Thursday, August 11, 2016

Septoplasty

Let's not glamorize sinus surgery friends.  It's not a pleasant experience.  

 
While it was an out patient procedure, I wasn't expecting the pain afterwards.  I'm still in the healing process, so I can't tell if it was "worth it" yet (a question I'm frequently asked).

Since I shared openly about the {LASIK} procedure I had last June, it seemed appropriate that 

Spoiler alert: There are post surgery pictures and they aren't pretty.  (They aren't grotesque and what I've sent my mom, but I didn't post them on social media for unsuspecting eyes.  Read at your own risk. Xo, Voldemort.)

Pre Surgery

This saga started months ago.  In March, I got yet another sinus infection.  Several rounds of antibiotics didn't do a thing and the infection kept getting worse.  I was miserable.  The urgent care doctor sent me to an ENT (ear, nose, & throat doctor).

After many hoops, I got into the ENT in early April.  Long story short, he's amazing.  I explained my medical history (chronic ear infections as a child, several sinus infections a year, etc).  He explained that I wasn't getting better because the cough incompetent cough urgent care doctor prescribed me medicines that were counteracting one another.  One was thinning the mucus, the other thickening it.  I feel like that's a simple error the doctor shouldn't have made.  One look up my nose revealed the truth: I had a severely deviated septum and surgery was a definite possibility.  

He referred me for a face CT to see the severity of my septum and create an action plan.  I was scheduled for that in May, but since my insurance does not process things in a timely manner, I had the CT in June.  (This is two months of struggling to breathe by the way.  I definitely don't feel like a priority to the health care system.)

From there, I went back to the ENT and he said yes, surgery would fix this.  My nose made a S shape on the inside (it's supposed to be straight) and my x-rays revealed a gray ring of mucus completely impacting both of my sinuses (the under the cheek bone ones).  Fun, right?

Because my ENT respects my job as a teacher, he fit me in two weeks before I go back to work.  The healing process is roughly 10 days, so this left me some wiggle room to set up my classroom.

I had to change my primary care physician, go to a new one (who was booked through November), see the PA, and get her to sign off on the surgery as well.  Insurance took until August 1st to approve the surgery, which was only slightly nerve racking because surgery took place on the 8th.

Luckily it was approved (and incredibly expensive).  I went in on Thursday (8/04) to do blood work, a urinalysis, and sign all my pre-op paperwork.  I went to St. Rose and it was such a pleasant experience.

I spent part of the weekend outside and anxiously awaited Monday morning.  As part of my pre-surgery care, I stopped taking vitamins (because many contain blood thinners), couldn't eat or drink after midnight, and removed all jewelry prior to going to the hospital.  I had a horrible migraine on Thursday but had to suffer through it because Excedrin was on the banned list.  That wasn't fun.

Surgery Day

I was at the hospital at six am, which meant we left our home at 5:15 in the morning.  Because this is ridiculously early, my (future) MIL came over the night before and spent the night.  We (okay, he) made my mom's 3 bean turkey chili and she brought a salad & bread sticks from Olive Garden.  We walked Waffles, watched some of the Olympics, and went to bed early.

I got checked into the hospital, changed into the ever attractive surgery robes, met the anesthesiologist and my surgeon (my ENT).  The nurses were friendly, I was wheeled into a sterile room, I got a oxygen mask...and woke up several hours later.

I was in pain and anxious after surgery.  I was nauseous and continued to be so for days.  My amazing MIL brought me home, went to get my medicines (Tylenol with codine and augmentin, both of which make me sick to my stomach), and proceeded to clean our whole house while I "watched soccer" (aka napped).  She stayed until B got home, then came back two days later to take me to get the packing removed.



The first day I was able to sleep for about forty five minutes at a time before I'd wake up choking and needing water.  I think I drank fifteen glasses of water and had to use the restroom every thirty minutes.  My throat was raw from the breathing tube and my face felt full.  My nose was swollen and full of packing.   I take antibiotics every 12 hours and pain killers every four.  I also get to take a probiotic and stool softener because the medicine wrecks my insides.  
 Luckily I managed to escape the dreaded black eyes! I did have gauze under my nose that 
I'd have to change every few hours because of bloody mucus discharge.  I also got to use saline drops to moisture my nostrils.  B has been wonderful throughout the whole process.




Recovery
 
Today, four days after the surgery, was the first time I was able to eat a real meal. The rest of the week has been water, apple juice, Gatorade (or at least the few sips I could take), a Popsicle, toast, attempting to eat oatmeal and mashed potatoes (both made me sick), and lots of soup broth.  Today I managed some Trader Joe's mac and cheese (thank you Mrs. J for bringing it over!)

I had the packing removed from my nose on Wednesday, which essentially meant my ENT used large tweezers to yank the cotton from inside my nose.  Not fun, but my head felt less "full" afterwardHe also switched my medicine to extra strength Tylenol and that has significantly cut down on the nausea.  I had a few people ask why I wasn't given stronger medicine and quite frankly, I'm glad.  I don't handle strong medicine well and if I can get by with naps, water, and extra strength Tylenol, then that's my preferred healing plan.

I'm not allowed to touch my nose and spend the next few days dealing with discharge.  I was not prepared for how gross this would be.  I literally have gooey snot bubbles coming out of my nose that I can't touch. I have to wait for them to pop, blood to drip down my face, and then gently blot with a tissue.  Fun, right? My ears pop every so often, my throat is still scratchy, my tongue gets super dry, and I have a pressure headache most of the time.

I did accidentally bump my nose waking up from a nap, so if it still tingles tomorrow, I'm going back to the ENT. I'm worried that I've made it crooked.  It looks crooked to me, but it's also still swollen and hard to tell.

I get the splints out next Tuesday.  I'm very much dreading this process.

Luckily I have amazing friends and a great support system throughout this ordeal.

First, Chloe supervises my eating of soup.  



She's also been laying in my lap and on the back of the couch.   Her sister, Crookshanks, watches from the table.  (Yes, there are my teacher planning materials in the background).

Second, Waffles has been by my side almost constantly:



Whenever friends come over, she's her rowdy puppy self.  But she must know that I'm hurting because she's been incredibly gentle with me.

Third, my mother in law has been wonderful.  My own mommy couldn't be here and Kathy more than stepped up to fill the void.  Between getting me medicine, driving me to appointments, and taking care of house chores so that B could devote his time to me, I couldn't have done this without her.  I appreciate her and I hope she knows it.

Fourth, B has been wonderful.  Even when I was puking in a bowl on the couch (because I can't bend over and puke in the toliet), he didn't have any reaction.  He normally is super grossed out by this stuff but he held it together because he knows how much this hurts.  He slept on the couch the first night (because I have to sleep in the recliner with my head elevated) and is beyond attentive.  He's picked up the slack on house work because I can't bend over, which means I can't help with dishes, laundry, or the litter.  He went to the grocery store and brought me back five types of instant potatoes and three types of pudding because he wanted me to have options.  That's the man I'm marrying and I couldn't be happier about it.  We've already got the "in sickness and in health" part of our vows down!

Fifth, I have great friends.  I've received lots of texts and facebook messages (because talking hurts).  Mrs. K did a drive by with my favorite type of ice cream on Tuesday and is coming over tomorrow.  Mar came over Wednesday night.  Mrs. A, Mrs. H, Mrs. J, and Mrs. H came over today for some planning and catch up time.  Mrs. A brought me a Harry Potter coloring book and Starbucks.  Mrs. J brought me a Sonic slushie.  They stayed for about two hours, which was perfect.  I appreciate them so much.



After they left, I needed a several hour nap to recuperate.  I woke up to find B had went to bed (he has an early day tomorrow) but he was kind enough to leave me with Broncos pre-season football on the television (because that's love).

Tomorrow (and the rest of the weekend) brings more relaxing on the couch, frequent naps, and all the water I can handle.  I've got some reading materials and a coloring book to keep me company.  I've also got friends coming back on Monday to finish up planning because the start of the school year is creeping up on us. 

 I hope this surgery was worth it.  I hope this severely cuts down on the number of sinus infections I get each year (ideally to zero).  I'm hoping to be able to breathe normally and not wake myself up coughing in the middle of the night.

Fingers crossed it worked!

 

 

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