Dagobah Swamp Nose

Some people say that birthing babies is a beautiful experience to observe. Strangely, no one says that about removing nose packing.

Today was nose cast and packing removal day. I was nervous and a little bit excited. Me being me, I researched as much as I could to find out about the process in advance. I found a terrific blog by someone who had a similar procedure to mine called humpbegone.blogspot.com (great title!). The woman from the blog looked terrific in all her post op photos, even though she was more banged up than me after her cast was removed. The scariest thing was that she suffered an injury to her new nose (eek!) about a month post op when her toddler accidentally head butted her in the nose. A tiny piece of cartilage was dislodged and added a very slight bump to her nose. She hasn’t updated the site in several years, so no word if she ever had the “revision” surgery. That story was almost enough to scare me into moving in with my mom for a month!

I asked Patrick to drive me to my appointment, not only so I could load up on painkillers in advance, but also because I was scared and wanted someone to hold my hand during the process. I was sadly disappointed when they called my name in the waiting room and he said, “noooooo way, I’m staying in here.” (I had assumed he was working in the waiting room, but more on this later).

The room was freezing and after taking my vitals, the nurse/assistant offered me water. I hadn’t showered in six days and while I had “sponge bathed,” was terrified that I smelled bad and no one would tell me. I wondered if that’s why Patrick didn’t want to come in. No one was recoiling in horror over my smell, so I assumed I was acceptable.

The adorable doctor came in (she’s seriously adorable, can we be friends?) and started by pouring a liquid over my nose cast to dissolve the adhesive. Then she said it was time to remove the tiny stitches under my nose, and that it might sting a little. The first two snips were not bad but the next few felt like pulling nose hairs out with a tweezer in a very sore nose. Or getting stung by a bee under your nose. #Yeowch I had to take a break midway through to catch my breath. Yeah, I started crying, which not only was stupid but made my stitched McRib ache. It turns out I was supposed to be applying Aquaphor on my stitches every day, which would have helped them dissolve. #Oops

Then Dr. Adorbs swabbed out some “space gunk” from my nostrils, which really, really hurt. More tears and achy rib. I should have taken another break then, but she quickly swooped in for the packing. She did the left side first and said, “you’re going to feel a bit of pressure.” Side note: any time a medical professional tells you you’re going to feel some pressure, it’s code for: yeowch. I don’t know the particulars and by golly I did not look at what came out of my nose, but it felt as though I passed a semi inflated balloon through my nostril. It was not pleasant. That poor nurse/assistant let me claw up her arm throughout the ordeal (that’s what a husband’s arm is supposed to be for!).

Then Dr. Adorbs says, “it’s kind of like having a baby!” (Ugh, NEVER say that to me!) as she moved to the other side. But yes, it IS kind of like having a baby. The right side hurt a lot more than the left (whatever creature was lurking up there somehow felt bigger), and it felt like my nostril was ripped open. I assume it hurt more because that was the direction my septum was deviated towards and therefore was being pulled in the other direction. There was a little squirty water gun and vacuum cleaner that she used afterwards but my nose was just so sensitive I want to scream, get the hell out of my nose!!! The doctor and nurse were cheering afterwards and kept asking me, “can you breathe, can you breathe?” I was afraid to breathe. There was all this – stuff – in my nose but I couldn’t deal with the nose Stanley Steamer anymore. And I could sort of breathe from my left nostril, which was a new and weird experience. While I was still very congested, I could feel a tiny pinhole of air at the top of my nostril. Is that what the rest of you feel, everyday?

The cast coming off was the least painful of the entire ordeal. It really was like a very sticky bandaid, definitely sore in spots, like on the bridge of my nose. When they took off the cast, the doctor and nurse oooohed and ahhed over my nose. “It’s so pretty!” “It’s so perfectly straight!” They exclaimed. I was very suspicious about all these rave reviews. How could my nose possibly look good, I wondered. Then they handed me a mirror, and I was really disappointed (and may have cried a bit more).

The bridge of my nose looked like it tripled in width, the end of my nose was roughly the size of a golf ball. Not at all what I was expecting. The bump on my nose was gone, though, and I did like how straight it looked from the side. I felt like Flynn Rider in Tangled when they just couldn’t get his nose right on the Wanted poster – a parody  cartoon of myself.

With tears still staining my face, I went to collect Patrick in the waiting room. I rushed out so quickly, that he didn’t even get a chance to look at my new nose. On the car ride home, I told him how disappointed I was that it was so swollen and big but was happy that it was straight and without a bump, to which he replied that in nearly 12 years of being married, he never noticed that my nose was crooked or even had a bump.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

When I told him how sad I was that he wasn’t in there with me, holding my hand (considering he was front row for the birth of three babies and not grossed out at all), he said there was no way in hell he was going to see them pull stuff out of my nose. Fair enough. He did buy me coffee every day, after all, and let me sleep.

So now I just wait and continue to improve. Hoping that I look and feel better soon because it’s time to get back on with my life. Seeing people this weekend, heading on a vacation in just three weeks, business travel in May and June. Most importantly, I want to feel like I made a good decision in doing this, and that it was worth the time, expense and pain. Right now I feel like R2 sitting on Dagobah clearing swamp mud out of my nose. I took a 30 minute shower today and it was heavenly (shhhh! Don’t tell Dr. Adorbs that I let it get it *really* steamy in there — I needed it!). I even had a very faint taste of my coffee today. And a jelly bean. It was fleeting and felt like I had to travel through hyperspace in order to get there, but I could taste it. That, and the bright sunshine today, gave me a little hope. Now, off to do my nose therapy!

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So you want to get a nose job?

Disclosure: This post is not for the faint of heart – there are some graphic details ahead.  I will not be at all offended if you skip over this post! ;o)

As I stared at my swollen, bruised reflection the day after my surgery, I wondered if this will all be worth it in the end. I received a text from my boss, checking to see how I’m recovering and encouraging me not to check my work email. I did anyway, and was instantly overwhelmed by the thought of getting caught up. But that was a problem for another day. There were two more hours until I could take more pain meds, and my brain felt like it was about it to explode.

In comparison, the surgery and first day was a breeze. After arriving at and getting checked in at Mass Eye & Ear in Longwood, before I know it, I was heading into preop and getting into a hospital gown. Sidenote: There is little I find more unnerving than stripping down with only a curtain between you and multiple strangers going about their day on the other side. I’m irrationally terrified that at any minute, some random nurse is going to whip open the curtain, displaying me in my underwear for all the world to see.

But, oh! Those heated blankets make it all better….and as soon as one cools down, the nurse ran off to fetch another. I turned my head as the nurse tried three times before successfully inserting the IV. As I’m wheeled into the operating room, I could hear the pumping bass of music. Suddenly I realized that they were playing The Weeknd in the OR – you know the song that goes, “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you.” “Is this for real?” I asked the nurse, startled by the connection between the song and what’s about to happen. “Oh, we’ll turn it off when we get started,” she replied as she moved me on to the operating table. I vaguely thought of asking them to play Maroon 5.

Just then, all these huge screens/monitors switched on all over the room, each featuring three high-def, huge pictures of my face from the front and sides. These were the pictures my doctor took of my “before” nose. I started to feel like I’m in some sort of sci-fi young adult movie like Divergent (which I’ve actually never seen) and that’s the last thing I remember.

Suddenly I was in recovery and a nurse is waking me up and I do not want to wake up. I felt as if I was severely hung over with a massive headache. The insides of my nose were burning. I had gauze underneath my nose and it felt as suffocating as a fuzzy blanket over my mouth on a hot summer night. There was an actual cast on my nose – it looked like a white band-aid but was stiff. The doctor showed Patrick the packing inside my nose, which she said was like PVC piping. Sweet. The nurses kept asking me if I wanted a mirror to see. (Why do nurses do this? They do this when you are giving birth to babies too and in neither situation do I have any desire to see what’s going on.)

They told me that they were able to extract cartilage from my own rib and use it to bolster my septum in the right direction. I was so relieved to hear that no cadaver tissue was needed! I mean, I felt like hell, but at least I didn’t have to worry that I was become possessed by a mass murderer, like in the movie Shocker. Fortunately, they did not have to break any bones, either. A little McRib, sandpaper and spackle did the trick.

The first night home wasn’t that bad, other than the fact that the pain became excruciating in the last 1-2 hours before my next dose of pain meds. It was worse than the worst migrate I’ve ever had, the insides of my nose felt like they were on fire, and even my teeth hurt. Oh, and vomiting was extremely unpleasant. I was most worried about the pain in my nose when I threw up, but I should have been worried about what my McRib would feel like, and the fact that I couldn’t bend over. Have you ever tried to vomit while standing up? It was not pleasant. Thank god I took ballet as a child and could still plié in front of the bathroom sink. If there was an award for most graceful vomiting ever, I totally would have won.  I still  haven’t hit that other dreaded post nose surgery milestone – sneezing – but will report back on that.

I knew eating would be a challenge, but didn’t think about the fact that since I can only breathe through my mouth, closing my mouth while chewing would become impossible and eating anything solid made me feel like I was choking. Each meal time became a choice: will I starve or suffocate? Slurpable foods proved to be the easiest to tackle – yogurt, soup….and I found that using the kid’s mini spoons really helped as I couldn’t open my mouth very wide.

The so-called “mustache” dressing was very unpleasant too. It was basically a long piece of gauze taped under my nose to catch the blood and other “ooziness” coming out of my nose. Horribly gross, but I kept my rib and nose stitches in stitches as I couldn’t stop thinking “I mustache you a question!” (What can I say, pain meds make you loopy). The first day, I had to change the gauze multiple times an hour but finally got to get rid of it altogether before the end of the second day. I’d really like to know how men with mustaches eat! The minute the gauze got wet, even with water, I had to change it immediately.

Day two of recovery was much more difficult, although there was no more ballet vomiting.

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But first, lemme take a hot selfie! #NoFilterNeeded

I felt and looked like I was hit by a truck. My eyes swelled shut and became black and blue. I could barely get up because of the pain in my McRib. With the kids at school and Patrick at work, it was quiet enough around the house, but it was tough being alone. It was hot in the apartment and there was no one to help me open the window. Every trip to the refrigerator to refill my water was a struggle. I fell asleep at the kitchen table as I was trying to cut up a Luna protein bar into tiny pieces for breakfast. I finally finished that bar around dinner time.

They said it’s supposed to get worse before it gets better, and so far, that has been true!