March 22, 2020


One of the classes I took before starting med school was a class in medical terminology that took us back to Latin and Greek. I loved learning how many of the words used in medicine are combined from Latin or Greek words. Take the word Anosmia. The first part “an” means not or without in Greek, the second “osme” means smell, “ia” is an abstract noun ending. Anosmia- meaning the loss of sense of smell.

March 9, I saw a young woman who came in for an appointment, because she suddenly lost the ability to smell. And then she told me that the same thing happened to her mother, who is also my patient. Weird? Thinking maybe allergies, maybe a weird virus, no other symptoms really. Did not think much more about it. The next Monday, I got a message from my patient’s mother about her sister, who was visiting from Colorado and who was diagnosed with COVID-19 with a positive test the day before, at one of our respiratory clinics. I gave home care and isolation instructions and moved on to the next thing, and forgot about it.

Until yesterday, when I read an article in The Seattle Times about the sudden loss of the sense of smell being a clue to infection with the novel coronavirus. Then it dawned on me! The mother and daughter may have had COVID-19. And I may have been exposed and could have potentially exposed others. Today is day 13 after that and so far so good. Data shows that most people show symptoms with in 5 days and almost all by day 14. This is disconcerting to say the least. This is a reminder to me to be vigilant and wear masks around patients and staff so I don’t inadvertently expose anyone. I do not want that burden.

But now I know and you know, that anosmia is a sign of coronavirus. We are learning about this virus everyday.

Wash your hands.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.