This year has been a roller coaster of a ride for me, as for many of us. When Covid struck and violently shut the world down, I felt an undeniable feeling of fear.
Watching the news only exaggerated the unknown that seemed to build day by day. Surely, I was scared to get the virus, but I was also deeply frightened for my family and friends. The grim news of people dying, people on ventilators, people without work or homes, weighed on me mightily. My feelings are nothing new but worthy of sharing as we are all in this together.
Initially, I was afraid to see anybody, let alone go to the grocery store. I felt paralyzed by the threat of it for quite some time. While I felt safe and grateful in the little bubble of my home, with my children and my husband close, following protocol, and staying away from everyone, I still knew that the virus did not discriminate.
The months passed in a strange, monotonous whirl, and before I knew it, it was mid-summer. Restaurants and business opened, friends gathered, and we all exhaled a bit, even though nothing made much sense. I saw friends, all the while being mindful of getting tested repeatedly.
I suffer from migraines, and my allergies this year have been a struggle. They do trigger migraines for me. I couldn’t seem to get rid of a horrible migraine, so I thought it was a sinus infection. When I went to the Doctor, I noticed I couldn’t smell anything. Not a thing. I could taste, though, making the sensation so odd and confusing. I let the Doctor know that I had had a negative Covid test a week and a half prior to seeing him. The loss of smell and taste symptoms were not widely spoken of as a side effect of covid, so I didn’t think there was any correlation. I tested again. Negative.
I decided to go in and get tested for the antibodies. Within a few days, my results came back, showing that I did, in fact, have the antibodies. It meant that I was currently negative for Covid, but I had definitely been exposed and infected at some point. I was lucky that my family was safe and that it passed me by, but the lingering question is, when will my smell come back? I went back to my Doctor to talk about it. His response to me was clear and unpromising. “Covid is still very new, and we don’t know why you can taste but can’t smell; it should return.” Your taste and smell go together. Another bizarre symptom of Covid. I have been hearing about more people losing their smell but not losing their taste.
I am now going on five months with no sense of smell. About two months ago, I started slowly, and only on occasion, smelling a horrible undistinguishable smell. As of three weeks ago, I started smelling a sweeter smell on occasion. It has a little bit of a vanilla scent to it. My smell goes back-and-forth from that smell to that yucky smell to nothing. There’s no rhyme or reason. I literally can’t smell the difference between dog poop and vanilla ice cream. Zero.
This affliction has been a quiet struggle for me. Our smell ignites memory; it stimulates joy, comfort, awareness, and peace. It grounds us. It’s one of those senses that we take for granted, but that is so incredibly vital. When you take in certain smells, like grapefruit, orange, lemon, they elevate your mood and lift your spirits. That being said, I can’t smell those glorious mood lifters. I have felt very down, and I have cried a lot over this. Of course, I am grateful that I am healthy, but it’s been a struggle. It makes me very sad that I can’t even smell my husband when he puts on my favorite Cologne. I can’t smell my kid’s hair, which I love to do. When I walk outside, I can’t smell the fall air. It hit me really hard on Thanksgiving because I was cooking all day, and I couldn’t smell the joy of the holiday.
Losing my sense of smell has affected my creativity. It has limited my motivation and has affected my emotions.
I share this story with all of you to say that if any of you doubt that Covid is a threat, I’m letting you know it is. It’s cryptic and nothing that any of us should take lightly. Just because it passed by someone you know lightly doesn’t mean that it will be the same for you. I know I’m not the only one out there that is experiencing this loss of smell, and the effects that it has had on my quality of life. You are not alone. If you are feeling sad or experiencing feelings of loneliness and frustration, I hear you. I have my days when I don’t want to get out of bed. I am that sad. I make myself get up, and I brush my teeth, I jump in the shower, even if it’s just to rinse off, and I get dressed. I remind myself that I still have my taste and my health, and I am so thankful for that. I have a lot to be grateful for because I am healthy. I pray morning and night that my smell will eventually come back, and I do have faith that it will. I would love to hear from any of you out there that have experienced your sense of smell lost due to COVID-19. This is such a new virus that even the doctors don’t have the answers. I think that is what is so scary. Patience is a virtue, and I am, indeed, being tested. May we all heal, learn, and grow together from the many layers of this terrible virus.