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Pam’s Story: My Life with Post COVID-19 Conditions

I contracted COVID-19 in August of 2021 and within two weeks, I lost all taste and smell capabilities. I tried many remedies in hopes of restoring these important senses: essential oils, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustment, castor oil, nasal sprays (both over-the-counter and prescription), Stellate Ganglion shots, cinnamon capsules, zinc, vitamin C, Lion’s Mane, smelling kits, prescription steroids, Tens 7000 Unit to stimulate the vagus nerve, appointments with an ENT doctor and an ENT Otolaryngologist, a four-hour smell test, Neti pot, antibiotics, alpha lipoic acid, turmeric curcumin, nicotine patches, niacin, albuterol sulfate inhaler, fish oil, B12, and more.

At times, my condition would change into distortion of taste and smell. Everything tasted and smelled rancid, rotten, putrid, or sour. There were times I couldn’t stay in my house if food was cooking.

The first year I suffered from these disorders, I rarely cooked, which was one of my favorite hobbies. However, I made sure my husband was fed well by getting him healthy take out! Because I could slightly taste sweets, like honey buns, vanilla milkshakes, and lemon cookies, I gained weight. Finally, I started cooking, despite the fact that the food often smelled and tasted distorted. I found research that indicated by continuing eating my “normal” foods, my brain might reconnect with my olfactory nerves. Unfortunately, nothing has changed, and I still suffer from this.

I struggle when eating out with friends, attending parties, and other social events. So often a friend will say to me, “Taste this, it’s awesome!”, or “How’s your food?” I often just say, “I don’t know.” Unlike a physical injury, mine is silent. How often I wished I had a sign or symbol to share my condition without having to explain time and time again.

I began thinking of creating a symbol that would explain that I had taste and smell issues. I thought for months about what symbol would be best to share the information, and every time, my mind went back to a painting my daughter, Amanda, created over twenty years ago. She named it “The Swirl”. Each time I looked at it, I saw bright colors of hope, dark colors of frustration, a swirl of emotions and feelings. I named it “Swirl of Hope™”. I feel it truly represents the many facets of taste and smell disorders.

Unfortunately, this condition has regrettably become my “new normal”.

 

Update: January, 10th, 2024 – 

My smelling ability is slightly better, but not keen enough to smell the goodness of savory food at home or a restaurant.  I can sometimes smell a pleasant light whiff of perfume.  The tubes in my smelling kit are sometimes a bit easier to identify, such as lemon, cinnamon, etc.  Sadly, many things still smell “off” or offensive.  Cooking ground beef for vegetable soup is challenging. Chicken in the oven can smell putrid. There’s no rhyme or reason for this confusing, constantly changing condition.

As far as taste, a few things taste perfectly normal, such as a peach or vanilla milkshake. Occasionally, a Little Debbie honey bun is spot on.  Lance lemon cookies often taste just as they should!!  But all meats and vegetables have no taste.  Nor do bread, fruit, dairy products, etc.

However, I continue to cook meals that I know will be tasty for my friends and family.  Cooking

I have noticed that heavily processed food tends to smell and taste the worst.  Cooking Oil smells from fried foods are particularly disgusting.  Other sufferers express the same opinion.  Therefore, I try to practice “clean” eating.  I tell my friends and family, “I eat to live.”  My food selections are chosen to be as healthy as possible.  Lots of blackened or grilled fish, and healthy veggies.

Since this sad journey began, I have lost fifty-five pounds.  I am rarely hungry. I have cravings, but they are never satisfied.   It is great to be at a healthy weight, but how I miss yummy food!!

I continue to reach out to the millions of others that are afflicted with this unfortunate malady.  I visit many support groups online and try to offer encouragement and hope.  I strive to learn, to share information, and encourage more research in this area. I pray for a cure.

I still truly feel the “Swirl of Hope” symbol encompasses the feelings that occur while experiencing this dreadful condition. I wear it proudly and am eager to share my story when asked about its origin.

If you would like to share your story on the “My Story Blog”, email it to swirlofhope@gmail.com.

One reply on “My Story – Pam Flynn”

Melody Owen Hazeltonsays:

I’ll pray for you daily 🙏. I read some of your previous posts on Facebook and was so happy to see that John married a Kindergarten teacher … is there anyone better in the world ❤️❤️❤️. We knew each other at Chapel Hill and there is no one sweeter or kinder, as I’m sure you know 😊. Please keep me apprised as to you progress. Thank you for your story

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