Friday, June 1, 2012


When my taste went haywire back in 2006 the first thing a doctor asked me was if my sense of smell had been altered also. When I told him no, everything smelled exactly the way it should, he looked relieved. “If both your sense of taste AND smell had been affected, we’d be looking for a brain tumor,” he said.
I have tried to keep that in mind over the years. No, I don’t have a brain tumor, thank goodness, and I really still have a good sense of smell. In fact my nose smells better than my ears hear. Or maybe I should say it this way: my nose can smell better than my ears can hear. (I know, it is a strange sentence either way, but since I’m nearly deaf in one ear and can’t hear out of the other, you will understand what I’m trying to get across.

I must say that I am happyI have a good smeller. People who don’t have one sometimes get called on to do things that I wouldn’t particularly like to do. Take my uncle Bert for instance. He was in the Air Force back in the 1950s, and since he had no sense of smell, he was the first one sent down to the floor of the Grand Canyon on July 7 of 1956 when the two airplanes collided in the air over that canyon.  His job was to assess what was needed to bring the 128 bodies back up.
Jerry has lost his sense of smell in the same way I’ve lost my taste – of old age, I guess. He cannot smell anything. He does a bit of cooking and he cannot tell if the pan of vegetables run dry and begin to scorch. He can’t smell a fire or a cigar. He can't smell a strange scent on the bottom of his shoes after he walks across the lawn. He can’t smell if something sours in the refrigerator. 

The other day I was talking to my cousin on the phone and Jerry was puttering around in the kitchen.  Suddenly I smelled a horrible smell emanating from his machinations and I yelled at him, “What’s that horrible chemical smell?  What are you doing in the kitchen?”  It was awful.  He yelled back, “I’m not using any chemicals.  I’m peeling the hard boiled eggs I just cooked.”  Aha! I said.  My cousin asked me what I had smelled and I said, “Sulfur.” 

My classical “smelling” story is about the time we drove up to Idyllwild from the Palm Springs side and then drove back down on the west side of the mountains.  It’s a short, steep drive and it doesn’t take long.  It was summertime and we had our windows down.  It seemed we were the only ones on the road.  Suddenly I caught a whiff of pipe tobacco and I mentioned it to Jerry.  He told me I was crazy.  I assured him I smelled it.  About three or four miles on down the road we came upon a motorcyclist, who moved to the edge of the road to let us pass.  As we did, we saw that he had a pipe in his mouth!
Now for my ears.  The audiologist says I should use a hearing aid in both ears if possible but if not, at least in the bad ear (the one that passengers in the cars always talk to!).  In the daytime I can barely hear the high-pitched voices of my little grandkids when they talk to me.   But the crazy thing is in the dark of night when everything is still, I can hear a daddy longlegs in bedroom slippers walk across my bedroom ceiling. 
It’s all aging, the professionals say!  No disease, just aging.  So I put drops in my eyes for glaucoma, glasses for my presbyopia, crowns and root canals in my mouth to shore up my aging teeth, and supplement my taste-deficient eating diet with Centrum Silver vitamins and Ensure.  As for my good sniffer, I enjoy night blooming jasmine outside my bedroom window, the smell of coffee brewing in the early morning, and a glass of wonderfully chilled and fragrant chardonnay in the afternoon.  Best to keep my focus on the good stuff, right?   

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