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July 27, 2020 5 min read

This quote is happiness:  "I lost my sense of smell and taste when I had COVID in March. Several months later, I was surprised to still not be able to smell and taste. The world seems a bit flat and uninteresting without those two senses. Luckily, I contacted Ruth and she sent me her wonderful smelling kit. The variety of scents and the easy use of the applicators motivated me to use the kit fairly regularly. A doctor explained it to me like this: When you injure your leg, you do physical therapy to regain your strength and agility. This is like physical therapy for your sense of smell. Both taste and smell have improved greatly with the use of the oils, but taste is definitely in the lead. I've still got a ways to go until I fully recover, but this lovely kit has speeded up the process for sure. Many thanks to Ruth and The Scent Guru Group!"
- Cristina Y., L.C.S.W. Connecticut

If you are reading this blog, it is because you are a caregiver, educator, home health care worker, medical professional, recreational director at an  ALC, speech pathologist or someone who just loves helping people, I want to share two quotes on happiness and helping others:

"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile." - Albert Einstein 

"Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others." - Booker T. Washington

Someone recently told me that my business is borderline altruistic, and I'm OK with that. I developed the Essential Awakenings® Smell and Memory Activities and sensory kits from 2016-2017to help engage seniors living with dementia in a unique, social and stimulating activity because I saw the NEED for additional activities in assisted living communities while visiting my own mother who suffered from this terrible disease.  For 2 years, I gave Essential Awakenings® activities to seniors in various assisted living communities and senior centers in the tri-state area and quickly realized that I had created a great communication tool. So I thought, what if? What if I could take this concept one step further and design a sensory tool kit for children who have developmental disabilities and speech communication impairments?  I started brainstorming the concept, researching, and experimented with various scent prompts that might best resonate with children. I had read in a study that when kids play smell games that include fruits, they eat more fruit, so I selected a collection of 20 scent prompts including some aromas of fruits, such as watermelon. Each scent prompt needed visual and fact cards, so producing photographs and finding fun facts was my next step in the development phase before contacting an autism center in New York to ask if I could sit with some of their students to see how their reactions were.  With the guidance of the center’s educational director and a retired Speech Pathologist, MindScent® started to evolve into its final form.

I spent many nights thinking and worrying about the cost and risks for taking on MindScent®, but after many sleepless nights, I was determined to go forward with the production because I knew there was a NEED for a product that could help speech pathologists working with children with autism. In February, 2019, MindScent® went into production here in the US that includes a whopping total of 225 components that I had to source. I started marketing the kits to Speech Pathologists at their annual state, regional and national conferences and was all set to go to the New York State conference for SLPs in late April of this year, but COVID-19 hit us in mid-March  causing a tidal wave of devastation into peoples’ lives, the healthcare system and to the economy.  My business was turned upside down because both seniors and children with disabilities are vulnerable to the virus.  I panicked and had so much anxiety during this time but realized I had to figure something out.  The kits had to be of some use during this crisis!  What to do?

In late March, I had started to read articles about the lost sense of smell and taste being a symptom and after effect of COVID-19. I literally drove Essential Awakenings® Kits up to Wilton, Connecticut on March 30th after I heard about Connecticut’s first virus victim who had lost his sense of smell. At that time, I just instructed his wife to have him smell the scent prompts twice a day and keep a diary.  In early April, I thought I was stricken with the virus, even though my symptoms were not severe:  I had fatigue, my head felt like I was in constant jet lag, and I lost my sense of taste. I called my doctor, but because I did not have the severe symptoms (difficulty breathing and the cough) they did not test me.  I self-quarantined for 14 days, and the lockdown gave me plenty of time to continue reading and researching Anosmia and its connection to COVID-19.  One day, it was as if a light turned on and I started connecting some dots:  I had my kits with distinctive scent prompts and a former colleague had used them in 2018 to help her regain her sense of smell after having had aneurysms. But I knew I would need an official Smell Training Guide written by a medical professional if I were to market the kits to the consumer for what is termed “Smell Training.“  I recalled Dr. Rachel Herz, a neuroscientist who is well-known in the fragrance and flavor business and expert on the psychology of the sense of smell.  I still had her contact information so I called her and discussed my concept for evolving Essential Awakenings®  as a kit to help people who have lost their sense of smell.  Would she develop a Smell Training Guide for me? She agreed, and developed a guide over a period of one week, and is printed on an “as needed” basis when a kit is ordered from my website.  Essential Awakenings® Smell Training is not exclusively for people who have lost their sense of smell from COVID-19, but can also be helpful to people who have had aneurysms (like my former colleague, Rosie), strokes and head trauma.  I’m happy to say that I have received kudos from an otolaryngologist in New York, and have already received positive feedback from customers. My hope is that more people who have anosmia will discover the Essential Awakenings® Smell Training regime, be able to regain their lost sense of smell and rediscover the wonderful taste of food!  Happiness for me is to help people as much as possible while  “Improving lives through the sense of smell” continues to be my mission.  

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