Friday, April 5, 2013

Surviving Sinus and Septum Surgery

I see-sawed back and forth quite a bit about whether or not to post about my recent surgery. I finally decided to post because of the number of blogs I looked at when preparing for surgery myself. Some people, like myself, like to have as much information as they can coming into an event like surgery. So really I'm doing it for any of my reader friends who may be interested, but also for those nervous souls who find themselves Googling "sinus surgery" or "deviated septum surgery" or anything else of the sort late at night when they can't sleep.

"Arm Party"- so fashionable, so glamorous

Quick background- I have had major sinus issues for nearly ten years now- constantly stuffy, runny nose, sinus infection after sinus infection. In the past 12 months, I had been to my general practitioner FIFTEEN times for sinus infections. I'm dumb and he's greedy- he never once suggested I see a specialist; he just kept prescribing ineffective antibiotics and collecting my co-pay.  Once I visited an ENT, he didn't take long before he recommended surgery because of my severely deviated septum and chronic sinusitis. Now I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, so here's sinuses for dummies.

The septum is the line of cartilage separating the left and right airways in the nose. Ideally the cartilage is fairly straight, but sometimes it becomes deviated (crooked). Deviated septums can come from having your nose broken or just something you're born with. If your septum is badly enough deviated, then it could cause a myriad of problems- sinus infections, sleep apnea, snoring, facial pain, nose bleeds, difficulty breathing and partial or total loss of sense of smell. Some septum problems can be treated by antihistamines or decongestants. More severe deviations require surgery to straighten the septum and clear out the sinuses. My doctor said my septum was one of the worst he'd ever seen. I had nearly 100% blockage in my right airway and over 75% in my left.

After surgery, I needed a little extra oxygen. And a shot of Demerol.
Surgery was scheduled. Now I am usually super OCD about finding out everything I can about everything, but my mother had this surgery when I was a child, and it traumatized me so much that I was terrified to do too much research. I officially had a septoplasty a turbinectomy,and a sinoscopy . I arrived at the surgical center at 7:00 AM- clean and starving (no eating after midnight, you know!). I signed all the paperwork, took off my clothes (don't wear a bra, so pointless!), put on that pretty gown and waited for my IV. Surgery was painless, mostly because I was totally unconscious. However, waking up was bad, real bad.

Because my septum was virtually broken and reset my nose was packed to the brain with, well, pretty much foam tampons. The purpose of this torture was to hold my newly straightened septum in place, and seriously, it was torture. The packing was by far the worst part of the entire experience. My throat was sore from being intubated for surgery and swallowing was excruciating. I can't explain exactly how it feels to be stuffed to the brim. It's very claustrophobic. Each swallow was slow and torturous. It felt like when you are swimming and accidentally inhale pool or ocean water. You know what I mean? Each swallow felt like the liquid was coming up through my nose. It was so awful!

I know, I know! I look AMAZING!. Excellent tip: use
latex gloves as ice packs. You can arrange the fingers around
your nose!

After a few hours of recovery and a shot for pain and some liquid Loritab for pain, I managed to get dressed (yay for no bra!) and be wheeled down to Curtis's waiting car. He drove me home and babied me for the rest of the day. I tried my best to eat and drink to avoid dehydration, and eventually we had to call the doctor's office and have them phone in liquid antibiotic and pain medication because it was too hard to swallow the huge pills!

My first three days of recovery were pretty much the same. Try to drink some soup. Try to swallow some water.Change my bloody drip pad under my nose. Try to rest. The pain was completely manageable; the swallowing and suffocating feeling from the packing were the real problems. What goes in must come out, and having the packing removed was absolutely horrific- I don't think words can describe. The worst part is, after the ENT removes the packing from your first nostril, you have about five seconds of painful relief before you realize, "Oh, hell, now the other one has to come out!"

So swollen! Super unflattering photo but I'm all about the truth!
This is what my nose looked like with the packing and "moustache" bandage.
Oh, and a moustache tattoo!

The good news is within a minute that's over and done, and you immediately start feeling better. Ironically, because of the surgery my nasal passages are super swollen, so I'm all stuffed up like I have a cold. It's been a week and a half and I think I spend most of my day irrigating my nose with saline spray to keep it clean and moist. My nose is tender. My teeth are sore (It's really amazing how connected everything in your face really is!). But I am definitely on the mend, and I am so excited for my recovery to progress and to be able to breathe and not be sick all the time. I'll keep you updated, and if you have any questions, ask away!!

I didn't think it was possible, but I'm pretty sure my nose is even cuter than it was before!
 And I didn't have THAT kind of nose job!


Crystal said...

Oh my, I'm such a wimp and would be a big old baby if I had to get this done. You're a trooper, Katie! I was cringing when I read this post. Happy to hear you are on the mend. :)

Feathers & Freckles said...

Glad you're on the up and up! Have a great weekend :)

EvaNadine said...

oh wow. so glad youre starting to feel better! id be interested to hear how your recovery comes along and how your quality of life/breathing has improved!
that said, reading this made me feel a bit woozy! but i appreciate that you shared it -- like you, i like to do lots of research on things, and i think it's helpful to have a true, first-hand account of the experience!

Always Maylee said...

I'm glad the surgery went well and that you are on your way to getting 100% better!

xo, Yi-chia
Always Maylee

Tara_St said...

Your teeth hurt?! That's something I would have never thought about. I am also a little OCD, so I would've done tons of research like you did. Glad you're feeling better! Looking forward to more pictures of your cute little nose.

Penniless Socialite
Jewelry Giveaway!

Sharon S said...

I'm glad you're feeling better! As I mentioned on another post, my hubby has a deviated septum too as a result of 2 broken noses. He also gets a million sinus infections but he's terrified of having the surgery done. He's heard of a lot of cases where the surgery isn't successful and it seems like an awful lot to go through if it didn't work!

The Tiny Heart

Sincerely Sammie said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. You are such a strong and beautiful person, Katie! SO glad that you are feeling better. :) Have a wonderful weekend. said...

Yikes....that does not sound fun at all. I hope this solves your sinus issues. Your nose looks totally cute!!

AJ said...

Your nose is totally cuter! ;-) Congrats on surviving the whole ordeal, sounds like it was a challenge. But good for you for posting about it, hopefully it helps others!


Brynn said...

I really enjoyed reading this, actually. I knew pretty much nothing about deviated septums, what that surgery entails, or what the recovery is like. I know when I've had procedures before, I like to know what to expect, and your account is honest but not terrifying. Anyone who comes across your blog looking for answers should feel grateful for you :)

PS. Your nose IS super cute :)

grownandcurvywoman said...

Im so glad you're on the mend! Surgery sucks but at least you'll be able to live without all of those complications of your former deviated septum.

Maria said...

hope you have a very speedy recovery xo

Mary Ann said...

Katie - I'm so happy that you had a successful surgery and you are on the mend! Keep up the good spirits! ;-)

Chandra said...

I had the same surgeries back in September. I completely agree the packing is the worst part, I couldn't even force myself to drink water just melting ice chips. But just over six months later it was really worth it. I have helf the headaches and sleep so much better not waking up as tired as when i went to bed.

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