The Cut: The Stench of Living (and Working) With Parosmia

Lindsay Davis had already put in her two weeks’ notice when she contracted COVID-19 at the Galveston, Texas, hospital where she worked in food service in February. Her symptoms were typical: headache, sore throat, fatigue.

But by the end of March, the 21-year-old was spiraling: Memories of the acrid scents of the hospital burn unit haunted her — she showered three times a day and cleaned her home top to bottom over and over, but she couldn’t escape the stench of rotting flesh. It radiated off her clothes, filled the RV where she lived with her family, and flavored her food. At night, the sensation of sleeping in a “heap of bodies” kept her awake. She considered shaving her head to stop smelling her hair.

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