Coming (back) to my senses

After living without smell or taste for six years

Heather McLeod
5 min readAug 27, 2021

I haven’t been able to taste or smell anything since my son was an infant. They call it “dysgeusia” and “anosmia,” but what it means is that THIS is how I experience a rose:

(Photo by Shannon Ferguson on Unsplash.)

Isn’t it pretty?

Try pressing your nose to the glass of your screen and inhaling. Smell anything? Nope?


I was able to smell and taste for most of my life, so I remember the sweet smell of roses. A few summers ago, I even commented on how great some frying sausages smelled when I passed by someone’s campfire … before realizing that I was remembering the smell of frying sausages.

What happened?

I have no idea how I lost these two senses. I’ve never smoked, I brush my teeth and I’m healthy.

But my son’s birth seven years ago was traumatic: I got eclampsia and my organs starting to fail, until he was delivered early by Caesarian weighing three pounds, two ounces. We lived in hospitals for a month, until he was big enough to bring home.

A year later, my husband was diagnosed with terminal kidney cancer.

So when I told the doctor I wasn’t able to smell my son’s poopy diapers, he diagnosed my anosmia as a…