I kind of left my last post hanging on account of laziness and lack of motivation but, so much has happened since then!
To conclude my Puerto Vallarta vacation in one quick wrap-up, I was sick the entire time. I got so sick, in fact, that I fell asleep standing up at one point. I barely remember the last two days for having been so high on over-the-counter and behind-the-counter Mexican cold medication which did nothing except put me to sleep standing up. To make matters worse, I actually got a bleeding nose on the plane home.
My salvation came in the form of a phone call approximately one-month after getting back. It was my ENTS’ receptionist telling me that a cancelled spot came up and would I be prepared to have my surgery in six days. I gave the thought about 60 seconds of my time then just said yes; might as well get it over with as otherwise I would have still been on the waiting list.
My big day came and I couldn’t have been more excited. Especially with
memories nightmares of my Valentine’s Day Mexican vacation sick-fest not too far off in my distant memory. I always enjoy the wait before a surgery. At this hospital it was particularly cute because slowly but surely we transitioned from our street clothes to our little surgical outfits. “You must be fully naked. Here’s the top, it stays open in the back, don’t tie it. Then, here’s the robe, it goes over and stays open at the front. These are the slippers that go over your feet. Once you’re dressed you can head back to the waiting room.”
There really wasn’t any time for dignity. Everyone who emerged from the change room area was observed by those who were sitting in the waiting room. They went in having dressed themselves that morning and came out in funny gowns and paper-thin slippers. We all took note. Then, when our own name was called we, too, had to re-enter the waiting room cognizant of all the eyes.
While we were all waiting, I had the joy of witnessing what I like to call a “Life’s Like That” moment. They’re those moments that belong in Reader’s Digest… There was an elderly gentleman whose name was called. He had to be called twice because his hearing aid was out. After his wife gently nudged him in the direction of the nurse calling his name, he stood up abruptly.
“Mr. John Smith?”
“Yes? That’s me.”
“Are you going home today?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Are you going home today?”
“Well,” he remarked gruffly, “I certainly hope so!”
We all had a little chuckle under our breath because I think we were all interpreting his response the same way. He might not have even meant it in the way we were all thinking, but it was so very endearing.
Finally it was my turn, I was asked the same question for verification then led into the gurney area. I was given a couple of nice warmed blankets and told that “they” would come to get me as soon as the operating room was ready.
I snapped this photo for the memory book while I waited:
My wait was maybe 45 minutes which was okay with me because the blankets were so warm and it was only 7:00AM. I had nearly fallen back asleep when my ENTS came to see me. He gave me a debriefing, gave me a 10-minute head’s up, then was off to get into his scrubs and lather his arms.
I finally found myself in the surgery room where I met my anesthesiologist who took my blood pressure and made a point of remarking that it is “really good, just excellent.” I told him that I like to have some Gravol added to my drip because I tend to come out of surgery barfing all over the place. Thankfully, he obliged then introduced me to his intern. Now, I know from experience that the veins in the tops my hands are terribly hard to find when it comes to running an IV line so I showed her the one that runs from the bottom of my thumb along the side of my wrist because it’s big and juicy and usually the most cooperative. I don’t think she’d ever run one from there before and seemed very committed to finding one on the top. I was pumping my fist, hanging my arm straight down, they were tightening the band and slapping the back of my hand when eventually the anesthesiologist just told her to go with the one I suggested. She did it with trepidation but he was standing right over her guiding her. At one point I felt her energy change and the anesthesiologist requested a gauze and I knew I was bleeding all over the place. They wiped up my thumb, palm, and fingertips and finally taped that little line down.
In gentle voices they told me that they were going to give me some oxygen and I was to breathe slowly, they’d administer the anesthetic shortly after that and I was going to go to sleep. The moment that familiar taste of anesthetic in my veins hit my taste buds I expected darkness within seconds and absolutely love that part. I love how it is impossible to fight the sleep and to feel that come on is always so fascinating to me.
And off to sleepies I went…
I woke up half dead and with the sensations of people taking my temperature on my finger tip, shining a flashlight into my eye balls, and adjusting my position in the bed. A blood pressure sleeve was also strapped around my arm. I heard those gentle voices again luring me out of my slumber. I so didn’t want to wake up, my exhaustion was unbelievably heavy. I quickly assessed whether or not I was in pain and I wasn’t although I was immensely thirsty. I got one measly ice cube placed in my mouth and then probably fell back asleep again and left to wake up on my own. Unfortunately, I was beat to the punch with the pesky flashlight again. “How many fingers?” “Follow my index finger.” “How is your vision?”
I learned later that a lot of time was spent inside my ethmoid sinuses …
… and because they are so intricate and so close to the eyes, extra care has to be taken all up in there so they don’t go severing my optical nerve or damaging my eyeballs. I got the flashlight inspection once every half hour which felt very intrusive because I still really just wanted to go back to sleep.
Finally, I was graduated to room temperature ginger ale via a straw but was monitored after my first sip which nearly led to me sucking out all of the ginger ale in one shot. I was so thirsty and my throat was so dry. After that the nurse held the styrofoam cup in her hand and took the straw out of my mouth when she felt I had had enough. Apparently too much in my stomach too soon could bring on nausea and that was enough to make me adhere to the two sip max rule because no way in hell was I going to be barfing after sinus surgery, thank you.
My ENTS come out to see me when I was more coherent. He told me that I had a lot of “diseased tissue everywhere” and he could tell that I had recently had a particularly bad sinus infection. I wanted more gory details but he had to run off to check on his next patient … but not before he shone the flashlight into my eyes once, too.
Before I could be officially released, I had to pee first. I heard them telling all the post-op patients this almost like a song. I asked why, because, to my recollection, I don’t ever remember hearing this so much in recovery. The reason is that anesthetic can affect the neurological emptying of the bladder. So, if it doesn’t kick in the way it should then a condition called obstructive uropathy could result. Again, no thank you. Luckily I did pee the way I was supposed to and then Nick was allowed to retrieve me and wheel me away. I don’t remember the ride home except for feeling Nick’s hand on my knee every so often. It was probably the only time we’ve been in the car together that I was asleep, usually it’s the other way around. He was a very good escort and night nurse.
Especially when I had been left to rest in our room with the door open while he played board games with his kids just outside.
I went in and out of slumber but was woken more by a strange sensation happening on my chest. It felt like hot rain or something. Once I woke up a little more I realised my nose was pouring blood onto my chest. I was able to muster an “I need help” and Nick came into our room, turned on the bedside light only to find me looking something like this:
I remember the feeling of talking and having blood spitting everywhere as I did so. At one point, Nick looked at me strangely and said, “Oh babe, you have a huge blood clot hanging out of your nose.” Then, he got right to work. He did say something like, “All this blood is making me nauseous.” But, nothing about the big clot that was stuck. I think that tended to be more of an interesting project.
Hours after my surgery I was surprised at how clear my nostril passageways really were. I even thought, this is fantastic! Best surgery recovery ever! That was until I lowered my pillows just a little as night time set in and blam, they closed up just like that.
And that’s how they stayed for the next eight days…
The next morning the pain was in full assembly. I described it to people as it feeling like when you were a kid and you accidentally snorted a bunch of chorine up your nose at the swimming pool. Remember that burn in your face, throat, and brain? It was like that, except made for monsters. It was enough to make my eyes water regularly and the T3 barely did the trick. Luckily the steady pain lasted for just about two days and then the T3s were able to manage things.
Upon reflection of the recovery period, I would say that the indisputable worst part of the whole thing was not the two days of pain but how dry my mouth was at night because I wasn’t breathing through my nose. I would wake up with my tongue, literally, stuck to the inside of my cheek and my throat feeling like someone had just dumped a bucket of sand down it then lit it on fire. I was probably finishing a litre of water in the course of one night due to waking up every 30-45 minutes taking sips of water, falling asleep for an hour or so, then waking up to pee only to repeat that same thing over and over again. This was how every single night went for me for days on end. To add to the frustration of my dry mouth was the insanity that sleep-deprevation brought on. I feel as though I can now accurately describe what sleep-torture feels like.
Nearing the end of my sleepless suffering I found my relief and it came in the form of a little pink pill. If it was acceptable to fall deeply in love with medication this is what I would have done.
This cute little patch adheres to the roof of your mouth and essentially releases a gentle bitter/sour flavour over your tongue as it dissolves which causes your salivary glands to work in overtime. The strange feeling of having something stuck to your palate that eventually starts to get a little gooey is peanuts compared to the relief it provides in alleviating a dry-mouth. For the first night in as many as I remember I was able to sleep for a solid four hours. It was like a miracle and is what brought me back to a civilised state where I felt human again.
I shall leave you with that for now, as there is a part 3 which concluded yesterday afternoon. I have to take some time to do some drawings so please, stand by.