I have a routine now. First, I double wash both of them in the shower. Then, I wash them in the bathroom sink. Then, I use witch hazel on them. Then, deodorant, and I always hit the left side twice. If I go through all these steps in the order I just stated them, I can avoid the problem of the left pit. If not, my left armpit is going to smell worse than my right one.
Look, I’m a clean person. I take a shower every single day, so it’s not like twelve-year old blow- you- over, wet dog stink. It’s more like that slight end of the day, I’ve been working outside for a few minutes on the rosebushes kind of stink, but I still don’t like it. Not only is it personally uncomfortable, I wonder if others can detect it. How embarrassing to think that anyone standing on my left side could smell my true essence and not the pleasant odor of lilac scented deodorant.
I can’t tell you when this started. It’s probably one of those things that’s been going on for a long time. Of course I didn’t notice it until this same period of self-discovery that enlightened me about my weird habit of unconsciously touching walls.
Sometimes when out and about, I’d turn my head to the left and get a whiff of body odor. I’d be like, Oooh, my deodorant must not be working. But when I turned my head to the right, the right one smelled just fine. I developed several theories about why this is happening to me.
Theory One— It’s the Glands
I must have a blockage in my left armpit glands. Or maybe, the glands on the right side don’t work as well as the ones on the right, therefore don’t sweat as much, and therefore doesn’t stink as much. I’m way past being a teenager, but other funky things are happening to my body at this time of my life, so maybe something is happening to my glands. If it is my glands, how do I talk to a doctor about this? Excuse me, but could I have a glandular problem that causes one armpit to stink more than the other? When is a good time to bring this up?
Theory Two—It’s the Deodorant
I can’t tell you how many times I have changed my deodorant. I’ve used super industrial strength spray on, wet roll-on (uck!), dry roll-on, and natural. Now the natural deodorant, which I bought on my last visit to California, actually attracts stink molecules. When I was using it, I smelled natural, like I’d been out camping for three days without bathing. The rest of the deodorants were equally ineffective at ridding the left pit of its odor, unless I use the aforementioned ritual. If I do the stink dance every morning, I smell good all day. So it’s not the deodorant. That’s one thing I do know.
Theory Three— It’s my nose.
Maybe I stink on both sides, but my right nostril can’t detect it. Maybe I’m only smelling everything with my left nostril. Again, I ask, what would the treatment be for this? How does one schedule a doctor’s appointment with the suspicion that one’s sense of smell is no longer able to detect body odor? How does one test this theory out? Is it even possible to smell something with only one nostril?
Theory Four—It’s my Brain
I admit I’m not as young as I used to be. Maybe I’m forgetting to wash my only my left armpit in the shower. But how could I forget something so vital, and why only the left? I am left handed, so maybe that’s it. The right hand, in this case, doesn’t know what the left hand it doing. I’m actually leaning toward this theory. Showers happen early in the morning when I’m not quite awake. Anything I do pre-coffee falls under suspicion.
Everything happens for a reason, and is an opportunity to learn. So what lesson can possibly lie in the middle of my left pit? I’ve learned that change is the only constant. I thought acne was behind me, too, and that adolescent roller coaster of moody, uncontrollable emotion. Turns out I was wrong about that, too.
In this stage of my life, I’ve also learned about perseverance. I haven’t let the pit problem derail me, nor the way I constantly have my hand on a wall, or the way I feel when in a room full of people, or the break up with my long term career, or my husband’s cancer. I keep on. I keep scrubbing. I keep walking. I keep hoping. I keep writing.
It’s also about self-acceptance. At thirty, or even forty, I would not have let my pit flag fly for all of you to read about. But now, in my fifties, I’m cool with myself, from the top of my head down to the tip of my puffy feet. Now, I can say it to all of you. Hello, my name is Joni. I touch walls. And one of my armpits smells worse than the other one.