Monday, 27 January 2014

Suspicions of Anosmia

For those who don't know, anosmia is what scientists call not having a sense of smell.

I don't have one.  I'm anosmic, which is a fun word to throw out at parties and watch people pretend to know what it means.

Now I'm starting to suspect that Nathan may be anosmic as well.

He always asks me what's for dinner, even when it's on the stove and he's less than two feet away.  I thought it might be a request for attention, so I've been prompting him to guess.  And he can't guess it.

I've been debating whether or not to test him.  It's a simple test: blindfold him (or have him close his eyes) and put something stinky under his nose.  No reaction, no sense of smell.  The tricky part is picking something offensive enough to instinctively react to without being dangerous to inhale.

If Nathan is anosmic, then that would answer a question I've wondered about for thirty(mumble) years.  And relieve my parents of some guilt.  When I was six months old, I was given tetracycline (it's an antibiotic) which is now prohibited for children under five because it can destroy their sense of smell.  However, we also have some family members with no sense of smell so my lack may have been genetic.  Since it happened at such a young age, I have no memory of having ever smelled anything.

If Nathan has no sense of smell, then it was genetic.  Mystery solved.

It's a challenge not having one of the five senses, although I think of all the options, this is the best one to lack.  I'm paranoid about having bad breath or a bad smell on my clothes.  I have very limited taste (pretty much what everyone else tastes when they have a blocked nose) since the majority of taste is actually smell.  For spicy food, all I get is a burning sensation (similarly with mint).  For cooking, I have to follow recipes exactly or it all comes out rather bland.  All challenges but all very manageable.

I read an article once where a doctor claimed that people with anosmia were incapable of forming real attachments since smell is so closely linked to emotional memory.  Complete crap, in case you wondered.  If Nathan is anosmic, it won't bar him from a full life.  He'll just have to learn some extra skills.

Luckily, his mom can help him with that.

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