A few months ago, I opened up about my experience with losing my sense of smell as a result of having COVID-19.
The responses I received were overwhelming, and if I have learned anything from them, it’s that I’m not alone in what I have gone through. I’d like to think, from the responses I got, others might also feel as though they’re not alone.
As a quick backstory, I contracted COVID-19 in the beginning of July. I didn’t feel unwell until about nine days after I tested positive. Even then, I wasn’t that sick. I had some general congestion and a bad headache for a couple days, but that was pretty much the extent of it.
However, about a week after I felt well again, I noticed one night that I couldn’t smell anything. That was in July.
After months of no change, I decided to share my story, and I got so many responses from people who were dealing with much the same, believing they were an anomaly.
The most common feelings I read about from those who emailed me were frustration, isolation and depression.
It’s hard to convey how odd it is to be without one or two of your senses -- smell and taste. That too seemed to be the sentiment of many.
Some people believe that talking about things can be good for you; I tend to agree. If you feel so inclined, read through some of the responses below, and feel free to reach out to me to share your story (the link is at the bottom of this article).
Here are some responses I received from people who weighed in on their COVID-19 journey. Perhaps one of these stories will help you, if you are currently suffering.
“It’s so sad and frustrating not being able to smell. I do have one scent that comes through every so often and it’s disgusting. Everything smells like it! From dog poop, onions, steaks, oranges, body sprays ... I’d almost rather not be able to smell anything than this one awful smell!” -- Shannon (contracted COVID-19 in July)
“I have always had a keen sense of both (senses) and it is so frustrating to not be able to enjoy food. My tongue feels a bit numb at the tip and center, so tasting certain things is a bit difficult. I really detect spicy and salt. My sense of smell is muted. I get hints of smells, good and bad, but never fully. -- Gail (contracted COVID in August)
“I survived COVID but (I’m) still not able to taste or smell much, three months on. And (I’m) still having awful fatigue -- the taste and smell is such a burden, as it doesn’t make me want to eat anything. What’s the point? It all tastes the same, like cardboard. Hopefully something will return soon.” -- Kim
“I love to cook and I’ve struggled and cried over this. I lost my smell and taste in June, and it’s hit or miss the past couple weeks, which, I get my hopes up and then I have a bad day or things just don’t taste normal or smell right to me.” -- Anonymous
“There are times when I don’t realize my baby has a dirty diaper because I can’t smell it. I can smell perfumes and colognes and some food items, but not all. It’s quite strange. As for my sense of taste, it has come back for the most part, but there are moments when I’m eating that everything tastes like garlic. -- Ernestine (contracted COVID-19 in July)
“I feel like I took my sense of smell for granted and now I really want to have it come back.” -- Gianna (contracted COVID-19 in November)
“I had the virus back in March, and my sense of smell is still affected. It took me a while to figure it out, too. I think it’s because maybe we typically use smell to corroborate what our other senses are telling us. We see a flower and we don’t pay attention to what our nose is telling us until we put it right up in the petals. I can still smell certain things, but other smells are definitely non-detectable and some are strong ... My wife’s perfumes all smell the same now -- just a stinging clean type of smell that is only detectable if my nose is right on it. Bleach smells like fish now, and the beach and fish smell like a mildewed towel ... I feel like it is affecting me mentally, but I am trying to accept it and move on. I tell myself I’m still lucky because there are millions of people with worse disabilities and more that had full use of their senses, then lost one or more of them.” -- Mike (contracted COVID-19 in March)
“I got COVID at the end of September, didn’t have any symptoms except for a bad headache and just (being) tired, but to this day, I still can’t taste or smell anything. ABSOLUTELY nothing. It’s kind of scaring me, but yesterday, I was to smell ... but it was the worst smell, that I can’t even explain it. It was nice to know I’m not the only one.” -- Hilda (contracted COVID-19 in September)
“I attempted to smell all of the different perfumes I had after noticing that my smell was going away with my taste. Unfortunately, I couldn’t smell them. I was so concerned, but I was hopeful both of those senses would come back. I continued to document almost every one to two weeks on my experience with COVID. ... I just never would’ve guessed my documentation would still be occurring to this day. But after losing both my smell and taste on July 4, I have yet to gain either back. However, I have noticed that within the past three to four weeks, I have gained a disgusting/revolting smell. It’s almost impossible to describe, but if I had to, I would say it almost smells like rotting poultry or old trash. I smell this smell any time food is around. The aroma of restaurants and food being cooked that had once smelled great, smells horrid now. No matter what food it is or where I’m at, it all has this indescribable, same awful smell. -- Payton (contracted COVID-19 in June)
Everything with a strong odor, whether good or bad, smells the same: sweet but foul. -- Allyson (contracted COVID in July)
“I am experiencing ‘whiffs’ of real scents occasionally now and can taste salt, sour, sweet and spicy, but not actual food tastes. I also have parosmia, which ranges from stinky cigarette butt smell to rotten, moldy puke poop smell. That was 24/7 around months 3-5, but now it’s sporadic. -- Joni (contracted COVID-19 in March)
“I had recovered 3 1/2 weeks later (after having COVID-19), except my sense of smell. I was using nasal sprays, (a) neti pot and rinsing twice a day, (along with a) humidifier, nasal decongestant pills and was finally put on Flonase ... I will say, I have been able to smell a tiny bit here and there for like, a second, and then nothing. It is very discouraging and causes me anxiety because I am congested daily and have never experienced this lengthy process before. It is overwhelming. Although hopeful at times when I can smell something, it is like an emotional roller coaster ride of happiness and then sadness. I hope there will be more research and ways to help this since COVID is making it difficult for many who endure this post-COVID.” -- Shayrene (contracted COVID-19 in November)
I’m honored that so many people let me into a little slice of their life, to tell me about something very personal. I think my bigger goal right now, after having told my story, is to hear from others, and to let them know they’re not alone.
Have you been going through something similar? I’d love to hear your story. Email me here.