Stopping to smell the roses with Parkinson’s disease

Losing my sense of smell won't keep me from finding joy in life with Parkinson's

Christine Scheer avatar

by Christine Scheer |

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Since my diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in 2015, my sense of smell has been nonexistent. Overall, I have to say the loss hasn’t bothered me too much, especially when compared with other Parkinson’s symptoms, such as tremor, slowness, and stiffness. The only time it does bother me is when somebody goes on about how wonderful something smells. Then I end up explaining how I don’t have a sense of smell, which turns into a much larger conversation that I don’t always feel like having. Sometimes I smile and nod; it’s just so much easier being agreeable.

My husband, John, and I have two giant, white dogs that we named Flora and Daisy — ironically, as it turns out. Flora and Daisy are very calm and friendly Great Pyrenees that live outside happily. We let them in the house under exceptional circumstances, such as when it’s numbingly cold or blisteringly hot, when there are fireworks, or when we’re hosting a large gathering. Even though they’re happy outside, they occasionally like to come inside to relax.

We have lived on our farm since we were married almost 32 years ago. It’s a beautiful place and a perfect wedding venue. It’s where John and I got married, where our oldest daughter got married last summer, and where our niece got married last weekend.

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We spent several weeks getting ready for our niece’s wedding. John was madly mowing acres of lawn and tending to the gardens, while I did some baking and brushed the dogs to ensure they were wedding-guest-ready. Of course, we had a lot of rain in the weeks before the event, and the dogs found something dead to roll around in. We think it was a fish. Although this wasn’t a rare occurrence, it could have been better timed.

Finally, the wedding day was upon us. Unfortunately, the weather was not our friend, and we had hours of torrential rain. During the ceremony, we put the dogs in the house, wet, muddy, and, apparently, quite stinky.

The wedding was beautiful, and all of our guests had a terrific time. It was a cool night, so my daughters went into the house to get us some sweaters. When they returned, one said, “The house stinks.” Then she elaborated on how funky the dogs smelled and how she had to open all the windows because Flora and Daisy weren’t living up to their names.

John and I were partied out by about 10 p.m., so we returned to our house. By then, the dogs had been fermenting for several hours and needed to go out. So, leaving piles of dirt behind on our kitchen floor, we let them out, and they joined the party. Reports from the front were that the guests were enthusiastic about petting the dogs at first, but as soon as the dogs were close enough to touch, the guests would recoil and gag!

Today, after such a delightful time with friends and family, I can’t help but reflect on the joyfulness of our lives. Parkinson’s is undoubtedly a stinker of a disease, but there’s no way I won’t stop and smell the roses — or the Floras and Daisies — when the opportunities arise!

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Pam avatar


Your story made me chuckle. I don’t have my sense of smell either. My clever husband and youngest daughter ( our last at home) realized pretty early on that it meant I couldn’t smell the dog and chicken poop,and I was given the task in perpetuity.


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