Nose Surgery – Experience
This passing Tuesday my long awaited surgery had arrived; the official name of the procedures I had done are known as ‘Septoplasty/Inferior Turbinoplasty’ involving my misbehaving nose.
Contrary to the belief of my manager who is expecting me to come back to work with a “cute button nose”, the procedures do little on the external look of the nose. Both the ‘Septoplasty/Inferior Turbinoplasty’ work behind the scenes hopefully correcting the breathing problems that I had plaguing me for years. It got to a point where I couldn’t leave the house without my trusty Sudafed bottle by my side, always needing a fix when my nasal passages decided to swell up like a wide water raft.
The septum is that piece of cartridge and bone that separates your nostrils. I was amazed to learn that about 70-80% of people have a deviated septum, but most don’t even know it or don’t have any problems associated with it. The turbinates are natures air-conditioners , sitting in the nose dedicated to cooling/heating and cleaning the air before it reaches the lungs. Unfortunately when the septum is bent they can swell-up to take up the extra room in one nostril causing a permanent feeling of a blocked nose. It is why the two operations usually go together to deal with both of the menacing evil nasal stepsisters.
My experience pre-hospital
As the date drew closer to the scheduled operation, I was surprisingly elated. I have had a previous operation some years back on my partially detached retina that involved putting me to sleep with a general anesthetic, so I felt I knew what to expect. Even the night before the surgery I was calm as a Hindu cow, contemplating my time after the surgery.
The scheduled time at the hospital was set at inconvenient peak-hour time of 8am. After signing a dozen papers and waiting in various rooms, I was instructed to strip down to underwear and put on the usual surgery gown. Now I know that hospitals don’t want to run the risk of getting something wrong (giving me boob-job instead), but when every passing nurse and surgeon asked me to verify my name, date of birth and what I am here for, it felt like those disorganized call centers that transfer your call without passing on the information only for you to repeat the purpose of your call. I was ready for the janitors to ask me next, but after about 8 or so requests a nurse came into what I refer to as the limbo-room, the transitionary room between the corridors and the surgery room and began to wheel me into the next room.
I made a conscious effort before the surgery to hold out for as long as humanly possibly against the effects of the general anesthetic running through my veins, as a test of strength. The battle was short, the anesthetic delivered a quick blow and I disappeared into the black-hole of my unconsciousness.
My experience after surgery
When my eyes re-opened an oxygen mask was pumping the good gas into my lungs. A nurse was quick to appear next to me to ask me a few questions and then quickly disappeared when in my drugged-up state I began to ask her trivial questions about the objects in the room and their purpose. Lacking the quick wit at the time, I lost the opportunity to ask the nurse “what year this is?” or “what’s my name?” as a late running April Fools joke.
The feeling of nausea was thankfully not present. I may point to my 12 hours of abstinence from food or water, above the recommended 6 for the result.
After about 45 minutes I was wheeled into my own room to be told that I have to stay the night. The surgery lasts about an hour, and some people leave the hospital only a few hours later. But I had extra bleeding, so alas I was stuck eating jelly and ice-cream and watching daytime soap operas.
When waking up from the surgery, the breathing tubes used in the surgery left a feeling of a dishwashing scourer passing through my throat, but the pain subsided after an hour or so.
Apart from the bleeding and puss oozing from my nose, there was little other discomfort. The closest feeling I got to experience a plastic surgery was when the sticky tape used to hold the gauze under my nose was stuck onto the more sensitive skin below the eyes, stretching it in the process. The around the clock pain medications erased any further discomfort and pulled me through the next 24 hours.
Next morning the packing in my nose was to come out with the help of a nurse on duty. It was meant to be a simple drab & pull procedure with a pair of tweezers but not everything plays out as it should. The first nostril behaved and after an intense few seconds the packing was out.
If the ancient Egyptian pharaohs were alive when the embalming process took place, perhaps they would feel the sensations I did. I am specifically referring to when the brain was scrapped out from the nose, or in my case the deep packing. As the gauze emerged from my nostril the scene took on an appearance of a magic trick, with the packing emerging resembling a thick red bean pod instead of the usual rabbit. The second nostril didn’t play by the same tune, the packing was ripping apart with each pull complicating the process. Finally the nurse threw her arms up and contacted the surgeon to finish the job.
Two weeks recovery was recommended without any heavy lifting – a holiday disguised in misery. I guess TV and jelly icecream is not too bad if you ignore the nagging pain.
There was also a bunch of medication prescribed with uneven doses, every 4 hours, every 6 hours, twice a day etc, requiring . Right now two days after the surgery I feel like a soppy toddler unable to even control my nose from running.
Here are some photos of before and after. Little to no difference is visible in the nose.
It has been exactly two weeks after the surgery and two days of which I had to return back to work for. Tomorrow I am seeing the specialist for the follow-up appointment, so I will have a more professional opinion on my recovery.
Right now I am mildly pessimistic in the drastic improvement of my breathing from both nostrils. My right nostril was always better before the operation, which is why it seems to be healing fine. Nearly always I am able take a deep breath through the nostril without making it feel forced. However the left nostril that was the more severely affected one (in the pre-operation consultation the doctor was not able to even fit his camera tube to inspect), still feels semi blocked. Extended breathing with it causes headaches and general discomfort.
I am hoping that it’s because more work was done on it, so it has more to recover from, but I will find out tomorrow.
I was able to stop attaching bandages under my nose to stop the leaking about five days ago [10 days after operation]. But still get an occasional sensation of a leaking nose.
I still use the nasal rinsing that was supplied to me, but have reduced the amount of times from the recommended every-four-hours, to twice a day. Paradoxically my nose feels more blocked after I use it, even though the rinse is designed to wash out all the mucous. There is hardly any blood visible.
The front of my septum is still sensitive and I have to avoid accidently bumping it.
UPDATE – 27/04/12
Over three weeks now and I feel much more optimistic. It may be due to the encouraging doctors’ words when I saw him last week. He took his little camera and liberally pushed it up my nose. I could see all the action on a monitor. His words were “yep the septum looks straight” and “the recovery is going well”.
I told him of my concern that the left nostril is still blocked up, but he dismissed my unease stating that it’s still early in the recovery. The human body is a funny thing, and does the following often; If I have a condition of some kind that bothers me, as soon as I decide to see the doctor, it miraculously subsides making me feel normal again. It paints me as a paranoid kook in front of the doctor. It happened to me again when I went for the follow-up appointment. My nose was as clear as a cloudless sky, the only good thing to come of it is that it didn’t return to its persistent blocked up state. That extra week has really improved my breathing.
I decided to do an update many months later. So how do I fee now? Did the surgery work? Mostly yes, during the day as I am working or enjoying my weekends I don’t think about my nose as the breathing is not causing problems. I do get an occasional slight blocking of a single nostril which can be frustrating. It happens more frequently first thing in the morning.
Months ago I went to the allergy clinic in which they ran some prick tests on my arm to determine if I am allergic to anything. The results showed that I had slight allergies to dust and cockroach crap… The ENT specialist looked at the results of that test and told me he believes that the dust allergy can contribute to the occasional blocking of the nostrils. He advised to keep the house as dust free as possible and gave me some brochures on ways to minimise dust contact.
I will admit there are parts of the bedroom that is dusty, and I haven’t taken any further steps in minimising dust. When I do get the occasional blocking of a nostril I wish that the doctor went in there and gouged more out, but that’s just me over reacting.
Overall the surgery definitely helped me breath and I made a personal promise not to take any more Sudafed to relieve the blockage which I have stuck to so far.
I thought I will make an update 3 years from my last one. In the long run the surgery definitely fixed the blocked nose, and I don’t have to use any sprays any more.
One side-effect i do find is that my nose is more runnier, especially when i am sick. It can drip sometimes so I carry a tissue with me nearly always just in case.
The surgery did not result in any physical changes to my nose externally. Thinking back on it, the surgeon did offer me some work done on the external appearance of my nose, but I declined as it would have involved more money and time I didn’t necessarily have.. It might have been cheaper if I just did the whole combined operation, and fixed one of the features of my face that I don’t enjoy.