22 Mar The Atlantic: You Recovered From COVID-19. Now Your Coffee Smells Like Sewage.
Ruby Martinez was eating a banana when she noticed the nothingness. She chewed but tasted no sweetness. She sniffed but got none of the fruit’s redolent musk. “I started freaking out,” she says. She smelled a bottle of perfume. Nothing. She ate a pickle. Still nothing.
That was in June. Since then, her senses of smell and taste have started to come back—but intermittently and in strange ways. There were the two weeks in the summer when all she could smell was phantom smoke. The odor was so strong that she woke up one morning startled, convinced that something in her house was on fire. Sometime later, she was able to smell her boyfriend’s cologne again—but instead of the familiar scent she had always loved, it was a sickening chemical odor. There’s also the hand soap at work, which used to smell generically fruity to her but now smells exactly, and eerily, like Burger King Whoppers. Martinez used to love Whoppers, but she can’t stand the smell of the soap. Her co-workers find her predicament weird and frankly a little funny. “I’m like, ‘I know! What the heck?’” she told me. “Why does it smell like that? Why can’t it be something good?”