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Two Surgeries & Something Else

Posted Apr 14 2010 1:41am

I had a hole in my nose. To be exact, a perforation in my nasal septum, the cartilage that separates the two airways. A person gets comfortable with the way certain parts of the body function, and this part of me just hadn’t worked right ever since Dr. Nasty’s life-saving transphenoidal brain surgery. Sparing the gory details, my efforts to breathe freely (like the old days) had resulted in more than I bargained for – a noisy extra air passage.

I once watched a TV show on plastic surgery where the surgeons were repairing a nasal septum that had a big hole in it as a result of the patient sniffing too much cocaine, so I was a little defensive when given this diagnosis. Even though I knew my ear, nose and throat doc was aware of my brain surgery, I imagined him thinking “Yeah, right . . . the hole developed as a result of what? SURE it did. . .”

Called a “septoplasty”, the surgery was scheduled for Christmas vacation so it wouldn’t interfere with my studies. It was miserable. It would be an outpatient surgery where skin would be taken from the cartilage of my ear to mend the perforation. At least I knew about this extra procedure prior to surgery, unlike before when I woke up wondering if the wrong part of me had been operated on (see post of 1/06/10 – “Postoperative Nightmare”). Once again, my nose was packed, but for only a week or so. And unlike before, I didn’t have to worry about brain fluid shooting out if I sneezed, but still had to be careful. It would take some time before it really became part of me. But, most importantly, it wasn’t whistling anymore.

Spring semester at school started the next month. Still taking 18 hours a semester, I was optimistic that it would be smooth-sailing now. But by late February I started developing lower abdominal pains which made it impossible to find any comfortable position, let alone try to stand or walk straight. I went to a couple of doctors that couldn’t figure it out; nothing showed up on tests. Finally one OB/GYN said he had a hunch and would do some exploratory surgery to see if his guess was right. He said pelvic adhesions were one-dimensional and didn’t show up on ultrasound or x-ray. Sure enough, the March 9, 2007, laparoscopy removed multiple adhesions that had my intestines so twisted to my side, he said it was a wonder I was still able to eat. (You can insert your own joke here). This was an outpatient surgery and I felt great within a couple of days.

But the hurdles weren’t over yet. Just a couple of weeks later while cleaning my room one night, I had an unusual pain that felt like it was coming from my heart. I thought it had something to do with my shoulders, since they never became completely pain-free after both surgeries. My emergency room experience taught me that women often presented with shoulder or back pain instead of chest pain when having a heart attack. So, was this it? Was this what a heart attack felt like? I knew a heart attack caused constant pressure, and didn’t let up with respirations- and this pain didn’t change. Oh my. This was it! I panicked and tried to remember the important things. How much aspirin should I take? Should we call an ambulance? How do I look? Should I finish my homework first? I don’t remember if it was my husband or me who called 911, but within minutes I heard the wail of the sirens and the firemen were at my door.

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