I’m now seven weeks after the septorhinoplasty I had done to my nose, so here’s a bit of a checkin as to how I’m doing now!
I had my first fiddle lesson since the procedure yesterday (more on this in another post), and my teacher told me that my voice sounded different to her. This was not a thing I’d been easily able to discern myself, since of course I’m still hearing my voice from inside my head. But Lisa said my voice sounded less adenoidal to her, and given that she is of course a professional touring and teaching musician, she’s totally got the ear to clue in on that.
And if you’re wondering what ‘adenoidal’ means, don’t worry, I had to look up what the heck the adenoids are myself. Answer: they’re the uppermost of your tonsils, and they live behind your nose. Apparently enlarged adenoids can also cause breathing problems! Looking up ‘adenoidal’ as well, I saw that dictionary.com says that an ‘adenoidal’ voice is nasal and high-pitched. So by definition, this means my voice is sounding a little lower and perhaps not quite so constrained. And even if I’m not in a position to personally vouch for Lisa’s observation, it pleases me nonetheless.
So that appointment on Monday that I posted about did happen, and went well, and I am pleased to report that I’m closer to my normal functional self.
I still have traces of yellowed bruising under my eyes, but the swelling is almost gone. My nose took some contact dermatitis from having bandages on it for a week–this, I think, was the result of my established sensitivity to adhesives on bandages/bandaids, a thing that started up during my breast cancer saga. Put a bandage/bandaid on me and leave it there long enough, my skin will blister. This is what happened to my nose, and I’m sure it contributed to the DEAR GODS THE ITCHING CANNOT CLAW OFF OWN FACE mood I was in before Monday’s appointment.
At the appointment, the nurse who took out my splints was very no-nonsense and “let’s get this done”. She got in there and went YOINK for the first one, and only paused when I made distressed noises. Because yeah boy howdy that hurt. But she did give me a few minutes to get my equilibrium back before she yoinked out the other one, and I gotta admit, once they were gone, I felt eight million times better.
Dara made impressed noises about the size of the splints themselves once they were out, particularly when one fell down and bounced off me to the floor. I made a point of not looking. Normally for medical things I am of the camp of “give me all the data, I’ll feel a lot better about it all if I know everything there is to know”. In this case, though, scientific curiosity was overridden by “yeaaaaah I don’t think I need to know exactly how big those things stuffed up my nose were, kthx”.
Still, though, that totally made both Dara and me think of one of our favorite moments from Invader Zim:
Part of getting those splints out involved cutting the sutures that had held them in, too. These were at the very base of my nose, and as I write this, there’s still a bit of a red line there were the sutures had been.
After the nurse did that she spent some time suctioning out my nose. And I do mean suctioning. I was still in “keep my eyes closed” mode so I didn’t see her bring in the machine she used for this, but I heard it whirring behind me. Once she started in on me with that thing, I told Dara she was going to shop-vac my nose.
The surgeon who worked on me came in next to check me out, and he also suctioned me, as well as trimming a bit of tissue in there on one of my turbinates that he felt needed trimming. He brought a resident doctor in with him as well, so Dara and I chatted with that guy a bit.
I made a point of asking for a second round of pain meds, as I’d used the last of the Percocet. And experience with my previous medical incidents has taught Dara and me both that I have a bad habit of sitting on pain until it gets too bad to deal with, at which point I promptly have a melt down. So I asked for a round of Vicodin, on the grounds that Percocet rather kicks my ass, and since the plan was for me to work from home for a week I needed to have my brain back. Vicodin does its job without making me loopy.
Dr. Bhrani discussed with me that it was going to take me some time to get used to regularly breathing through my nose, just because I haven’t done it properly for most of my life. I will have to train myself into it. This is apparently common for cases similar to mine.
Then the surgeon and the nurse both doublechecked that I already had a followup appointment scheduled with them in August, and finally declared me clear to go. On the way out I kept tearing up and noted ruefully to Dara that I felt like I was having a melt down, only this one was good, because it was just the sheer relief of having those splints and sutures out.
As the week’s progressed I’ve been able to return to normal sleeping arrangements, and have indeed been working from home. (Thankfully, it’s been a light work week as I’m coming in on the tail end of a sprint and haven’t really had any tasks assigned to me, so I’m finding work to do.) I still have a lot of maintenance I need to do for my nose, both inside and out. The saline rinses are continuing, to clean out the inside of it. And I’m putting Aquaphor and hydrocortisone on the outside, to ease the irritation of the skin.
I was expecting it to be distinctly strange, breathing properly through my nose. During the appointment I tried it a few times and made Dara laugh out loud with my expression–because I don’t often actually physically embody the O.O emoji! And on the way home from that appointment, I found it distinctly weird as well that I was able to feel how chilly the air was on the inside of my nose. “Am I SUPPOSED to be able to sense the temperature of the air with my nose?” I asked Dara. She assured me that yes, I was. I never knew.
Something else I didn’t entirely anticipate was that my sense of balance has periodically been wonky off and on this week, because my inner ear is apparently adjusting to the changes in my breathing patterns. I know what “unsteady because I’m tired” and “unsteady because I’m on painkillers” feel like. Or “unsteady because I got up too fast and my blood rushed to my head”. This has been different. This has been “unsteady for no immediately obvious reason”. It’s eased down as the week has proceeded, but it hasn’t entirely gone away. Dara thinks it’ll take me a few weeks to really properly adjust.
It is distinctly weird to gently wiggle the end of my nose and feel it not clicking under my fingertip. It’s a lot more stable now. And now that I know that my septum was apparently in three different pieces (yikes?), this makes rather more sense now.
So far I have not needed to use my previous levels of antihistamines, which I was hoping for. I have been taking Allegra this week, just to encourage the skin irritation to go away. But I haven’t had any Claritin at all, and only one night where I had any Benadryl. I have not tried the Azelastine spray again, partly because I’m almost out of it, and partly because of an ongoing suspicion I’ve had that that stuff may have been contributing to a worsening of my ability to focus on text on my phone or tablets. After being off that stuff for a week, cold turkey, my ability to visually focus on the devices has improved. So I’ll only be resuming that spray if absolutely necessary.
Other things I’ll be keeping an eye on as I finish recovering and resume normal levels of activity: how my sleeping levels change. Whether this recurrent pulsatile tinnitus in my right ear finally goes away, if I do enough saline rinses to really clear out my sinuses properly. Whether my metabolism alters in response to changes in my sleeping and breathing. How my senses of taste and smell will be impacted.
And, as I’ve written about before, how this will impact my breath control on my flutes and whistles! Dr. Bhrani told me at the appointment that I should stay off wind instruments for a few more weeks, so this means no taking the wind instruments to this month’s session. (Oh darn. I guess I’ll just have to show up with the fiddle instead. ;D )
The only down note so far has been that my snoring has not gone away–because it turns out I’m a mouth snorer, and I am not yet used enough to keeping my mouth closed at night when I sleep. So this’ll be something to work on. Housemate Paul, who has sleep apnea and therefore has some experience with this kind of thing, has recommended I try a chin strap. So I sent a note in to the nurse to ask her for her staff’s recommendation on what kind of chin strap to try.
Aside from the snoring thing, though, this experience has been largely very positive. I’m looking forward to seeing how my daily life continues to change as a result.
I’m now one week out from having the septorhinoplasty! I am pleased to report that in general things have been proceeding smoothly and according to expectations.
Bruising and swelling-wise, I looked pretty horrendous as of this past Thursday. I had a very puffy face and some alarming purple lines under each of my eyes; as of this writing most of that has subsided, though there is some puffiness and yellow bruising still. For a while there though there was such puffiness around my eyes that I looked like some sort of hybrid offspring of a Cardassian and a Tellarite. I am glad to have NOT taken any actual pictures of that, but by Saturday I was asked for a pic, and took this one to show folks on Facebook.
Note also that this pic is after the exterior splint on my nose popped off–which was a little alarming! But it was a bit of molded plastic that was mostly there to serve as a visual indicator to people to be wary of my nose. And given Dara was spending a large amount of time this past week doing cold compresses against my eyes to keep the swelling under control, a lot of moisture got under that splint. Likewise from the vaporizer we set by the recliner in the living room, since I’ve spent the last week sleeping in the recliner so as to keep my head elevated.
So Dara called in about the splint thing, and the nurse assured her that it was nothing to worry about; apparently, for these procedures, the splint just coming off like that is a thing that can sometimes happen.
This has meant though that the bandages are more exposed, which is what you see in the picture above. And even though I was able to stop the cold compresses once we were past the 72-hour window, the bandages still got exposure to some moisture. That aforementioned vaporizer (which excellent idea I attribute to MOO and DW friend eeyorerin, who has gone through similar procedures and who told me about her penguin-shaped vaporizer) was a blessing, but it also meant that I was in that recliner getting vapor on my face for multiple hours in a row overnight. Meanwhile Dara’s also been putting vaseline on the end of my nose to help keep it from drying out, and that too has also been impacting the bandages.
I was warned that the itching would start to drive me bats. I was warned correctly. It has been a very delicate sort of itching, but it’s still AUGH MY NOSE IS ITCHING and I can’t properly scratch it yet. I also can’t properly blow my nose either because the splints are still in there. best I can do is very gently touch my nose, which helps some but does not make the itch go away. Dara’s also been getting me the same icepacks we were using for compression before, since cold does help the problem a bit as well.
I have had to do a lot of saline rinses of my nose, both for moisture and for keeping it clean. After a week of this I have a strong taste of salt in my mouth, to wit, bleah.
But in another hour or so, I will be heading out to the one-week followup. At which, hopefully, they will tell me they can take off both bandages and splints. I will be asking them as well if:
I can return to normal sleeping arrangements yet
I should continue with the saline rinses and if so for how long
I can have one more round of pain meds; I used the last Percocet at lunchtime, and that was because the aforementioned Erin warned me I’d want to have that in effect for the splint removal. But I’ve also started feeling small but noticeable little spikes of pain on the end of my nose, enough to certainly remind me that oh hey I have a nose and it also kinda hurts OW, so I think I’ll need one more round of painkillers, yep
Now at least though I’m to the point of being able to work from home. Which gives me something to do. I mean, I like playing Dungeon Boss and Gummy Drop, but it’s better to have actual work to do. :D I’ve actually been working over our VPN today–and given that May Day is set to be particularly lively, it’s a very good day to not have to be in downtown Seattle.
More to come after the appointment, and I’ll let y’all know how my breathing improves!
Addendum to my nose report! If you remember the cartoon Home Movies, you may recall that some of the characters in its cast had a band. And that one of their songs was rather pertinent to my medical experiences this week. I give you:
Also, if you’re a fan of Heather Dale (and if you’re not, I recommend it, as her voice is amazing and I love her fondness for Arthurian mythos but also her song about Sedna), she has a song that’s medically pertinent this week as well:
Sadly, the Internet has failed me in providing a proper gif of Angel from the episode “Smile Time”, when he gets turned into a Muppet version of himself and demonstrates that his nose comes off.
I have also likewise been unable to find a gif of Rimmer from the “Parallel Universe” episode of Red Dwarf, where he’s telling Lister about his date with Lorraine. “Of course, she had an artificial nose. Tastefully done! Quality metal. No rivets.” ;D
(Both of these are of course referenced in Dara’s song “Sad Muppet”! Which I would point you at except Dara doesn’t have a public recording of “Sad Muppet” available yet. But with the chorus SAD MUPPET HAS NO NOSE, it’s arguably the theme song of this week too.)