I had surgery in my nose and it was okay: part three

(For “part two,” click this sentence.)

First of all, remember that thing I typed in ‘part two’ about my head/neck position while sleeping?  Well, it actually got a bit uncomfortable to do that after a few nights, so you can take it or leave it.

I’ll type some tips, based on my experience, for anyone getting this surgery.  Maybe I’ve already said some of this, but I’m too lazy to check my previous posts!

Here are some of the post-op instructions I got from the doctor that I’ve been following: spray two sprays of saline nasal spray up each nostril once per hour; antibiotic ointment around the part just inside the rim of each nostril 4 times per day (use Q-tips); 3 antibiotic capsules per day, just in case (30 capsules total); all drainage must go out the front of my nose, not down my throat; do not blow your nose–don’t even breathe through it; use a humidifier at night (Utah is sooo dry); and changing the mustache gauze dressing as needed (first day especially); avoid strenuous activity–don’t even bend down to pick up stuff (keep your head level); make sure someone’s there to take care of you for the first 24 hours.

The part about letting your nose drain out the front was the most complicated part.  It was still really runny when I went back to work on Tuesday.  I hope my once-per-minute nose-wiping didn’t gross out my coworkers too much.  Luckily, I’m mostly sitting by myself in an office–nothing strenuous.  If you’re getting this surgery, I recommend having plenty of high-quality tissues.  The tissues that have worked well for me during this time are Puffs brand 2-ply with lotion.  Expensive!  But I think the lotion part made a difference.  Also, if you’re going back to work as soon as you can, like me, then also get a small bottle of hand sanitizer with moisturizer that you can apply after wiping your nose.

Post-op pain has not been an issue for me.  In the days after my surgery, I took a total of 3 Lortabs (besides the two I had in the hospital, immediately after surgery).  I’d usually feel a little discomfort in the evening so I’d usually take a pill right before going to sleep.  So, generally, as long as I touched my nose very gently (if I had to), and avoided making exaggerated mouth movements, I was fine.

I only wore the mustache gauze dressing all day the first day, and at night the first 3 nights.  After that, I didn’t have to wear it, which is great because the adhesive on the tape left a virtually permanent residue on my face!

By the way, there has not been any scarring or bruising on my face.  It’s all inside the nostrils.

Now here’s some more present-tense relating of the happenings.  On Monday I take the day off work.  It was a smart move.  I think it’ll help me heal better to just sit around and relax (or chillax, as the kids say), and I can focus on my nose anytime I need to.  And I can wipe my nose whenever I want, however I want.  Yep…

On Thursday (a week after my surgery, or six days after, however you want to count that out), I go to my  follow-up appointment with the doctor in the afternoon.  This is when he’s going to take out whatever’s up there, which turns out to be splints and packing.  I had read someone’s story online about how it was painful to get the splints and packing out, and other stories about how it wasn’t a big deal.  So I don’t know what to expect.  It turns out to be no big deal.  I sit in the room and the doctor takes a long, thin suction instrument and sticks it into my nose.  It seems to go straight back rather than up.  He pulls out the packing and whatever other substance that may be blocking my nasal passages.  I don’t get a good look at any of the stuff before the nurse takes it from him and throws it away, and later I regret it because I bet it was incredible and disgusting and amazing.  I can breathe better immediately.  Then he takes out the splints with some tweezers or something.  I do get to see those, and they’re about 2 to 2.5 inches long.  They’re thin and rounded and I guess they’re made of plastic.

The doctor tells me to continue following the post-op instructions, but that I can gently blow my nose if I need to.  Then I schedule another appointment for two weeks later.  As I walk into the parking lot, I’m amazed at how well I can breathe through my nose.  However, I notice that I’m getting more air through the right side than the left, but I’m guessing they’ll fix that at my next appointment.  The left side is the one that had the deviated septum problem, so it probably just needs more time to heal.

The following Tuesday (yesterday, as I type this) I look up my nose in the bathroom mirror and I notice what looks like a knot of dental floss on the left side, just inside/under the outer rim.  I’m surprised I didn’t notice it before.  So, I guess there are still stitches in there.

Anyway, now it’s been almost a week since that appointment, and I am happy to report that my nose seems to be doing great.  I can touch it without having to be too gentle.  The right side has given me no problems at all.  I can breathe excellently through it, night and day.  It’s unbelievable!  The left side still has some congestion but it has not once been completely congested or blocked from getting air through it, so that’s good.  Also, since they removed the packing, drainage out the front of my nose has not been as much of an issue.

Due to the “no strenuous activity” instruction, I haven’t been getting as much exercise, which is a bummer.  I know I can go on walks for exercise, but I’m not usually a “go-on-walks” kind of guy.  You know what though, I’m probably allowed to go jogging, I just haven’t asked or tried it.  Racquetball, however, is still out of the question.

Those are all of the details I can remember right now.  In summary: so far so good!  Things are getting back to normal–make that better than normal!  ha-HA!  [insert well-enthused optimistic thumbs-up image!]  I’ll type a “part four” after my next appointment on July 2.  Feel free to post comments or ask questions, no big deal.

I plan to continue posting about my experiences for any of you out there who may be following this epic saga.  In my own experience, when I was looking for info on this procedure online, I wanted to know how things went the week of the surgery, sure, but I think I ESPECIALLY wanted to know how things are 1, 2, even 6 monhs later!  Am I right?

By the way, here’s a link to someone else’s blog post on this same subject.  Lots of comments.  It’s great.

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11 thoughts on “I had surgery in my nose and it was okay: part three

  1. Hey…thanks so much for posting your experience. I’m facing septoplasty and turbinate reduction and am scared out of my mind. So good to read a positive experience. One question regarding your turbinates…I noticed you mentioned you had SMR, where the remove the bone. Do you know if the entire inferior turbinate was swollen, or just the front/anterior part? My entire turbinate seems to be swollen, so just wondering if this would work for me, as the surgeon is suggesting it. Looking forward to your next post.

  2. I guess it’s been a while since I looked at your blog because I had no idea any of this was going on! What kind of sister am I? *sob*

    You know what this makes me think of? That movie Heavyweights “I have a deviated septum. If you hear strange noises at night, do not be alarmed. I am fine.”

    I’m glad your recovery is going well. And thanks for all the stomach-turning details, bro.

  3. Thanks for your comment, sugarbelle. I know that they removed turbinate bone, but I don’t know how much of it. I don’t remember what/where the specific problem was with my turbinates, I just remember the doctor saying they were enlarged or something. He seems to not tell me a lot unless I ask. I’ll ask him at my next appointment.

    And, if your procedure goes anything like mine did, you don’t have much to worry about. 🙂

  4. Hi, Allie! Well, what kind of brother am I? I forgot to tell you about it. Heh heh, yep, so there you go.

  5. Hi R…thanks for your response. I hope this finds you breathing even better than you were in your last post. And you are right…so many other people have posted about this experience, but not many are as positive as your’s, so thank you for sharing with those of us who are scared out of our wits. LOL! You sound like you have a great sense of humor and attitude, which I’m sure has helped you tremendously. My husband keeps reminding me to stay positive…easier said than done when you are a chicken. 🙂 I’m assuming the first week was the worst, having to breathe through your mouth most of the time? Keep posting. 🙂

  6. I might just post updates as comments on this post, rather than adding a “part four” at this point. “Part four” will probably come in a couple months, once this is all over. Until then: quick updates here.

    I went in for my last appointment on July 2nd, and I completely forgot to ask about the details of the turbinate bone. So sorry!

    My stitches are still in my nose, with the knots in the left nostril–it turns out they’re dissolvable, and will eventually disappear. They make my nose a bit tender, and I think they’re causing a bit of congestion to build. Nothing I can’t manage.

    He recommended still using the nasal spray. It’s great.

    I asked if the nostrils are supposed to be equal eventually (in air flow volume), and he said probably not, and I’m sure that’s just natural.

    Overall, do I breath noticeably and significantly better than before? Yes! My advice to those of you getting this surgery: remember what it was like to live with your nose before the surgery. Journal, or even videotape yourself talking about it. That’d make it easier to gauge the difference after the surgery. I didn’t do that–I’m just going off of memory, but I bet a video or journal entry with details would be great.

  7. I was blowing my nose last night and realized that my left nostril (the side with the stitches) wasn’t as uncomfortable as usual. I checked, and, ta-dah, no more stitches. And by “no more stitches” I mean, “there is no longer what looks like a little dental floss knot attached to the inside of my nose.” Stay tuned for a concluding “IHSIMNAIWO Part 4” shortly after 2009 ends.

    Shortly after 2009 ends? Why so long from now? Because I want to see how my nose does in cold weather, and I want to see how it’s doing 6 months after surgery. That’s the kind of information I wanted when I was looking for websites of people detailing their experiences. They post something about how they’re doing 3 weeks after the surgery, and then that’s it, you don’t know if it was worth it to them in the future, or if they start having the same problems again.

    How am I doing right now, about 2 months after surgery? So far so good. I still get congested sometimes, but not like before. Are there people in the world who can always breathe perfectly through their noses?

  8. Hey…thanks for the update. I was just thinking about you today and wondering how your were recovering (weird, I know, since I don’t really know you…but your blog on this has been so compelling since I’m facing my own surgery). And I agree…I always wonder what happens to people after 3 or 4 weeks because they never post again. Anyways, I’m actually having a different procedure now. It’s called a powered submucosal resection. The don’t actually cut through the mucosa, but use something like a tiny rotar-rooter and liposuction. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? I’m too chicken to have a septoplasty at the moment and my turbinates are swollen a little farther back than an SMR will address, so this is the next best option. Biggest risk is bleeding which freaks me out as I’ve never had a nose bleed before. My husband is staying home with me the first week. Did you have much bleeding from the nose after the first week? Glad to hear you are doing better.

  9. BTW…I don’t know if there are people who breathe through there noses perfectly all the time, but what I do know is that I have the same deviated septum I’m always had and until 5 months ago, I felt like I breathed just fine. Perhaps ignorance is bliss. 🙂 Am hoping to get back to a point where I don’t think about my breathing every second of the day. Thanks again for the update.

  10. Thank you for sharing. The level of detail and candor from your experience is both helpful and entertaining. I appreciate your passion for hospital room comedy (i usually blame it on the meds) and agree – its usually a tough crowd.

    Is there a part 4 (3 mo later) and part 5 (6 mo later)?

    This would be a great benefit to those of us who are considering such a procedure.

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