This portion was written March 27, 2016.
It has been 19 months and 2 days since my 20 foot fall onAugust 24, 2014. October 3,2014, I learned that I can no longer smell. My first reaction was shock. I learned when I whiffed my husband’schest to smell his cologne while we were watching a movie. I learned that it was not there. When we returned home, I picked up every bottle that had a scent: dishwashing detergent, bleach,shampoo,etc. Nothing..It was all gone. A short time later, I told my neurosurgeon about this find, and he replied that if it did not return six months from my accident that it was permanent. There was no warning of danger. There was no emphasis to keep eating and to find a way to enjoy it. Maybe he did not say anything because there is nothing he can do to fix a dead olfactory nerve.
As time passed, I learned I cannot “taste” flavor anymore. I learn that all I have is what my taste buds allow me to have and that flavors are stimulated from smell. This caused me to not want to eat. I would rather other people enjoy food than me “steal” it from them. After all, the enjoyment was and still is gone. Every time smell is mentioned, it has caused me to feel isolated. My response was to cut myself off even more, thinking that would reduce the pain. However, it only causes more pain to be isolated from the world and then to cut myself off from it even more.
My husband, Dan, loves fragrant flowers. He bought some for our new yard last spring. Every time the wind would blow and he could smell their fragrances, he would mention it. It is sad, I will not lie. Then, my granddaughter made remarks, so instead of letting it bring me down, I took her around our yard to smell every blooming bush we had. I did this for her, and I did it for me to help me to raise my head higher and at least for the moment not feel such loss.
This year we had mandevillas die over the winter. I decided to buy jasmine for my husband to give him what he loves: fragrant flowers. Was it difficult to open the store’s door? Yes. It was even more difficult to talk to the representative about my loss and my goal.. and how I cannot begin to sense what might be the most fragrant. I brought the dormant vine back, and we have planted it.
My whole reasoning behind buying this vine is to help me face what I will never gain. Furthermore, it is to give permission to my loved ones to enjoy what they have not lost. I do not have the end of this story yet; however, this seems much healthier than giving in to the natural isolation followed by me causing more isolation. I am the cause of this jasmine being in our yard, and I am the one giving pleasure to my husband. No, I cannot enjoy it as he can. Yet, giving to him beyond what I can personally experience does offer fulfillment. After all, I love him and my children so much that I do not want to keep them from pleasure.
I believe this is a concept that can be used by many, not just anosmics. We all have disabilities or deficiencies. We should not deprive others from what they still have. Furthermore, when we give to them in the ways we cannot appreciate firsthanded shows and gives loves beyond comfort; however, it helps us accept our faults ALONG WITH opens to door to forgiving ourselves of the shortcomings we have in our lives.
This part was written June 4. 2016.
I have given more thought into compensation therapy. I bought a jasmine plant for my husband for his pleasure and the hopes that I could slowly accept my olfactory nerve being dead for life. The thing is there are so many other people who have suffered loss or never functioned with all the senses and body parts as the average healthy human was born having. Writing about smell loss is not enough. Furthermore, this concept has not had enough articulation. Below is a list of losses and ways for each of them to be accepted and even vicarious appreciation that others have what we do not. I will be adding emotional issues onto this. As aforementioned, the array is vast and will take time for me to explore and articulate any conditions and challenges that come to mind to help us all to accept and forgive ourselves for things we cannot help. Furthermore, I will be posting ideas to help social issues, as they are correlated to many brain conditions, not to mention this may be how any one reading might already function without any biological / physiological reason known.
Smell loss: Aromatic candles and potpourri, fragrant flowers, baking
Memory loss: photography, videography, planning events for you and others for memories that will be at least be remembered by some, listening to others sharing their memories, writing / blogging, story telling or even writing short stories
Visual loss: Art, Lacy tablecloths, Curtains with more than one fabric in the print, Picking the driver to spend time with that person, keep going out instead of becoming a hermit.. learn how to observe people and nature without sight… listening to birds communicate to each other… listening to who shuffles his feet, etc.
Hearing loss: Music with tempos that others enjoy to percussion that deaf person can appreciate. Working with your friends and loved ones to help create your own sign language to and for those whom are close to you.
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Taste loss: Textured foods, serving beautiful plates of food with garnishes, etc.
Amputee: Picking help based on their abilities and their company. Give gifts to others for what they can do and you cannot that is pleasurable to the other. For instance, crochet needles, patterns, and yarn or running shoes.
None of my senses grew with the loss of smell. I have a difficult time believing this happens. Now, the closest I can imagine is other senses becoming more emphasized but not actually greater.. with better skills. It is more of an emphasis because it’s what I have not lost WITHOUT it being greater.
Another means of acceptance / compensation is making light of the loss. Here’s the kicker… how to do with this without feeling worse. How to do this without a passive-aggressive, angry stance. I can be quite internally violent with humor, causing more anger. I do not always do this, but there are times… especially given the company I am keeping at that moment. Humor is an interesting topic. There is a way that humor bonds us, and there is a way that it separates us, i.e. blonde jokes… jokes about clergymen, women jokes, etc. The flipside is (or can be) making fun of my foul cooking or saying I will change a diaper when I can smell it. I feel a lot of humor depends on the mood the survivor/patient has at that very moment ALONG with the company I am keeping at that moment and what connotation the company’s humor veers.