The Smell Of Alcohol

My diagnosis occurred in 1945 when I was 6. There were no diabetes types back then, all of us were given insulin to help with our fight against high blood sugar. My family lived in a small four room house that was not insulated. There was no insulation in the attic, or in the walls, so we stayed very cold in the winter time. It was very cold in the morning wnen I had to take my insulin. My father loaded the big glass syringe with my insulin and brought a big wad of cotton he had dipped in rubbing alcohol. I lowered my pants and felt the cold air in the room. It made me shiver as I rubbed a spot on top of my upper leg. The alcohol would run down my leg and it felt icy cold when it did that. I hated everything about taking those shots. Even the smell of that alcohol was very unpleasant. The needles were very long and thick and my father pushed it into my skinny leg, into the muscle on top of my cold, shivering leg. I hated the cold, the pain and the smell of the alcohol.

Fast forward to the year 1963. I was visiting my girfriend, Anita, at her home and meeting her parents for the first time. The meal served that evenng was very good but there was an unpleasant odor of alcohol in my glass. I had never tasted alcohol, my parents never had alcohol in our home. It was white wine in my glass and I wished it was water. I hated the taste and the smell of the wine. After explaining that I did not drink alcohol, Anita’s mother took my wine and brought me water. I hesitated doing that, I did not want to upset that evening in any way. The rest of the evening went very smoothly. I proposed to Anita in the downstairs family room in front of a warm fire her father had bulit in the fireplace. She said YES and we were very happy!!!

I did not taste alcohol again until 1972, while visiting the home of the president of the college, where I was teaching. He brought me a glass with with some vodka in it. There it was again, the dreadful smell of alcohol. I pretended to sip some of the drink. When my host was greeting some other guests I poured the vodka on the ground and asked for some sparkling water. I have never tasted of alcohol since that day.

It was not until earlier this year that I realized that my hatred of the smell of alcoholic beverages stems back to the time I was taking those shots during my childhood. I learned to hate the smell of alcohol then and I hate it just as much now. I don’t mind being with people who drink as long as they are not drunk, but I hate the smell of their drinks. It can actually take my appetite away.

I now realize that I do not drink because of my hating the smell of alcohol. That is probably a good thing. Maybe I should be grateful for the shots I had to take in my early years of diabetes. Who would have thought that experience would lead to my never drinking?

Anita and my younger son do not drink but my older son does have some wine with his dinner. I don’t complain but I try to sit as far as possible from him when we have dinner there.

That’s a very good story Mr. Richard. Thank you for sharing it with us. It’s strange how something so small can change us. It’s been proven that the sense of smell can tigger memories faster than any other sense can.

Hi Richard: :slight_smile:

You certainly had some tough times. I didn’t like those needles either but at least I was warm when I was getting them downstairs. I’ve always liked the smell of rubbing alcohol…and bandaids. I don’t like the smell of most liquors though, for a different reason.

I truly enjoy hearing your experiences. Thank you again.

I can really understand the association between the odor of alcohol and your repulsion with it. Like Ive always associated the smell of dentist’s office with pain when I was small. Listening to your experiences is always a delight and an inspiration =)

Yes, a very good story. I can relate exactly to it. I was diagnosed in 1954-1955. I used to keep my syringes and needles soaking in alcohol. The intense smell was awful - I was not put off alcohol but the one smell I absolutely hate is the smell of insulin. It absolutely makes me gag but I have to take it, obviously. Its a very distinct smell and I just don’t like it at all. We were living in Kenya so there was no problem with the cold, in fact I never used to refrigerate my insulin and I am sure many a time it was bad insulin due to it being too hot !

Now that explain the fact I hate the smell. Hadn’t thought of that but that explains it.

Sheila, since you have been a diabetic for more than 50 years you are eligible for the Joslin medal. Those medals are awarded to people all over the world. After I received mine I received an invitation to participate in the Joslin Medalist Study. Do you live in the USA now? If so, you would be invitated to participate too. Your transportation and lodging would be paid by Joslin.

I have left my insulin unrefrigerated too, even now. When we travel to Atlanta to see our sons and grandkids my insulin is not refrigerated for one week. It has never given me a problem.

Dave, I sit on the opposite side of the table with my wife. I am sure he is not offended. I never avoid him at any other time.

Yes, if someone has an unpleasant odor then when I think about them, their odor is the first thing that enters my mind.

There was a very interesting book I read some time ago called “The Natural History of the Senses”

The part on the sense of smell was the best IMHO. She says the sense of smell basically holds the most memories. My dad is an amateur woodworker, and whenever I smell fresh sawdust or wood being cut, it takes me right back to my childhood, Saturday mornings in warm weather, my dad puttering about his woodshop.