So, I’m over all of my COVID symptoms except for 2: I’ve lost all taste and smell. I know this is very common and apparently it could last for a few more days or even a few months. You know, I never realized how much these senses affect our day to day lives until I lost them.
Have you ever played the “Would you rather?” game? For example, would you rather kiss a frog or a rat (I’ve kissed both…remember, I’ve been married 3 times 🙄)? One question that always pops up is “Would you rather lose your sight or your hearing?” Of course, this is a toughie and even contemplating losing these senses makes you realize how dependent you are on them. But I’ve never heard the same question asked about taste or smell…it’s almost like these are the red-headed stepchildren of senses. Right?
I didn’t realize these senses had left me until we were sitting down to ‘dinner’ (a wrap with chips and salsa…I’m a gourmet cook…😳) and I couldn’t taste ANYTHING at all. Nothing. I was chewing and swallowing but the experience was ’empty’…there was no sensation at all. Like I told Bill, “Hells bells…I might as well be eating ma’s meatlump right now.”
It was so strange because I could feel the heat of the salsa on the roof of my mouth, but there was no taste to it…no flavor to anything. Then, I started smelling various things to see if that was gone too…the biggest test was smelling Dottie (who, to use my son’s words, does have a bit of a stench) and I smelled nothing. Nada. Zip.
In order to further test all of this, I got out ketchup, mustard, ranch dressing, poppyseed dressing, and the ‘smooth’ part of salsa. I blindfolded Bill (he was excited at first and then realized what it was actually for 🙄) and put a taste of each of these on his tongue to see if he could figure out what he was tasting. He didn’t recognize any of them!
You know, until you are going without something you’ve had all your life, you don’t realize how much of an impact taste has. How much the flavor of our foods please us. Even flavors that aren’t fancy schmancy…like peanut butter…are missed. Instead of eating and having some enjoyment…you are just ‘eating’. And it tastes like you are eating nothing while your brain is saying: “I remember this…what the hell?” A couple of days ago after we were released from quarantine, I went to Wally-Farts and bought a ton of food. As I was self-scanning it and yacking to the employee who was watching, I told him I didn’t know why I was buying so much ‘good’ stuff since I couldn’t taste anything anyway. Why spend the money on purple grapes (I LOVE grapes), fresh veggies, deli roast beef, etc. ? I literally could have bought crappy substitutes and never would have tasted the difference. Right?
Well, not really. See, even though I theoretically could eat something I hate (prunes and brussels sprouts come to mind 😐), my brain…as fucked up as it is (sorry, ma 🙄)…would still know I didn’t like them and I don’t think I could eat them without barfing. The ‘memory’ of the taste is there…just not the taste.
And then there’s smell. How boring the world seems without this. Smells infiltrate our lives constantly and without them, everything around us is just bland. Just ick. And not being able to smell food is one thing that’s hard for me. After a fiasco of a dinner with ma, pop, and sis when I was younger that involved spoiled milk (ma doesn’t ‘believe’ in expiration dates 🙄), I refuse to eat just about anything without giving it a good sniff. Here’s how this went down:
- Little Kristi: “Ma, this milk is spoiled…it tastes funny.” 🤢
- Ma: “It does not! I would never serve you spoiled milk!”
- Little Kristi: “Ma. The milk is clumpy. Like cottage cheese.”
- Ma: “Kristi. For the last time the milk is not spoiled. Just drink it and eat your dinner!”
- Pop: “Aaaaagggghhhhh! C, this damn milk is spoiled!”
- Ma: “Oh no! I’m so sorry!”
In other words, ma didn’t trust me to know that when milk is clumpy and causing you to make the same face you make when eating a rotten lemon, it’s spoiled! Now when I eat at ma’s, I (and sis) smell EVERYTHING. And…it pisses ma off royally. However, she didn’t get a mouthful of the expired, sour milk so she has no room to complain. For fuck sakes…no wonder I’m dairy free now. 🙄
I miss so many other smells too: just the everyday smells in the house, smelling Eddie when he’s cuddling me, smelling Bill’s hair right after a shower, smelling that ‘fresh’ aroma of snow (yes, I can smell snow), smelling the towels to make sure they’re fresh, smelling the body wash I like to use, smelling Little Dot when I’m holding her, and the list goes on. It’s like the world is now ‘turned down a notch’ because of the lack of smells.
In fact, smells trigger the most powerful memories for me. T and I LOVE the smell of English Leather. It’s that VERY strong aftershave that older men used to use (I don’t even know if they still sell it 😳) and grampa would douse himself in it everyday. T and I loved to hug him and smell that and even now, if I get a whiff of aromatic cologne when I pass by an older gentleman, I get a tug in my heart.
This one is going to sound nuts (go figure 😐), but even cigarette smoke triggers good memories for me. Gramma always smoked a LOT and the house was full of second hand smoke (this was the 70’s and 80’s, grasshoppers…we didn’t know the hell we were doing). It would sometimes get overwhelming for me at holidays when a lot of the family would smoke, but when it was just gramma, it didn’t bother me (although my lungs suffered). Now when I smell a hint of smoke, I think of gramma sitting on the couch, rolling her hair in pin-curls, while a cigarette waits in the ashtray on the old coffee table they had. In a weird way, the smell comforts me.
And kids? After having a sweaty little boy for so many years, that smell is a huge one for me. Boys have a sort of musty, sweet smell to them and after O would play ball or mess around outside with his cousins, his sweaty head would smell so ambrosial…so fragrant. It was the smell of a happy, playful boy and I’ve never forgotten it. In fact, J’s son would smell the same and he brought back so many memories for me.
I think everyone has a smell and I also believe that our attraction to someone is very much related to this. Some people just don’t smell ‘right’ and no matter what they do, it’s just not there. Out of all of my many hubbies (shutty the mouthies please 🤨), #3 smelled the best. Even after working in the garage or coming home from a 2 day weekend motorcycle trip without stopping to shower, he still smelled yummy to me. And yes…Bill does too.
Other smells I love? The smell of school books and supplies like pencils, notebooks, erasers, etc.; in fact, the smell of an elementary classroom is what I’m hoping heaven smells like. I love the smell of laundry in the drier and when I run by a house when this is happening, I can smell the steam and I get a great feeling inside. I love the smell of running gear…after you wear it a few times and sweat your butt off in it, it doesn’t matter how many times you wash it, there is still a smell….mmmmmm. Going into ma’s house with all of its smells always makes me feel at home and this sounds gross, but when I’m really upset and need something to calm me down, I snuggle Little Dottie or Eddie and smell their ears. Believe me…it works.
Anyhoot, I was just surprised at how much a lack of taste and smell would affect me. Life is more humdrum without these senses…I can’t wait until they come back. EXCEPT for this: picking up the dogs’ poop has never been better…I’m actually doing it now without gagging. That’s the only plus I can think of.