Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The (Somewhat) Abbreviated Version

I had major sinus surgery on Monday, September 13. Yes, it involved plastic surgery which was absolutely NOT an elective component. In summary, I couldn’t breathe, I was exhausted, I had migrane level headaches almost every day and I was thought to have an infection that, without surgery, would lead to the total collapse of the left maxillary sinus cavity and eye socket. Vain, maybe, but utter the words ‘facial deformity’ and I’m immediately in the surgery scheduler’s office begging to be worked in.

In June, after extensive evaluation with brilliant doctors at Vanderbilt, I was handed a list of standard ENT operative procedures and roughly HALF the list of procedures was check marked for me. Oh yeah, and to add an element of mystery to the process, I was told that I have nasal valve collapse which requires reconstructive surgery. I would still have ‘my nose’ but a version that would actually be able to breathe. I was given a folder containing about 20 pages with titles like ‘What to Expect after Surgery’ and ‘Home Care Instructions for Facial Plastic and/ or Reconstructive Surgery.’ I didn’t need Google to tell me this was a major undertaking and scary stuff. So I hired a housekeeping service, signed up for the personal shopper service at Harris Teeter grocery store, and stocked the freezer in anticipation of a long post-op recovery.

According to the specialists, I have never really been able to breathe because of my nasal anatomy. Until lately, I have found ways to function around the issue and perform at a relatively high level. In 2007, I had a newborn baby and a kindergartener, took my growing consulting business independent, and served as Board Chairman of one of the largest Habitat for Humanity affiliates in the world (during a period of record growth). It was both exhilarating and exhausting. I roared through 2008 & 2009 with equal gusto and somewhere along the way I got really tired…. really, really tired. I thought that it was my body telling me to slow down and take it easy, so I did… I cut out every extra activity possible on my busy agenda… amped up my workouts… but I was still exhausted. And I suddenly noticed that I was working and playing and managing the family through daily headaches and nasal conjestion and a general, miserable fog.

In May 2010, I was ending a very large, high profile project and decided to take a month off. I took three amazing young boys to Disney World for eight days as my last spur-of–the-moment hurrah and then visited Vanderbilt’s ASAP program to get an allergy/sinus assessment on May 21. Fast forward exactly four months later and here I sit- breathing freely through my nose for the first time ever in my life. Tears of joy to say the least!

More detail below if you are interested; I wrote this because there is very little info out there for folks in my condition and I hope this will help someone. Below is a post-surgery journal and an expanded explanation of my condition and the road to treatment.

1 comment:

PinkChic said...

Can you post some before and after photos of your nose? I would like to see what kind of work Dr. Ries does. I am thinking about going to him for a consult. Any advice? Thanks!