No Smell, No Taste

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No Smell, No Taste

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In August of 2020 while attending a course in Virginia I lost both my sense of smell and sense of taste. For 6 months I tasted nothing, and smelled nothing in the food I ate, or the candles, soaps, drinks, I bought. I did not smell trees, or grass, or flowers. Only habitual hygiene assured me that I myself did not give off an odor that I could not even detect if it was there. I slowly "relearned" smell and taste (that is my theory anyway). Much like it is difficult later in life to learn a language or change your perceptions, now many things are lumped together for me in terms of distinction. All citrus smells the same to me. Onions, garlic, and often other people smell exactly the same. I can no longer stand the taste of anything peach or mango flavored, though I still enjoy the fruits themselves. Having gone so long without smell or taste, it negatively affected every day life. Relationships, conversations, memory, awareness, and even my ability to focus deteriorated and made me realize how integral our senses are socially and physically. Some smells that I distinctly remember initiating a sense of nostalgia no longer elicit the same reaction in me. This is deeply saddening, as I suspect a significant portion of my memories are inaccessible or at least markedly more difficult to recall without a fragrance to tease it out.

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This item was submitted on August 22, 2022 by Christopher James Beltran using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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