Everyone has heard the joke, “My dog has no nose..” “How does he smell”…….Terrible! Well I discovered that one of the earliest tell tale signs of Parkinson’s is that you may loose your sense of smell. Who knew?? And whilst everyone would like a perfect sense of smell, its really helpful for the doctors to help identify how long you have had Parkinson’s when they diagnose you.
For me, when I was diagnosed, two years ago, the doctor asked how was my sense of smell. At the time I thought was a really strange thing to ask, but I thought about it and said that I thought I had lost my sense of smell 4-5 years earlier. (In fact I distinctly remember one of the last things I could vividly smell, were the drains at my girlfriends house on one of our first dates – she’s now my wife – she was very embarrassed that I thought she had “smelly drains”). I had realized that gradually over that period of time my smell had got worse, but I had brushed it under the carpet and not thought too much about it – after all it wasn’t painful, and I was more focussed on fixing my damned shoulder
It could have been roses, or perfume, a wonderful meal, or the smell of the seaside, but the last thing I will ever smell were my girlfriends drainsPhill Robinson
The reason this is important, is that doctors can figure out how long you have had the disease, identify your current condition, and therefore the relative rate of progression of the disease so far. Each individual is different, so their progression may be faster or slower. And depending on the rate of progression they may introduce a different care regime or medication.
Fortunately for me it had been a relative slow rate of progression over the intervening 4-5 years, and whilst its not a perfect science, its a predictor of the anticipated ongoing future rate of progression. So loosing my sense of smell was massively helpful in giving me a positive outlook, and a view that with proper care, medication, and a healthy diet and exercise I could continue a slow progression and carry on doing all that I want to with my life, hopefully for many years to come.
Its also super interesting that loosing your sense of smell, is just one of many symptoms that Parkinson’s sufferers can have. Contrary to the popular image of someone in their old age stooped and shaking, its much more complicated, as everyone experiences their own unique combinations of symptoms. Some people shake, others don’t! Nevertheless the overall combination of symptoms is still life changing and not to be “sniffed” at….
P.S. Important to know that there are other reasons you could loose your sense of smell, so if you know someone who cant smell their girlfriends drains any more, it could be a pre-cursor to Parkinson’s or something else entirely different