General

My Year with Anosmia

an·os·mi·a / aˈnäzmēə, aˈnäsmēə / noun MEDICINE

  1. the loss of the sense of smell, either total or partial. It may be caused by head injury, infection, or blockage of the nose.

It took me a year to talk about this on here, but I figured it might shed some light as to why I haven’t completely dived in to sharing my fabulous recipes as I originally wanted to. While most of the world was smack in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, I decided to spice things up a bit.

On June 28, 2020, I had an accident. One that was incredibly preventable and in retrospect, one of those “what was I thinking” moments as an almost 48 year old person. I was outside with my teenager who had just gotten a new skateboard (yep, it’s exactly what you think happened). I was telling her stories of how in my younger days, I (kind of) skated and was able to do (easy) tricks, etc. I thought it would be a great idea to hop on and at least show her how to balance, and roll around – nothing fancy. Putting on a helmet didn’t even cross my mind since I was being “careful” and not doing anything fast/scary/risky. Or so I thought.

To make a really long and traumatic story short, I fell. And I fell hard. After a CT scan and x-ray at the emergency room, I was diagnosed with a bad concussion and a closed fracture of the occipital bone – which is that bone in the back of your head, just above your neck and apparently a hard one to actually break (so HUGE SHOUT OUT to that low bun I decided to wear in my hair that day that softened the blow and protected me). The headache was incredible. I was dizzy, nauseated, off-balance, all of the typical concussion “things” but I feel like I felt them times ten after having pretty easily recovered from a very mild concussion the year before (and a cooking related one! – a roasting pan fell from a shelf onto my head). Anyway, on the way home, we stopped to pick up McDonald’s since we had missed dinner earlier and despite everything that was going on – I was starving. I was handed a bag of fries and chicken nuggets and I noticed something weird right after my first bite. My Mickey D’s was super salty (way more than usual). I kept eating just to eat ‘something’ to mesh with all the Tylenol in my stomach, and chalked it up to the fact that I was crying heavily for the last few hours, and as a result, my nose was really congested (it was almost like when you’re sick, and things don’t taste right), so I let it go for the night.

The next couple of days went by and I was still loaded with congestion and bad headaches. My nose alternated between running and clogged. Having a sinus headache + a back of the head, head injury headache was definitely no fun. After a week of televists with my doctor and my complaining about the headaches and the lack of smell and taste (and a Covid infection ruled out), I was passed on to a great neurosurgeon who took one look at me through the screen and noticed that I had a black eye. I noticed it too, but assumed I had bumped it on the water bottle I was holding when I fell. Not the case. In a nutshell, here’s what happened:

When you hit the back of your head, the brain is forced back then bounces foward, basically smashing into the front of your face, and in my case, causing the black eye and the shearing of my olfactory nerves (those little things you need to smell). I was happy to finally hear that “this happens” and much more often with an injury like mine. The headaches would go away they said, but the Anosmia was another story. No time frame, no ‘cure’, no magic pill. Not what I wanted to hear.

So, what now?

After being told there was nothing to do but wait, I was directed to an ENT for one final opinion. He literally saw me for 15 minutes and handed me a printed sheet about smell training with scented oils and instructions to do regular sinus rinses. I did both of those things diligently for the first three months with little progress. The most smell I got was being able to kind of ‘feel’ a cold sensation in my nose, (but not really smell) peppermint oil. I dove deep into the internet, reading article after article – even 16-page scientific documents – all while trying to just be patient. I read about other people’s experiences with anosmia recovery and it’s hit or miss. But those stories also sparked a whole new level of panic (thanks, internet) – I worried all the time about what I couldn’t smell… what if there was a fire? A gas leak? Did I put deodorant on? Is the raw chicken good? Does the trash need to go out? All of that. It’s unreal how something like scent is so taken for granted. Regardless, I was on a mission to heal myself and had to succumb to relying on the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to do their jobs. My husband and daughter are now the sniffers for me when it comes to food, trash, etc…

My takeaway from all of the articles I read had me come up with this supplement “therapy” that I’ve been using for the last few months. Please don’t assume that my list is a cure and always ask your doctor before you start taking anything, but this regimen has been safe for me and the only thing that’s given me any improvement in a year:

– Regular multivitamin + extra vitamin C and D
– 600mg Alpha Lipoic Acid
– MegaRed Advanced 600mg Omega3 Algae Oil
-15-30mg Zinc Picolinate
– I drink a lot of turmeric and ginger tea (anti-inflammatory)
– And today, I’m adding CoQ10 because I started “researching” again, and read some good things about it

The current list of things I CAN smell is:

Oranges, cut grass, my shampoo, Ellia Blended Oils in “Let it Go” and “Fight It” (each definitely smells different), lemons, and most recently garlic and onion (but they kind of smell the same). I’m also getting some smells from things like the Febreeze in the work bathroom, but can’t pinpoint a scent – it just smells sweet. Another point too is that I have not smelled anything gross, so that’s been a huge plus, I guess? I am trying now to focus on smelling everything I can that’s a fresh, not a manufactured scent. So flowers, or any fruit or veggie I cut up, you can bet I’m sticking my nose in them.

What I really miss now are things I loved to smell, like clean laundry from the dryer, brownies baking in the oven, summer, Yankee Candles (!), or my Grandma’s house; and tasting real food. Everything I’ve eaten for the last year has gone from being all about flavor to all about texture. Crunchy, creamy, spicy, salty… I was never one for a lot of spice, but now I add red pepper flakes or Trader Joe’s Bagel Seasoning on just about everything because I can get that little bit of flavor through, which makes me feel like there’s still some hope. Burgers, which I used to love, just taste like metal to me right now. And the big question – CILANTRO – yep, it tastes like soap to me now (it didn’t before)!!

If you’re reading this, and you or someone you know is going through the same thing, just remember that you’re not alone. In my “research”, I found so many posts like this from real people and many have recovered, it just took a lot of time and patience. I’m still suffering with some mild, post-concussion headaches, but the loss of smell is truly one that’s debilitating. I’d also love to compare notes if you’ve gone through this and gotten your smell back – contact me and share your secrets! Meanwhile, I’ll keep cooking my best and sharing my tried-and-true recipes with you!

Product Reviews

Tried it (and LOVE it): Hum Nutrition Vitamins

My first product review! Disclaimer: I was not reimbursed, paid, or otherwise compensated for this – I chose to talk about Hum Nutrition since I’ve been taking their products for almost a year now with really great results. If you’re not yet familiar with Hum, they’re a supplement company out of California that’s producing affordable, yet high-quality health supplements.

0Photo: Hum Nutrition/LinkedIn

I’m in no way a nutrition expert or doctor, but I’ll share the supplements I take and my experiences with each. If you want to give them a try for yourself, I’ll share a coupon code in pink throughout this post so you can save on your first order!

Rewind quick to 2018: I turned 45 years old, no health problems, but I was being a bit complainy about typical female mood stuff (apparently very common for women my age), and my doctor suggested I try a regular multivitamin to keep my vitamin D, B vitamins and iron up. I found myself endlessly Googling phrases like “best women’s vitamin”, “best natural vitamin”, and “best supplements for women”, which brought me to Hum. I researched. I watched You Tube reviews. I even Googled individual ingredients of some of the supplements – I mean, what IS fo-ti and PABA anyway? Was it safe? Was it going to make me feel ‘weird’?* I just wanted something that would tone down the old-lady mood stuff, and just basically keep me healthy and feeling good.

*Related note: I’m super particular about what I put in my body and hate feeling ‘altered’. Medications like simple antibiotics – even over the counter stuff – bothers me. I also tend to experience side effects very easily, so when I want or need to take something, I thoroughly investigate and start off slow to be sure I’m good.

HUM_2017_mix-2Photo: Beauty Independent

Ok, now onto Hum!
Use my Coupon Code 1AA006 at humnutrition.com to save $10 off your first order!

Their Philosophy:
“At HUM our mission is to make you look great and feel even greater. We develop nutritional solutions that help you achieve your beauty and lifestyle goals by formulating our products with your food and drink habits in mind. By collecting a wealth of data about your food, drink and lifestyle choices, we are not only able to recommend the products that are right for you, but we are also able to develop supplements that are formulated around your lifestyle.”

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“Since nutrition is much more than popping a pill, we also provide you with free support and advice from a Nutritionist that has years of academic training and experience. The combination of making the right food, drink and supplemental choices is very powerful and has a long term impact on your beauty, health & happiness. Since sometimes these choices are difficult to make and because information about nutrition can be confusing, we hope you work closely with your Nutritionist and join the HUM community. Along with a scientific foundation, all of our products are Gluten and GMO free while all of our ingredients are sustainably sourced. We have put a lot of thought into providing you with nutritional solutions that make you look and feel great. We take great pride in the quality of our products. They are made at our high tech facility in Southern California and with the strictest quality standards.”

All great things, right? Here’s what I love: 

  • You DON’T need to subscribe! Hum vitamins and supplements can be purchased online individually through their own website, or at select retailers like Sephora, Nordstrom, and Blue Mercury (a full listing is available on their website). I bought a couple of bottles to try before committing, which I felt was smart considering my super sensitivity to things.
  • If you choose to go the subscription route like I did, Hum offers a VERY simple, 1-2-3 process that includes a real Nutritionist that helps get you paired with the right supplements based on what you tell them you’re looking for – less stress, basic nutrition, more sleep, etc. The best part about the subscription is that if you purchase three or more supplements at a time, you save up to 25% on your order every month! I currently purchase 4 supplements and it costs me under $30 per month, much less than buying bottles of vitamins at the drug store or supermarket. See details of each of mine below, and be sure to use my Coupon Code to save $10 off your first order: 1AA006
  • The subscription boxes are SUPER CUTE! Each monthly shipment is fully customizable based on what you pick and choose, meaning you can swap supplements based on your needs, and you’re offered a choice of a free sample that gets tucked inside – a great way to try new Hum products without committing to a whole bottle.
  • All Hum products are sustainably sourced, pure and potent, gluten free and non-GMO. They’re also clinically proven effective and backed by science – detailed info about each supplement and its science is available on their website.
  • I have not had any negative effects to any of the supplements I’ve tried so far, which makes me SO HAPPY! 

IMG_8917Photo: WhatisTinaDoing


Here’s the lineup of what I’m currently using and enjoying:

  1. Base Control $10: a basic multivitamin with iron. Meets recommended dietary allowance for most nutrients; Complements any diet and fills nutrition gaps; With added iron for women pre-menopause; 22 Micro-Nutrients. The best part: no aftertaste, and the tablets are small, these go down easy! I take 1 tablet with breakfast.
  2. Gut Instinct $25: a super probiotic. Supports healthy digestion; Boosts good bacteria and the immune system; Nurtures the gut for overall health and wellbeing; 10 Acid-Resistant Probiotic Strains, 25 bn Organisms. I definitely feel less bloated taking these. I take 1 capsule first thing in the morning on an empty stomach with a glass of water.
  3. Here Comes the Sun $10: high potency vitamin D. I take even though there is some D in the Base Control, just because I know I was lacking in the past. I find this helps with my overall mood – a lot! I get 2 bottles per month since my daughter and I both take these. I take 2 of these tiny capsules with breakfast at the same time as the Base Control.
  4. Hair Sweet Hair $25: amped up Biotin for stronger, healthier hair. Supports hair growth; Maintains the health of hair follicles; Helps healthy color maintenance; With Fo-Ti, Zinc, PABA and Biotin. This one’s new for me, so in order to save money, I swapped out my Vitamin D this month to give it a shot (since I stocked up on that over the last 2 months), but so far it tastes so good that I just love taking it! It’s like a sweet treat after dinner. I was taking Nature Made’s Hair Skin and Nails formula in the past, which contains 2500 mcg of biotin. This one contains 5,000 mcg so I’ve started slow and aim to save money by taking one gummy per day for a while to see if I see a difference in my hair. This bottle should last me two months, so I’ll report back with results!

The Takeaway:

Hum Nutrition is GREAT. The company is super helpful with and responsive to questions, the subscription is very easy to get going – don’t forget to use my Coupon Code to save $10 off your first order: 1AA006 – and for me, I definitely FEEL better, which is the most important thing. If I skip a day for whatever reason, I definitely feel it, so I know things are working! Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried Hum Nutrition (or if  you’re going to try now!), and tell me what you think!