November 11th, 2017
3 Years ago I had a septoplasty to help with my breathing. At the time I couldn’t keep going with spending miserable nights getting barely any sleep, so I did my first surgery.
Quickly after, 6 months later, both my surgeon and I knew it was not very successful, and was told we could do another one right away, but the fear of reliving the surgery was too much… until yesterday.
Here is my journey; from explaining the first surgery, to comparing it to my revision surgery, and everything in between.
Alright, let’s rewind a few years back. In the late spring of 2014 I reached out to a surgeon. The way I selected her, was simply from the fact that she was a female. At the time my fear of doctors was too high, so having a woman made me feel a bit more at ease. She didn’t specialise in my type of surgery – which looking back, really should have been a red flag – but she was nice enough, and told me she could help me.
How my ‘original’ nose looked like. Fairly slim, but you can see the bended septum.
Before the surgery, these were the problems with my nose:
- Right nostril fully blocked. I simply did not breathe from this at all;
- Left nostril would close when sleeping. This would happen because, since one of them wasn’t working, I could only sleep in one specific position that allowed the other one to get air through, but eventually, during the night, I would move around causing the nostril to close up near the septum, blocking off any air.
My mom believes that my nose was deviated after an accident I had when I was 8 years old. I used to roller skate, and I fell on my face, causing my teeth to be pushed out, a scar under my chin, and possibly, my nose to develop crooked.
These were my issues. For that surgery I requested for my nose to look the same; I knew that she may have needed to make adjustments in order to allow air to pass through my nostrils correctly, but I definitely wanted as much of a natural result as possible.
So in mid September I went in at 11am, and by 12 I was under anaesthesia.
I woke up at 5pm that evening, meaning that my surgery went on much longer than it’s supposed to: a septoplasty usually takes 1h 30 minutes. I woke up, didn’t feel sick, just dizzy, and was kept in over the night.
I did not manage to sleep at all, as my nose had been packed with two giant tampons, so I would feel the blood at the back moving around. I also remember that any time I was close to sleeping, my breathing would stop, and the machine I was attached to would beep to let the nurses know I was not okay. So I gave up, and waited till the morning after, which is when I saw my surgeon. She didn’t say much, as she came mainly to remove my packings.
Now, this was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. Seriously.
But after that, I was allowed to change and go home.
Two weeks after surgery.
Cut to around 10 days later, I got the cast removed and my nose cleaned. I was actually very happy at first, cause my nostrils looked very open and I could breathe trough them well, even considering all the swelling. My nose was a lot larger as my nose bridge was made wider during the surgery, which I honestly didn’t mind. My nose still pointed to the left, but I could breathe – that’s what mattered.
Every few months, as the nose is healing (it takes about 1 year in total) I would do my check ups, and as the months went by, the breathing diminished. I kept hoping that eventually it would settle, but after 6 months I was told the left nostril was too close to my septum, and would need a revision surgery. The hospital informed me they would do it for free, but I could only wait a year maximum to do it.
After 6 months.
I remember discussing this with family and friends, and logically it made sense to do it, but I had just gone through one, and really wasn’t ready to face another.
I was also doing my invisalign treatment, which was not the most pleasant as your teeth are in constant discomfort, and would have needed to stop for a few months, if I decided to go ahead with another surgery.
It did not feel like the right time.
I thought to myself that at least now I had the right nostril functioning correctly, so that was something. And I could wait it out. If I ever was ready, I could do it in a second moment. I did not want to rush.
Now let’s jump to this year, 2017.
The idea of the surgery was on my mind, but I never felt like I could actually do another one. Some of the reasons where:
- My stomach issues;
- Intense fear of vomiting (after surgery it’s common to be sick and did not want to take that chance);
- Acne, as I stopped taking the pill, causing my acne to come back (if it’s too bad, the surgeon can refuse to do the surgery);
- Did not want to have to go trough the pain of the gauze packing removal;
- Wasn’t excited overall about having a huge nose for many months after surgery.
A few months ago, I was recommended this one surgeon, that focuses on breathing problems, and reached out. At this point I was very unsure about wanting to do it or not, but a few people suggested that I should at least meet with him and hear what could be done. So I booked an appointment, and let me tell you, he was so kind and confident that I felt very at ease, and for the first time in many years I felt like I could actually go through with it, one more time.
I’ve met up with him a few more times after, talked about the nose and did a small visit to check on the state of it (since it had been worked on before there is scar tissue and less cartilage available) and felt so great about him being my surgeon that I decided to book this surgery. He is seriously the nicest, and you can tell he knows what he is doing. If I was ever going to do this, I knew I wanted him to be the one.
I’ve tried recreating a sketch he made me to visualise the inside of my nose. I don’t have enough energy to get my tablet out, so excuse the awful mouse drawing; it should still give you an idea of how my septum is bent, which parts of it, and how my nostril is closed.
He did say that it will be a bigger surgery, and would take me longer to recover, and he – not being the original surgeon – will have to see, once the nose is opened up, what he is working with. He said he will probably remove the previous grafts that were placed, and he said “in order to fix a crooked wall, you would take it apart and rebuild a straight one, so that’s what I’m going to do with your septum”. This sounds pretty scary, but he said it wouldn’t make a difference for me, as I would be asleep and the tricky part is up to him.
The bone in my nose is straight, so luckily that didn’t need to be touched, but the bottom 2/3 of my nose have an important bend, which causes my left nostril to attach to the septum (as I was aware of) resulting in poor air flow – when I say attach, by the way, I mean that I physically have to detach it by sticking a finger into my nostril and push it outwards.
Because the first time I was so caught up on the fact that it had to look as similar as possible to my nose, and was let down, ending up with a fairly different nose – somehow – this time I told him to do whatever he felt like was needed and would fit my face well, making this surgery a septorhinoplasty, so I’m expecting my nose to look different, but I don’t really know how it will look like. The last time I saw him, I told him I fully trust him with everything, so as long as I get a decent looking nose that works well, I will be happy.
I think in America they give you photoshopped images to show you what the result will be like, but in the UK, both times I did this, I was not shown options, so you just have to believe in your surgeon’s skills.
Anyway, going back to my concerns: by now, my stomach is stable enough (I can eat properly and rarely feel sick), and my acne is reduced to 10% of what it used to be. I’ve been following this skin regimen since summer time, and stuck with it as I had noticed it was clearing my skin up. None of the products I use are targeted to acne prone skin, they are all quite gentle, so later on I’m pretty sure I will share it with you guys as it’s working so well for me.
My other fears were still present, but I could finally put them aside, thinking that it would be worth suffering a bit to finally get a decent result.
Today is first day after surgery.
Yesterday, the 10th of November, I woke up at 5.45 am, showered, made my way to the hospital, and by 7am I was checked in. I expected to go in soon after, but unfortunately I was told I wasn’t the first patient of the day, so I had to wait.
In the meantime, I’ve met with my surgeon one last time, the anesthesiologist (to whom I told to please give me all the medicines he could, as i’d terribly afraid of throwing up), and all the nurses.
At 9.30 I went under.
At 1.10pm I woke up, my body in shock, shaking uncontrollably, exactly like it did after my first surgery, but managed to calm down within 10 minutes. I was kept in observation till 2pm and then moved to my room, where I saw Felix.
I didn’t feel any nausea, thankfully, just dizziness.
I had no inside packings, and when the surgeon came in he said he was happy. He did say it was quite a lot of work, but he did everything he could, and if this doesn’t give me a straight nose, no other surgery can.
At 5pm I was able to eat a full sandwich, crackers and cookies. I was walking around and feeling overall really well. I was told that I could leave the hospital, so I changed, but when they removed the IV from my wrist, my vein got like – 5 times bigger – so the nurse pressed it and it really hurt. Stupidly, I was standing up while she did it, and caused me to go grey and almost faint.
My blood pressure was very low, everything was blurred and the sound was muffled, so they kept me in two extra hours. I felt bad cause I knew Felix just wanted to go home, but I also knew it was for the best.
At 8.30pm I arrived home with a bag of medicines to take.
I was given ibuprofen for the pain, although I can only take half the dose of a regular person because of my stomach; in fact, I have chronic gastritis, not sure I’ve ever mentioned it, but that causes me to feel sick easily and not being able to digest much, so I don’t wanna upset it by taking too many medications.
I was also given antibiotics so that I don’t catch a bug, and stronger pain killers only to be taken if the pain is very strong.
I was then given 3 more products: a nose cream, to put directly into the nostrils, as well as a nose spray, and a gauze for night time, so it can catch any bleeding while I sleep.
I woke up today with no bruising just yet, which is great! I have been taking arnica pills to help, and I’m going to start using ice packs to contain the swelling.
So, overall, everything went/is going really well, I’m happy. Sure, I feel miserable, but the worst bit has passed. Now I have to rest and care for my nose for 10 days before I get my cast and stitches removed.
At first I thought I would do a blog post about it after I was healed, going through all the recovery process, but I had so many details to share already that I didn’t wanna risk forgetting any. Before doing my surgery I spent hours reading similar blog posts, and finding them very helpful, so I’m hoping if anyone has to go through this, may find some comfort to know that the surgery itself wasn’t so terrible this time, but you have to be aware that it may not be successful as well.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous to share this much information with the internet – people are quick to judge, and even though you marzipans were super supportive of my first surgery, I’m afraid I will get attacked by some over having to do a second one. In all fairness, another main reason why I waited so long is because I felt like I would have needed to explain myself to the internet, if I ever did do another surgery, but when I came to terms with it, living with a blocked nose that I’m not happy with for my entire life, just because I could come across some rude people, didn’t seem worth it.
My family and closest friends know about it, and they are all being so lovely, so hopefully I can get the same understanding from you on here.
That is all I wanted to touch on today, I will be sure to give you more updates as the days pass, but not to worry – it won’t be all you read on my blog, I’ve planned out different blog posts, so there will be a good variety of things coming up!
If you made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read.