Friday, October 3, 2008

Going under the knife (endoscope, actually)

A couple springs ago I had really bad hay fever sandwiched by a series of colds that put a lot of stress on my sinuses. I've had moderate allergies for some time, but this series was unusual in that it continued for almost two months, after which my left nostril -- and only my left nostril -- was consistently snotty.

In the fall of 2006, while clearing the aforementioned left nostril, I felt a small growth. The growth was basically obstructing the left nostril, causing airflow problems, snoring and (apparently) contributing to my mucous problem. A quick self-diagnosis indicated I had a nasal polyp. Because nasal polyps are typically benign, and this one's problems have been manageable -- and because I have terrible insurance -- I've let it go until now.

But with the trip to Australia forthcoming, I've decided now's the time to act. I'll be doing a lot of hiking, so good airflow's important. I'll be sleeping on crowded trains and in hostels, so I'd rather not bother the folks around me with loud snoring. I'm also just plain fed up with spending a small fortune on Kleenex. So last month I saw a doctor, who referred me to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist.

I described my symptoms to her, and she said that I probably just had severe allergies as nasal polyps are rare. No sooner did she look inside my nose, however, than she said, "Oh! You were right, you do have a polyp." (I felt somewhat vindicated.) Since it was one large polyp, the doctor said a quick endoscopic surgery would probably have better results than medication, and I agreed. She set me up for a CT scan (if you're going to be poking around near the brain, better to have a look around first) and then a surgery date.

I had my pre-operation appointment yesterday and we confirmed that I will be having surgery on Friday, Oct. 10, a week from today, at Seton Medical Center in Daly City (pictured).

The doctor will go up my nostril with an endoscope, essentially scrape away the polyp and then cauterize the removal spot. There will be no cutting from the outside. Originally, I had thought I could get by with just a local anesthetic, but she confirmed yesterday that I will indeed be out for the operation. The procedure should take about two hours and then I'll be free to go once I'm awake (barring any complications, of course).

I will be going home with my nose stuffed with gauze, bandaged and possibly with some bruising and/or a black eye. I will have to change the gauze frequently in the first few days, as it will become saturated with a disgusting mix of snot and blood. Nice. But I should recover completely within about two weeks and be able to make the 14-hour plane trip and three-week excursion with ease.

Of course, it will be spring then Down Under and my allergies will probably kick in. Sigh.

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