Smoke – Phantosmia

Posted in Mixed Nuts on May 20th, 2010 by MadDog
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I have some nice sunrise shots for you today, some a little out of the ordinary, and I am going to whine a little. There’s nothing like whining to a large audience to make one feel better. First, a sunrise. When I first started processing this one, I wondered what happened to the trees on the other side of the harbour. Then I remembered that there was a line of towering cumulus way off on the horizon. It took a little bit of fiddling to separate them from the black shadows of the town:

Two months ago today I wrote about losing my sense of smell, a condition called anosmia. I’d love to report that it has come back, because I miss smelling Eunie’s perfume in the morning. It has  come back, sort of. But the way it has come back is not useful at all. My anosmia has now transmogrified into its grimmer cousin, phantosmia, smelling things which don’t exist.

Let me pep this up with another sunrise. This one is the widest panorama which I have ever done, I think. It was seventeen exposures. The original file is 27,000 pixels wide. I’ve put this one up on the server at 4,000 pixels, so it might be amusing to click on it:

Phantosmia is characterised by olfactory hallucinations, involving smelling odors that are not derived from any physical stimulus. In my case, from my first moment of consciousness in the morning until I fall asleep at night, I smell smoke.

It would not be so bad if it were the aroma of a comfy forest campfire or a yummy barbecue. I only wish. No, it is a nasty trash-fire, a refuse dump set aflame. It’s not nice at all. And, it is strong. If you were caught in a breeze wafting this odor to you, you would move away smartly.

Here is my neighour’s haus win  (a little thatched roof with a platform under it) in the morning sun:

You can see Sheba, our mutt, over at the right.

As you can imagine, this is not only unpleasant and inconvenient, but it could be hazardous as well. If I smell smoke all of the time, how can I detect a fire which might endanger me? Moreover, I can smell nothing but  smoke. Got a gas leak, don’t count on me to warn you. We’ll all blow up if you wait for me to offer, “Hey, I smell gas.”

Here’s one of my “lucky” shots. It would be a pretty ordinary shot of Kar Kar Island  volcano in the sunrise if it were not for the two canoes:

I was using a fairly low shutter speed here, so there is a bit of motion blur in the arms of the canoeists.

The prognosis for any kind of anosmia isn’t particularly encouraging. There are many treatments suggested on the web, but none promise consistent or significant improvement. Most information indicates that, if there is no improvement within a year, the condition is probably permanent. I’m not looking forward to smelling smoke the rest of my life.

Here is another version of the super-wide sunrise above:

I’m going to try to see an ear, nose and throat doctor while I’m in Australia later this year to see what he has to say. From what I’ve read, the fact that I’m smelling something  now may indicate that my normal sense of smell may return. There may be some re-wiring going on and it’s simply not worked out yet.

Of all of the health problems that I might  have at my age, I suppose that I should be grateful that smelling smoke is the worst of them.

Hey, do you smell smoke?

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Living Without a Sense of Smell and Shells Up-Close

Posted in Mixed Nuts on March 20th, 2010 by MadDog
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Occasionally, I have something to say, hoping someone else might be interested in it, but I have no images that fit with my proclamation. Sometimes it’s the other way around. I have some images that might amuse you, but, for the life of me, I can’t think of anything remotely interesting to say about them. Just describing them is boring. Besides, if the images don’t more or less speak for themselves, then they are probably not very interesting.

Today is one of those occasions. I’ve completely lost my sense of smell and I’d like to comment about that and I shot some close-up images of a few of our shells and found the images interesting. The two have nothing to do with one another. We’ll call it an exercise in multi-tasking.

Here’s your first task:That’s a close-up of an Eye-Spot Cowrie.

As any fool knows, we have five senses: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching. Which is the least important? Well, for big-brained mammals who have developed a sophisticated technology, most would probably agree that the sense of smell is the one we could most easily do without. I certainly agree. The loss of any of the other four are greater levels of catastrophe, though some people have no taste and seem to get by without it. (smirk)That was another Eye-Spot Cowrie. I see Smiley Faces there.

Due to this intractable sinus infection, a double whammy of a Streptococcus  and some weird Bacillus.  Dr. Mackerel (A. K. A. Tinpis ) has put me on twice a day 400mg of Norfloxacin. I looked it up and the scary bit is this: The licensed uses for norfloxacin are quite limited as norfloxacin is to be considered a drug of last resort when all other antibiotics have failed.  In other words, if this doesn’t knock it down, I’ve got a real problem.

The loss of the ability to smell is called anosmia. Like no-nose-ia, ha-ha, very funny. Most people suffer it for a few days during a bad cold. When it goes on for weeks, it’s not much fun.That was an abalone shell.

I’m losing weight, because I have little interest in eating. Food is just salty or sweet or sour, or some jumbled-up combination. Bananas taste incredibly sweet, but have no banana essence. I can sense a little burning sensation in my nose from the alcohol in a beer, but all of the nuances of a nice brew are absent. As for my daily, non-inhaled cigar, forget it. Without the sense of smell a cigar is just a bad trip.If you look closely at the image above, you can make out the reflection of the front of my camera and fragments of the word “Canon”.

According to most of what I have read, my sense of smell will gradually come back, to some degree, when the infection is killed off and things start to heal. I’m looking forward to being able to smell a rotten egg, if you get my drift.The one above reminds me of a certain kind of oriental style painting featuring mountains. I don’t know what it’s called.

My biggest complaint might sound silly to some. I miss smelling women. Maybe I should explain that. My wife, Eunice, is one very smart cookie. She learned a long time ago that people in general react more positively to someone, especially women, who smell nice. She goes for subtle – just a touch of fragrance.In her boudoir,  she has about a dozen top-drawer perfumes. We’ve worked over the years to pare the list down to a manageable number. I have my favourites and she has hers. I got into her stash the other day and lifted the caps of several of them. Nothing! What a shock. I felt very sad.I asked myself what it would be like if I could never get that back.

I know, it seems like whining over spilt milk. Some people can’t see or hear, for pity’s sake! That makes my problem seem silly.Nevertheless, it is annoying. If I can’t whine here, where can I whine?

I’m going to take my drugs like a good little boy and limit myself to one tasteless beer a day. I’ve been off cigars for almost a month now, because smoking one is just a waste of a decent cigar.And, I’m going to hope that this high-calibre antibiotic of last choice knocks the infection down.

Here is a little change of pace to finish up:That is the “shell”, actually more like a skeleton, of a sea urchin. It is much more fragile than an egg shell.

While I’m taking my drugs and being careful I’m going to be longing for the day when I can smell my wife again and go off to that dreamy place for a few seconds.

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