The smell of fish and onion is only ever appealing when it’s being prepared in a kitchen to then be eaten. But when it emanates out of a human body, it doesn’t quite have the same effect.Kelly Fidoe-White, a 36-year-old Englishwoman from Greater Manchester, has known she has a special condition ever since the children at school would tell her she smelled like fish. But what exactly was going on in her body to make her have such a strange body odor?
It never seemed to make a difference when Kelly showered four times a day and used whole cans of deodorants to try and mask the smell. She would use boiling hot water to scrub her skin until it turned bright red and all this because people kept telling her she smelled like rotten fish, onion, and even poop. The incessant bullying from fellow students during her childhood and adolescence has continued right into her adult life working as a radiographer at the Royal Oldham Hospital. Her colleagues and patients are always quick to point out her strange body odor. The complaints even got so bad that she decided to switch to night shifts so as to lower her contact with other people.
As if her lack of confidence and low self-esteem wasn’t enough, Kelly has another problem: she has no sense of smell. That means she is unable to decipher how intense her body odor is. It makes you wonder whether this is a blessing or a curse for Kelly but either way, she is completely reliant on other people’s comments and judgements about her state.
Kelly finally took it upon herself to research and better understand her condition. After watching a documentary, she learned that her problem in fact had a name: Trimethylaminuria — a very rare metabolic disorder better known as the “fish-odor syndrome.” Kelly’s body is unable to breakdown a component of foods known as choline, so instead the body eliminates it through sweat, breath, urine and reproductive fluids. The problem associated with this is that it lets out a strong fishy smell or body odor. And sadly there is no cure for it.
However, after her self-diagnosis and corroboration with doctors in 2015, she also discovered that many of the perfumes and soaps she had been using were actually having an adverse effect on her, and made the smell even worse. So now Kelly treats her genetic condition with a cocktail of medicines that help improve her intestinal flora. She now only uses soaps with a pH balance that is suitable for her skin type.
Luckily, Kelly is not alone in life. Sixteen years ago, she met Michael online, who is now her husband. Michael says he didn’t notice anything unusual about Kelly at first, but when he found out, he didn’t mind. Of course, he admits there have been times when she has not smelled that nice, but he has never said anything to his wife so as not to hurt her feelings. What a gentleman!
In this photo, you can see the happy couple together on their wedding day.
Thanks to the support of her now understanding colleagues and the unconditional love of her husband, Kelly has regained self-esteem and feels more empowered than before. With regard to her illness, if someone comments on her bad smell, she tries to explain her condition and educate the person so they understand that it is not a problem of personal hygiene. Kelly aims to help other people who also suffer from the same condition by making more people aware of it. After all, she knows what it is like to be discriminated against a whole lifetime. She even tries to make a joke out of it and see the humorous side of things.
If you’re interested to learn more about Kelly’s story, you can watch the video below:
With the support of people close to her who understand and respect her, Kelly will hopefully be able to lead a happy life. And others with the same condition should also feel that they can live a normal life so long as they talk openly about their problem. They are definitely not alone.