My Unwanted Super Power

I’ve always had a keen olfactory system, but over the past couple years, it has become my unwanted super power.  Or maybe it is my kryptonite.

Not only do I smell everything, but seemingly ordinary smells can nauseate me.  Last night, cooking dinner, I had to walk away from the stove twice because I was on the verge of gagging.

Gagging!  Until my forties, I had to be cleaning up vomit for my gag reflex to kick in.  Now, the smell of mayo can do it.

A Faded Ginger Licorice Breath

On a bad day, if my husband breathes within a six foot radius of me after eating licorice, it can trigger my gag reflex.  On a good day, he can eat it on the other end of the sofa.

My poor husband!  He thought I was joking when I first told him about the hyper-smell-reactivity, but now he asks me if it’s okay to eat near me.

Sometimes it’s not.

Smells I’ve always disliked now turn my stomach upside down.  The heavy vinaigrette my husband loves on salads will drive me out of the room, and hot dogs are revolting.  On the worst days, even foods I would eat, like scrambled eggs, have the same effect.

Carefully chosen, lightly scented candles have become kitchen necessities, because I do not like to wake to the aroma of last night’s dinner, no matter how good it was.  (I will never again buy a house lacking an exhaust fan over the stove.)

It’s not only food that offends me.  Last week, I made my husband throw away a bathroom waste bin because I could smell it from my seat on the sofa.  Through a closed door.  After I had thoroughly cleaned the bathroom.  I tried spraying the bin with Lysol first, but ended up with a Lysol induced headache.  So it had to go.

I refuse to go inside MicroCenter because it smells like mildew.  My husband and daughter insist it doesn’t, but I doubt they would notice the stench of old dishrags or sponges either.  (I change my kitchen linens every day, so this is an untested theory.)

I slipped my shoes off in the car the other day, only to be assaulted by my own stinky socks/shoes/feet.  The shoes were quickly on again as I exclaimed, “Oh, sorry!  I didn’t know my shoes were so stinky!”  My husband hadn’t noticed.

Unfortunately, I notice and tell him that he smells all the time.

A Faded Ginger Smoking Stinks

Other people, and their houses, smell, too, but no matter the circumstances or smells, I try not to react.  If I feel gaggy, I go home where my own family gets to hear things like:

  • Did you have onions/mustard/coffee/pickles/chocolate while you were out?
  • You can’t smell that?
  • Did you buy a new shampoo/deodorant?
  • Where did you wash your hands?  That soap is nice/spicy/perfume-y.
  • I can smell you from way over here.  You need a shower.
  • Please wash that pan; it’s stinking up the whole house.
  • Prop the door open so the washer doesn’t get stinky!
  • You smell like sunshine and dirt.  (That one is a compliment.)
  • Do I smell like bacon/garlic/smoke/curry to you?
  • How can diesel be clean when it nauseates me?
  • Put that in a ziploc and then in a container so it doesn’t stink up the fridge.
  • Your room smells.  Open the window for a bit.
  • That blanket smells like dogs.
  • Why does it smell like old cardboard in here?
  • Please brush your teeth.
  • The air smells like creosote today.

Most days I feel worse for my family than I do for myself, and my husband takes the brunt of it.  I must annoy the bejeebers out of him, but to his credit, he puts up with this new kind of weirdness.  He often laughs, but he rarely complains.


12 thoughts on “My Unwanted Super Power

  1. I fear I am headed in that direction. It all began being pregnant 15 years ago… I smell things no one else smells. But once, I saved our lives smelling the gas from the stove… I could be a bloodhound for the FBI.

  2. This is such an interesting Olfactory super power that I had to look it up and learn more about it. Perfumes super annoy me now and when I was younger perfumes just mildly annoyed me where I would only wear Musk.

  3. I was like that when I was pregnant. Just the smell of our house made me ill. I could smell dust. I actually made my husband remove the carpeting from the living room. This is the worst super power to have. I feel terrible for you. One of the main reasons I have not had child number two yet (next to the whole insurance debacle) is I am afraid of that unrelenting sense of smell. For 8 months I could barely hold anything down. The smell of soap, of rubber, of cotton, of mildew, of people’s breath. It all did me in. My father in law had spinal meningitis as a kid and lost his sense of smell completely. When I was pregnant I was very jealous of him!

    • Dust! Yes, sometimes I do smell that, but that one doesn’t nauseate me. Most of the time, I just notice the smells. The nausea comes and goes.

      I know plenty of people who had horrible first pregnancies, and easy second ones, so there is hope for you!

  4. I have this on a lesser level. Yours sounds much more powerful. You should find a job where you can make money by smelling things – like a taste tester but not. Although I suppose that could also be torture for you. Maybe you can use it to fight crime? Like a Bloodhound!

  5. I am so glad to know that I’m not the only Super Smeller! (We should at least receive Super Hero status!) My coworkers think I’m a freak when I notice that one of them using a new deodorant or lotion. They laugh at me for not wanting to go eat lunch at certain places because I’ll be wearing the stench of it until quitting time. I also love the smell of sunshine but never knew how to describe it until now. Thank you!

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