Passing the smell test

April 6, 2020


 The other day after returning from a jog, Carol observed, “You know, Reid, you sweat a lot, but you don’t stink.” The alarm bells sounded immediately. Loss of smell can signal the onset of coronavirus. But later that day she noted, “I think they’re cooking fish next door.” I hate the smell of fish, but I can’t express how happy the neighbors made me feel they were smelling up the neighborhood, and that Carol could tell.

Another indicator, they say, is a loss of the sense of taste. The problem for me is that I tend to Dyson my food, most times deciding what tastes good by what it is. Hamburgers, french fries, spaghetti and meatballs all taste good, mostly because I can see what they are while I’m eating them. So far, all of those things still look like they’ll taste good when I set them down in front of me.

The other possible indications of coronavirus are a dry cough and sneezing. My everyday cough is dry and I sneeze often. In fact, I occasionally experience a sneeze-o-rama, where I’ll go on and on for minutes. It comes out of nowhere and returns there. But in this age of pandemic, even my everyday cough and, especially that sneeze-o-rama, are cause for worry. And all this is suddenly piling on to my normal daily routine of worrying about the onset of Alzheimer’s.

“all I know is that when I exclaim “Glasses!” when I imagine myself googling something , and “Baby kangaroos!” when  I imagine myself in the middle of a room, it means I don’t have Alzheimer’s.”

At least in my Alzheimer’s monitoring, I’ve developed over the years measures that help me identify memory loss that represents my everyday memory loss from the kind that might require what I’ve come to call the need for The Test.

When I walk into a room and can’t remember why, I stand perfectly still and wait (careful that Carol doesn’t see me). It’s the same approach I take when I go to Google something and forget what it was I was googling. When that happens, I think of myself walking into a room and forgetting why. That’s usually all it takes to help me remember what I was googling. Similarly, I’ve found when I’m in the middle of a room, I think of something to google, and I usually remember the reason I went into the room. I don’t know why it works that way; all I know is that when I exclaim “Glasses!” when I imagine myself googling something , and “Baby kangaroos!” when  I imagine myself in the middle of a room, it means I don’t have Alzheimer’s. Yet, anyway.

So what needs to be done is to develop similar ways to determine whether or not my everyday cough and sneeze-o-rama are not related to coronavirus. That means coming up with tests for smell and taste that will reassure Carol and me that our coughs and sneezes are okay.

The taste test is easy. All Carol has to do is boil brussel sprouts or cabbage for dinner, and I’ll know in an instant if my taste sense is normal.

I know I can’t depend on our neighbors to make fish everyday, but I think I have a pretty good test coming up for our sense of smell. I’m making red beans and rice for dinner tonight.

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