Non sense

By Musette the Insensate

I’m reading Diane Ackerman’s “The Zookeeper’s Wife”, a story based on the actions of Antonina and Jan Zabin’ski who managed to save over 300 otherwise doomed people during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw.   Reading Diane Ackerman always heightens my senses – she writes like I think, with little bits and pieces of pertinent (and some maybe not-so pertinent) information flying around the core nugget of information ….anyway, I like her writing a lot (trying to stay on track here, darlings, hangin’ by a thread…).  One of the terrifying things written about in The Zookeeper’s Wife is how quickly we adapt to whatever ‘reality’ confronts us.  One minute one is worrying about which dress to wear to a concert and the next, one is grateful to be sleeping on a mattress wedged in a doorframe, possibly allowing you to shelter your small child from shrapnel.   I, and a lot of others, call these adjustments New Normals.

So why am I yarking on about this?  Well, my New Normal isn’t anywhere near as dread and dire as it was for the citizenry of 1941 Warsaw but it’s my current New Normal.  I have lost a good 60% of my sense of taste and about 40% of my already-iffy sense of smell.

It’s bizarre, watching myself adjust to this.  I’m not really worried about it, as I think it’s a combination of an ongoing respiratory situation (involving all aspects of respiration, including a stubborn spot of pneumonia (my 14th occurrence, still some gurgling in the lungs) and  4 years of unrelenting stress, which has settled in my neck and shoulders.   The resulting ‘blockage combo’ has short circuited a lot of smell/taste receptors.  Weird disconnects:  I can taste some HFC but not sugar; El O just heated up some roast chicken, which I could smell from 3 rooms away and I drifted towards it, salivating, like one of Pavlov’s pups, only to find it nearly tasteless in my mouth.  Dang.   Not surprising, the inability to taste certain things  has dissuaded me from eating a whole lot of stuff (salty is okay, sweet is iffy, spicy is altered, much to the terror of my household as they taste a curry that seems ‘mild’ to me yet, apparently, could fuel the Hubble to another planet)…but…well ….obviously I haven’t completely stopped eating , since I’m still a solid size 12 and able to type this post without keeling over in a dead faint.  But the lack of taste and smell has created a New Normal for me, while I try to get this fixed.

What Doesn’t Work: The Food Chronicles:

Dough.  At this rate I should be a size 8 by March 22nd.  I can’t taste any bread or pasta. Weird. The hottest curries or sauces are muted by the bland dough.  Rice?  Fuggedaboutit.  I can taste toasted tortillas but that’s not really true – I can taste the little crispy bits but not the sweetness of the corn.

Sweet:  see above.  No point in eating brownies or cake.  They taste like flour.   My last waffle was this morning.  What a waste of good maple syrup (which I also can’t taste)

Salty:  salty is good – but only for a few minutes.  Then, like the ionones in violets (which we’ve discussed here before) the salt vanishes..then reappears (maybe)….then vanishes.. I gave up on potato chips – it’s not worth the calories.

Salty/fatty:  this is a weird one.  Salted almonds:  can taste them in the back left quadrant of my tongue but only fleetingly.    The rest of my tongue is a wasteland.  This gets boring, quickly, as you can imagine.  I’m using them for the protein and fibre.

So the New Normal for me consists of orange juice, which I can taste, toast with peanut butter and Thai Green Curry (not together!).   And peppermint tea.

Has this happened to any of you?  How did you cope?  Did you lose weight?  If I’m going to be tortured like this, I would at least like to re-fit into those slammo black suede pants.

Perfume choices have had to change as well.  I’m limited to extremes.  Carnal Flower is UP! as is Amouage Epic.  Chanel Coco, No5 perfume and vintage My Sin make their presence  known.  1/20th of what I normally get in vintage Ubar . Other than that, I’m mostly confused.  All the Diors are null –  Diorella languishes in the back of the drawer as I can only smell something vaguely pond-y that I never smelled before.  Are you all sitting down?  Good.  I CAN’T SMELL MITSOUKO!   I KNOW!!!  Alert the media!  Just joshin’.  I mean, I can smell it – but it’s a pale reflection of its normal glorious self, with all sorts of notes awol.

So I’m looking to you guys for some guidance – I’ve given you the basics of my smell limitations.  What would you suggest for my New Normal, as I try to adjust to these limitations?  I am open to any notes.  Bring ’em!   With any luck this will dissipate but in the meantime I am going to have to change what I sniff,  lest you get a few weeks worth of book reviews or stories about my dogs.  So, a little help here?  Thanks!

image:  Gerhard Richter “Mirror Painting (Grey, 735-2)  – this is how my olfactory world feels right now.

The ionones reference comes from Diane Ackerman’s vaunted A Natural History of the Senses which was my introduction to her work.

  • Musette,
    Apologies for not seeing your post sooner! I hope the article helped. There is another one that will help you understand the mechanics of what is happening to you with anosmia; “Anosmia Matters Whether You Can Smell or Not.” It is posted here:

    Find a really good ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor) who treats people with anosmia induced by sinus issues. Read Dr. DeVere’s “Navigating Taste and Smell Disorders.” It will clarify a lot; he’s a neurologist who had anosmia and regained some of his sense of smell.

  • MJ says:

    Wow, I thought it was just me! Last year I had a terrible cold and sinus infection, and lost the range of scent of smell that can pick up rotten vegetables. Yes, not a bad thing – but I can’t tell when our fridge is “off,” or if I can tell, I don’t know what I’m smelling (bad milk, lettuce or cheese). Totally lost my taste for sweets too, I only want salt and spice. I’m 42, guess I don’t need to sniff my fridge any longer anyway….

  • nicola says:

    Hi Musette – I’m sorry I read this so late and just hope you will read it as it might, just might help. A few years back after a prolonged bout of stress culminating in a nasty relationship breakup, I lost my sense of taste by about 80%. Smell seemed mostly OK but I was MAD about the taste thing because if I was going to comfort eat I wanted to d*mn well taste the cheese and wine and cakes (not altogether). It just happened overnight. I went to the doctor who was mystified and sent me for blood tests. I dug around online and found some stuff on zinc deficiency and decided to self medicate with B vits and minerals. By the time my doctor told me I was deficient in B12 I had somehow managed to tip the balance back in my favour and my sense of taste returned to normal within a few weeks. Apparently stress inhibits absorption of B vits and this, combined with a long spell as a veggie had done for me – but only temporarily. If you haven’t already it might be worthwhile having a blood test to check out B vit levels as you’ve been under the cosh for a long time by the sounds of it. I wish you a full recovery and the beauty of Diorella and Mitsouko to once again bring you joy (and try Parfum d’Empire Azemour). Nicola

  • Faylene says:

    Just catching up on my reading after a few particularly stressful days in my own life, caring for my very ill husband. Anita, I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. I’ve never lost my senses of smell or taste due to stress but unless there has been physical damage to your taste buds or smell receptors, I would guess that they are working properly; rather, your brain has shut down your ability to perceive smells/tastes in order to give your body rest.

    I’m a visual type – I design and write patterns for garments for handknitters – and when I’m stressed, I lose all ability to judge colors accurately and dress in the drabbest, most mismatched way you can imagine.

    The analogy I use is an overflowing “in box” – when one’s body is overwhelmed by sensory input (smells and tastes in your case), it shuts down in order to give your body the time it needs to “catch up on filing.”

    I won’t repeat the suggestions already mentioned but will add the suggestion of a light box – can’t hurt and may help.

    Hope you’re feeling fat and sassy – or should I say skinny and sassy? – again real soon.

  • Sweet Sue says:

    Musette, I don’t comment much but since no one has mentioned this-Dr. Oz (are you rolling your eyes, yet?) talked about something called the Miracle Berry. You eat a small, red berry and it changes a sour taste into a sweet one.
    I don’t know how that could affect your problem or if it would help at all, but it’s worth a shot.
    It doesn’t sound like you are near a Whole Foods but you could order miracle berries on line. Just google and see if you are interested–Good luck!

  • Flora says:

    Dearest Musette, I feel so awful for you – smell and taste disappearing for a perfumista?! Not OK! I wish I could DO something!

    Just wondering, have you had your zinc levels tested? Stress can bring on a deficiency like that, and it’s an essential micronutrient for the olfactory system to work properly. Just a thought.

  • sweetlife says:

    Hey Evil Auntie, reading this several days after the party, but just wanted to say how sorry I am that you’re dealing with this. Sensory pleasures are one of my big stress relief things so I can only imagine! Argh! Unfair life!

    Wishing you a relief in 2012.

  • Smellifluous says:

    A very late response here, but wanted to add my sympathies for your unsmelly/untasty plight! I spent about 10 years with non-stop sinus infections, often losing sense of smell and taste. The worst lasted about 2 months straight. Like you, after about a week I just gave up on trying to enjoy food and ate for health only. Was probably the healthiest time of my life! (Uh, if you don’t count missing 2 senses.)

    Now, a decade after those endless sinus infections ceased (for the most part), my sense of smell is still pretty funky. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, often my sinuses get freaked out (that’s the technical term) and I have to back off from perfumes. Scented candles/room sprays are completely out. In terms of perfumes, when my sinuses are wacky, I do MUCH better with all-natural fragrances than with synthetics. It’s not so much that they are stronger (usually they’re not) but that their “rounder” scent is easier for my sad little nose to process. Or something like that. So thank heavens for brilliant natural perfumers like Roxana Villa. Maybe give some a try? I doubt you’ll be able to smell them better than synthetics (which I also love, by the way!) but who knows…maybe your unhappy sinuses will tolerate them better, relax, and open up a bit more to the natural frags. Just a (long-winded) thought! Best of luck with finding some solutions that work for you.

  • HemlockSillage says:

    Dear lady! I just sent you a woe filled email, and trot over here to read this. I am so very sorry you are dealing with this. I second the ENT idea, and I’m so glad you’ve seen a good neurologist.

    Glad to hear that you can smell; that’s encouraging. As for food to tempt a distorted palate, I can only suggest that texture may be your best new friend. One friend has no sense of smell has explained he finds contrasting food texture and temperatures most important.

    Hang in there, and know that I’m in the crowd who will delightedly read about whatever strikes your fancy. My favorite post is still your thunderstorm post. . .which is about so much more than smell! You have an amazing zest for life. I know you will kick this, and likely come up with amazing new insights to share. Keep me posted in your journey. I’ll keep you in my prayers, and look forward to what you learn. Be well.

  • Lavanya says:

    That really sucks, Anita! *huge hugs* Did you say you can smell roses? would that extend to rose absolute and/or rose perfume. Can you taste mint? ( I am assuming you can ‘cos of the peppermint tea)- then have you tried Opus Oils’ Eau Pear Tingle?- I’ve heard good things about it but not sure if you would be interested in that type of scent.

    • Musette says:

      I am interested in all types of scents, L, and you are the second (third?) person to mention this one, so I’m going to check it out. Yes, I can smell the absolutes (I have a few here) and perfume, though I am not a fan of pure rose – my current ‘working’ rose is Tribute Attar layered over Rosine’s Folie du Rose. A perfect combo@

      Thanks for the hugs – this will get better, soon. The massage therapy is working (no foolin’ – massage therapy = GOOOOOD! :d and we’ll see what the ENT says, again, come the warmer weather. This time of year is rough on me, with gas-forced heat. Ick.

      xo >-)

      • Lavanya says:

        lol- by ‘that type’ I meant minty fruity type of scents..:D..
        Your tribute attar layered over folie du Rose sounds gawjus. I am not a huge pure rose fan either- do you like Montale’s black oud at all?- that is pretty intense and a perfect balance of rich roses and leathery woodiness, but many people find the oud note in it too harsh (not me!..:))

        • Musette says:

          the black oud ooks me out – to be honest, I don’t get along with most of the Montales, alas…but yeah, you should try the Tribute/FDR combo – the FDR smooths out that raspy note in Tribute – but not TOO much!

          xo >-)

  • mals86 says:

    I am so bummed for you. Looks like you’ve got at least a plan for dealing, so that’s good. (Cause I got nuthin’ but sympathy.)

    Sending some hugs.

  • Ann says:

    Hi, sweetie, just got home from work and am so sorry to read this. Sending you a big hug and hoping that this will be a very, very temporary state. Keep on nappin’ (when you can)– that’s bound to help. Hang in there!

  • Nancy says:

    Well, a friend of mine’s husband lost his sense of smell. I asked how he could enjoy her perfume and he says he licks it. Strange I know…
    I had been sick recently and could not smell or taste anything and I actually did loose weight. I’d eat a few bites of “whatever” and it all tasted like cardboard and did not satisfy so I put the fork down or glass down.
    Hope you get over this! How are you coping today?

    • Musette says:

      (channeling Tony Curtis in The Manitou – sort of)

      HE LICKS IT? 😮

      well, okay…:-?

      I’m doing okay today – can taste spicy stuff and a bit of peanut butter…size 8 here I come! :d

      xo >-)

  • Winifrieda says:

    OOOOhhhh dear woman I am gutted to hear you are feeling crook as we say Downunder….there is a lot of good advice up there but I would certainly second the suggestions about Yoga, maybe the inverted poses, and real meditation, as well as the nose water thing. Can you get to the ocean and have a really good rumble in the surf, getting dumped etc, that really cleans your head out.
    I am a great fan of nature and natural remedies. Sometimes I think if you are in a sort of chronic state of unwellness, you have to completely change everything, including any pharmecutical drugs.I am not as back-to-nature hippie as I once was, but I was dead set against antibiotics especially with my baby and the way doctors would push antibiotics for EVERYTHING. There is so much tolerance for them now, and they can really thicken up secretions that are the body’s way of trying to get rid of junk, but you obviously cant mess around with pneumonia. I think big doses of fish oil are just about a cure-all too. Probably the best anti-inflamatory.
    There is no doubt age decreases smell just like eyesight and hearing, I’m pushing 60 and I just can’t get the thrill of hippie musk like I used to! That said, genuine essential oils are wonderful for recalibratting the sense of smell. there is something about patchouli oil that soothes my savage breast!
    Best wishes for a great year Musette from a devoted fan of your wry and witty writing….XOXO Marion

    • Musette says:

      Oh, dearest! I am so far from the ocean right now – smack-dab in the middle of this frigid country…but I am doing saline inhalations like nobody’s biz!!!

      I am with you on the limiting of antibiotics. I took a quick course just to make sure I didn’t seize up in the lungs – I was off them so quick, you wouldn’t believe it. I think I’ve been on anti-b’s maybe 3x in 15 years, so that’s not too bad.

      You are SOOOOO kind to say such lovely things! Thank you! 😡

      xoxoxo >-)

      • Sapphire says:

        Hi Musette,
        I’m an internal medicine doc in Texas. Haven’t had too many patients with this, but chronic sinus problems seem to be a chief culprit. Have you seen a good ENT/otolaryngologist? This is really their bag, and they often do allergy treatments, too.

        • Musette says:

          Hi! I have seen an ENT – the photos of my (not sternum…SEPTUM! sorry, it’s late..:”> ) look like an Escher staircase. I need to get a rhino…maybe when I get this stupid shop paid off…not too much in the way of allergies – most just totally wacked-out sinii.

          I hope it’s warmer where you are than where I am (it leapt up to a blistering 23F, dropping like a rock now…:((

          xo >-)

  • KirstenMarie says:

    Oh Dear Musette. I don’t have any medicalese-type fixes, but if taste is out, what about texture? Can you at least aim for that and see if you gain any pleasure from it? (I’d suggest chocolate-covered strawberries – crunchy shell, soft fruit – but you’ve got That Fruit And Chocolate Together Thing. Does it count if you can’t taste it??) :o

    • Musette says:


      That is the most intriguing query! I…I don’t know! That would be an interesting experiment, though..:-?

      xo >-)

      • KirstenMarie says:

        Hehehe….or something to blog about! That’s what happens to the best “interesting experiments.” Have this mental picture of you spitting it out while pretzeled up in some crazy yoga pose, with your Neti pot in one hand and an acupuncture needle in the other! God bless, sweetie – wish I could fix this for you!:d

      • Louise says:

        Oooh, and choco-pretzels? The salt might get through, with that great texture thing.

  • minette says:

    can you find someone who is really well-trained in qi gong and tai chi? or someone who does medical qi gong? sounds like you need some major doses of healing energy to kick that stuff to the curb.

    you could also look into chinese and/or ayurvedic food theories – to rebalance your system. generally, when you have too much wetness and phleghm in your system, you eat spicy and dry foods to dry it up and get back into balance.

    in the meantime, just eat for energy/fuel. and maybe avoid dairy, as dairy triggers the body to create mucous (that’s why professional singers avoid it before engagements – it clogs the throat).

    i wish you the best!

    • Musette says:

      thanks! Maybe that’s why I am craving really spicy curries these days!

      And you’re right about the dairy. I looked at some ice cream but it made me b-( – probably my body saying ‘oh, no you don’t! [-(

      xo >-)

  • Janice says:

    I have tons of sympathy but no advice. When I temporarily have trouble smelling things because of a cold or something, I tend to stick with extreme-but-familiar perfumes—afraid to try anything new because I might be missing something (or worse, it will be awful on me and no one will tell me… or maybe even worse yet, they will).

    That connection between stress and a diminished sense of smell is something I wouldn’t have thought of, but it makes a lot of sense. I hope you’re through all the respiratory stuff and have less stress soon! But I would love to read about the dogs anytime, and you’ve just inspired me to look up Diane Ackerman’s books—thanks!

    • Musette says:

      I hope you love her as much as I do! She seems to be a bit polarizing. I’m destressing as much as I can – it’s actually easier than I thought, once I just decided to Do It. Most of mine is stuff I can’t immediately change (finances, etc) but can work on – but stressing about them doesn’t help in any way. So I am starting to just shine it on! Weird, but true!

      xo >-)

  • Mrs.Honey says:

    My mother lost her sense of smell entirely. She has never gotten it back. This was after a lifetime of sinus problems. She can’t taste much, just sweet, salty, bitter, sour and unami (the tastes from the tongue.) She has not lost much weight, however.

    That scared the you know what out of me, and convinced me to do allergy treatment. Now I am in the third year of shots and am on maintenance. Although I got sick this December under a great deal of stress, that was the first time I have had a cough or laryngitis in a year. I did not get bronchitis, nor did I get a secondary sinus infection. I could smell and taste everything. For my entire adult life, a cold or flu always meant secondary sinus and chest congestion and loss of smell.

    I can’t recommend allergy treatment highly enough. When the sinuses are not a rogue mucus factory due to allergens, the bacteria and viruses do not have a happy home and they tend to stay away or leave soon.

  • Dionne says:

    I love Diane Ackerman’s writing – she’s got a right brain/left brain combo that really works for me (my two great loves in school: literature and cutting up small animals.)

    Just for interest’s sake, and since you brought up books, have you heard of “Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way” by Molly Birnbaum? I read it just this last month and quite enjoyed it. Good news is that despite losing her sense of smell completely, it did eventually come back.

    My deep sympathies on the no smelling, especially since I got a taste of it this Christmas. A bad case of the flu morphed into bronchitis, and I haven’t worn anything for over three weeks because I’m so stuffed up. My just-arrived sample of That Slut Tocade is about the only thing that can penetrate, but she’s so very faint it’s almost like she “got religion.” ;)

    • Musette says:

      Cutting up small DEAD animals, right? Just checkin’…;)


      I had not heard of this book but it’s now on my li-berry list!!!

      Hey, if Tocade is behaving you ARE stuffed up! 😮 I’d wait awhile!

      xo >-)

  • Elisa says:

    Sorry to hear that you’re experiencing extreme sensory deprivation!! I would hate that.

    My only advice is to focus on the bright side, as you seem to be doing already, and retrain your body to eat when you are hungry instead of for entertainment. I had to do this when I developed a bunch of food intolerances (including but not limited to pretty much all grains but rice, some legumes, some nightshades, some seafood, ETC.) that made eating NO FUN AT ALL. I’ve pretty much figured out a diet that works for me now, but I rarely eat for pleasure alone. The awesome thing about this is that my weight is perfectly regulated with very little effort on my part. Even over the holidays I never gain weight.

    Also, experiment with the ’80s, perfume-wise. They threw so many notes into everything, you’re sure to smell some of them.

    • lala says:

      How true about ’80s perfume. The note pyramids on some of them crack me up, they’re so enormous.

      • Musette says:

        OMG, you’re so right! Remember the level of hairspray vapor at an 80s salon? I think 80s hair contributed greatly to Global Warming.

        xo >-)

  • tammy says:

    I have no advice, only sympathy! Okay, maybe a little advice…how about loading up on cumin-laden scents? I am going through a Pon Farr of sorts with cumin, after being totally phobic about it!

    OT, but I did find that album, and it does have Sleep Holy Child (paraphrasing here) on it.

    Has that kind of over-produced 50s/60s sound, and you are not going to be mistaking the singer for Maria Callas, but I’d love to send you a copy if you’re still interested!

  • Elizabeth W says:

    While reading the comments, I was thinking to recommend acupuncture but I see Joanna has already mentioned it. I think it’s one of the first things I would look into if I had difficulty tasting and smelling things. So sorry you are experiencing this kind of New Normal–I hope it is temporary. Sending you healing thoughts right now, dear Musette.

  • lala says:

    Musette, do you have any Tauer perfumes in the queue to be reviewed? Betcha could smell them. Or maybe write an article about trends in perfume, a specific house, bottles and packaging…that sort of thing?

    • Musette says:

      Excellent ideas, all! You’re just afraid I’mo yark on about the dog, aren’t you? 😉

      xo >-)

      • lala says:

        I’m always up for a good dog story, actually. Maybe we could compare which perfumes incite the dog to hump our leg? j/k. If you haven’t discovered it yet, check out The Fluffington Post. Always good for a smile if you’re an animal lover.

        • Musette says:

          My dogs wouldn’t dare. :-w Just Ask March.

          Though the giant Rott did try to scrab a bit of El O’s oatmeal this morning. He was so smooth about it, it was almost funny. Almost.

          xo >-)

  • marsha says:

    Back to the unrelenting stress, do you take any time for Musette? I’m telling you, stress can make you SICK!!! In all kinds of ways!

    • Musette says:

      I just started to do so, about 6 weeks ago. I’d settled into this absurd Righteous Vigilance mode, which is just ridiculous. Now I carve out several hours a day Just For Me! [-( No reason not to – the cubs are grown and gone, my dad is under good care and I am not fighting zombies or aliens. That pretty much eliminates all the immediate excuses I can come up with. ;))

      xo >-)

      • marsha says:

        That is just great, cause it is just ridiculous that we feel like we have to do everything!

        • Musette says:

          funny, innit, how when we don’t, the world just keep spinning…:-?

          I’m enjoying letting go a whole lot of weird little things.


  • marsha says:

    I would try a neti pot for your nose. I know, a neti pot sounds gross, and I had to work on my head for a year before I could use one, but once I did, I couldn’t believe the difference. It really helped get the junk out of my nose and did help improve my sense of smell.

    Next, I would try some gentle yoga for the unrelenting stress that has settled in your neck and shoulders. Not the yoga that twists you into a pretzel, just gentle stretches and deep breathing. It is wonderful.

    And I do agree with seeing a doctor because this really is not a normal thing.

    • Musette says:

      Saline inhalation is My Best Friend. I couldn’t breathe at all without it.

      I am definitely going back to the yoga. I stopped for all the regular, dumb reasons. It would be smart to return.

      xo >-)

  • lala says:

    I’m in the middle of a bout of sinusitis-related anosmia, and I can only smell patchouli bombs. They get old after a while, so I am temporarily scentless. I am dying to try the sample of Honour I won and some other things, but it’s a no go.

    I can’t imagine having to deal with what you’re suffering, and I’m so very sorry. My suggestion is that you contact the world-reknowned Monell Taste and Smell Research Center (link below). Although they are not in your neck of the woods, they should be able to refer you to someone who can help.

    • Musette says:

      They’ll be there when you are feeling more the thing!

      This isn’t the first time this has happened – my smell/taste receptors are on a tripwire, it seems. I had some chiropractic adjustments done (for the shoulder/neck stress) and my chiro uses that trigger-point gun….he hit some spot in my shoulder and while it really helped release the stress, I couldn’t smell (or taste) for a week!

      xo >-)

  • Joanna says:

    Just wondering what sort of treatment you have tried? A neurologist is a good idea. Also, have you tried acupuncture? I know, I know a lot of people don’t believe in that realm of treatment. I didn’t either until I tried it for extreme anxiety and it has helped greatly.

    • Musette says:

      Babycakes, I was at the vanguard of integrative medicine, back in the early 80s, when MDs and insurance companies would try to have you committed if you mentioned acupuncture/pressure or any sort of massage therary! Acupuncture cured my migraines! I ^:)^ the ‘puncture!! ;))

      Man, what a rough decade that was, with insurers threatening to drop folks for that type of thing – like early users of antidepressants…now every other ad touts them…and massage therapy is covered by major medical!!!

      And we’re on it for this – but it’s a bit of a slog because I also have to work on continuing to eliminate the stress and my physical reactions to it (the shoulders and neck thing)…

      so glad it helped with your anxiety!!!

      xo >-)

  • March says:

    Hey, sweets — I already checked in with you… I am so sorry about all of this. FWIW at least in our neck of the woods, because it’s been unusually warm, everyone’s still suffering from the sort of allergies that usually go away by now.

    The only smell story I have is a common one — with each pregnancy I was overly sensitive to smells, and always in danger of smelling something (chemical smells, food smells) that would make me retch, literally. I think this is pretty normal and probably biological (that’s not the word I’m looking for) — the body’s original defense mechanism against ingesting anything dangerous or spoiled during pregnancy.

  • pyramus says:

    “A Natural History of the Senses” is AWESOME. I used to manage a bookstore, and I got some sample pages before it was published: I bought and repeatedly read it in hardcover, pushed it on as many customers as I could, and then really really pushed it when the softcover was released. (I am informed that I told one customer, “You’ll DIE if you don’t read this!”) It’s still in print, by the way, so you should all read it. You’ll die if you don’t, apparently.

    I too had some nose trouble a couple of years back, but not anosmia: dysosmia, in which nearly every fragrance I smelled (and not just fragrances but nearly my whole olfactory environment) was dominated by a nasty chemical-synthetic odour, as if a vial of all those ozonic-fresh-aquatic odorants so popular these days was permanently installed under my nose. Eventually it went away, but it took months: in the meantime I just tried to ignore it, to smell through it, in the same way that you try to see through TV static to the image you know is there.

    • March says:

      Gah, I’ve heard about problems similar to yours (everything smells like rotten meat or whatever) and thought: that would be my idea of hell. So glad it went away.

    • Musette says:

      For a lot of my linear-thinking friends, Diane Ackerman’s writing is crazymaking!!! And I’ve heard that she drives some linear-thinking scientists nuts, too. But I love how she writes – it’s like having a really smart friend stop over for tea and chocolate sables and somehow you drift into a conversation about senses.

      Plus she owns one of my favorite pastels, by my mentor R.B. Kitaj. What’s not to love?

      xo >-)

  • Nancy says:

    Please see a doctor, preferably a neurologist. This is not normal in any way.

    • Musette says:

      seen ’em, thanks! That’s how I got the pneumonia diag.

      xo >-)

      • Louise says:

        Ditto on the neurologist, not other specialist. And also, please say you are avoiding zinc in meds-thought to mess up taste/smell.

        • Musette says:

          am. thanks! I’m not on any antibiotics now, and am pretty much cleansing now, trying to get the ook out of my system – but this really is more muscular – it’s happened before, just not to this extent (I think the bronch has a lot to do with that). As I mentioned down below, my chiro hit a trigger point with his little zappy thing, released the knot in my shoulder – but knocked out my sense of taste for a week! :-w

          xo >-)

  • Jillie says:

    So sorry for your troubles, but weirdly glad too as they almost mirror mine, and it’s always good to know you have fellow sufferers!

    Like you, chest infections, stress and bereavements seem to have exacerbated my problem, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t be permanent. And I am refusing to use nose sprays and decongestants as they can cause lasting damage.

    Strangely I seem to be able to smell better than I can taste (which I am sure is a conundrum), although it saddens me when some of my favourite perfumes are so fleeting now. I seem to find those heavy on vanilla the most smellable – Chopard’s Casmir is really smellable – and, strangely the new Diane von Furstenberg which I would have thought too light, but it somehow gets through and lasts. It maddens me, though, to feel that I am even more hypersensitive nowadays to all the laundry musks floating off other shoppers’ clothes and up my nose, and which nauseate me so much. And so many household products seem to stink! Why on earth is this happening?

    Again like you, I find salty food the best, to the point of craving savoury madly, especially curries. Sadly, I always end up disappointed once I start eating, and I think my lack of taste is going to contribute to me ballooning in weight, as I keep thinking “maybe the next mouthful will be better, and the next, and the next …..”. No self control, unlike you.

    My only tip is to make sure you are hydrated; I find my sense of taste even more dulled when I haven’t had enough fluid, and I think a dry mouth means that the taste buds don’t work so well.

    And a tip on what not to do: don’t eat pine nuts! Some people like me seem to have a weird reaction to them, which results in everything tasting very bitter for weeks on end, even though otherwise you don’t have much sense of taste. Weird.

    Do keep us posted on your progress. And if I hear of any cure, I will let you know. Good luck.

    • Musette says:

      Sick Twins! I, too, can smell better than I can taste, which is why that roast ~:> was such a disappointment.

      For curries, etc, I’ve been putting less than half my normal portion on my plate – and I’ve been eating alone (the Os in my house are 275-lb guys who SHOVEL it in, so no time or atmosphere for reflection), which allows me time to really pay attention to what I’m eating. If I get the taste, then I can get a little more. If not, I don’t have the spectre of all that ‘should be tasty’ food in front of me. So far, it’s not a bad way to deal with it.

      Thanks for the fluids tip! I don’t seem to have a pine nut problem (pesto has some taste and I don’t get bitterness), though I have heard of that. Also some folks seem to get some mouth-numbing from pn. 😕

      xo >-)

      • Louise says:

        Oooh, rats. But-have you tried artichokes? Contrary to pine nuts, they can make foods eaten after taste sweeter/stronger-onse reason they’re used in appetizers. Give them a try-at worst, you’ll be eating artichoke ; )

  • FragrantWitch says:

    Arghhh- this is my 3rd try at posting!!

    I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with anosmia. My mom, a perfume lover and keen cook, lost her sense of smell and, largely, taste about 15 years ago. She can occasionally catch a whiff of perfume ( usually when I am wearing Shalimar) and has a very muted sense of taste. Perhaps unsurprisingly Angel penetrates this and she can smell it on passerby and at the counter. I have done my part and dissuaded her from buying it ;-)

    Hopefully, your experience with it will be very limited and with some positive outcomes. Shopping for new perfumes = therapeutic benefit! I’d suggest trying some perfume oils- most are inexpensive so a great way to try some new smells without breaking the bank. AromaSanctum is great and Akuura will customise and she can blend ‘copies’ of discontinued fragrances. Also, Villianess. I think you would lime their signature scent which they describe as ‘all ballgowns and combat boots’ which features notes of leather and tuberose. Latherati has scents and body products based on classic novels and For Strange Women at Etsy has some things I have heard great things about and would love to try- Winter Kitty, for instance, inspired by the smell of a cats fur after a winter walk through air tinged with woodsmoke? Hello!

    Hope you feel much better soon!

    • March says:

      Sorry about your posting troubles. For some reason the Posse’s been really slow to access/load from my computer. I thought the problem might be local traffic but I’ll check in with the others and see if it’s more widespread than that.

    • Musette says:

      Angel Haters Everywhere ^:)^ you!

      And I am loving the idea of Ballgowns and combat boots! ;))

      xo >-)

  • Lindaloo says:

    So sorry to hear what you’re going through. I haven’t been so unfortunate myself but remember my sister struggling after having taken a medication that left her, for many months, with a strong metallic taste in her mouth in response to almost any food she tried to eat.

    As for perfumes, I’m wondering if the common factor in your positive response to Coco, No.5 and My Sin might be the aldehydes.

    And while I wouldn’t suggest this as the time to acquire new scents you may find the following article from Glass Petal Smoke on anosmia and Opus Oils Eau Pear Tingle interesting:

    Meanwhile, maybe some massage therapy including cranio-sacral to relieve that neck and shoulder stress.

    Hoping you’re soon back to the “old normal”.

    • Musette says:

      I am excited to read the article, thanks! and yes! on the massage therapy – unfortunately it is ongoing (I say ‘unfortunately’ because I would’ve loved a quick-fix) – this stress is so deep seated that it’s going to take some time – additionally I am having to relearn how to dissipate it. Lots of work ahead.

      xo >-)

  • Madea says:


    Musette, hon, I’m awfully sorry you’re going through this. It really, really sucks to have a NN thrust on you.

    For your stomach, I’d suggest you experiment with what you can tolerate. My medication makes me sick to my stomach sometimes, so I figured what I could handle (beef broth, for about two months) and then slowly branched out. First plain, then with noodles, then with some spices, with buttered toast, etc.

    Generally,whenever I’m at my lowest, I watch Mikhail Cocoyannis’s ‘The Trojan Women’. No matter what’s going on, it can’t possibly be as bad as that. It also sort of examines the whole NN idea, albeit in the grimmest way possible.

    For perfume, why not try some Arabian-style attars and ouds? They tend to be strong, linear and relatively inexpensive. Some of them can seem sort of inaccessable, but it could be an adventure.

    Hope you feel better :)

    • Musette says:

      I can tolerate anything – I’m not nauseous, just devoid of taste. Sorry if I was confusing, there. I just don’t see the point of chowing down overmuch on things I cannot taste, so I’m eating what I need to, to survive (because I am so bone-thin, don’tchaknow /:)

      I’m so sorry to hear your meds do that to you. I was on an extended antibiotic once, for pneumonia, and it tore my stomach up!
      Buttered toast is Floyd’s gift to the stomach! ^:)^

      xo >-)

      and yes! on the ouds and attars, though even they are muted right now. But it’ll be fun to try to discern what’s in there.