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More of the sinus situation

In addition to being underwhelmingly unprepared for the sinus procedure of yon, I was even more unprepared for the recovery process.

Within the first two days, I lost all taste and smell. This was troubling as I immediately assumed I had covid. I finally worked up courage to google and discovered this is a common side effect of septoplasty – but not to panic, because these senses are sure to return within 3 to 6 WEEKS. It sort of became a game to see how cheaply I could meet my basic nutrition requirements. No need for fancy meat when a bunch of canned beans would do. It also became a game of texture. Chicken, for example, shockingly stringy and chewy when it has no flavor. Banana for a snack? That was a mistake.

Cereal was good, smoothies were bad. Carrots and chips, yes. Sandwiches and quesadillas, no. Very hot, or very cold food was helpful. I found myself snacking a lot less and it would have been an interesting experiment to see how much consumption is based on need, vs taste, vs desire. Cravings? Would it be possible to crave something and could you satisfy that craving even if you couldn’t taste the food? Theoretically, yes you should – as cravings are supposed to be a sign the body is lacking a nutrient. But I question how much of a role taste plays in a craving. 

I found myself eating chocolate, despite the lack of taste. After I get the kids in bed, I usually celebrate the day with a handful of chocolate chips. The first night without taste I grabbed my usual serving, ate a few, and then realized it was futile. But I still had another serving.

Anyway, we’ve covered the eye blood, taste, and smell. What else? Ah yes, of course. I didn’t realize that part of the post surgery was large splints that would go inside my nostrils to keep them open. This allows for airflow, drainage and overall healing. He told me he was putting them in and I could obviously feel them in there, but I had no concept what they were. I just knew they were pretty uncomfortable and they were to be taken out at my 1-week post op appointment.

Thursday comes and I am stoked to get these things removed. I’m also thinking this is the last hurdle before I’m cleared to exercise again. The PA talks me through a few things then says she is ready to remove the splints.

Me: Cool. I’ve never wanted to rip something out of my body so badly as these things. I just don’t really want to see them or hear anything about them if that’s okay. I’m going to close my eyes.

PA: Well. I mean, yes, but I kind of need your help. Can you hold this cup, and once I pull one out lift the cup up and I’ll drop it in. I warn you, it’s going to feel super weird.

Me: Really? I didn’t realize this was a DIY situation. Okay I’ll just hold it here in my lap.

PA: Well. Okay, but I really need you to hold it higher, like right in front of your mouth so you can catch any drips. And once you see the splint out, raise the cup a little.

Me: I won’t close my eyes then?

PA: That would be best.

What I didn’t know is that these splints were the shape of airplane wings, about 3 inches long, and most likely lodged in my brain. She pulled the first one out, I caught a glimpse of it and thought yep, I am 100% going to pass out at some point during this appointment.

She completed that horror, then fetched Dr. Triathlon for a second look because there was so much “congestion” in my nose. 

He walks in, sees me holding a sample cup with splints in it, “oh! Did you want to keep your splints?”

Heavens no you bizarre man, is what I thought. I said, “not in the slightest.” And handed them to him.

He squinted at me, leaned forward, and squeezed the tip of my nose. Kind of like you would a piece of clay on a sculpture. As if he was re-shaping it… I’m not gonna lie, after the taste, smell, splints and eye blood I just assumed this was another rarely discussed side effect. Yes, you’ll be able to breathe well the rest of your life but you will periodically have to squeeze your nose back into shape a la Inspector Closseau of the Pink Panther Strikes Again.

He used a long metal tube to suction out the “congestion.” Now, I’m putting “congestion” in quotations because it was straight up blood. He kept asking the PA for larger sized suction tubes. They started with 5 and by the end they were at 12. Let me give you some scale. 5 was the diameter of a toothpick. 12 was the size of those HUGE straws Panera used to stick in their smoothies. Remember those? Yeah, that was also in my brain. He then used it to suck out clots the size of gumballs. They were so big, they didn’t fit down the straw and he just pulled them out of my nostril like a terrible, terrible game of dropper claw at an arcade. 

Upon finishing he said, “you’re looking rather pale.”

Me: Yes. There is a very good chance I’m going to pass out sometime in the next 30 to 60 seconds.

Dr Triathlon: I’ll just put the chair back a bit and give you a minute.

This was not met with the sense of urgency I required. When he hit 45 degrees I started saying, “I need more, I need more.” That is the last thing I remember.

Of the places I’ve fainted the last 3 weeks, a doctor’s office is by far the better choice. They caught me, for starters. Reclined me in a comfy chair, waved an alcohol wipe under my nose, and when I came to he was standing over me rubbing behind my earlobes. Weirdly peaceful.

I have to go back next week for my last follow-up. I’m prepared this time, I’ll tell them right up front I’m for sure going to faint but it’s okay, I’ve brought my own crackers and water.

Image Credits: splints: pink panther:

2 thoughts on “More of the sinus situation”

    1. It has been SO much more gruesome than I thought it would be. I don’t regret it, the quality of life improvement is amazing. But I’m really glad I didn’t know what was coming or I may not have gone through with it!

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