In May 2020 Robert completely lost his sense of taste and smell which profoundly affected his appetite and his daily work. His symptoms have persisted and he wonders whether his sense of smell and taste will ever return. He hasn’t sought or received any professional support. Robert was interviewed in April 2021.

He completely lost his sense of taste and smell early in the pandemic, although at the time these weren’t recognised as symptoms of Covid. The first smells that he experienced again were petrol-like and seemed to be always in the background. He thinks he may be getting a little flavour back after working hard to taste and smell things. Some things now smell different and unpleasant. He has found it frustrating and at times bewildering.

He knows other people who have had similar symptoms, but he doesn’t know anyone whose symptoms have lasted such a long time. His symptoms have affected his desire to eat and his enjoyment of food. Without the smell and taste, eating can be like ‘chewing on Play-Doh’. He has lost some of his enjoyment of his job. He used to particularly enjoy seasoning food, so that it ‘sings’. He now has to rely on his staff to help him tell whether food is well seasoned.

He describes some days as being better than others in terms of detecting tastes and smell, but his biggest concern is not knowing whether his senses will return: ‘it’s hard to deal with not knowing if it’s temporary or if it’s going to be there forever.’

His wife bought a recipe book – with around a dozen recipes for people with Long Covid – which he found helpful in some ways. He has also tried taking fish oil tablets and anti-inflammatory nasal sprays.

Robert has tried to find information about his condition by ‘Googling’, with limited success: ‘no one seems to have a clue’. He hasn’t sought professional support because he believes ‘there’s no answers coming from anyone yet’. His advice to others in his position is ‘don’t give up hope’.