A 43-year-old mother of two from Sheridan, Indiana, has found renewed confidence in herself after suffering for years from a rare genetic condition that caused her to “smell to high heaven” after eating certain foods.
It wasn’t until she was 19 that Connie Christy discovered she had trimethylaminuria, a disorder that causes her to emit a “fishy” odor from her breath, sweat and urine shortly after eating foods like fish or eggs.
“I can’t smell it on myself so it was a shock to me,” Christy told the South West News Service of the day her parents revealed the condition to her after speaking to a nurse. “All through high school and middle school, how many times did I actually smell like fish and not know it? Through elementary, I don’t remember kids being mean, but my mom does remember me being called names like ‘Connie the Tuna.’”
Though she had frequently noticed when people backed away from her during conversations, Christy figured it was due to bad breath, not something as serious as a genetic condition with no known cure. The trimethylaminuria discovery was especially devastating to Christy since had just started dating the man who would later become her husband.
“I met my husband around that time and when we were dating, every once in a while he would say, ‘Did you shower today?’ and it was me smelling like fish,” Christy told the SWNS of her husband, Shane. “He brought it up a couple of times. We were together for six months to a year and I was nervous about telling him.”
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As the years went by, Christy — who has two sons, ages 19 and 16— went through many failed attempts to find something that would mask the odor and allow her to live a normal life.
“I have tried charcoal wash and I have tried zinc and I would always use body spray or fragrance to try and cover it up, but there is no covering it up,” she said. “It makes me feel embarrassed and ashamed. Who wants to smell like that?”
While there is no cure for trimethylaminuria, the National Institute of Health says people with the condition can reduce the amount of odor they give off by avoiding foods that contain high levels of trimethylamine.
The condition, sadly, had long kept Christy from doing social activities that could cause her to sweat and emit the odor in public.
“My husband and I were taking ballroom dance classes and I quit doing that because once in a while my husband would say, ‘Oh, you’re starting to smell,’ ” she told SWNS. “Quite often the instructor would dance with me and show me the moves and it made me sick to the stomach that I might smell… I was so fearful I just quit.”
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But things finally started to swing Christy’s way three years ago when she started taking the probiotic digestion aids Plexus ProBio5 and Biocleanse — which seemed to stop the odor in its tracks, even if she ate fishy foods. Her true moment of bliss came four months after taking the probiotics when she ate crab legs and had her son give her a sniff up close.
“I love crab legs and when we used to eat them my husband says I reeked — I would smell to high heaven in 30 minutes. It’s a fill-up-the-kitchen smell,” she said. “Later my son buried his nose in my neck [after eating crab legs] and said, ‘Mom, I don’t smell anything.’ I cried.”
Christy said she has only smelled odorous three times since she started taking the tablets, and now, after long last, she has found the confidence to go out in public and participate in the things she has long dreamed of doing.
“I have so much more confidence to talk to people now,” Christy told SWNS. “I have more confidence to share my story.”
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