It started about a month into my freshman year of college. It was a faint, almost sweet, rotting scent that permeated my entire dorm room. I asked my two roommates about it, but they had no idea what I was talking about.

I searched the room for a possible cause, but the stench continued to grow until I realized it was actually coming from one of the girls. I had no idea how to broach the subject, and the odor soon lessened until it had disappeared. This cycle continued, and I decided not to pursue the topic in order to avoid embarrassing my roommate. I didn’t see any reason to point out something that apparently no one else noticed.

Sometime later this girl’s mom called one afternoon. I was the only one in, and she asked me to make sure my roommate knew her medication for adrenaline poisoning was on the way.

The next year I was home for vacation when I smelled the same distinct odor around my dad. Again, no one around could smell it. I knew he hadn’t been feeling well, and I told him about the smell and my roommate’s condition. His next doctor’s visit revealed that his hormones were indeed imbalanced. He was experiencing severe bouts of anxiety and panic attacks, and that caused him to excrete adrenaline in excess.

Sometimes when I’m in a crowd in a store or riding an elevator, I catch a whiff of that familiar scent. I want to say something, but where would I start?

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