The News About the Nose

I did not realize that I, too, was afflicted with the condition described in "I Don't Smell a Thing" [Nov. 1] until my wife commented that my sweatshirt, which I wear during my regular jogging routine in the cold weather, was getting rank. I responded that it did not smell that bad to me, but that I would change it for a fresh one. The smelly sweatshirt should have been a clue, but it was not until I did not smell the over-toasted bagel that I realized that there really was something wrong!

I went to a taste and smell clinic, where my problem was confirmed and attributed to my repeated sinus infections and to aging. (I am 69 years old.) I was prescribed some medication, which I took for a while but discontinued because of side effects. Like the author, I have made peace with my condition, which I liken to seeing movies in black and white rather than in color. Now, without a reminder, I wear a fresh sweatshirt or T-shirt when I jog, and I very carefully watch the toasting bagels.

Harry M. Rosenberg

Bethesda

I am one of the unfortunate people who, in 1996 having just turned 40, fell down a flight of stairs and had the resultant paralysis of the olfactory nerve. Since that time, I have never known or heard of anyone else who has experienced anything even remotely near what has become my life -- until this article. I also consider myself lucky, as the doctors were surprised that I was not blind or dead, having fractured my skull in two places.

The worst part of my initial experience was my dealings with one of the top doctors in this area, who looked right into the eyes of a traumatized and ruined young woman and bet her $1,000 that she would never get her taste back after asking him if he was absolutely sure there was nothing else for her to do or if there was any hope. That was the coldest experience of my life. I wanted more than anything to prove him wrong so I could shove it in his face, but nine years later, I regret to say he was right.

Diane F. Remler

Alexandria

I am a 36-year-old man who has never been able to smell a thing. To be honest, I am not even sure what a smell is.

If this can be called a disability, then I am definitely grateful that this is all I have to deal with. A lot of people have far greater hardships than this.

I would like to be able to smell, just to see what all the fuss is about, but I do take solace in one thing a friend told me years ago: "You're lucky you can't smell. Most odors are crappy."

Steve Ott

Independence, Ky.

A few years ago I lost my sense of taste and smell for three months. I saw a number of ear/nose/throat doctors, none of whom knew what to do. I recalled that years before I had read a long article on the subject and remembered only that either potassium or zinc was mentioned as a remedy. I sent for a reprint of the article and immediately tried zinc, which turned out to be the right solution. I had no idea how much to take, so I simply took one pill per day of an amount that seemed reasonable and it restored the senses that had been lost. This is such a simple solution, it's incredible that it was not suggested to you.

Caryl Pines Curry

Edgewater

In May 2003, I was treated for a sinus infection. My sense of taste and smell were gone completely. I even had the distorted smell problem, where everything smelled like death, or road kill. That, thank goodness dissipated, but the taste was still nothing. I lost 20 pounds (only good part).

Finally after a year of disappointed food experiences, numerous doctors, CAT scans and "here, smell this" tests, I tried acupuncture. After nine treatments, I'm glad to say, I now have limited taste and smell. The 20 pounds are back, and I don't care.

My advice? Try acupuncture, it really doesn't hurt.

Donna Slaymaker

Alexandria

Alzheimer's Care: Cost Is Just One Factor

Thank you for your article regarding the Copper Ridge facility ["Research That Hits Home," Nov. 1]. As a nurse, a daughter of a father who died of Alzheimer's, and as a facilitator of an Alzheimer's support group, I am all too familiar with the difficulties that the caregivers face.

Unfortunately there are not enough affordable -- or unaffordable -- places for those who become difficult to manage. I have known too many caregivers who are in their seventies and eighties having to struggle to care for a spouse because they have been turned away from Alzheimer's care facilities because their loved one is difficult to manage. Violence and combativeness are frequently a problem in Alzheimer's, and I question those places that offer care for those with the disease but turn them away as soon as caring for them becomes difficult.

Mary Anne Noland

Vienna

I had just recently been asked to remove my father, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and is in the later stages of the disease, from a nursing home facility. I found that having been asked to remove my father from the nursing facility meant that he was now labeled "difficult" and I was almost automatically and immediately shut out from placing him in any other nursing facility.

Through much anxiety, perseverance and eventually help from a nonprofit organization called A Place For Mom, I placed my father in a group home specializing in dementia Alzhiemer's care.

I wanted to thank you for publishing this story. It is my opinion that the general public has no idea what the difficulties are for those involved in caring for and placing a dementia patient. We need to learn how to handle dementia-related diseases and those afflicted with them with compassion and dignity.

Theresa Manness

New Egypt, N.J.