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Another Year, Another Sinus Surgery

How I feel most days...It’s a new year, so it must be time for another sinus surgery. I’m both super ticked about it and super-relieved to get it done. I’m really suffering recently with epic headaches and a horrible smell in my sinuses that won’t go away. Given that my sinusitis is worse now than it was in October right before that condition that warranted my first surgery in 6 years, this surgeon is taking much more drastic action. I feel pretty much like the photo most days either from my headaches or from my painkillers. It makes getting work done and staying motivated almost impossible on a daily basis, but I charged through it hard enough in the first half of December that we are almost set for January as of this week (more on that later). I have a couple of sites to wrap up to close out and a couple who have paid their deposits to begin work after I recover, so it’s the best of both worlds right now.

This is now my 10th sinus surgery and my second in 90 days. Here’s what happened:

What didn’t get done last time

From what I understand of what was done in October was basically a power wash under general anesthesia. She didn’t mess with my septum or go for anything related to my frontal sinus other than rinsing it out. After surgery, I wasn’t culturing anything, but both sides re-developed scar bands that connected my septum to the outer wall, blocking access to my upper areas. She was really upset that it happened, but I’m gathering that it happened because my septum bends both ways and was simply too close on either side to keep the tissue separated while it healed. My second opinion revealed that he couldn’t even see how to access my frontal sinus to rinse it in the office.

Surgery OrdersHe will be re-aligning my septum (black eyes, anyone?) and removing a lot of tissue and creating a 4-lane highway to my bothersome frontal sinus. My surgery is scheduled for 10am at the main hospital as an out-patient procedure, but one local friend said his surgery there by the same doctor was scheduled for 9am and he got put under at 4pm. He got a “free” night’s stay at that point because of the bleeding. Given how much I bled in October, I would guess we will be staying overnight, too. Beautiful said she was changing my dressing every half-hour or more until midnight and we live a little more than an hour away from the hospital during the evening rush that I would potentially be released in – not to mention my extreme sensitivity to motion and bumps even the next day. We don’t own a Jaguar, you know?

My pre-op appointment

Talk about a complete waste of a day. Talk about a complete waste of Beautiful’s day off! [Read more…]

Monthly Maintenance: My Trip to the ENT

Smiling before...I’ve lost track, but I believe I’ve had 7 sinus surgeries over the years. It’s between 6 and 8, for sure. I had my first one around the 4th or 5th grade, but my worst one was my second one when the surgeon realized during surgery that I had broken my nose over the summer and he BROKE it again, shoved 4″ plastics shin guards up there and stitched them through my septum! I was not a happy camper when I woke up. The shortest duration between operations was 9 months and the longest is my current streak: going on since 2004.

Nasal polyps are teardrop shaped, noncancerous growths on the lining of your nasal passages or sinuses. Small nasal polyps may cause no problems and go unnoticed. Larger nasal polyps can block your nasal passages or sinuses and cause breathing difficulties, a loss of your sense of smell, frequent sinus infections and other problems. – Mayo Clinic

I’ve got chronic sinusitis and had some really bad situations that were discovered during surgeries. One time, the doctor said that I had an infection in my frontal sinus (above the eyes) on the right side that had eaten through my skull and was in danger of infecting my brain. Every surgery has been called for because of sinus polyps and needing to open things up, which they call “scraping and windows.” I’ve only been operated on by two different surgeons, but never needed what they call “packing:” yards of gauze shoved into my sinuses for a week or two, which is very painful to remove. “Yay!?”

My Florida ENT retired last year after fighting and winning a round with cancer. I miss him a lot (only a CFer would say something like that), but I’m getting used to and liking his referral ENT now. She’s in the same office, so really the person shoving instruments up my nose is the only thing that’s changed in the last 12 years of ENT visits in Tampa. After my last surgery, we decided to do monthly flushes with antibiotics into the frontal sinus (through a very, very small opening) and the main maxillary sinuses.

So far, so good. No surgeries since and only a handful of sinus infections that required antibiotics.

Today, I have a treat for you: photos. I asked my new ENT, Dr. Janet Seper if she could have someone take photos with my phone so I could post them for the site for the benefit of others.

Warning: If you don’t want to see me looking uncomfortable, don’t continue. The last image is for the benefit of those who want to see what ails me and lives in my nose – as she finally got it out at the last moment with a special vacuum attachment, which you will have to click to view.
[Read more…]