Monday, October 31, 2011

Anosmia means I can't smell...

Anosmia. As disabilities go, it's not bad. We (speaking as a human) typically have five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. I didn't put the words in any particular order, but those missing the first three have bigger problems than those lacking the fourth and fifth. I feel for the blind, and deaf, and those who can't feel physical sensation. Those who can't taste food have problems, too. I can't imagine what that's like.

In all likelihood, my sense of smell went out the window with the first touch of wernicke's. I didn't notice it go. Shoot... I didn't really notice it was gone until 2005, but I'm sure it went away before that.

I was able to smell when I was younger. Some people are born without a sense of smell, but I'm not one.

There are dangers in not being able to smell. Not as many dangers are there are to those who can't see or hear, but there are dangers. I just have to be careful.

What are the dangers? Thanks for asking (or reading).

I once cleaned my coffee maker with ammonia instead of white vinegar. We used to keep the jugs of both chemicals under our kitchen sink. Not anymore. I couldn't smell the difference between vinegar and ammonia. Fortunately for me, I hate the taste of vinegar. When I clean the coffee pot, I rinse it five or six times. I didn't drink the ammonia, but my wife knew something bad had happened the second she walked in the door.

I make doubly sure to change the batteries in our smoke alarms. If there's a fire and I'm the only one home, I won't wake up with the smell of smoke. I get a little worried when I clean behind our gas stove. If that pipe goes, I won't smell the telltale odor of gas.

If food in the fridge hits the dubious line between fresh and puke-your-guts-out, I have to ask my wife (she smells great!) to tell me which side of the line it's on. I mean, sure, sometimes I can see when I should toss it. Gray ham is never as good as it sounds...

Sometimes I can smell. The sensation confuses me. It tends not to last long. Goes away in a few minutes. When the sense does come and I figure out what it is I'm smelling, I have noticed that most of the time (darn luck) I'm around something that doesn't smell good.

In my case, there isn't much hope the sense will come back on a permanent basis. Nerve damage is the cause. I'm okay with that. I'm a survivor of Wernicke-Korsakoff. Losing my sense of smell was and is a small price to pay.

I did a little research tonight to see if anosmia is effecting my sense of taste. Some say it does, and they're probably right. I can taste food. I don't get the aroma that makes some food taste better. I don't get hungry for bread when I pull it out of the oven, but I do like the way it tastes.

I'll never be a good judge of fine wines, I say with a laugh, and that's okay! As a survivor of Wernickes, I can't drink that stuff anyway. Grape juice (the closest I come to wine) tastes like grapes whether I can smell it or not.

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