Loss of key sense has meant she had to learn to smell and taste again My name is Claudia. I’m […]

senior woman wearing medical mask for protection from the coronavirus (covid-19) while sitting in a wheelchair outside.

Loss of key sense has meant she had to learn to smell and taste again

My name is Claudia. I’m 70 and am retired from a career with the state. Since then I have been an active community volunteer, keeping up a neighborhood flower garden and taking part in a quilting circle. I have four grandchildren and we have fun repairing bicycles and keeping them in good order. 

I’ve had other health issues, including cancer. I had one surgery repeatedly postponed during the pandemic. It was hard for me emotionally. 

I have had fibromyalgia for many years and it can be very disabling. It has led to bouts with depression. 

“Zealous” is a good word to describe how I’ve taken care of myself with vaccinations, masking, hand washing and overall precautions. I almost always isolated myself at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even going out for a walk felt risky. I was glad to be out of the Twin Cities and living near family in Willmar. 

I’ve had two bouts with COVID-19. One was mild. The other had me down for the count for almost two weeks. I was tired for another couple of weeks after that. 

What affected me the most was losing my senses of smell and taste. After more than a year, I still do not have either one back in full. With encouragement from my doctor, I’ve taken part in research studies. 

It’s been quite the learning experience! I learned that people can lose their sense of smell for different reasons – a head injury, infections, aging, polyps or growths in the nasal passages. COVID-19 is not the only cause. But COVID-19 has drawn attention to the loss of these senses. 

Not being able to smell foods meant that meals and snacks tasted bland for me. Some foods typically like didn’t taste good at all. 

I enjoy gardening and working outdoors. You don’t know how not being able to smell affects you until you’re outside digging in the dirt. I really missed those smells of fresh earth and new plants and blooming flowers. 

Heck, I even missed the smells of new inner tubes and grease and all else that goes with bike repair. My grandkids tease me when they see me sniffing the air during our Saturday morning repair sessions. 

My abilities to taste and smell are coming back. It takes time, through a scent therapy or scent training program. That means having different vials of scent and training yourself to smell, all over again. 

It is not what you would call a linear process. I’ve felt as if I am doing better, and then face setbacks. The only good thing is that I did lose some weight because I was not tempted to snack so much. 

What has helped me is a website my doctor recommended, called abScent. It has videos and links to studies from all over the world. 

To anyone who loses the sense of taste and smell, I’d say don’t give up. Listen to your doctor and care team. 

From Access Press: Lots of good information is available about the loss of smell and taste that results from COVID-19. The issue has gotten more attention as the pandemic has gone on. One useful source of information is one the National Institute of Aging website, at 

  • Work with your care provider to stay healthy. Protect yourself. Vaccines are your best protection against being sick.
  • Wash your hands! Hands that look can still have icky germs!

You are not alone. Minnesota Autism Resource Portal.