what do you think of my essay?
it’s for biology. what do you think? it’s kind of an essay + personal narrative
Anosmia, the lack of a sense of smell, is a very rare disease. The most common form of this is when people have accidents which can cause anosmia, but a small percent of people have “congenital anosmia” which is where you’re born with it, like I was.
Anosmia is caused by the death of olfactory receptor neurons in your nose. The olfactory system is basically what controls your sense of smell, and an olfactory receptor neuron is what causes you to smell. People with anosmia’s receptors aren’t working, so therefore there’s no stimulus from your nose to your brain saying, “Hey, smell this!”
The taste of food to an anosmic is a big mystery. Is your taste really impaired by the fact you can’t smell it? People who have gotten anosmia through accidents report that the taste of food isn’t very strong, but the ones who are born with anosmia don’t know the difference. Anosmics can distinguish between bitter, sweet, sour though some specific tastes aren’t clear. I have never had a problem with this. It’s the food I’ve grown up eating and I don’t know how it’s supposed to taste in actuality. You can’t miss what you’ve never had.
Not surprisingly, many people have never heard of anosmia. When people find out that I have anosmia, I get the standard, “So can you taste things?” or “You’re lying!” Most commonly, people will say, “Nuh-uh! Can you smell this?” and then shove something under my nose (which I can’t smell.) The strangest question I’ve ever had anyone ask me was “Why do you have a nose?”
When I was little, I thought all kids couldn’t smell and that you developed a sense of smell as you got older. I mentioned this to my dad, and it turned out he had anosmia, too. This is common with congenital anosmics. They either don’t know anything’s wrong with them, or they pretend like they can smell so they can be like others. Imagine the alienation, just for a moment, if you were the only one in your family who couldn’t see or hear, but nobody believed you. Anosmics have this happen to them constantly. The blind or deaf person is not required to constantly prove their disability. The anosmic does. Friends and family of the blind and deaf do not forget that their loved ones cannot see or hear. Friends and family of anosmics repeatedly forget.
My parents never took me to a doctor to get me “diagnosed”, (our informal diagnosis was “parent with anosmia + genetic disease + no sense of smell=anosmia”) although there are special test doctors use to find anosmia. They basically consist of a doctor flipping through giant book of scratch n’ stiff stickers going “Now what’s this smell?”
Almost everyone has had “temporary anosmia” whether they know it or not; this is why you can’t smell things when you have a cold. Usually, this temporary state is harmless, but permanent anosmia can be pretty dangerous. For instance, if you have permanent anosmia, you can’t smell the warning signs of a gas leak. Food also poses a problem. If you can’t smell whether the milk you’re drinking is sour or not, you could get sick.
Because of the dangers anosmia pose, it is considered a “disability”, in terms of essential life activities, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. I have never seen my anosmia as a disability, but can see how people would classify it as such.
You don’t really notice your sense of smell much until it’s gone. I can’t smell flowers, that new car smell, perfume, or anything good like that, but then again, I can’t smell all the bad smells of the world either.
Nice job. My girlfriend has this. I would like to point out that disorders themselves are not automatically disabling. The disorder must substantially limit the individual in one or more life activities in order to be disabling. I would rephrase the second-to-last paragraph to reflect that.
Additionally, blind and deaf people ARE constantly bothered to prove their conditions. Especially if the person is not fully blind or fully deaf (most are not). I knew a girl who was legally blind (had some vision, poor depth perception) and a guide dog. She was constantly harassed because she had some vision and knew when people were bothering her dog.