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For being so training focused, I should be more prepared

I have to preface that this post is graphic in nature. If you don’t care to hear about the finer workings of the nasal passages, then this is not the story for you.

If you’re wondering how that relates to triathlon, I’ll tell you! I’m not a nose breather. This is something I assumed was normal – until a year ago. Of course Beak has been telling me HE can breathe through his nose, and his main complaint is related to my night-time mouth breathing. I believed waking up with a cotton-dry mouth was normal. I did become slightly curious towards this nose-breathing trend when I realized I couldn’t drink or eat while I was biking/running. I can’t breathe while I’m swallowing so I just don’t drink. This is NOT sustainable for the level of racing I want to do.

No biggie. I started using maximum strength BreatheRight strips during training and racing. The real trick was finding ones that stay on during the swim. This wasn’t a great solution unless we were going to buy stock in BreatheRight. Maybe Beak was onto something and I should get further data.

I went to a doctor to settle this debate. He informed me it is true, humans are supposed to breathe through their noses, almost all the time! And wouldn’t you know it, my doctor is a triathlete! He ran me through all the options and ordered a full panel allergy test – at which I scoffed. Because I have been living these many years and can assure you I have not suffered any form of allergy except to cats.

Apparently, I am allergic to 36 out of 40 frequently tested environmental allergens. This was shocking news. The nurse doing the test actually laughed, patted me on the shoulder, and said she’d never seen such bad results.

Now I do weekly allergy shots. And I signed up to get my nasal passages roto-rooted. They offered an in-office procedure, or a hospital anesthesia option. Being time-management focused and not wanting a full day of hospital and recovery, I opted for in-office with local anesthesia – under the terms I would be blanketed with an eye mask, wearing noise cancelling headphones, and given some drug to make me semi-aware. Agreed, declared Dr Triathlon.

I was not prepared. Full stop. He scheduled it the week after my race when I started my off-season, to give ample recovery time. I didn’t really think about the surgery because I was so focused on the race, and then we brought Remy home, and it just felt like another visit to the ENT. It just seemed inconsequential.

Spoiler alert, there was a hammer and chisel involved. Spoiler alert, they did NOT put noise cancelling headphones on me as promised. And spoiler alert, the sound of your own face-bone cracking cannot be unheard.

During my post op call he ran down the list of Do and Do Nots then asked if I had any questions.

“Yes, I do. Could you just confirm if at some point in the proceedings yesterday there was a hammer and chisel involved?”

*pause* “Ehhrmm.” *pause* “Well, yes.”

“That is all I need to know. Good day.”

He fixed my deviated septum. I guess I didn’t know what a septum was, because I was picturing the front flimsy part of my nose. It apparently goes well up between the eyes, and possibly into my brain.

In the office, they gave me pain meds, something to settle my stomach, and something to relax me (as promised). They put an eye mask on me and asked what kind of music I’d like to listen to during the procedure. I wanted to retort, “I’d rather know what kind of music the Dr likes to listen to,” but I went with classical.

Then proceeded the longest 1.5 hours of my life.

To be fair, I was given rather conflicting information just prior to the procedure. The nurse put a small bib on me and I asked how soon I could begin exercising. She said, “tomorrow!”

This seemed much too soon and at my perplexed look she said, “we’re just putting a balloon up there to widen your sinus openings.”

“I thought he was fixing my septum?” I looked down at the bib, “I feel this is not adequate to protect my favorite sweatshirt from the gore that is sure to ensue.”

“I can check the procedure list,” she said somewhat patronizingly. “Hm, okay I see we’re doing the balloon procedure and there is a septoplasty listed but things can always change, he might do the balloon and decide that’s sufficient.”

It was not sufficient. Clearly.

Recovery has been, you know, painful. I have a perpetual bloody nose and have to remember to keep a Kleenex handy and wipe as not to alarm strangers around me. What I didn’t realize is how connected all the insides are. Because on day 2 I had the surprise of blood coming out of my eyeball. Now I must ask the children to notify me if my nose or EYE is bleeding. That’s cool. I’m kind of like that James Bond villain in the casino film, who cries blood tears. Except mine is less cool and more yuck.

Yeah. That dude.

Doctor Triathlon promised I would see much return on investment and also something along the lines of this being the worst case he’s seen in a while.

The funny thing is, the biggest, immediate, albeit temporary, side effect of this procedure is a blocked and stuffy nose.

(image courtesy of Movie Stack Exchange)

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