The Jambar Column: Losing your taste, smell and common sense

Pictured: Mac Pomeroy. Photo Courtesy of Mac Pomeroy

By Mac Pomeroy

The first week of this semester was a very special time for me. It was truly a different experience than any other welcome back I have had in my years at college, and one that I will never forget. Namely, because I didn’t even return to school until the second week, because I had COVID-19.

I want to start off by saying that I’m fine — my sense of taste and smell are fine, and I have no lasting health effects. There is no sign that I was ever sick, except for one thing.

While I didn’t lose my sense of taste or smell, I did seem to lose my common sense.

Feeling a bit dingy is to be expected with any illness, but to still find oneself troubled weeks after is a new experience. Even once you are safe to go back to everyday life, the remaining confusion can be very hindering.

In the past two weeks, I’ve been extremely frustrated with my brain. Not only did I lose my house key, but I got lost on the way to class and to a room I was in just the day before. I spent an hour searching for my headphones, only to realize they were on my head the whole time. I even started to get ready for class on a Sunday.

At first, I was concerned that something was genuinely wrong. I can be a bit eccentric at times, but not that bad. I swore something must have happened to cause such confusion.

After spending two days allowing the internet to convince me that I suffered a stroke or had a life-threatening concussion, I finally opened up to others and admitted that something was wrong.

And to my surprise, most people I spoke to who also had COVID-19 were able to relate. They too experienced this phenomenon.

One friend of mine took an Uber home from work before remembering she drove there that day. Another forgot their birthday when filling out important paperwork. Unexpectedly, people were hit with just as bad of mental fog as I had been, if not worse.

Yet, despite this seeming to be so common, this lingering effect of confusion is also a not-so-commonly discussed side effect. Same as many experienced it, nearly all of them had moments of believing that something worse must have happened. 

While many of my columns have a lesson involved, or some advice, the message here is simple.

If you have recently dealt with COVID-19, and now find yourself feeling confused and forgetful, it’s okay.

I am sure others have written about this subject, but in case you haven’t seen anyone saying it, here it is. The mental exhaustion, thinking you developed some sort of brain damage — that’s normal. Forgetting information that you typically use everyday — that’s normal, too.

Your body just went through a great ordeal to heal itself. Your mind is just taking a bit longer to recover, but it does get better. Slowly, you’ll come out of the fog and go back to normal.

Of course, if this confusion holds, please talk to a doctor in case there is an underlying issue.

But, for the most part, if you’re like me and have a habit of panicking over any medical issue, calm down. Take a deep breath. It’s all right, and you will heal. It will just take a little bit of time, patience and a pinch of humor.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, has anyone seen my key?