When a lack of professional support left him alone to negotiate his smell loss at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, Nick says discovering the AbScent Network felt like a huge weight has been lifted from his shoulders.
Before I lost my smell, my life was what I can describe as a good, happy life. I’ve always been a glass-half-full kind of person, doing the job I’ve always wanted to do: flying.
Smells and scents have always been very important to me. They’ve always helped me generate emotions in my life.
When we’d fly to a destination, what would hit me straight away was the smell. It’s the scent of the city. The restaurants. The cafes. Nature. The trees. And of course there’s the emotional connection that you get from hugging someone that you love and smelling their personal smell.
I was actually planning, when I eventually stopped flying, to open a small coffee shop. Before the pandemic, my life was centred around food and smell.
It all happened in March 2020: the very beginning of the pandemic. Back then we were living our lives without masks, lateral flow tests, and the protections that then came later on. I probably contracted Covid-19 at work. The day I developed symptoms I phoned 111 and they told me to self-isolate.
A few days in, just as the main symptoms started to get better, I was half way through my lunch, when my smell and taste went. It was just like switching off a lightbulb.
I didn’t know what to do apart from trying to stay calm, patient, and positive. Then, when I realised that it wasn’t getting better, that’s when I started to worry. I started to make enquiries with my GP, which wasn’t a very nice conversation back then. And that set off another set of emotions: anger and denial.
You feel completely isolated and that nobody really understands what you’re going through.
It’s the realisation that it affects everything. It’s not just that you can’t smell your aftershave or what’s under your nose. You can’t smell the world. You can’t smell nature. You can’t smell dangerous things. You can’t smell things that make you feel good. You can’t smell things that make you feel nervous. You can’t smell things that make you feel happy.
The big impact for me was trying to negotiate a world without emotions.
I wish people could understand that it’s a life-changing thing. And how difficult it is for someone experiencing smell disorders to negotiate the world, because we live in a really sensory world.
I didn’t want to accept that my smell disorder might last for a long time - or even forever. So, when I found AbScent, I thought, “why do I need to join AbScent?” But then one day I joined the support group and it was the best thing that I could have done.
The support is just phenomenal. Suddenly you feel that you’re not alone. You feel that there actually are people out there who carry the same emotions: the same anger, the same frustrations, the same worries. And it feels like a big weight is lifted off your shoulders.
When I saw GPs and ENTs, they didn’t know what to tell me; the support just wasn’t there. I don’t think they understood the emotional impact of a smell disorder. With AbScent, it’s completely different. I feel like I can breathe again.
To anyone with a smell disorder who is unsure of whether to reach out to AbScent for support, I would say: “definitely join”.
I’m thankful to AbScent for the opportunity to get our voice heard and to try and make things better so that other people don’t have to go through what we are going through.