Teacher Was Utterly Depressed Until She Learned Why She Smelled Like Fish
Cailyn Finkel 7/17/2018
Trimethylaminuria. This word may seem like random letters scientists stuck together to confuse us - but it's actually some much more serious. One woman who knows the deep, dark pain of trimethylaminuria, or fish odor syndrome (FOS), is Camille.
Camille has suffered from FOS since she could remember, and it's caused some of her most heartwrenching days. Children bullying her on the playground, teens making cruel comments about the smell and colleagues failing to show her the respect she deserved - this was daily life for Camille.
But now she's speaking out in hopes that her solution will help others with the affliction as well...
Camille first noticed the nasty stench when she was in first grade. No matter how hard she tried to get the stinky smell of dead fish off her body, nothing worked. She scrubbed and scrubbed, but it was still there and strong as ever!
The smell's stubborn nature is due to a pungent chemical in the body called trimethylamine. Usually, the human body can get rid of trimethylamine without the smell seeping through the skin - but for people with FOS, the stinky chemical is stuck in their bodies.
To make matters worse, patients with FOS can't smell their own body odor. This means they can't keep tabs on their scent or take steps to stop it when it's spiraling out of control! From the time Camille was a girl, she had to deal with this grim reality.
Sadly, even some of Camille's teachers made life difficult for her. She explained the pain of her childhood days with ABC Primetime.
"One of my teachers asked me if I was showering every day. From that point on, she kind of sat me in the corner of the classroom.
Kids would call me a freak. They would tell me I smelled like horse manure [and] dead fish."
While things didn't get easier into adulthood, Camille managed to stay strong. She did her best to ignore rude comments from her peers and strangers - but it wasn't until Camille started teaching that things took a terrible turn.
The children in Camille's classroom verbally harassed her until she had virtually no self-worth. With tears in her eyes, Camille looked at the camera and explained how bad things were during that time:
"They would say things like, 'Ew, this classroom stinks like dead fish.' They would call me 'Miss Fishy.'
I would cry all the way home from school. All the time."
Camille spent years getting her Master's degree in Education - she loved children! But now all she wanted to do was crawl in a hole and die. Suicide was a thought that came around more and more frequently.
In Camille's mind, if children couldn't accept her, who would?
Thankfully, a solution came to Camille just in time. She was desperate for a solution, ready to end it all but decided to give things one last shot. With a heavy heart, Camille opened her Internet browser and typed out "fishy body odor."
The search engine results left her in shock - she wasn't the only one!
There were other people in the world with FOS, and they discovered ways to make the smell totally disappear. With the help of a changed diet, probiotics and other important steps, Camille didn't have to hide anymore. Now she credits the women she met online (like Sandy below) for saving her life. Camille's story is a reminder that, no matter how bad things get, you are never alone!