Not one thing. No smell. No taste.
Salty nuts? Warm and tasty broth? Aromatic herbs? Spicy sauce?
No. Nothing came through these blocked senses.
We had just returned from a trip to Spain full of sensory gratification. Between the sweet flowering orange trees, mimosa blooms bursting and plenty of gourmand smells wafting out of the restaurants, our noses were working overtime. And, of course, we were also trying to avoid the smokers. Most of the country seems to ignore that smoking is not good for one’s health.
Within a few days after returning on the plane (otherwise known as a germ-laden tube), we both came down with a respiratory virus unlike any we had ever had before (which thankfully is very rare). It only took a couple of days before my clogged sinuses apparently crossed the line and all taste and smells diminished… diminished… and were gone.
Suddenly my food tasted like cardboard. Dry. Crumbled plaster came to mind. My mouth was… there. I could not eagerly anticipate the smells of dinner in the making. No basil in the sauce? No tomatoes, garlic or onions. Grilled meats on the barbie? Couldn’t tell- I just saw that the grill was on and an occasional plume of smoke escaped. Drinking a cold drink was not refreshing.
But the worst of it was I could no longer smell the perfumes in my perfume boutique. I opened the doors in the morning and knew that I should be met with the immediate need to air the store out before opening but no, nothing. I of course proceeded to open the two sets of doors for the cross breeze and turned the fans and vent on high, but it seemed for naught. Intellectually I knew it was needed.
After a week, I began to worry- what if this became a permanent loss? OMG! What would I do? I knew the perfumes in the shop pretty well by now so could still guide customers, but this was certainly not ideal. And we were having a well-known perfumer visit the boutique at the end of the week.
Anosmia (the absence of smell) and ageusia (the absence of taste), although not well known, are often responsible for lethargy and depression. Who knew how much we take the senses of smell and taste for granted? As a matter of fact, we usually do not even think about the sense of smell. The act of smelling is automatic, reflexive and immediate. When that is suddenly taken away, you feel a certain disconnect with the world. Cooking with your nose is not possible. Knowing something is burning is no longer available to you. How would I know if there was a fire?
Each day was a further reminder of how important the senses of smell and taste were. During the average day, every person takes more than 20,000 breaths. The anosmia meant I could no longer smell my husband wearing his favorite cologne. Or my dog. Or the fresh bunch of jasmine in the store. Each breath provides the opportunity to develop or recall a different memory or emotion. That is if you can smell.
Two days before Indigo Perfumery’s event, I thought I tasted the toothpaste for a second. An hour later I thought is that really the taste of oranges in the fresh orange juice that my husband prepared or my imagination? I felt like the luckiest person alive as throughout the day, I slowly began to taste my food and even smell the new line of perfumes that had just arrived. The smoked salmon was almost overwhelming. A few times smells disappeared, only to return after blowing my nose.
A true blessing. With my smell and taste having fully returned, I am more aware than ever of their importance. I’ll take the good with the bad.
I am grateful. Spring’s renewal has taken on a new meaning!