Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Appreciating Your Five Senses

I've been laid up with a kind of flu-like sickness for the past few days. Every day brings an awesome development that marks the stages of the illness. Saturday was feeling filthy all day. Sunday was extreme fatigue. Monday, extreme fatigue plus fever. Tuesday, more moderate fatigue plus head cold symptoms. And today, I lost my sense of smell.

I almost always lose my sense of smell when I have a cold (I think a lot of people do) but it always scares me a little bit. I mean, not being able to see and hear seriously affects the way you try to navigate the world, communicate with others, and keep yourself safe. Sense of smell is a little less critical to those functions, but it always blows my mind how frightened I become when I can't smell or taste.

There are very simple, legitimate reasons to be worried when you lose your sense of smell. My moment today was on the subway. I actually tried to work, failed miserably and went home in the middle of the day. When my train arrived on the platform, the car closest to me was completely dark, there wasn't time to see if there were other people in it. Usually I use my sense of smell in this situation. Is there something wrong with the car? Possibly something mechanical? A burning smell? Couldn't figure it out. Of course, the odds were in my favor and I live to tell about it.

But other things throughout the course of the day bothered me. I couldn't gauge my hunger levels because nothing tasted good to me. I went to our fancy bodega to buy simple soup and crackers (they of course only had rosemary crostini and organic chicken and orzo soup, leading me to wonder why the hell I was there in the first place). I settled on saltines that we already had. I really had to hone in on my tummy to feel if I was full. And now I can't remember if I brushed my teeth.

I'm just glad it's (probably) temporary. I really feel sorry for anyone who has to live like this all the time. It's not like severe vision / hearing impairment, but it's a tiny bit terrifying all the same.


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