I started noticing a reduction in my sense of smell during the summer a couple of years ago. It was just subtle things I couldn't smell, like the sebum from my skin. Then, on a trip down south that fall, I went to lunch at my beloved fast-food weakness--Popeyes--and the flavor was really diminished. It was very disappointing.
When I returned home after that trip, my spouse was ill with an upper respiratory ailment and fever. It was a slow-moving sickness, and it slowly oozed into me. I felt a little worse every day. After a week of increasing sore throat, sinus pressure, and coughing, I had a fever and a sinus infection. I had zero sense of smell/taste. It was my fifty-second birthday.
Six weeks later I still had some symptoms of a sinus infection, and I was on Levaquin after Bactrim failed to clear the infection. Then, finally, all of the symptoms were gone, except one: I couldn't smell anything unless I held it right up to my nose. Even then, only my right nostril sensed anything. If I had originally had one hundred olfactory nerves, I was down to about three.
For two years, I didn't have a cold, and for me that is a major accomplishment, because liver cirrhosis means having a weakened immune system. When your liver is dense with scar tissue, those big white blood cells can't squeeze through and they ended up being shunted into the spleen instead of circulating through your body to fight infection.
But I caught a cold on an airplane a few weeks back, and a couple more of my olfactory nerves died. I'm down to about 0.5 percent smell capability.
Without a sense of smell, you don't know when there's a dangerous stink around: leaking natural gas, skunks on the prowl, smoke in the kitchen, or doggie doo on your shoe. You never know what sort of trouble you'll walk into when you're smellblind.