Dear Santa: I can’t smell

an·os·mi·a (noun) — the loss of the sense of smell, either total or partial. It may be caused by head injury, infection, or blockage of the nose.

Amara Del Prato, Entertainment Editor

Dear Santa,

It’s been a few months since I found out that I cannot smell — and that it wasn’t just because I wasn’t “concentrating hard enough” as I had so brilliantly believed before. For 15 years, I pushed my smell problems to the back of my mind, because I didn’t think it was important. I had never lived a life with smell, so it didn’t feel like much of a big deal, and if someone decided to release some burrito-induced gasses in a room with no windows and everyone gagged except me, that was a bonus, right?
It was only a few months ago that I visited an ENT specialist for the first time regarding my nasal issues. The conversation went something like this:
“So, what’s the problem?”
“Um, I can’t smell.”
“You… what?”
“Smell. I can’t smell.”
“Never? At all?”
“Uh, no?”
“Huh. Okay.” The doctor went silent for a moment, and my mother and I exchanged worried looks. “I have never…” the doctor paused, before pulling out her iPhone and nonchalantly typing “no sense of smell” into the Google search bar. I stared at her, disbelieving, and I didn’t need to look over at my mom to know that her expression matched mine.
The doctor suggested I take a series of small fragrance tests, just to be sure, and after sniffing and wildly guessing my way through four packets of what were essentially scratch n’ sniffs, she came back with my test results: two correct out of 60. My mom remarked that it was probably the first test I had ever failed in my life. Then I was diagnosed with rare, incurable, congenital anosmia and the doctor sent me on my way.
So, Santa, I will admit that some small, naïve part of me wants to ask you to do the impossible and cure me — the same part of me that believed in your existence in the first place. But trust me, I know that won’t happen. Instead, I propose an alternative. This Christmas, I would like for people to stop asking these three questions when they find out about my anosmia:
So can you not taste?
Honestly, this question isn’t that bad, but I’d rather not launch into a boring scientific explanation when this could easily be answered by simply googling my condition (just ask my ENT doctor). However, for the sake of education: yes, I can taste (partially). The way I usually try to help people understand this is that if I had a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a scoop of chocolate ice cream, I could taste that the ice cream is sweet, but I could not tell the difference between the two flavors. The same goes for two different kinds of tea, or sauces, or even lollipops.
If I farted right now, could you smell it?
No. I could not. You don’t need Google to know this one.
Okay, so you don’t like [random food item].
No! I like a ton of foods. I don’t know why people assume that I don’t like a certain food because of my limited sense of taste. In fact, I feel like my lack of taste allows me to eat more foods that repel most people because of their odd smells. Texture is also important to me, so even if I cannot taste some aspect of a food item, I can still enjoy the texture.
So, Santa, I don’t need a lifetime without anosmia; I have my family to tell me what candles smell nice, and I have my friends to warn me about my body odor. All I need this year is at least one week off from being the designated anosmia specialist. Merry Christmas!

Sincerely, Amara

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