Almost from the get-go, when the first cases of COVID-19 were documented in the United States, doctors identified that the loss of taste and smell could be one of the earliest and most indicative symptoms of the coronavirus.
Doctors have said that the loss of the ability to smell can come with significant setbacks, because the olfactory sense serves several purposes that can affect quality of life.
Linda Mcgrath said missing sense of smell nearly cost her her life after a gas leak sprung in her Livonia, Michigan, home, about five months after her coronavirus diagnosis.
Mcgrath, 63, who was working as a nurse at the time, and had been for 23 years, was diagnosed with COVID-19 on April 8.
She reached out to us in response to an article we previously published about COVID-19-related smell loss.
Mcgrath, who is going on almost six months with no sense of smell, said she believes she contracted the virus from a patient.
“(It) was a patient who had GI symptoms, and we didn’t know until later they had COVID,” said Mcgrath, noting that in rooms with patients who were not symptomatic of COVID, nurses were not required to wear masks in the room at that time.
Mcgrath, who was running 10 miles a day earlier this year, now has a slew of lingering problems from the virus, including the loss of her sense of smell, as well as trouble breathing. A few weeks ago, she said, someone was watching over her. She mentioned that she lives in her late parents' home now, and believes they may have had a hand in the ordeal.
“I haven’t even been going in the basement because I get so short of breath,” she said. “I had a guardian angel a couple of weeks ago when I heard a hissing noise and realized I had a gas leak."
Mcgrath said she followed the noise and finally found a whole gas line had snapped in her basement. She said she held her finger over the leak, but she was stuck in her basement, where she usually has no cellphone service.
“Usually, my phone does not even work in the basement, but it did that day,” she said.
She got a call out to her son, one of the only people who has a key to her house, which was locked at the time.
“I was stuck in the basement holding my finger over the leak so I wouldn’t have been able to go upstairs and let anybody in that didn’t have a key,” Mcgrath said.
When her son arrived, it was clear Mcgrath didn’t know the extent of the leak, because she never smelled a thing.
“The leak was so bad, my son told me he could smell it outside my house when he came over to turn the gas off,” she said.
A few days later, the woman said, a house nearby in Livonia blew up from a gas leak, confirming how dangerous Mcgrath’s situation could have been.
Mcgrath continues dealing with loss of taste, fatigue, memory fog, loss of appetite and has trouble catching her breath.
They’re all problems she continues trying to live with, all while still being unable to work.
“My whole future has changed,” Mcgrath said.
Perhaps those guardian angels Mcgrath credits for saving her life will stick around to change it for the better.
Did you survive COVID-19 and you still haven’t regained your sense of smell? I’d love to hear more about your experience. Click here to send me an email.