What Smell?

tmp_21799-sense-smell2118188368My wife, Muri and I, deliver Meals on Wheels once a month as a way of being of service to others.  I drive and she packs up the meals to take to the clients … except for one house that has a large but friendly dog named Bubba.  It is my repsonsibility to to deliver the meals there.   This week, as we were driving through the nearby rural town of Yorba Linda, Muri exclaimed, Oooo, skunk! wrinkling her nose and putting her hand over her mouth.  Really ? I said.   I could smell something but I couldn’t tell what it was and it certainly didn’t smell strong enough to be a skunk.  But at this point in my senior years, I know my darling wife is always right when it comes to smells (and, by the way, many other things).   I know I have presbyosmia, the loss of the sense of smell due to aging.

I discovered this courstesy of our cats.   Muri would complain about one of the cats spraying in the corner of the living room or her office.  After accusing her of imagining things a few times, then concluding that her sense of smell was becoming more acute with age, I noticed other olfactory anomalies.   The inability to detect odors is called hyposmia, by the way. I’d smell something in my office that I didn’t recognize, only to find it was the coffee brewing in my Keurig machine.  Once, I thought I smelled marijuana and it was the bottled iced tea I was drinking.   Changes in perception of odors is called dyosmia.  I’ve done enough reading about loss of smell that I’m not alarmed about it, although I may mention it to my doctor the next time I visit.   December is time for my Medicare exam, courtesy my Medicare Supplement insurer.   He’ll suggest a series of tests and I’ll have to decide whether I want to bother.  At least I don’t have phantosmia, smelling odors which aren’t there.

Truth is, most times, I don’t even notice unless something draws my attention to my fading sense of smell and there are actually benefits.   For one, it’s done wonders for my confidence … you see, I really think my sh*t doesn’t stink (Yes, that was crude but I couldn’t resist.  Blame my Inner curmudgeon please.).   I have discovered that I can’t tell the difference between the $25 bottle of Pinot Noir and the $12 liter bottle, so I save money.  For whatever reason, I’ve lost my taste for scotch and on those occasions when I drink, the bourbon I buy is a lot cheaper.   Because what we perceive as taste is really a combination of taste and smell, subtleties of food escape me … things are more likely to taste salty, sweet, bitter or sour, the specific flavors perceived by the tastebuds.  There are fewer bad restaurants and fewer disappointing meals.   My presbyosmia certainly makes maintaining personal hygeine more important because I almost certainly wouldn’t notice if my body odors were offensive.  And websites warn of seniors ignoring dangers like fire because they can’t smell smoke, so I keep our smoke alarms well-maintained. Besides, I am lucky to have a presbyosmia-free wife to take care of me and when I ask What Smell? tell me it’s cat pee or coffee brewing or my son’s toast burning in the toaster downstairs.   Just another reason to be grateful she’s in my life.

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2 Comments on “What Smell?”

  1. Barry Says:

    Muri doesn’t want us calling you Stinky.

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