Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"The Cook Who Couldn't Taste"

Although we have yet to tackle the topic of taste or smell, I found this article while browsing the NY Times website. The article is titled, "The Cook Who Couldn't Taste."

The article discusses a cook, Ms. Birnbaum, who was in a car accident. She suffered injuries and head trauma, this head trauma caused her to lose her sense of smell and taste. She describes losing these two senses are almost like going def. Her world used to be full of smells and tastes and then all went quiet. The doctors said this loss of smell could be permanent but weeks after her accident, she was cutting rosemary in the kitchen when all of a sudden the scent hit her noses like a bolt of lightning. Now every time Birnbaum smells rosemary, she is taken back to that moment when her sense of smell returned to her.

The loss of Birnbaum's sense of taste made her realize that taste is definitely something many people take for granted. Now when she eats, she makes sure she exhales more because that is how you get the taste of things in the back of your throat. Birnbaum remarked how much our sense of smell and taste are linked. Without her sense of smell it was as though her world of taste had gone mute, she could detect temperature but not saltiness, bitterness, or sweetness. Despite her lack of ability to taste or smell, Birnbaum refused to stop cooking.

Nerve damage can occur from head trauma because your skill stops moving but your brain does not. Even if nerves rebuild it is still hard for them to send messages through scar tissue. This is why it is somewhat of a mystery of how Birnbaum regained her senses. This article reminded me of my brother-in-law who lost his sense of smell from a skateboarding accident. He suffered severe head trauma and flat lined a couple times. However, I do not know how much of his sense of smell has recovered or how the loss of it has affected his life. This article motivates me to ask him these questions the next time I see him.

-Gina Pernice

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