Abigail Nelson, 53, longs for the days when she could stop and smell the roses. “Ever since I got COVID in November and haven’t fully healed, I get the urge to punch anyone who says it to my face.” The three-time winner of the Lake County Garden Festival has found little joy in gardening and other things thanks to one of COVID’s noted lingering effects.
Parosmia occurs when the sense of smell is distorted, leading to some normally pleasant aromas taking on a “rotten” or “deathly” stench. Anosmia, a lack of smell, is a symptom of COVID, and its effects can be just as troubling.
“I won a trip to the Lakehouse Spa at work. I got dressed and was ready to relax because I needed a break. However, I got nauseous from the aromatherapy. I wouldn’t call lavender a relaxing scent if it makes me vomit. I had to leave to spare myself further embarrassment,” says Nelson.
The symptoms have unfortunately extended into date nights, as Nelson recalls one instance. “My husband and I decided to have a night out and went to our favorite restaurant, Cork ‘N Cleaver. I was looking forward to a delicious New York pepper steak, and I haven’t had one since the pandemic started. We step in the front door and I’m bombarded with what smelled like rotting corpses. I’m pretty sure it’s not a Sweeney Todd situation, but who knows these days? Anyways, it was there that I learned that meat is one of my offending smells, and when that’s a good portion of your diet, it’s disheartening.”
Nelson says she isn’t sure when this trait will go away. “I’ve resigned myself to the fact that this is permanent and started making changes to my lifestyle. However, I’m glad that it didn’t destroy one of the best parts of this world: the smell of old books. I have to hold it real close to my nose to where I’m practically inhaling the pages, but it’s so worth it. Knowledge never smelled so wonderful.”