This Is What Happened

Hi everyone, and Happy New Year.

So, in early November, I had surgery.  Two months later it’s pretty clear that the general anesthesia did something to my sense of smell (the surgery had nothing to do with my head).  It could be worse – everything doesn’t smell terrible, which has happened to people.  It’s just a foundational shift in my smell-perception, plus this weird, sporadic olfactory background noise somewhere between bacon and sweat.  To be honest I don’t even know if that’s a phantom smell, appearing and disappearing, or whether it’s something in my vicinity (like wood smoke?) that just smells different to me now.

I tried a few of my old perfume loves and they all smell completely wrong, which was wildly depressing, so guess what?  I put them away.  I’m not smelling any of them right now, while I wait and see if my sense of smell returns to something closer to normal — which it may well do, others have gotten better after a few months.  I guess you’ll have to read me yammering on about other things.  Or not.  No hard feelings.

This month, like a gazillion other people, I’m doing a 30-day dietary re-set called Whole30, which hasn’t proved to be too terrible seven days in.  No added sugars, grains, legumes, alcohol, dairy or soy. They say over and over not to call it a “diet” and to focus on health benefits rather than weight loss, but it’s quasi-Paleo and given what I’m eating I’m certainly hoping for weight loss.  I realized after Christmas that I weigh the same right now as I did a couple decades ago, only then I was nine months pregnant with a kid.  My weight is creeping up and I’m not going to pretend it’s a mystery why – I love my carbs.  Desserts and bread call out to me with their siren songs!

I’ve been cooking a lot for this (fortunately I know how to cook) because you’re not supposed to have added sugars, soy, or wheat and guess what? At least in America, we slip those—especially sugar– into everything.  Doing a lot of label reading.  Anyway after 30 days they have this reintroduction phase where you put certain food groups back in.  I was practicing a bit for this in December, and actually I wonder if I have at least some degree of lactose intolerance.  Maybe I’ll just go back to kefir and yogurt, who knows?

So, ramble away, friends!  Are you doing any specific thing for your health right now?  Any new year’s resolutions you feel like sharing?  Any thoughts or experience with damage to your sense of smell?

  • Musette says:

    I finally got that dead mouse smell out of my soft palate (after El cleaned up the 4 FOUR 4 dead mice in the cellar, it still took a few days). So I feeeel yer paiiiin. I think your sense of smell will self-correct, just give it time.


  • maggiecat says:

    Life throws some interesting things our way, doesn’t it? I hope all returns to normal soon, or you find rewards inherent in the new normal. Good luck with the Whole30 thing – my hubby and I are going back to low carb and it’s helping, but also challenging. Like you, I love me my carbs!.

  • hczerwiec says:

    I’m sorry March — how frustrating! But I hope the reset month helps in many ways. Much love to you. I’m getting back to exercising — the fall semester was so crazy that I had no energy for it at the end of the day, and my first class was at 7am so there was no exercising before. Plus, more water and less coffee, and more fish. Be well!

  • Brigitte says:

    Hope your sense of smell returns soon!
    Seems like lots of us are on healthy living plans for 2019. I have committed to exercising every day, no excess sugar, processed foods, alcohol, coffee and I am finally drinking water and eating more protein. My goal is to gain five pounds of lean muscle mass. And, like others, also on a no buy and shopping my own perfume collection.

    • March says:

      Lean muscle mass — you go, girl! And the water is key too. I’m annoyed because I’m old and so it means waaaay more trips to the bathroom at work, but hey at least my Fitbit counts them lol.

      • Tara C says:

        Neva, I’m really interested in starting an Ayurvedic diet, is there a book you paerticularly recommend?

        • Neva says:

          No, Tara. I went to an ayurvedic doctor who did the pulse check-up and determined my body type. After his diagnosis he recommended me what to eat and what to avoid and suggested a sleeping schedule which is also important. I do the check-ups every 3 months and get my medications and teas (all herbal). I’m extremely satisfied and motivated because after a while you get to see the results.

    • Neva says:

      March, I’m on an ayurvedic diet for four years now. The detox is supposed to be an additional attempt to get rid of toxines quicker.

  • Neva says:

    Happy New Year to you too, March! I’m sure your sense of smell will come back to normal and a proper diet will contribute to it. You need to get rid of the toxines in your body so it may be better to skip meat and fish and eat grains and vegetables instead. It’s not so heavy for the digestion system. Oh, and no coffee. I’m also on a detox plan for a week now and I notice that my sense of smell has actually improved.

    • March says:

      What detox plan are you on? Really, I figured anything that cleaned up my diet for a bit would probably be good for me. Whole30 isn’t a long term solution for me but I can definitely feel the difference eating more whole foods and fewer carbs.

  • matty says:

    Oh No !!!! Having your sense of smell altered is a nightmare for a perfume lover. Hope it returns soon XX

    • March says:

      Thanks. I was pretty bitter about it for a week. But as I did more reading and realize how much worse it could be, like smelling, say, something rotten all the time, coupled with the fact that lots of folks seem to get better, I’m just going to wait it out.

  • Shiva-woman says:

    Anesthesia is harder on the body than most of us realize. Because so many of us visibly pop back up, are back to work or whatnot, there’s no visible appearance of how it’s affected us, but it often is months before we are back to normally, physically and neurologically. Combine that with whatever the surgery is for, and it’s a lot of stress on the body. Take care care of yourself and best wishes with the lifestyle change!

    • March says:

      Thank you. To be honest the anesthesia was the least of my concerns going into surgery — didn’t think twice about it. Now I’ve done a bit of reading and I’m gobsmacked. First of all, nobody really knows quite how or why anesthesia works. Second if you talk to doctors, it’s general anesthesia they fear the most. So, yeah. I’m telling myself to be patient and see if I recover my olfactory senses.

  • Koyel says:

    Oh no, I’m so sorry about your sense of smell! I hope it goes back to normal and you can experience your old perfume loves properly again.

    I plan to do a month of a keto diet! I’ve weighed too much since I wrote and defended my thesis almost two years ago–while writing, I gave myself permission to eat pretty much anything I wanted (always mac & cheese), and didn’t exercise at ALL, partly because I had broken my foot. Now I’ve been carrying an extra 15 – 20 lbs for two years, and it’s hard on my little feet. Let us know how your diet goes! I need to start my diet month soon, but it’s so hard–there are always events to wait for. Right now, I’m waiting for the Chandeleur crêpe party I plan to host on 2 Feb. But seriously, I need to start…after that.

    • March says:

      Ugh a foot break! Anything with our feet is such a nightmare — bunion surgery etc. I have plantar fasciitis in one foot which took months of recovery and I am sooooo careful now. Yeah, I feel like my knees would really appreciate fewer pounds. I have definitely gained weight at my office job, a combination of more sitting and a LOT of delicious treats — leftovers from conferences we host, plus some really good home bakers who bring things in regularly!

  • Libby says:

    Oh, no that’s horrible! Hopefully it will be temporary and you can explore other things in the meantime When I was pregnant, I didn’t like my perfumes, and I didn’t like chocolate (I like really dark), coffee (really strong) , and I didn’t like the taste of wine (red, but I didn’t drink whilst pregnant). Had your sense of taste been affected too?? Took me a while to get back to perfumes, but not so long to get back to chocolate and coffee (thankfully , at I believe both are essential to surviving childhood!) feel better soon

    • March says:

      No, my sense of taste seems the same, which is odd — I mean, the whole thing is odd, and taste/smell are so intimately connected. I’m hoping I’ll get better over time. LOL when I was pregnant, particularly with the twins, I had a hair-trigger reaction to smells; the fewer smells the better.

  • Kathleen says:

    Happy New Year, and best wishes for a very healthy year ahead! I’m sorry about your change in smell following general anesthesia. That is a very rare phenomenon and from what I know, they symptoms are usually temporary and it resolves after several months.

    • March says:

      The limited research that’s been done on it gives me some hope — clearly a significant percentage of people who had altered taste/smell regained what they considered to be their normal range of senses after several months. Oddly, I don’t notice the shift as much with food — it’s everything else from perfumes to soap to my own skin that smells different to me.

      • Kathleen says:

        I’m sending healing vibes to you March, for speedy recovery from surgery and return of sense of smell. So distressing especially for fragrance lover, but should resolve. I hope you feel amazing in the meantime with your reset and continue on with the self-care and nourishing your body with nutrient dense foods. xoxo

  • Tara C says:

    Wow, so sorry to hear about the smell issues, that sucks. Good call to put stuff away and wait. When I started going through menopause, suddenly all my favourite orientals smelled too heavy and nauseating. I put them away for a couple of years and now they’re fine. So glad I didn’t get rid of anything.

    As for new year’s resulotions, I’m trying to eat 3 servings of fruit & vegetables per day. So far so good. I’m also not buying perfume due to last year’s ridiculous excesses.

    • March says:

      Well, those sound like solid resolutions. Even after I’m done my Whole30 I should definitely be upping my fruit and vegetable consumption.