surgery

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

This is a little bit of a personal story, but I wanted to share in case any of you are afraid of nasal surgery like I was.

In December, I had turbinate reduction, septoplasty, and nasal valve repair surgeries (all in one out patient visit) – thank you Obamacare!

Since I was about 20 years old, my nose has been stuffy. It started out as this odd sensation where I would lay with my head sideways, and one of my nostrils would just close up. Roll over, and it opened but then the other would close up. My doctor at the time said this was normal nasal cycling.

Then it became an issue where once it was closed up, it would not open – and if I rolled over, I had two stopped up nostrils!

The problem worsened to where I would wake up and be stuffy for a few hours until it slowly went away, until finally it was just like have a permanent stuffy nose. Yes, I could breathe out of it when sitting still, but add any kind of activity that might raise your heart rate and induce increased breathing, and I was a mouth-breather. I mean small tasks, people. Like loading a dishwasher.

Sleeping was always a huge problem as you can imagine.

I have been to a couple of specialists but never felt comfortable with their answer – surgery. I felt like they were giving me their chop-shop cookie-cutter answer that they do on all patients cause its fast and makes them a buck. For instance, I am almost never ever sick with a cold and I cannot tell you the last time I had sinus issues (grade school maybe?), nor do I experience headaches. So why in the world would I want people digging around my sinuses?

Years kept passing, the problem kept getting worse. I learned about human bones and even the doctors who weren’t selling sinus surgery wanted to remove some of the tiny bones (the concha) in my nose that clearly evolved for a purpose. I was So. Not. Interested. Additionally, I am a researcher at heart, so I googled things and really scared myself with something called Empty Nose Syndrome. I needed to have confidence in my doctor. Who doesn’t?

Then I found out someone I knew got some nasal surgeries (included a much needed sinus fix) and had a great recovery in November. His turbinate reduction was not the one that destroys concha and can lead to empty noses, but instead radiofrequency which I had read about and wanted. So spontaneously, we cancelled our winter road trip and I signed up literally the next week for my visit with his doctor, and scheduled the first available surgery appointment once class was over (the day of the final, no less, just before Christmas).

I was quite nervous for these random reasons that fought each other for prominence: 1) will my nose look different? I don’t want to look in the mirror and not see me! 2) what if it doesn’t work? did I waste my money? will I have to continue with this problem? 3) what if I have a terrible surgery experience like Boy did with his gallbladder surgery earlier this year? 4) what if I don’t wake up? (two family members recently passed while under general anesthesia) 5) what if I end up with worse problems than just a stuffy nose, like being sick all the time? or requiring nasal spray for the rest of my life? or empty nose syndrome??? 6) shouldn’t I think a little bit longer about this?!

My experience was great. The recovery is quick, really. I used hydrocodone for the weekend, and honestly I am not sure I even needed it – it was more of a prevention schedule, just in case. I sprayed saline a bunch of times a day, but really only bled a little for the first day. No packing, just stints that got removed the following Tuesday (didn’t hurt one bit, just felt like they were pulling a wet fish out of my brain through my nose!). I look exactly the same as I did before. I no longer use the spray. The only pain is if I bump my nose because of the nasal valve repair (they insert cartilage to reinforce your nostrils to stay open while breathing in deeply). I forgot I had surgery really within about 7 days except for bumping it, or being around super dry hot/cold air (so I’ve avoided going outside or being near our wood stove). It’s a little gross sometimes as there are scabs and mucous to speak of, still, but its gradually all going away.

And the best part? I can flippin’ breathe.

I shoulda done this a decade ago (of course, there was no insurance then…)

 

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