captured the phantom aroma of artificial fried onions and substitute it for everything; that's all that would register in my nose at any given time.

Over the course of 7 months, that single note moved onto other very specific smells. There was a couple of weeks where I smelled passenger aircraft interior for everything and nothing else. Most recently I smelled chicken pot pie and there was none around.

Whether or not this is the process for when your nasal nerves are being regenerated, it was terribly discombobulating to only smell beef stew, whilst I held in my hand cedar incense sticks or potting soil. Feeling one sensation when you're supposed to be experiencing something completely different. It's not unlike feeling nothing about the person with whom you're supposedly in love...but I digress.

Anyway, I noticed in the last month that my nose is just about back to normal. It may not be 100%,  but it's hovering around the 80th percentile. Just as my doctor, and more impressively the internet, had predicted, cells are being renewed and nerves repaired. Recovery will happen in due time.

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  1. I knew a girl whose sense of smell was extremely sensitive which might be inherited from her mother.
    When she was two years old, she visited Bronx Zoo taken by her parents. She was anxious to see elephants. However, as soon as she stepped in the elephants pavilion, she couldn't stand their smell and started crying loudly... "Stinky, stinky!"