Personal Stories

There were four of us in our college apartment. One moved out and took several important items with him (such as the microwave) but more importantly, his nose. I am anosmic, and by freak coincidence, so is my roommate. This was especially unfortunate for Ben, who soon discovered the disadvantages of his situation. "in the land of the blind," we told him, "the one eyed man is king!" One of the items that had to be replaced was the kitchen garbage can. I brought my personal garbage can into the kitchen for everybody to use. Since it's a good 30 gallons, the garbage bags we had were too small. But Ben needed to throw away some tuna fish. We had an argument about who should buy new garbage bags, and I refused since I'd just bought the new shower curtain. Ben yelled, "then maybe I'll just throw my trash on the counter like you guys!" and he tossed the tuna packaging down. "Go ahead" I told him, "You're the only one who'll smell it!"
- Ray Johnson

My Mum didn't believe me that I couldn't smell, until one day, our dog, came and sat beside me and did the biggest poo ever! (sorry to be crude) My Mum had to open all the windows in the house, and said she could smell it on the fourth floor (I was on the bottom floor). I got all the messy jobs then: cleaning out cat trays, cleaning dog sick, etc. Bummer! I, apparently, had a horrendous smell in my bedroom for about 4 weeks. It didn't bother me, but because it made the house smell, I had my window open constantly. We had everyone around to solve the mystery. Even got in health and safety people. In the end, there was about 10 dead rats under the floorboards, decomposing, and what looked like 100-year-old rat droppings. Lovely. It worried my Mum tremendously when she lit a fire in the living room fireplace, but because the chimney's weren't working, smoke bellowed through the fireplace in my bedroom. My room was filled with smoke, but because I couldn't smell it, I didn't wake up. My Mum was so paranoid then, she made me move to my Grandma's house for a week! You need a sense of humour with something like anosmia. It can be great fun!!
- Katie B.

One time I found some whitish lipstick in my mom's room. I put it on, but it tasted HORRIBLE and felt weird... made my lips tingle. After a couple minutes I wiped it off. The next day I mentioned it ... that bad tasting lipstick. Turns out it was perfume in stick form! Everyone made fun of me, because of course they would know right away that it was perfume. But it wasn't my fault! The tube looked exactly like lipstick and only said "fragrance" in very tiny letters at the bottom.
- from an anosmic in North Carolina

Not being able to smell does have its advantages, and disadvantages. Each morning I take my Jack Russell puppy, Nate, outside for his roam around the yard which includes sniffing everywhere to see what critters passed by in the night. We live in the country so there are quite a few night time visitors. I didn't think too much of it when he went under the deck and began barking at something he found. I just assumed it was a squirrel, or some other small creature, or his favorite thing - a shadow. It wasn't until we were back inside the house that I noticed the new yellow spot on his side. Just as I wondered what could have caused the spot, my husband - who was still in bed at the time - started making loud noises about a skunk outside the house. Well, you guessed it! The skunk may have been outside but the odor was now inside - Nate had been sprayed! I immediately took him back outside but the damage was done. Our house reeked of skunk! Needless to say it took days of airing, and several bottles of furniture spray to remove the odor from our home. Nate didn't think too much of his tomato juice bath which only served to turn him a pretty shade of pink. I don't know what embarrassed him more - the color or the smell. I wasn't able to smell the odor as my family could, but every once and a while I would get a sense of tires burning. So, although it was a plus not to be able to smell, I spent day asking my co-workers "Do I smell like skunk?"
- Rachael from New Brunswick, Canada

Tip for Anosmic Dog Owners; Bad Kindergarten Memory

  The following anecdote and tip were submitted by an anosmic named Claire:

  In kindergarden the teacher used to play the game, "smell the lunch" which of course was horrifying to me. No one else I have ever spoken to in my life ever had to play this game in grade school, but me. Or, maybe it wasn't as traumatic for them, so they don't remember. I remember hiding, excusing myself to the ladies room - anything to not have that blindfold on and say I think its an orange, when it was really a pickle or something.

  Helpful hint: I realized if you put clothes that are clean up to your dog, they won't smell them. If they are dirty - they will! One way to avoid one less daily embarassment.


Some anecdotes from Lisa's life

" One day, in high school, a few guys threw "stinkbombs" in the hallway. Everyone ran away, but I was left standing alone, wondering what was going on. That was when I finally decided to see a doctor. Until then, I had always just assumed that I had sinus problems or a permanently stuffy nose."

"I have put food in my toaster oven, forgotten about it, and turned around a few minutes later to see flames and a cloud of smoke in the room. Neighbours were knocking on my door because they smelled the smoke, but I was in the next room and had no idea there was a fire."

"I once washed my face with nail polish remover, because the bottle looked like my face cleanser. It felt a little strong, so after a few minutes I checked the label. Anyone with a normal sense of smell would have realized immediately that there was something wrong!"

"I was asked to clean out a refrigerator that had been left, unplugged, full of rotting food for an entire summer, because nobody else could go near it. Obviously, I didn't mind."

"As a kid, I spent hours in the stable at my horseback riding camp. I used to volunteer to muck out the stalls - it was fun, and it didn't bother me the way it seemed to bother everyone else. I never understood why my parents made me leave my riding boots outside on the porch."

"I used to have 'scratch & sniff' stickers and books. I remember dutifully scratching and sniffing, although I was never actually able to sense anything from them. My mother remembers me reacting appropriately to them, but she now realizes that I must have been imitating her reactions, since I could not have sensed anything myself."


A Canadian Ninth-Grader's Class Speech

The following is a speech given by Brian, age 15, an anosmic in the ninth grade, to his classmates in the spring of 2001. It has not been edited or altered.

I come into a school hallway and the first thing I see is a bunch of students with their disgusted look on their faces, covering their mouths and holding their breath. I am completely confused and wonder why these people are acting this way. I suddenly hear a discussion between people saying that someone had just used a stink bomb.

Anosmia is a word that simply describes a person who cannot smell. When someone first finds out that I am not able to smell, his or her first reaction and response is always that Iím very lucky and fortunate because Iím not able to smell the bad odors. This is why I picked to do this speech on attempting to prove why itís not worth being anosmic.

People think that having no sense of smell is a real privilege because Iím not able to smell even the most reeking odors like skunks, cigarette smoke, gas or paint. But with these benefits comes great consequences. The privilege of having the pleasure of smelling flowers, foods, or even perfume has been taken away. People think that not being able to smell good odors cancels out with not being able to smell horrible odors but that is without a doubt not the case. I am left with a lot of negative impacts in my life.

Being anosmic has left me with life threatening dangers like not being able to smell smoke from fires or gas leakage. One considerable disadvantage of being anosmic is that I am left over with having lower quality taste buds, for example, not being able to taste the difference between chicken and steak. Being anosmic has left me frustrated with my nose because the only use for it is an extra breathing hole, blowing out mucus and, as some of you know, nose bleeds. Figuring out whether or not I smell has always been considerably embarrassing because the only way possible is to ask people whether or not my breath smells, if I have body odor or even if my feet stink!

In the opinion of most of the people with Anosmia, the most important reason why itís not worth being anosmic is because we are left with the feeling of being different from not having something that almost everyone else in the world has.

I am most probably never be able to understand what smelling is really like, that is why if someday there was a magical pill invented to let anosmics bring back their 5th sense, I would definitely take it, the question is would you?

( It was a speech debate..to convince your audience to be on your side. So my question was, is it worth being anosmic?)

Classroom Prank

As a first year teacher, in 1975, I was pleased to have 34 6th graders. They were a lively crew and lovable. I felt pretty good about our time together when the year was completed. Some three years later one of my former students returned to see his old teachers. During our talk he asked me if I remembered the day some of the boys hid a stink bomb in our room. He was laughing as he recalled the joke. I informed him that the joke was on them because, if he would remember I do not have a sense of smell. It seems that they didn't believe me back then. Therefore it came as a shock to him when he realized I was telling the truth.


When trying to explain that I can't smell, I find myself trying to explain myself by saying simply, "I can produce it, I just can't perceive it." I am not trying to be crude, just clear. Paul

Catch Phrase For Anosmics :)

A common phrase when someone passes gas is " The smeller is the feller".
An Anosmic will never be blamed !


Would you like to add a joke to this page?

Send it to Lisa@anosmiafoundation.org

If you have funny anecdotes from your experiences as an anosmic, and you would like to have them posted here, please e-mail them to Lisa@anosmiafoundation.org and indicate that they are for the website.

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