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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sinus Spelunking

Tomorrow, I am having surgery. About a month ago, my ENT doc recommended I have my sinuses overhauled. So, as of 1 p.m. Thursday, a team of medical professionals will be excavating my nasal cavities in an effort to manage my chronic sinitus.

The process of mapping my sinuses has been extremely fascinating. It's not everyday that you get to see CT scan results of your cranium, organized in 15 layers like an onion. There are three main objectives on the doctor's agenda:

1) Septoplasty

A nasal septum is a straight plane that divides the nasal cavity in half. A normal septum is flat and thin. My septum is wavy, like a ridged potato chip. This makes it difficult to breathe through my right nostril, as the canal is significantly smaller than the left side. So, the doc will manually straighten my septum, and then place two splints on either side while I heal. The splints will be removed during my post-op appointment next Monday.

I really hope this doesn't change the shape and size of my nose. I have a great nose, one that will someday be pierced, I hope.

2) Turbinectomy

A turbinate, or nasal concha (think conch shell), is a curled bone within the sinuses. The turbinates are the humidifiers for the nose, keeping the air regulated and free from contaminates. One of my interior-lower turbinates is enlarged. Enlargement is a result of prolonged irritation from allergens and sinus inflammation. The doc will shave layers off my turbinate, effectively reducing it in size. This makes me cringe to think about.

3) Ethmoidectomy

The ethmoid sinuses are pockets on either side of the bridge of the nose, between the eyes and the eyebrows. Mine are exceptionally small, and as a result, the canals that allow draining are miniscule. So, when I get congested, the pollutants remain in my ethmoids and get infected. To fix this, the doc will break those little soft bone canals and increase their size.

Supposedly, I'll be heavily sedated for the first couple of days following surgery. After that, I'll remain on qualified "bed rest" for about a week. At this point, I'm hoping to be back to work on Tuesday, but that's only if the doc clears me at my post-op on Monday.

A couple of people have wondered why I'd willingly put myself through this pain and suffering. I know it's going to be worth it, especially after 28 years of chronic sinus issues. The benefits:

--a reduction in sinus infections
--increased ability to breathe through my nose
--better quality of sleep at night
--increased ability to perceive smell
--increased ability to perceive taste (let's be real; this is my favorite justification)
--elimination of my propensity to blame my sinus issues on the weather

I'm a teensy bit anxious about the surgery. I'm sure Mom and Dad will take good care of me during recovery. Dad called this morning and asked what kind of Jello I liked. I wonder if they'll give me a bell to ring when I need service.

I'll probably be MIA (a.k.a. hydrocodone coma) for a few days. And then, I plan to read the last two Twilight books, get past the third chapter in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park for book club, and watch countless hours of movies and Flight of the Conchords reruns.

If you're the praying kind, I'd love a shout-out tommorrow.


Blogger Courtney Baker said...

I promise to take good care of Gertie.

Press on through Mansfield Park and it will certainly reward you dearly. Um... apparently I've been reading it too much.

2:08 PM

Anonymous natalie said...

I'm so jealous! I've wanted to have this surgery but my doc says mine aren't bad enough to justify it. I can't wait to hear how miraculously well you will be doing after this!!

1:46 PM

Blogger Amanda Vilendrer said...

guess you were still drugged up when I called on Friday. But I did pray for you, and I'm hoping your post-op stuff goes well today. Enjoy being legally high while you can!

11:07 AM


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