Thursday, June 24, 2010

33 days post op,

and I am starting to finally feel like I might actually be a human-type person again. I'm not springing into cartwheels, or feeling the magical special cure that I had, deep down, obviously, been hoping for, but I no longer feel as if someone decided to whack me in the face with a mallet, while at the same time letting some sort of giant lizard claw its way down my throat. You can imagine that this is a bit of a relief.

I managed to catch, in these 33 days, at least one sinus infection (either inadequately quashed the first time and capable of rebounding, or a party-bug who invited a friend over; impossible to tell) and a case of thrush that made me want to rip my tongue out and use sandpaper on it. Thankfully, the thrush has cleared up, and the infection(s) are on their way out as well. (She says, trying not to jinx herself this time.)

So I'm going to talk a little bit about a couple of things now, and I'm going to warn you that the very first thing I'm going to talk about is exceedingly gross. As in "Are you really about to tell the internet that...?" level gross. But here is where I talk about things that I can't discuss in real life/make my family understand, and so, you lovelies have a bit of forewarning that you might want to skip item #1.

Item #1: Every week since my surgery (and twice the first week immediately following the surgery), I have had to go to the ENT surgeon for a check in. During these check ins, he pokes at my face a little bit, looks up my nose, down my throat and in my ears - in short, all the things you expect the ENT to do. And then things take a dramatic turn for the worse, and I break out in the kind of flop sweat usually only experienced when the dentist turns around with that huge needle in his hand. Luckily, the ENT does not start poking me with needles, but, rather unluckily, he instead decides that now is the time to insert things up my nose.

UP my NOSE, people. My very tender, and much abused nose. First, he sprays a little numbing stuff, which is about as useful as tap water would be, and then he uses a long thin strip of cotton ball, doused in decongestants, and his looooooong metal pliers, and he stuffs the cotton ball up my nostrils. He leaves it there for a minute and disappears behind me, while the medicinal tasting decongestant drips out of my nose and down the back of my throat.

The first time this happened, I was a little bit shocked: I assumed that when he said he was going to use a decongestant, that he meant a nasal spray. And that was going to be bad enough, because my nose was already swollen and sore, and now he was going to spray stuff up there? Bah. So I was sitting there all shocked and drippy, waiting for him to take this gross stuff out of my nose when, all of the sudden, there's an unexpected noise behind me. A mechanical noise, a little hum that is entirely out of place. And then things go way downhill, way too fast.

Because the mechanical humming noise is coming from some sort of vacuum, not unlike an elongated, metal version of the doohickey that the dentist uses to suck spit out of your mouth during a cleaning, and the ENT is telling me that this damn thing is going up my nose to "clean out what's left."

Are you freaking kidding me??? This was not mentioned during the numerous pre-op discussions we had about surgery and aftercare; This was not mentioned in my aftercare instructions; This was not mentioned anytime during the previous 15 minutes I've been sitting here talking to you: NOW you are telling me, as you approach me with that goddamn thing, that you're going to suck stuff out of my sinuses? I am so not on board with this.

But, what choice did I have, really, since this is part of the after care - I'm going to go through all the pain of the surgery, and then have it be a waste because I didn't do the necessary follow up? I don't think so. How bad can it be, really?

Oh, it can be really, really bad. *I should put a disclaimer here that this was my experience, and the whole sucking out of sinuses might not be a big deal for other people: I can't really say. Except for another guy who was having the same surgery/procedure done on my first post-op visit who yelled really loudly from inside the room while I was waiting for my appointment, so he obviously didn't enjoy it either (if only I had known why he was yelling before I went in...). I can only say, that for me? It was a gigantic deal. Not just because I was already in a lot of pain, although I was, but because, to me, it feels like drowning.

The sensation of not being able to breathe through your noise is bad enough, but you add in the forced pressure of that little vacuum, and the fact that you can feel it not just in your sinuses and nose, but in the back of your throat? And it adds up to a completely overwhelming and painful experience. I cried, the first time, and (Mum told me later) was also, from the waiting room, quite audible in my distress. I cried the second and third times too, and I'm not even the tiniest bit embarrassed by that fact. (It was a little bit less traumatic the last two times, thankfully.)

It hurt, and I am already hurting enough.

But it was the panic that it caused me that was most distressing... the doctor actually told me to "breathe through your mouth" (as if I had any other options) "or you're going to have a panic attack". That is because you are cutting off my air supply, and my body, for some reason thinks this is a bad idea. He also appeared shocked that I would find this so upsetting, only adding to my impression of him as completely out of touch with reality ("7-10 days and you'll be good as new!"; "No patient has ever had a sinus infection so soon, post-op: are you sure that's what it is?"; "You should chew more gum to help stretch those muscles, did I forget to tell you that?").

The only good news is that I now don't have to go back for another month, baring additional issues, and that time, he may not even have to use the vacuum. Fingers crossed! End of totally disgusting and barbaric Item #1.

Item #2 - I have missed out on a lot of things in the course of the 33 days: a cousin's wedding (which apparently included much celebrating), my birthday, a college reunion I wasn't going to go to anyways (but I would've liked to make the my-girls dinner pre-party), Lil Girl's end of school celebration, No Longer Youngest Nephew's school report (which I have never been invited to before :( ), and more than a bit of family drama that I'm still trying to catch up with. Everybody in my family had issues during this period, and I feel like I am a page or two behind on the stories, which is a feeling I truly hate. I also feel like this lag in my understanding of things has caused new drama, which I have to figure out how to fix, but can't till my brain is back at full power, which sucks. This is one of the things I tried to factor into my decision to have the surgery - knowing I would be so far behind/out of the loop, and trying to make it be ok, but I absolutely hate not being there for people when they need me (and we can talk about why I don't expect people to show up for me when I need them some other time, thank you very much). It has been hard, playing catch up, apologizing for the gaps and lapses, the gaffs and digs I've delivered unknowingly. Or trying to, at least.

But at the same time, I'm trying to be realistic about this - I had the right to do something that, hopefully, is going to lead to a real improvement in my health. It wasn't selfish to do this, even if I don't get the outcome I wanted. Or, if it is selfish, only in a good way. This is one of the things I have decided to work on, about myself - that I don't cut myself enough slack about important things. Yes, it is vital to be someone that my family and friends can depend on, and it stinks when my health issues get in the way of that. But that doesn't mean it's not something that people should try to understand, and that doesn't mean it's something I should feel badly for (at least, not excessively so). So, I'm working on that. It is much harder done than said.

Item #3 I would just like to state, for the record, that I am through thinking about my weight. Because I ate nothing but soup broth and mashed potatoes, slush, bananas, and jello for, let's say 27 days, discounting the first two days (when I could only eat slush), and the last four (when I've been expanding into other, actually needs to be chewed types of food). And I think I gained weight, to be honest with you. So if I can't lose weight on three weeks of vegetarian, non-chewable mush, then I'm just not going to lose weight. So I better figure out how to like the size I am right now.

I think that's about it for now, before this post turns into a novel. I'll be back pretty soon (certainly more frequently now), and we'll talk about something completely different, won't that be nice? Please also know that I am, slowly but surely, catching up with my Google Reader (yay: The Collective is back in my Google Reader!), but it's taking me a while. If you have clicked through a new comment of mine on an older post of yours, welcome! Sorry to be so late to the party! I'm getting there.

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