Speaking of nausea…

About two weeks ago, my sister-in-law stopped by.  She walked in and made a face asking, “What’s that smell??”

I have a big nose.  Not Durante-big, but big enough.  I once knew a psychiatrist in Toronto who had an even bigger nose.  I was walking with him in the woods once and stopped me and pointed at something on the ground.

“See that?”

No.  I did not.

“That’s a [insert name of small northern orchid]!  I’ve never seen one around here!”

I got down on the ground and sure enough, there was a little orchid.

I looked up and asked, “what does it smell like?”

“I have no idea.  I had pneumonia when I was younger and haven’t smelled a thing since,” and looking back at the flower, “But isn’t it marvelous?”

I haven’t completely lost my sense of smell, but it’s no longer very acute.  When my sister-in-law made her horrified exclamation, I had no idea what she was talking about.  Neither did my wife, but she knows her sister and figured that the smell would make itself known soon enough.

My wife was the next person to notice it, maybe a day or two later.  She told me it smelled like sewage, and was coming from the laundry room drain.  I put my nose to the drain and took a big sniff.  Nothing. I had to believe her since she has the working nose so I poured water down the drain to fill the trap and aired out the room, but the smell (reportedly) lingered.

The next morning I noticed a musty smell, sort of like sewage, sort of like mildew.  It seemed maybe strongest in the laundry room, but it was nearly everywhere.  It grew more and more apparent that the problem was big, as my nose was now involved.  We called a plumber.  He walked into the laundry room, wrinkled his apparently-functioning schnoz, and said, “I dunno.  Doesn’t smell like a sewer in here to me.”

He put his nose against the floor drain, “Nope.  It’s not the sewer.  I’ll tell you though, once I had a dead squirrel in my wall and this is what it smelled like.”


I crawled around on the floor until I got to the corner under a shelf where the water meter sits.  The smell hit me straight in my vomit center.  I jumped up and left the laundry room just before it was too late, opened a door, and settled my stomach.

We taped up a few little holes in the dry wall and I aired out the house again with little effect.

Today the pest control guy came by.  In the morning, to help reduce the vomit index, my wife had a cleaning lady over.  She applied Pine Sol to every flat surface in the house, effectively masking the smell of dead animal to the point that the pest control guy couldn’t smell anything else.

He’s coming  back tomorrow and I find myself in the unusual position of hoping that my house smells horrible so that it can be effectively de-cadaverized.

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  1. Lynda M O

     /  December 19, 2011

    Same scene, different decade… Thought I would have to put a hole into the drywall to retrieve the carcass; husband dangled a decent sized fish hook and brought up the little dead mouse with no destruction to the house’s parts just some good fishin’.

    • D. C. Sessions

       /  December 19, 2011

      Huh. I know the science is pretty conclusive: our sense of smell gets less acute as we get older. And yet, oddly, I’m much more aware of smells, good and bad, than I was ten years ago.

      Maybe it has to do with the kids all having moved out 😉

  2. Old Geezer

     /  December 19, 2011

    Don’t you have a friend who is a forensic pathologist? Lead him or her into the laundry room and the odor will not only be identified but its source will be immediately pinpointed. It is a learned skill.

  3. saffronrose

     /  December 21, 2011

    My sister has no sense of smell, for the most part, which made changing the litter box easier. I have an off-and-on sense of smell: I can’t smell what I’m cooking, unless I go outside or upstairs and come again to where the kitchen is. I have “hallucinated” scents now and then (not synasthesia). I can smell plants, no problem.

    I think the root of my idiosyncracy is having lived on the edge of a wilderness area as a child: skunks. I think something happened in self-defense. These days, the first whiff of skunk must and my nose shuts down.

    I just wish it wouldn’t do that while I’m cooking–very rarely does something go so wrong that it’s a stench.

    Good luck with cadaver removal!

  1. Ooo…ooo…that smell « White Coat Underground
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