‘A Nose Is a Nose …’

by on June 16, 2020 · 2 comments

in From the Soul


by Ernie McCray

Lately I’ve found myself saying “Ewww!” a lot.

It began over a week ago on a nice easy summer day.

I was reading a great book and two young friends of ours were painting our hallway.

An odor suddenly enters the room. It’s weak at first, and then it blows me away. I mean it was like a farting contest was going on in my nose between contestants who had trained by eating pots full of spoiled pinto beans.

In those moments I wondered:

“Is there a broken sewer in the neighborhood?”

“Did someone dump a truck load of rotten eggs in the backyard?”

“Is a dinosaur decomposing in the canyon our house is in?”

I thought I heard someone walking in the patio and I almost asked “Hey, is  that you, Pepe Le Pew? Pig-Pen?”

I started to say something to my friends who, obviously, to me, weren’t reacting to the odor as they chatted and whitened our walls as though they were a million miles away because that’s about as far as I figured somebody would have to be to not be gasping for air as I happened to be. But I just sat there, astonished, wishing I had a nose like theirs.

The smell dissipated for a while but later in the day it returned, worse than it had been earlier, reminding me of my high school chemistry class when a classmate of mine, Johnny B, and I, started goofing around with sulfur and hydrogen, I think, which made the classroom stink like Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano a couple of years ago.

It seemed I could hear Mr. Kuhn saying, “If you two don’t stop your foolishness!” as we apologized, struggling mightily to keep from laughing as tears resulting from the fumes poured from our eyes like water from a fire fighter’s hose.

But this, like our antics back then, was no laughing matter and I closed the sliding door to our den.

Maria asked, rather incredulously, as it was pretty hot: “Why’d you close the door? You aren’t cold are you?”

“No. I closed the door because of that awful smell.”

“What awful smell?”

“You don’t smell that?”


At that point I thought that truly I must be going crazy, hallucinating smells, however the nauseating scents went away again – but returned when we retired for the night.

The next morning I googled “Can a really bad smell emanate from one’s nose?”

The answer I received was: “A variety of health conditions – most of which are related to your sinuses – can trigger a rotten smell in your nose. Fortunately, most of these foul fragrances are temporary and not signs of a life-threatening condition.”

I contacted my doctor. He had never heard of such a thing. A friend sent me some information and I forwarded it to him. He received it amicably, rather than like doctors I’ve known who look down their noses, as though they were suffering from something like my plight, at the very notion that you’d insult their diagnoses or lack thereof with your notions of what might help. I was heartened by his attitude.

He prescribed an antibiotic and, while standing in line at Kaiser, wearing a mask, my nose started running like a leaky faucet, giving forth with a stench somebody in a gas chamber might experience as they take their final breath. I felt like I was at a midway point between purgatory and hell.

The medicine, however, hasn’t worked and now I’ve been referred to a head and neck specialist.

But, what can I say? With all that’s going on in the world today, I suppose I can endure a bloated dead whale smell in my nose.

I’ll just wait it out and dream of when I can once again smell the roses, the aroma of freshly ground coffee, air before it begins to rain, cookies fresh from the oven, freshly baked bread, vanilla, a nice sea breeze, freshly shampooed hair or mowed grass, sweet potato pie, or the sweet fragrances of morning dew…

Meanwhile an “Ewww!” every now and then will just have to do.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dennis Doyle June 22, 2020 at 1:51 pm

Ewwww!!! Hope this passes quickly for you, Ernie…


Dave Baldwin June 22, 2020 at 3:47 pm

Ernie, my mother experienced a similar phenomenon when she was in her late 60s. She asked a couple of doctors about it and they just shrugged it off. I wonder whether they thought she was imagining it. Well, it haunted her for about a year, I believe. Eventually it just went away. She lived to the age of 95, and it never returned. I don’t know whether this helps, but I thought I’d tell you anyway. I hope you find a solution and get rid of it soon.


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