On January 23rd of 2021 I was diagnosed with Covid-19. Before I continue I want to say my heart goes out to all the families who lost a friend or relative because of Covid-19. I am lucky to say that I survived with very mild symptoms. About a week after testing positive I lost my sense of taste and smell. While my wife and two kids also had Covid they never lost their senses like I did.
At first, losing my sense of taste and smell was a mild annoyance. I found a whole new understanding of the idea of eating solely to survive. But as the days and weeks started to accumulate eating with no taste became rather depressing. As I watched my family eat and savor food I was yearning inside to get back to life where eating was pleasurable. At times, I would make something or get ready to order something and and forget until it was in front of me that I wasn’t going to enjoy it. One example was ordering a glass of wine at a restaurant when my wife and I went out to dinner for our anniversary. I ordered the wine varietal the matched what I knew I liked best and looked forward to trying it. Then when it came, I went to smell the nose of the wine and nothing. I thought I was going to be able to enjoy it and then remembered that I would not be able to. I did drink it but we kind of laughed when we realized that choosing the cheapest wine on the menu would have been the most logical approach considering my condition. We have had other laughs at home about my smell challenges. Like no longer minding when my daughter makes tuna fish for dinner. Prior to my nose issues, the smell of tuna caused me to feel that slight taste of virtual vomit in the depths of my throat. But now, no problem whatsoever.
So here I type this on April 17th and I am still grappling with my loss of taste and smell. Every time I think it is starting to return I realize it really is not. I can sort of smell things if I get my nose really close and sniff deeply. I’m like a cocaine addict trying with all my might to sniff up the food aromas. I’ve come to the point where imagining taste and smell is the closest I get to actually tasting and smelling. When I eat chocolate I imagine what I know it smells like. When I drink a beer I imagine what it tastes like. My enjoyment while eating exclusively comes from tongue sensations. Sweet, sour, spicy, savory, etc. It’s these things that are almost heightened since my taste buds work but my olfactory nerve does not. And its not just this. Without getting too graphic I can feel there is something wrong with my nose. It feels permanently inflamed like somebody is continually blowing a hair dryer up my nostrils. It’s like a hot, barren, wide open desert inside there.
I don’t mean to complain as I know many people have been severely impacted by Covid from extreme sickness to death. But I excessively yearn for my taste and smell to return. I continue to do smell therapy and yes that’s a thing. I regularly smell foods at very close range and imagine what they smell like. From my research I have learned that this is supposed to accelerate the process of olfactory nerve repair. It’s like training your brain and nose to meet up again. To be those old friends reuniting and kindling once again that relationship. Sometimes I think it is working and other times I think its a lost cause. At times I kind of wish I had a weight problem as this would have been a wonderfully effective, medically induced solution. Instead I just do my best to enjoy what I can. Like the crunch of a chip or the melting feeling of ice cream on my tongue. Or the salty taste (well not actually taste) of an olive. I can tell when something is salty even though I guess technically I am not tasting the salt. It’s my tongue recognizing the saltiness.
So here I am, ticking the days off my calendar as I do my best to patiently wait for my taste and smell to return. Until then, I will just continue eating to survive.