Thursday, December 01, 2011

Some consequences of being scheduled for sinus surgery

One consequence of having a sinus surgery in the near future is that I have had to learn more than I want to about sinuses.  While I was consulting my new doctor the Internet, I came across a website discussing acute ethmoid sinusitis.  This website kept referring to something called the “middle meatus.”  So now I have finally found a term I find more unappealing than “bolus.” 

I do not want to hear the word “meatus” spoken.  I do not even want to hear it in my head.  I do not want to think about a part of the body being described as “the meatus.”  And somehow adding the word “middle” to it just makes it worse.  And yet I know I will find myself saying it, for example, to demand that the heat be turned off.  “Turn off the central heating! The meatus commands it!”  This will simultaneously amuse and disgust me. I'll laugh at my own comment, and then feel disappointed in myself.

A more positive consequence of having sinus surgery is that I won’t have to get any flak for my usual New Year’s Eve celebration of kicking back in my jammies and watching movies.  My surgery is just a few days before, and I may be puffy or have facial discoloration, and if they're going to put in splints or anything like that, they'll probably still be there.  Also, I may have to be sporting what they call a "mustache bandage," and there ain't no way I'm going out in public like that.  

As much as I like the idea of attending a glitzy New Year’s celebration, I don’t enjoy staying up that late or drinking champagne or mingling with strangers.  But I do enjoy being at home, watching movies, and wearing my pajamas.  People always seem a little disappointed when I tell them my plans, but since as a person I tend to be a little disappointing generally, I think they shouldn’t be surprised.  “Oh, you want to hear about my work as an attorney? Great. Let me tell you about this argument we had the other day about whether we should say that ‘the plaintiff’s claims should have been dismissed’ or ‘the plaintiff’s case should have been dismissed.’  I thought for a minute there it would come to blows.”

But this year, all I have to do is preface the discussion of my plans with the statement, “Well, I’ll still be recovering from surgery, so . . .” and then I’ll get nothing but sympathy and understanding.  Win!  My meatus and my mustachioed self can enjoy the evening in peace.

Nosebleed season is upon us

Ah, winter.  Although it hasn't started staying cold during the day yet, it has been cold at night and in the mornings.  I love this time of year because I can wear cute plaid skirts with fun tights, and boots, and cute jackets, and scarfs.  I love cold-weather clothes.  I love flannel pajamas.  I love cuddling into bed to read under a thick pile of blankets.  And of course, I love the holiday season.  It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year. 

What I do not like about this time of year is the dry winter air and the even drier inside air.  My sinuses, alas, are pathetically wimpy.  The minute the central heating gets kicked on, the nosebleeds begin. 

I’ve had nosebleeds all my life.  When I was a kid, they could be really bad.  Once I reached my teens, they became a lot less severe and more infrequent.  Now, thanks to the wonders of saline nasal spray, I hardly ever get blood running out of my nose.  But I do, however, spend most of the winter with blood in my nose.  Sneezing? Blood in the tissue.  Using the neti pot? Blood clots in the sink.  It’s gross.  It’s annoying.  And the inside of my nose always feels raw and irritated.  That makes me irritable. 

It also makes everyone around me irritable because I insist that the heater be run as little as possible.  If I’m in the car, I hope you have heated seats, because that’s all the warmth you’re gonna get.  In my townhouse?  My poor sister freezes because I set the heater high enough to keep the pipes from freezing and not much above that.  At the office? My office has the thermostat that controls my office and the ones around me.  It’s mostly guys, so they haven't complained, but my friend in the office next door?  She freezes.  The other day she asked me, “Does it seem cold in here to you? I’m freezing?” I feigned ignorance.  “Not me, I’m hot,” I said.  I was hot, but only because I’d just sneezed several times in a row. I didn’t tell her that I’d spent the previous 5 minutes sitting on my hands because they were too cold for me to type. 

It’s only going to get worse at the end of the month because, like hundreds of thousands of people do every year, I’m having surgery on my sinuses to get rid of a chronic infection.  Is this surgery common the world over, or just here in the U.S.?  I don’t know if we have defective sinuses over here or just bad environmental factors that make us prone to infections, or if maybe it’s a design flaw in the human body generally.  But in any case, I’m having my problem taking care of.

Getting information from my ENT about this procedure has been like pulling teeth.  When the nurse called to tell me that a CT scan had shown that, yep, despite round after round of antibiotics, that infection was still hanging on, so the doc wanted me to have surgery, she didn’t ask if I wanted to talk to the doctor about it. She just asked, “When do you want to schedule it?”  I asked her, “Um, are there any, like, downsides, or anything?” (Ok, yes, I sounded like a teenager, but I was so taken aback at the “YouneedtohaveananteriorethmoidectomyandabilateralmaxillaryantrostomyWhendoyouwantoscheduleit?” that I couldn’t form a coherent thought.)  Her response?  “Um, not that I know of.”  

Dude, there are always downsides to any medical procedure.  I asked her if there was some place I could get some information and she told me I could google it.  I could google it.  That’s how I could find out about pros and cons of surgery.  But she warned me that of course there’s a lot of misinformation out there.  Yes, I know.  That’s why I asked someone at my doctor’s office about it instead of asking the Internet.  Fabulous.

Anyway, according to the Internet, you are at risk of nosebleeds for about a week or so after the surgery, and you need to keep your sinuses from drying out.  Considering that they are already in a constant state of dried-out-ness, I’m not sure how to accomplish this, but I’m pretty sure I’m now required to buy the Hello Kitty humidifier I’ve been eying for a few years.  It also means that everyone around me is about to get a little bit colder.  Sorry, RR.  Sorry, coworkers.  You’re just going to have to suffer for a bit.  The Internet said so.