Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sinus Surgery #6 and Permission to Be Still

This past Friday marked my sixth sinus surgery in about 9 years.  Back when I was 17, the pulmonologist I was seeing at the time recommended I visit an ENT to get my sinuses checked out, not because I was necessarily having breathing troubles at the time, but just because he knew that tended to be an issue for several of his CF patients.  And boy, was he ever right!

At this point, it's pretty much agreed upon between myself, my CF team, and my ENT that my sinuses are the main cause of my breathing issues.  They just get so congested that infection easily sets in, then makes its way down to my lungs.  Once that sets in, it's a vicious cycle of airway inflammation and congestion that only the "big guns" (IV antibiotics) seem to really be able to knock out.

So, I've now had six sinus surgeries.  What I refer to as "the big surgery", aka the first one where the doctor created two new "windows" in my sinuses for better drainage, happened in summer 2004, followed by a much easier clean-out surgery that fall.  I had another clean-out + deviated septum repair in summer 2010, a basic clean-out while I was hospitalized in Feb. 2012, another basic clean-out in Feb. 2013, and the most recent clean-out this past week, Sept. 2013.

I was pretty disappointed at realizing I needed the surgery again so soon - it had been less than 8 months since my first one this year - but there was no denying it was time.  Nearly three weeks ago I had a PICC placed, but even after almost three weeks of IV Fortaz, it was obvious my sinuses were not going to be getting any better….and I know from experience that if my sinuses aren't good to go when I finish my antibiotics, any breathing progress I made during that round won't last long.

And so, I scheduled (yet another) clean-out surgery with my ENT for this past Friday.  It's all pretty routine at this point:  I know what to expect the night before, the morning of, and the afternoon after.  However, this time I was very surprised to wake up (coughing, of course) from the anesthesia with no gauze mustache taped under my nose.  Typically, I wake up coughing and all the recovery nurses flitter about because the coughing makes my nose start bleeding excessively and I'm sure it all looks very alarming.  This time, though, there was just the familiar coughing and sore throat from the breathing tube, and that unquenchable thirst for ice chips. (Sidenote, after my first surgery when I was 18, I distinctly remember getting a cherry slushie to soothe my throat in the recovery room.  Since then, at the various hospitals that have performed the surgeries, I always hope that cherry slushie will be waiting for me when I wake up, but so far it's just been boring old ice chips).  There was absolutely zero blood to deal with the entire recovery time, which was nice, but really weirded me out at first.

Apparently, since I did  just have surgery back in February, my frontal sinuses looked fine, so the ENT didn't do much work there.  Instead, he focused on cleaning out my forehead sinuses (which is done by sticking a catheter up there and flushing them with antibiotics), and some of the "deeper sinuses" (and I honestly have no idea what that means, exactly).  In the process of cleaning these out, my ENT just didn't quite feel satisfied, so he did some live x-rays while I was in there.  I'm so grateful he did, because these x-rays revealed a whole portion of sinus cavity that was filled with bacteria gunk but had been missed this time AND back in February because scarred tissue had covered it up, making it almost invisible.

So, the doctor drilled through that scarred tissue got the elusive area cleaned out for me, put a metal stint in my nose to keep the scarred tissue from covering the area again, and sent me on my way.  For now, I'm still doing another week of IV antibiotics, and am also doing my sinus rinses, mixed with powdered antibiotics, religiously.  I'm hoping and praying this is what it takes to really get my nose and lungs cleared out and keep me breathing easy for a long while!

Recovery time typically isn't an issue for me.  It's a day surgery, so I'm home by that night and usually feeling pretty ok by the next afternoon.  Heck, last time I had surgery, I went out and bought my wedding dress the next day! (not that I recommend this - I loved my wedding dress, but that situation could have turned out very badly)  This time, though, my husband put me under house arrest and told me I wasn't allowed to do ANYTHING all weekend.  It was time to rest.

At first I laughingly rolled my eyes a little but was willing to humor the request(/demand).  I am SO GLAD he made me stay home.  Life has been so busy and crazy the last few months - even after I had my PICC put in, I was back to work and school the very next day, with activities planned each weekend.  It was time to slow down, and while I was letting anesthesia work its way out of my system was the perfect time to embrace this idea of just being still.  We slept, we watched movies, we had meals brought to us by friends, and we went on fro yo outings.  I finally made headway with our wedding thank you notes (though it was argued by hubby that this doesn't exactly count as "down time"), and just generally enjoyed sitting around our wonderful apartment and being lazy.

A healing body and permission to be still are wonderful things.


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