Life Without Smell

I lost my sense of smell a number of years ago, and didn’t realize it for the longest time. 

My sense of taste still exists, so apparently those 2 senses aren’t connected even though I am often asked if I can taste foods.

I’m writing about this because I’m surprised I don’t miss smelling, or perhaps it has been so long gone that the joy of getting a whiff of something has been forgotten.

Now that I think about it, maybe my sense of smell is connected to my memory bank rather than my taste buds.

It is common to see a beautiful flower and immediately stick my nose into its center. We’ve been trained since childhood to sniff the fragrance of honeysuckle, or make a beeline to the kitchen when freshly baked homemade bread is being pulled from the oven. 

Of course, there are some odors I don’t miss. I can walk by a garbage can and my nostrils are not overcome with putrid smells. And if someone’s bathroom is long overdue a good cleaning I won’t mention it because it will be out of my frame of smelling reference.

Periodically I ask a visitor if my dogs have been lounging in the house too long and the room needs a hearty airing out. I have to depend on the honesty of others to pick up the bottle of room spray and give it a long blast of sickening fragrance that doesn’t bother me, but may make them wish they hadn’t said anything about the offending canine scents.

Truth be told, and I am into truth these days, I don’t know how much I depended on my sense of smell before losing it. I don’t remember ever having a life changing event because of a smell. 

Oh, except for ether! Now that horrible stench remains in my nostrils to this day. As a child I had two surgeries under the influence of that gas, gagging me and deciding never to go to a hospital again. To this day when the automatic doors open into a medical office, I cringe thinking I’ll again be brought to my knees by getting a hint of ether.

All in all, my life hasn’t been altered by not smelling, but once in a great while I would like to enjoy the smell of fresh cut grass on a hot summer afternoon.

5 thoughts on “Life Without Smell

  1. I too seem to have lost most of my sense of smell. Every once in awhile, there will be something that gets through, but not often. It is, as you said, a mixed blessing. There are smells I remember with fondness – baby powder, freshly baked bread, freshly mowed grass, lilacs – and then there are those I am happy not to notice anymore.


  2. I lost mine too, several years ago. I didn’t realize, so I don’t know how long it’s really been gone. About 3 years ago I was walking with my brother and sister along a rural AL road, when he said something about ‘smell that snake’ and my sister agreed and I had no idea what they were talking about. Once in awhile some smell does hit me for an instant, but then it’s gone, and I’m not sure if it’s a memory or a real smell. I don’t really miss it, except spring when I can’t smell the lilac which I used to love. And my mother-in-law’s rosebush which blooms first in the spring and was so strong I used to smell it across the yard. Now there’s nothing. People assume covid cost me my smell, but it was long before that. It’s odd, isn’t it, that we didn’t realize it was gone right away. I guess if I’m going to lose one sense, this one was dispensible.


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