Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Glad Farewell to Bile

Two nights ago I awoke to my 5 year-old son Justin standing next to my bed proclaiming, "Dad, I frow up on my bed."


Who doesn't love to wake up in the middle of the night to clean up vomit? I guess it's one of those givens for parents. Anyway, it was dark, and when I got in there, I could see a dark area, but it didn't smell too strongly, so I thought, "Not too bad." I wrapped up the blankets and sheets and put them in the washer.

Apparently it was much worse than I realized. It had gotten on the carpet, all over my son, and on my shirt while I was putting things in the washer. (I know--thanks for the great mental image.)

So, it appears that I have lost, or at least partially lost, the ability to smell bile (vomit). I have to admit that if it's gone, I'm not broken-hearted. I suppose it's important to know if you smell foul to others; which I guess would be one of the big downsides to full anosmics. But, I enjoyed the bliss of not detecting the putrid odor that night.

I don't know if this particular olfactory recognition is gone completely, or just sporadically, but I'm definitely not going to be chasing miscellaneous stomach flu sufferers to find out...

Friday, August 3, 2007

Olfactory Reminiscence

What the??? The craziest thing happened today! I went into the bathroom where I work, and the maintenance guy had just cleaned up--apparently having used a lot of chlorine bleach. For the first time in years, I smelled the chlorine! I drew in deep breaths through my nose and basked in the familiar smells and memories. I let myself wander back in my mind to the many swimming parties with my friends in Phoenix and a vivid, previously-forgotten memory of the early-morning, summer swims with my best friend Sean Buck in his pool (after having warm coke and cold pizza for breakfast). I remembered how I used to pretty much live at his house in the summertime, and we'd wake up, and alternate the entire day between basketball, swimming, and TV. During the early afternoon, nothing was on, and in our search for entertainment, we landed on PBS with Bob Ross, the Happy Painter. We actually even went to Standard Brands paint (across the field) and bought all the colors (cadmium blue, cadmium yellow, etc.) so we could paint along with him. We tried that once, and when our paintings sucked, we ditched that effort, and increased the ratio of basketball and swimming in the early afternoons.

Then, as quickly as it came, it was gone. I thought maybe I had just become accustomed to it, so I left the bathroom, went across the street to get a drink (44 oz Dr. Pepper, of course,) and came back to try and smell the chlorine. No luck. It was gone. I asked some random guy if it smelled like chlorine in there.



Is that crazy? Do other hyposmics get smells back for a short time? What is going on? Has anyone ever experienced this? Is this just another proof that it's the Dr. Pepper?

Regardless, it was fun to relic in a couple of forgotten smell-triggered memories.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Resources for Fellow Anosmics

Well, having come to the conclusion that the government isn't going to help with the Dr. Pepper conspiracy--truth be told, I don't think that it is the proper role of government to actually be involved, anyway--I have determined that I will post some links for anyone who may be suffering from anosmia or hyposmia (partial loss of smell--which is actually what I have):

Anosmia - a resource for those who have lost their sense of smell and taste
Wikipedia - Anosmia
Anosmia Links by Dr. Karl L. Wuensch (Ph.D.)
The Smell & Taste Research & Treatment Foundation
John C. Kirk's Anosmia Website
Monell Institute, scientific institute for research on the chemical senses

Top 10 Conspiracies! (The cola-anosmia conspiracy will eventually make the list--I am sure.)

I hope these links are helpful!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Government Cover Up

Here is the letter that I recently sent to my Senator, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah):

Mr. Hatch,

Obviously, you would have heard by now about the apparent link between cola soft drinks and the long term effects of anosmia. I can only assume that you are quietly drafting some sort of legislation or gathering support for a congressional hearing on the matter. Otherwise, your lack of action is shocking! If you find yourself in need of witnesses against the cola companies, I am happy to do smell tests or to testify, etc.

Thank you,

Benjamin Larson
Constituent and Anosmia Sufferer

It has been 24 hours with no response!!!!! I am now convinced that Senator Hatch is in with the cola companies. There is a large scale conspiracy that no one is talking about, and I'm going to have to be the one who blows it wide open!

It will likely be very dangerous...who is with me?!

If this is my last post, you know why...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Dr. Pepper Theory

Now that I've explained my particular smell disorders [see below], I feel it's time to delve into why I am suffering from anosmia.

It seems that many anosmia sufferers have recently overcome an addiction to alcohol. Apparently, the temporary to permanent loss of the olfactory sense is a common withdrawal side effect of alcohol. I, however, have never had a drop.

Other common causes for smell-loss include accidents (head injury or nose injury), prolonged exposure to destructive fumes, and polyps caused by allergies. Though I do have seasonal allergies, they tend to be in my lungs more than my nose and sinuses, and the exposure to destructive fumes is not likely. I have not ever had any nose or head injury--at least not that I can remember.

I do, however, drink an inordinate amount of caffeinated beverage every day (specifically Dr. Pepper.) I'm not over exaggerating when I say that 100 ounces is a typical day. So, my flawless, undeniable theory is that the cola is the culprit. I haven't worked out if it has anything to do with the caffeine or not. Any decaffeinated cola drinkers out there that suffer from anosmia?

If I stop writing this blog, it's possible that I was really on to something. It is odd that a maroon Suburban with dark tinted windows just pulled up outside my window...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Let's Not Cry Over Spilt Milk

One Monday, about three weeks ago, we came into the office to find that the power had been off for a good part of the weekend. Unfortunately, that meant that the small refrigerator that we keep in the corner of the programming/testing area was warm and had been so for much longer than milk should be warm.

Apparently, the smell was horrid to everyone else. Most people couldn't come within 10 feet of the mini-fridge. I couldn't even smell it. Therefore, the job fell on me to take it to a nearby co-worker's house and clean it.

Before cleaning it out, I stuck my head inside, and found that I could still faintly smell the spoiled milk--just barely. So, add that one to the list.

Speaking of the list...

Things I can't smell (at least not very well) now but could before:
  • Chlorine
  • Spoiled milk
  • Motor oil
  • Turpentine
  • Gasoline (fading)
Things that I can still smell:
  • Burnt popcorn (my least favorite smell in the world)
  • Rotten eggs (sulfur)
  • Natural gas
  • Pretty much everything else
Isn't that wierd? Why have I lost those particular smells, and yet can smell others so well?


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It All Began with Chlorine

I'm Ben Larson, and I suffer from anosmia. Only recently did I learn that there is such a thing and that it's real. I'll start at the wet, odorless beginning. Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, I spent nearly every afternoon from April to September at a swimming pool. I remember the bright sparkle of the water, the splashes and laughter, and the unmistakable smell of chlorine. It was a comfort smell for me--it meant family nearby and fun times ahead.

I don't know when it actually happened, but I know when I noticed. It was one afternoon about 4 years ago at the Del Sol Inn across from Disneyland. My wife and 3 kids were all sitting in the hot tub with me, and everyone's eyes were burning from the heavily chlorinated mist.

My wife asked me, "How can you stand it?"

"I know! It's killing me! I wonder what chemicals they're using."

She looked at me like I was crazy. "Can't you smell the chlorine? I can't stand it!"

And then I knew...all the pools that I thought had switched over to some sort of salt-treatment were still using good-old chlorine. I just couldn't smell it any more. That very hot tub was loaded with chlorine, and it didn't have any odor at all to me.

I lapped some water up (I know--gross!) to see if I could at least taste it. No luck. Salty.

And there I was, I knew I would probably never be able to smell that very familiar smell again. Not the end of the world, I suppose, but how many other smells would go? What was happening? Was this the beginning of the end?