One morning in 2012, Chrissi Kelly woke up feeling a bit under the weather. Not the sort of person to let a cold bother her, she carried on as normal, little realising this particular sinus infection was going to change her life.
At first there was nothing to worry about, just a stuffy nose, it would pass. But as time went on, not being able to smell anything at all started to become wearing, then worrying. Then when the once familiar aroma of the family’s Sunday lunch began causing physical repulsion, Chrissi was truly afraid.
It took nearly a year for Chrissi to admit to herself that her smell loss was impacting her life. “I felt like I was living in a bubble, I couldn’t connect properly with anything or anyone around me” she remembers. Now she knows that people who lose their sense of smell are more vulnerable to depression.
In keeping with her character, Chrissi chose to tackle her problem head on.”I wanted to be a student of my affliction, not a victim” she explains. Unfortunately, her first efforts to find out more didn’t produce many answers, but they did lead her to Professor Thomas Hummel in Dresden. His groundbreaking work in understanding and treating olfactory disorders helped her understand what was behind her smell loss. Now, she has the privilege of working with Prof Hummel on clinical research. Being on this journey has been part of the healing process for her. She now describes her sense of smell as being “enough to allow me a good quality of life”.
Determined that no-one else should have to suffer as she had, Chrissi reached out online to share her experience and the things she had learned. The response was instant and others were able to draw comfort and help their own recovery. That urge to share and support became AbScent, registered as a charity in 2019.
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are affected by a smell disorder and find themselves living ‘behind glass’ in anxiety and isolation. Family and friends don’t understand the continual misery of tasteless foods and two dimensional experiences. Doctors are unable to treat them because of a lack of interventions and can seem unsympathetic. But the fear of undetected fire, or the humiliation of going out in smelly clothing, is real and constant. Breathing in the scent of loved ones, taking simple pleasure from the smell of baking bread or ocean breezes, all that is cut off.
AbScent exists to give those isolated and anxious because of their missing sense the reassurance, practical support and information they can trust to manage their own condition and live life to the fullest.
Relying entirely on the generosity of supporters, AbScent has been able to reach tens of thousands of people around the world. The Covid-19 pandemic means that persistent smell loss is going to affect hundreds of thousands of people for some time to come. Our work to raise awareness, drive research and information and most importantly, to be there for everyone that needs an understanding ear needs your support to continue.
In 2020 we have introduced 118,500 people to smell training, invited 27,300 into our community and enabled 2,550 people to participate in research. More than 8,000 people rely on us for regular updates and thousands of people around the world are managing their recovery with an AbScent smell training kit. We can’t do this without your help.
Please donate today using the orange button at the top of this page.