Monday, May 26, 2014

Same Familiar Packaging with New and Improved Functionality

"This is the cabin for Hypnos, the god of sleep," Annabeth said.

. . . Soft violin music played from somewhere. The air smelled like fresh laundry. The cabin was so cozy and peaceful that Jason's eyelids started to feel heavy. A nap sounded like a great idea. He was exhausted. There were plenty of empty beds, all with feather pillows and fresh sheets and fluffy quilts and—Annabeth nudged him. "Snap out of it."

Jason blinked. He realized his knees had been starting to buckle.

"Cabin Fifteen does that to everyone," Annabeth warned. If you ask me, this place is even more dangerous than the Ares cabin. At least with Ares, you can learn where the land mines are."
–Rick Riordan, The Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero

I am beginning to wonder if I am a child of Hypnos because a nap always sounds good to me. But since that is probably not the case, I had a septoplasty {warning: link contains gross photos} with turbinate reduction, which probably isn't the most logical choice of treatment but let me explain. For as long as I can remember I haven't been able to breathe well through my nose. I couldn't breathe out of my right nostril at all. And I clench my jaw while I sleep, so I wondered if I might not be getting enough air at night, which was causing or at least contributing to poor sleep quality. I never wake feeling rested and refreshed. As a matter of fact, it is very difficult to wake up. Most mornings, I push the snooze button a few times and then turn the alarm completely off and go back to sleep. And no matter how many times I tell myself that I will get up when the alarm goes off, my mornings pretty much always go like that. Obviously, I don't make good decisions when I'm asleep.

When I finally do wake up, I feel like I have to take several minutes to breathe deeply enough to re-expand my lungs and come to my senses. The coming to my senses parts takes about a half-an-hour, at which point, I start scolding myself for sleeping past the alarm again and promising that tomorrow I will do better.

Whether or not there is any real correlation to my hypothesis, I went ahead and made an appointment with an ENT about a six weeks ago. The PA asked lots of questions and then she donned a forehead light and took a pair of cross-lock tweezers, stuck them up my nose and expanded my nostril so she could have a look in there. She told me that it looked to her like about an 85% blockage and explained that to repair it the surgeon would remove the cartilage from my nose, shave the bones spurs from it, smooth it out, make it nice and straight and put it back in. Easy peasy. She said it was a very non-invasive procedure {which is kind of debatable in my non-educated opinion, because they go right up your nose} and a quick recovery. She made me feel very confident that it was a good option and would be less than a minor interruption to my life. So I signed up.

Cut to Thursday-before-last. Mr. Bug and I had to be at the same-day surgery center at 8:45 am. After we checked in, the nurse led us back to a little room where she gave me a lovely lilac-colored paper gown about the same weight and feel as a reusable grocery sack and a pair of large and unattractive boxer shorts of the same material, for which I was very grateful. I supposed that in the event they needed to open my chest from my collarbone to my navel, they could get those babies off and out of the way in a jiffy and in the meantime, I could keep from hanging the moon on my way to the bathroom. It was a win-win situation.

Then they started explaining the procedure in more detail. That's when I started to worry. The anesthesiologist came in and explained how the anesthetic would work, which didn't worry me {sidebar: my first c-section, which is major surgery, was a semi-emergency but by the time we got to that point I was so tired I didn't even care and just wanted a nap, although they didn't put me under. I breezed right through the second c-section. But when I had a bunion removed a few years after that, the thing that worried me the most was the anesthesia. What if I never woke up? Of course I did, and I was really annoyed that they wanted me to leave the blissful and best sleep I'd ever had so soon after I arrived there. After that, I wasn't worried about it anymore, and kind of looked forward to it when the opportunity arose. Weird, I know. But sleep and I have a long and complicated history.} What did worry me is all that they told me about after-care. Namely, that there would be swelling, bleeding and crusting. And I was not allowed to blow my nose. That was a deal breaker and I was ready to get out of the paper gown and go home. Fortunately for them, they had powerful sleeping agents at their command and before I could make a break for it, I was under.

I have to add that when the surgeon came in to talk to me between the anesthesiologist and the surgery nurse and the guy with the drugs, I was working on one of the embroidery labels for my Patriotic Sampler quilt. I put it on my lap while he went over what he was going to do, but I saw him look at it several times as he was talking to me. As he was turning to go, he hesitated and then asked what I was working on. I showed him and he studied it for a minute and then complimented me on how precise my stitches were and said something like, "you could do surgery."

I don't remember much of the afternoon after my surgery. I think we were supposed to start at 10:00, but they must have been running behind because they didn't wheel me out until 10:45. We made it down the hall and around the corner and I was out. They told me I'd have to move from one bed to another, but I don't know if that even happened. The next thing I remember was trying to wake. My lungs felt heavy and it was difficult to breathe. Then I was in a recovery room and the nurse brought me applesauce, pain meds and soda. Mr. Bug hung out and read and I slept. About 2:45, it seemed like the nurse kind of wanted to shoo me out the door. She brought in a nose sling, which wrapped over my ears and had padding across my cheeks and then a plastic strip under my nose, which you placed a gauze pad on to catch any blood that might be dripping out. Up to that point, my nose seemed pretty clear, but when I stood up, it started to drip. It was uncomfortable, but not unmanageable. And according to the nurse, it wasn't a lot of bleeding. So I got dressed, they trundled me out to the car in a wheelchair and we went home. I slept on the way. When we got home, Br. Bug set me up in a comfy chair {they recommended sitting up, or lying at an incline}, I had a popsicle and watched TV for about 10 minutes. Then I had another nap. One of my kind neighbors brought dinner, after which I'm pretty sure I had another nap. And then Mr. Bug and the kids came in to watch TV with me and I dozed in and out and went to bed before 10:00.

At about 2:00 am, I woke up and wandered into the kitchen to get some more pain meds. I decided that a popsicle would be a good idea, too. It took me about 15 minutes, and the whole time I stared at my sewing table and seriously debated about doing a little something. In the end, I decided it was too much effort and went back to bed. I got up a few times to use the bathroom or get pain meds, but mostly I slept until about 1:00 in the afternoon. I set up camp on the living room couch and trimmed frayed threads off the cut edges of my latest fabric acquisitions fresh from the wash {sidebar: I used to serge the cut edges but quit doing that and instead I wash on the "hand washables" cycle, which is very gentle. I get about a fourth of the amount of frayed threads than with a normal wash and because there are less stray threads, there isn't a tangled up rat's nest that has to be sorted before the fabric goes to the dryer. I figured that the time I spend trimming that off is about the same as the time it takes to serge the edges, but saves on thread and wear-and-tear on my machine.}. The rest of the weekend was spent mostly sleeping interspersed with saline flushes, pain meds and popsicles, alternately. I wasn't in too much pain following the surgery and after the first few days Tylenol and Advil did the trick.

Resting was nice, but also difficult. I have kind of a hard time sitting still {another sign that I may be a demigod and that Hypnos is indeed my father} and am always working on something. I almost never sit and veg in front of the TV, but I did a lot of that because I was so tired. I wanted to sew, but it seemed like too much effort. I had four whole days off and all I managed was one set of four blocks for the signature quilt I'm making.

Four blocks. That is all. Admittedly, I pressed 3 yards of pink Kona and 2½ yards of white Kona between naps. But four - 5" blocks seems like nothing for a four-day weekend. OK. I did get all of my stash fabric washed, folded and put away in rainbow order. Some of it wasn't as recently acquired as I may have previously led you to believe. Some of it has been sitting in my laundry room since last July. So, that is a good thing.

I other happy news, after the first few days of crustiness and several dozen saline flushes, my nose functionality has improved. And so has my sleep. This was recorded by my sleep app {Sleep Cycle for iPhones and Sleep as Android for Android} just a few days after the surgery. That has been my best day so far, but I've moved from the mid 70's on average into the low 80's on most nights, which is a step up from a C to a B- and I'm encouraged by that.

I'd planned to go back to work last Monday, but by the time I got up and dressed, I needed a nap so I worked from home. Tuesday was much the same, except I had a popsicle for courage {don't ask me why, because I don't really know} and actually went to work instead of working from home. Wednesday morning I had a follow up with the PA, who again donned the light headband and armed with the cross-lock tweezers and a suction tool, went up my nose and cleaned it out. At one point, she got a pair of tweezers and pulled something out—I didn't look—and went back to suctioning. I wonder if she goes home at night and says to herself, "best job ever!"? She told me that the doctor had used the word "severe" in his notes in reference to the deviation of my septum. Part of the reason I put off going for so long {I've been thinking about it for a couple of years now} was because I was afraid I would get there and they would say, "nothing is wrong, you big whiner, so quit whining." It was a relief to know that there really was something wrong and that it has been corrected.

The PA noted that there was still quite a bit of swelling in my previously good nostril {the left one, in case you were wondering} because that was the side that the surgeon went in on. She told me that the swelling would go down, and after about four weeks I would be better than ever and I would wonder why I had put it off so long. That put me at ease, because on my way in I was wondering if the large chunk of change that was our portion after insurance had been worth it. I felt even better on my way out because I noticed a huge improvement from the little vacuuming job she did. Also, I was cleared to blow my nose. In the past week, there have been several times that I have noticed that breathing is a lot easier for me. I even woke up one night and realized that both my nostrils were open and that I had a nice flow of oxygen going there. I settled back to sleep with a smile on my face.

I constantly marvel at the amazing-ness of the world we live in. Sometimes, when I'm cooking up something yummy in the kitchen, I wonder if they had simple, ordinary, commonplace ingredients as readily available a century ago as we do now? Could Laura Ingalls stop at Olsen's Mercantile on her way home from school and pick up some chocolate chips? Or did their Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies just have oatmeal in them and she didn't even know to imagine chocolate chips and coconut? What if they wanted to have a curry? Did Nels stock Garam Masala {sidebar: I made the MOST FABULOUS Black-Eyed Pea Curry last night. You seriously have to give it a try, and make sure to add some cauliflower to it.}? What if the reason Nellie was so cranky is that she was lactose and gluten intolerant? Diagnosing that would have been next to impossible and changing her diet would have been entirely impossible. What if Ma had trouble delivering Carrie? Doc Baker couldn't give a her an epidural, let alone begin to imagine performing a c-section. There wasn't an outpatient treatment center for when Albert was hooked on morphine. He had to go cold turkey. And even the fancy doctors in Mancato couldn't have done my septoplasty.

We live in an age of abundance and modern convenience. This fairly non-invasive surgery {which will not result in my nose caving in. I asked.} has the potential to improve my quality of life on a very fundamental level. Or at least I am hopeful of that. I'm already feeling better. If my sleep doesn't improve to at least a B+ average, I'll pursue other diagnoses and treatments, which will involve gadgets and gizmos and tests the likes of which Doc Baker couldn't begin to fathom, even in his wildest dreams. In the meantime, I will continue to marvel at the technology that made my little modern miracle possible.


Mara said...

Fantastic post, hope you get to feeling and sleeping better in no time at all. I wonder if this is a reason my son grinds his teeth and doesn't sleep very well. When he was little and in the hospital they could only put the breathing tubes down one nostril, I bet the other one is all messed up, I will have to tell him to have it looked at when he gets older.

Shay said...

Im so glad it all went well for you. I have been known to stress out about the fear of not waking from an anaesthetic too.

And surely breathing better and sleeping better is a great outcome!

Gene Black said...

Don't be afraid of the gadgets and gizmos. I recently got a CPAP and it has made a wonderful improvement in my quality of life. (and yes I knew I probably needed it, but I put it off for much too long.

Paulette said...

I'm so glad your surgery seems to have been a success. Hope you continue to feel better day by day.

Love the siggy blocks!

Jill said...

Love the Little House stuff. Made me giggle. Also, I totally get your popsicle for courage. I should buy some for my house. Glad you are feeling and sleeping better.