Thursday, March 11, 2010

For Safe Keeping

About eight years ago boy met girl, fell in love, and moved out of fancy Back Bay apartment to live in run-down MIT housing with girl, a large number of college undergraduates and some rather large cockroaches.  As boy and girl transitioned from living alone to living together it became apparent that the couple had one major difference to contend with:  boy had the "stinky towel gene" and girl did not.  It turned out that boy has a superior sense of smell and knew when a towel or facecloth or discloth had been used one too many times.  Girl was oblivious.  She simply rotated her towels and such every so often and that was that.  Her wash schedule was firmly based on the calendar and not reliant on any olfactory input.  The couple went through an adjustment period, but eventually they worked it out, found a way for nose to complement calendar, and got married.    Shortly after they had a baby girl and started a blog.


Gordon and I joke about this "stinky towel gene" and the famous superior sense of smell.  It seems his brother Gabe has it as well.  He's an ear, nose and throat surgeon and has been able to tell where a diagnosis will go simply from the smell of a patient's breath.  I'll admit to sometimes just humoring him on the smell thing  - "oh sure honey if you say the towel is dirty I'll just wash it", while internally thinking "really? again? are you sure you're not making this up?". 

So sometime last summer, maybe - I'm not really sure.  Gordon starts telling me that Lily's nose smells.  Maybe she has an infection, he says.  Don't you think we should check with her doctor? It's really stinky!  And I just look at him like - ummm no - she's fine.  I don't smell anything.  I told him that *he* could call the pediatrician and take her in if he wanted to, but she seemed fine to me.  Eventually there was a doctor's appointment for something or other (maybe a flu shot?) and G took her and asked about the nose smell.  Our doctor didn't smell anything and said she seemed fine.  I listened smugly to the news - certain that we had more important things to worry about.

Then it's Christmas and we head to New Jersey for our yearly visit (which yeah, there are pictures of that - and maybe, just maybe I'll post some one day).  While we're there Gabe brings home his doctor's bag of tricks one night to take a look at Q's ears.  Quinn had been acting cranky and not sleeping well and I was desperate to blame it on something.  Our pediatrician couldn't really see into his ears very well, so we asked Gabe to take a look.  Apparently Quinn's ears are waxy and um.. hairy - so yeah - great.

At some point in the visit Gabe commented to us that Lily's nose was "so stinky he could hardly stand being too close to her".  I rolled my eyes internally while Gordon shouted "yeah! I know right?? Will you take a look".  So after Q was done getting his ears checked, Lily hopped up into Gordon's lap (OK maybe she needed a ton of coaxing, but whatever).  Gabe starts looking around.  I ask Gabe what could cause a bad smell and he tells me it could be a really bad chronic sinus infection or ..... a foreign body.  And let me tell you - the thought of "foreign body" had NEVER entered my head once during all the olfactory feedback discussions.  Suddenly I have a feeling of foreboding.

Next thing I know Gabe tells us that yeah, he thinks he sees something up there.  But it's really really far up there and he's not totally sure.  After a little one-on-one discussion with Lily, we all get in the car and head to Gabe's office where he's got all of the necessary equipment.  Lily and I hop up on the table and Gabe hands Gordon this bottle with a bulb contraption on the end and tells him to "squirt this up her nose".   It's some kind of numbing agent and Gabe wants Gordon to do it so that Lily won't be pissed at Gabe when it's time for him to go hunting.  So Gordon squirts and we sit and wait. 

Then Gabe dons a little head lamp type deal, pulls out some nose-tong type instrument and heads for Lily's nostril.  Literally seconds later he's standing there triumphantly holding something between the tongs.  I'm totally shocked because 1) OMG he just pulled something out of her nose and 2) wow that was FAST and 3) OMG is that ELMO??  And yes, it was Elmo:

So there you have it.  In less than two years Lily went from a toddler who was terrified of Elmo and put him in his place to a pre-schooler who shoved him in her nose for safe keeping.  The scary thing to me is that we have no idea WHEN she put the sticker there.  It could have been up there for months for all we know.  Imagine that we didn't have an ENT in the family.  Would this sticker just have lived up her nose forever?

The good news is that we DID find the sticker (OK well Gabe gets most of the credit here) and Lily's nose is totally back to normal, unobstructed, operation.  In fact  her nose is working a little TOO well.  The other day we were getting ready for a walk in the stroller and I was a bit worn out from the effort of getting the two of them out of the house. So I made a dash back to the kitchen to jam some M&M's in my mouth before we took off (both to make up for the lunch I never got to eat and to soothe my battered psyche).  I came back to the stroller and went to fix Lily's straps.  She immediate sat up straight and said to me: "Mommy, I smell something..  I smell... CHOCLATE!"  Busted.

I'm pretty sure she's inherited her sense of smell from her father's side.   Also - I can never, ever question G's superior sense of smell again.  I believe that I have been served.  I see a whole lot of towel washing in my future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

awesome story! I have been blessed/cursed with a large nose which smells everything too well. I love the "stinky towel" description...Happy New Year