I Stink And Can't Do Anything About It

  • Published on:  11/26/2018
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    This is Jason, and he has only a few minutes to tell you his story – but that’s more than he’s ever had before. Why? Because he smells. Literally. Jason is the person you wouldn’t want to meet in real life.

    Okay, Jason, you stink, so what’s the problem, you might say – just go and take a shower. But hold on. The truth is that Jason showers up to 15 times a day, and still smells terrible. Yeah, it sounds impossible. When he was still a toddler, Jason remembers his mom washing him in the shower and then saying affectionately, “Oh, who’s my little smelly boy?” That may seem like just a cute, loving phrase that doesn’t really mean anything. But she said it because he had, and still has, an unpleasant smell about him that everyone around can feel – everyone except Jason.

    This may seem a bit incoherent, but Jason feels the need to convey to you his pain and frustration. Before he started going to school, his mom kept him at home most of the time, and he didn’t socialize a lot. He wasn’t actually that bothered when he would try to play with other children and they would run away with disgusted looks on their faces. Jason didn’t even realise that they were doing so because of him. His mom was very good at smoothing out those kinds of moments – she would distract him or make some light-hearted comments. At the same time, she constantly took him to the doctors, and he didn’t really pay attention to why. Jason felt ok, as he thought these were just regular checks.

    The point is that Jason had never been able to get any precise diagnosis! His poor mom had been smelling him for years, and all she got was, “This must be some individual peculiarity, just wash him regularly and it will pass”. They thought it could have been hormones, or maybe a fungal infection, or bacteria – but every examination came up with nothing, nothing at all! His mom taught him to wash himself and use deodorants every time he had a free minute, and that’s what he did. But unfortunately it was far from enough.

    Jason first went to school all smiley and amicable, thinking that he would make friends straightaway. He didn’t understand the reaction of the other kids. He seemed to live in an exclusion zone within which no one would set foot. And when he tried to approach people, all he got was their “Eww!”, a disgusted face, and then he watched them beat a hasty retreat. It’s impossible to explain to you how frustrating this can be. Imagine finding yourself in such a situation. You can see how it would be painful, right? Imagine that you don’t understand the reason for their behavior. Jason can’t detect the odor; he doesn’t even understand how horrible it is!

    To help you understand – it’s his sweat that stinks, and his breath as well. It stinks of various disgusting things, mainly rotten fish, but there may be variations. If he sits still, it doesn’t seem that awful. But imagine what it’s like after a PE class in the shared locker room when he takes off his shoes. Once, one guy just vomited when he caught the smell, and Jason felt so embarrassed that when he got home he decided that he didn’t want to go to school ever again. His mom understood, but his family just couldn’t afford homeschooling. He descended into a deep depression. When he went to school, his classmates would make disgusted faces, and he would get nervous – and this would make the smell even worse. He was essentially excluded from any social life and didn’t have any hope of getting out of the vicious circle.

    Some teachers tried to have talks with him about personal hygiene. He swore that he washed himself a hundred times a day, but without any success. He said it was a condition, but no one would believe him. They asked him what the condition was called. Well, what could he have said? He’d never been diagnosed with anything. And all he felt all day long was shame and embarrassment before other people who had to tolerate that awful odor.

    Several months ago however, on one online community Jason met someone who had a story similar to his own. This is how he found out about a condition called TMAU. It’s also known as fish odor syndrome, and it makes a person stink for no reason. He found out for the first time that there are more people out there with the same problem as him. All he needed was to get a very specific blood test done, and voilá – he now knows exactly what the problem is. The bad news is that it can’t be cured. All you can do is modify your diet, which Jason has already done with no results so far. But the good news is that there are other people like him. So he doesn’t feel as much of an outcast as he used to. Now, Jason feels that he needs to learn how to live with his problem from the example of older people. He’s working on it. Life goes on!

    Music by Epidemic Sound: https://www.epidemicsound.com