Hello and greetings! Welcome to Digital Kapital, edition #0001. Thank you for joining me on this journey into the depths of your email inbox. Click here for some more context on what Digital Kapital is about. Please let me know what you think.
On completely losing my taste and smell
I got COVID-19 sometime in March. Despite all my attempts at performing mental contact tracing, I can’t figure out how I got it. My symptoms were relatively mild (a bit of on and off fatigue, one day of fever, some headaches).
On Saturday, April 4, the morning after my last symptom subsided, I woke up, turned on the hot water maker, and took some fresh mint out of the refrigerator. I put the mint up to my nose and I couldn’t smell anything. “How strange,” I thought. I brought the mint to my girlfriend and asked her to smell it. She confirmed that it smelled just as it should: minty. I opened the pickles in the fridge. I took a huff of my sweaty sneakers. I walked around putting my nose to every surface, to every object, to each piece of food in my fridge and freezer. I had completely lost my sense of smell. I took a sip of the mint tea, but I couldn’t taste it. I drank pickle juice. I scooped chocolate ice cream into a bowl and ate it. I tried the leftover Thai food in the fridge. I had completely lost my sense of taste, too.
It’s hard to describe what it’s like to be stripped of two senses that you’ve had since you were born. When someone says something along the lines of “wow, that tastes or smells so good,” I can’t relate. You don’t realize how much your understanding of the world is wrapped up in smell and taste until you lose it. Above all, it’s scary and could be dangerous: if there was a gas leak or a fire, I wouldn’t be able to detect it.
Since the beginning of this journey, I’ve been able to tell if something is salty, sweet, or spicy, but I can’t distinguish any specific tastes or scents. People have a hard time understanding what this means, so here’s an example: if you blindfolded me and put 4 cups of differently flavored ice cream (strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, and mint chip) on the table in front of me, I would eat them and not be able to tell the difference. I can only tell you that they are all ‘sweet’. I joke that I’m really just a ‘texture guy’ now.
I spoke to doctors (2 ENTs, an allergist, my primary care physician). I read a ton of articles and unsolicited opinions. I occasionally lurk a Facebook group of nearly 2,000 other people who have lost their taste and smell (anosmia) due to COVID-19 to see what they are saying. Nobody has any good answers. Is it neurological? Is my olfactory nerve fried? Will it come back? There’s simply not enough data yet to understand the long and short term impact.
I took a two-week dose of prescription steroids to fight any possible inflammation. I take allergy medicine (two nose sprays and Zyrtec). I take a multivitamin. I drink a lot of beta-carotene, which is said to aid in nerve regeneration. I smell essential oils (Sage, Clove Bud, Eucalyptus, Rose, and Lemon) twice a day in an act called ‘smell training’, which sounds ridiculous (and it is), but it’s also apparently the only clinically proven tactic to help bring back your sense of taste and smell. Sometimes I take Zinc and Ibuprofen. I exercise regularly.
Nothing has helped. And, as of today, my sense of smell and taste has yet to return.
A bright side: Ironically, amidst this all, I began baking and cooking a lot more than I ever have in my life. I’m not sure if what I make tastes good, but Madeleine insists it’s fine (not sure if she’s just being polite, though). Strangely, I have not lost any appetite.
Since April, I’ve been repeatedly asked by my friends and co-workers if my sense of smell and taste has come back. It’s a unique talking point. I like to think in some circle somewhere I’m an example or case study: “Yo, I know a guy who lost his smell and taste from COVID.” It doesn’t bother me.
Here’s to hoping my senses will one day return!
Content that is worth your time
Trump, Twitter, Facebook, and the Future of Online Speech: Section 230 is outdated and its existence is contentious. Are social media networks ‘publishers’? What does free speech on the internet look like when it is tied to targeted ads and algorithms set by power hungry, narcissistic tech giants?
This video tweet about managers presenting on Q2 2020 had me rolling on the floor laughing.
Watch How a Pop Hit Is Made: I heard this song on the radio the other day and was reminded of how great the New York Times’ Diary of a Song video for this hit is. Worth a watch to see how it was made!
The Prophecies of Q: This is an incredible, in-depth look at the horrifying nature of QAnon and the danger of American conspiracy theories.
A few songs I’ve been keen on the past couple of weeks:
A few pictures from 2020…
Disclaimer: If you're on your phone, these might show up in a bit lower-resolution than desired, so best not to zoom in. Have a look on your laptop or in a browser for the higher-resolution images!
american spirit graveyard, june 2020, sunnyside, queens
hands, april 2020, sunnyside, queens
triangular formation of tennis balls, june 2020, dexter, michigan
3 hard boiled eggs 13 ways, april 2020, sunnyside, queens
untitled, april 2020, sunnyside, queens
couple, february 2020, washington, dc
9:15pm deer, july 2020, dexter, michigan
sarah nisbett, july 2020, ann arbor, michigan
melted ice cream, june 2020, sunnyside, queens
blue umbrella, may 2020, woodside, queens
midtown modern, june 2020, midtown, manhattan
room with a view, july 2020, dexter, michigan
wall of carts, may 2020, new city, new york
garage, july 2020, detroit, michigan
dott dott, april 2020, sunnyside, queens
2020 fit, february 2020, sunnyside, queens
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See ya next time.