Monday, July 14, 2008

Anosmia, Ashnozmia

If you know me then you know the peculiar fact that I cannot smell. At all. Not even a little bit. Evidently that's called Anosmia, and it can be something of a big deal.

I don't know if I was born without a sense of smell, or if my olfactory was damaged as a child (my parents said I had horrible allergies in Ohio), but I can't remember ever having experienced any sort of smell. To an extent that's too bad, because I'm missing out on a lot of good smells, like flowers, fresh air, and freshly baked food... but I've never had a problem with that. It may be different if I used to be able to smell and I knew what I was missing. I've long said I'm probably better off this way, I'm also "missing out" on a world of bad smells.

I've said in the past that, after 30 years with no scent, if someone offered me a cure which would immediately restore my sense of smell I'd probably turn it down. I've been pretty content thus far and I've never really felt the need or desire to smell things.

In writing this I thought about not being able to smell as a kid, and I said to myself "what kind of parents don't take their kid to the doctor when there's something THAT wrong with him?" I think it's a little odd that I never thought about this before. I love my parents, and I'm not upset they didn't look into this Anosmia thing when I was young... I guess that's just how my family operates. I mentioned in my last post "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" - I've noticed from my own behavior that should be rephrased "if it ain't so broke you can't get by, don't fix it", and in the case of my sense of smell, I've obviously been able to get by.

Some interesting (or not) tidbits about interacting with people:
- When I was a kid, it was my job to "scoop the poop" (cat litter). I volunteered because my mom and sister would complain about the smell while I couldn't figure out what could be so bad.
- More recently before Mrs. Kitty died, my entire place smelled like cat. I found out she'd been sick or mad and had peed all over the rug, but I had no idea. My friends would mention it if my placed smelled particularly bad, but they pretty much accepted that my house smelled like cat.
- Friends I've known for 20+ years will ask something like "can't you smell that?" to which I'll reply "No... I still can't smell that."
- Once when it was about to rain I asked my sister to describe the smell to me. I asked her "what tastes the way that it smells right now?" Evidently when it's about to rain, the scent is like biting into jicama - crisp and moist.
- Upon hearing for the first time that I have no sense of smell, just about every person I've met has said "That means you can't taste anything, right?"*
- Getting all sweaty playing frisbee and whatnot, I bathe constantly because I don't know if I reek or not.
- I never think to wear deodorant.
- I occasionally have to ask a friend to take a whiff of my milk to see if it's gone bad.
- I used to worry that if there were a gas leak, I wouldn't notice and that could be dangerous.
- In a chemistry lab in college I almost knocked myself out with Amonia - it's strong and I wondered if I could smell it, so I wafted some from the beaker toward my nose (as instructed by the teacher) - nothing. then I inadvertently moved the beaker and inhaled at the same time and inhaled a little... still didn't smell it, but I sure felt it.

Since I've been thinking about it lately perhaps I'll see a doctor and see if there's anything that can be done about my condition. In the end I think I wouldn't mind being able to smell, even if only to be more "normal." In the meantime however I will maintain my usual stance that whatever it is that reeks, it can't be that bad, and as far as I'm concerned My Shit Don't Stink.

* For the record, that's not entirely true. I can taste things. I suspect that if you consider a range of taste, I operate in a small center portion while most people experience the entire range. As a result, I like bland or plain food just fine, and I don't see the point in a lot of things about cooking - chasing flavors that I won't fully appreciate anyway never really interested me.

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