Nasal Surgery – Live from the house of recovery

Well I’m happy to say that my long awaited nasal surgery seems to have gone particularly well. I haven’t got my sense of smell back yet (that may take a few weeks) but I’m also not in a screaming heap on the floor at the moment clutching my nasal passages that are throbbing with tsunami level waves of pain which is excellent.

If only the lead up to nasal surgery had gone as smoothly as the operation itself…

Firstly, what I was in for

To sort out chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps (or as it says on the forms: Septoplasty, Blateral Infer Turbino + Fess) an issue that’s gone on close to 4.5 years now. Runny noses, blocked nose, a nose that would make the strangest noses when attempting to communicate on the radio which I think you’ll agree is a tad embarrassing. At the start they thought it was a heavy cold that seemed to have blocked up my sense of smell. A dose of steroids quickly got that back, but then it faded again soon enough. After too much time hoping (and waiting) I finally checked in with a local ENT who revealed the polyps and the nasal surgery needed to clear things out again.

The trouble was, I don’t have private health insurance and going through the public health system meant I’d have to wait for a spot. Which I did. And at the time of writing, having had them done through the private health system two days ago…there’s still no update on the pubic side of things after a year and a half. At one stage I enquired where I might possibly be on the wait list, the woman behind the desk asked who my specialist was and then sucked in a big breath of air.

‘She’s not really known for keeping on track with her surgery list…’

-The woman at the surgery admissions

And as after so much waiting, my family took it upon themselves to actually get things rolling by offering to pay for everything. I objected of course, the tally was close to how much I bought a second hand car for recently and I didn’t want to cost them that much but they put their foot down. Son, get it done.
So here’s the journey.

Time for a different specialist out of town

I was hoping for ‘Just down the road’ or ‘the next town over’ but 330kms would have to do. And after the man that would wind up doing the operation sprayed some atheistic mist up my nose and had a poke around with his endoscope, things looked like a scene from Aliens.

No, your nasal cavities shouldn’t look like this, but mine did!

‘Things really couldn’t get any worse than this unless they were growing out of your nose.’ He explained which put me in a right funk. There was no doubt about it, it was Nasal Surgery time. Luckily there’s quite a few more hospitals down south then there are in Albury Wodonga and the good news is, they could get it done pretty quickly.

So a date was set

And then changed. But I agreed to have to changed due to an emergency case involving a child needing nasal surgery on that day. I’m 43 and have put up with this stuff for over four years, so what’s another couple of days? (I certainly wouldn’t wish this misfortune on anyone, especially a child!) Also I felt good about it knowing full well there would be people refusing to give up their spot.
A similar situation also occurred when my son was slated in for tumor removal surgery and an emergency case case through.
We’ve never met either of these kids obviously but we sincerely hope their procedures went well.

I took the train down and thieves struck

I met a lovely woman seated opposite me off for heart surgery the next day. Across the journey we swapped tales of life, kids, working in Albury and family right up to the point where the conductor announced that thanks to copper thieves knocking off the semi precious metal somewhere down the line, the train would have to go at half speed for safety reasons.

So suddenly there’s an extra 45 minutes on that train, coupled with the extra time catching local trains to make it to mums place. Thankfully I wasn’t racing to make it to the hospital on time.

Loving the time on trains, just ask me!

(A special shout out to the woman opposite us who spent most of the journey on her phone and a good chunk of the last delayed hour attempting to change her ticket due to how late we’d be. She finally got it changed after 6 dropouts, hooray!)

Breakfast was just what the surgeon ordered

I’m reminded of that scene in Blackadder when the cook on the executioners team explains that for their final meal, prisoners can have whatever they like – as long as it’s sausages. Because that’s all she knows how to cook. Personally I would have loved some snags for a pre nasal surgery meal but no, I stuck to the notes. Toast and tea before a decent fast so there’s at least something in my system come knock out time.

pre nasal surgery breakfast of toast and a cup of tea

Then after that I tried to avoid looking at any and all food around me (although Glicks Boiled Bagels did look appealing when we walked past) as I counted down the hours to admission time. Again I’m singing the praises of the Kindle here, as a distraction on the train and for killing hours before a big event, nothing beats having a virtual library in your pocket.

Flash forward to hospital time (the process, the setup, the nasal surgery)

-My amazing Mum had paid for the surgeon, the hospital and the anaesthetist in three separate payments and in the back of my mind walking in, I’d hoped that everything had cleared in time (it had, no need to worry.) Interestingly even though I’d followed the strict guide on taking a covid test the day before (time stamped with license and Medicare card in the same photographic evidence on my phone) no one asked for it. Just a quick look at my non sneezing face seemed to be enough of a guide to suggest I was covid free. Sign here here and here, the elevator to surgery is behind you.

-The surgical nurses led me to my room and broke out the gown, socks and ‘booties’. Given I’ve avoided any and all surgeries up until now, I wasn’t surprised at all that they turned out to be just as comfortable as they looked. Maybe I could take up classic Greek dancing after this?

Getting dressed up for nasal surgery

-After more time with the Kindle (can highly recommend The Traitors Hand) I was led to the surgical waiting area where one of the nurses asked me if I was driving back to Albury that night. Wait, wasn’t I supposed to be staying over night? This was slightly concerning given I’d packed for the stay might have to call my transport back (Keith’s a brilliant driver) quite a few hours earlier. She promised she’d look into it while I watched as many game shows as I could waiting for my turn.
God Tennable with Warrick Davis seems tough.

-I met the surgeon, I met the anaesthetist, I confirmed my name, date of birth and rubbish sleeping patterns more times than I can remember as part of their safety protocols. ‘You’re so hairy!’ one nurse joked putting the probes on before she discussed liking hairy chests more than non hairy ones with another nurse. Then I was wheeled to the rooms where a lovely nurse distracted me with talk of family while things were jabbed into my arm. ‘This is oxygen’ another nurse explained and while I breathed away, the lights started to get fuzzy and the music in the room became muffled. Hell of an oxygen feed that one.
I remembered grinning for some inane reason and then I was out and off the nasal surgery team went to work.

It took a bit longer than expected..

I vaguely remember hearing something about my asthma kicking in towards the end of things as I slowly regained consciousness but it was okay. Worried they hadn’t heard from me after a time, both my family and wife had tried to call, mum’s partner finally making it through pretending to be my father in law.
It turns out there was a bit more work involved with things than expected but all went well in the end. Even though I looked and felt pretty rough obviously facing the world again after the chemical sleep.

The good news was, yes I was staying the night. It had been confirmed.
The even better news was that in my hazy recovery state, I didn’t buy myself a grand piano.*

During the night a lovely nurse called Donna checked on me with regular pain killers on hand and was quite surprised I hadn’t asked for anything stronger. Truth be told between the regular panadol and slight discomfort, things didn’t hurt like I expected them too. That’s a bonus! So I slept on the suggested angle for the night in between visits and slowly came to life again.

*I’ve spoken to two people now who bought something online post surgery without remembering it, suddenly surprised when it got delivered a week later. I was terrified I was about to do something similar and discover it much later on.

‘The worst I’ve seen in close to two years now..’

My surgeon popped round for a chat the next morning post nasal surgery and revealed he’d well and truly earned his fee having ‘Removed quite a lot of stuff in there’ and subsequently clearing out a whole heap of space. Apparently those alien polyp growths were everywhere (including the roof of my nose which they’re loathe to go near for fear of causing some kind of injury to the brain above) and so he’d had his work cut out for him.
(As much as this is probably not what any nasal surgery patient wants to hear, I’m certainly glad he bulldozed most of it out to hopefully help me to be able to smell again.)

Breakfast the next day was exciting as you can imagine although let me share this tip – if you like porridge, order honey with your toast as well. They gave me two sachets, one in the porridge gave it flavour it certainly didn’t start with.

Finally the nurses checked up on me one more time with a big bag of post nasal surgery medications, a special mug and whole heap of spare bolsters (special nose bandages there to catch anything that might escape your nostrils post nasal surgery.)

Bolster after nasal surgery. Uncomfortable and unstylish!

I got dressed, packed my bag, messaged my ride home and ordered a warm coffee in the hospital cafe while I waited (can’t have anything hot for the next two days due to possible steam doing things to my nose). And that’s when I learnt about a truck being too big for the Burnley Tunnel, trying to make it’s way through the Burnley tunnel.


Take the scenic route

Another hats off to Keith moment who in amongst being a terrific driver and incredibly handy working with tools (he’s an ex engineer after all), he knows Melbourne streets like the back of his hand and got us home safely via the scenic route involving a hop over the West Gate Bridge.
No hats off but a middle finger instead for those on the roads that almost caused an accident on more than one occasion.

Once home I worked out a plan of attack for all my medications and then proceeded to nod off on the couch again. However a bit of food later certainly had me feeling much better (don’t forget to eat, it always perks me up) and after a rough night’s sleep (in the special propped up position for the nose of course) here we are.

Post nasal operation care

-Plenty of painkillers. Even though I’m not feeling much pain at all, I’m still taking them under doctor’s orders every four hours for the next couple of days. I’ve even been furnished with the super strong stuff just in case but haven’t needed them so far.-

-Nasal rinse twice a day. Don’t be surprised how messy the first one is post nasal surgery. It gets better from here.

-Antibiotics three times a day

-Nasal steroid once a day for five days

-I’m not allowed to play with heavy machinery or sign important documents in the first 24 hours (phew!)

-After 24 hours the bolster bandage doesn’t have to be worn but I’ve got a few spares just in case..

-There’s silicone supports somewhere in my nose to keep things in place. If they come out before my follow up appointment next week, it’s not an issue.

-Avoid hot foods for 72 hours after nasal surgery to minimise the chance of bleeding

-Don’t blow your nose in the first week after nasal surgery. Sniffing is okay, sneeze with your mouth open

-No flying anywhere for two weeks

-Avoid bending over for a week

-Rest, no lifting heavy objects (so my weights session will have to wait..boom boom)

-No swimming or spas for the short term after nasal surgery (damn).

-No contact sport for a month (look, I’m safe there..)

So after all that, here’s to recovery!

Thieves, trucks, confusion, painkillers. It’s been a busy 48 hours up to, during nasal surgery and afterwards but here we are. I don’t think I can thank enough the efforts of everyone around me for not only pushing for this to happen but paying for it as well as the awesome care in recovery time, but thank you anyway you amazing people.
Here’s to getting back to my life with the ability to smell in record time!

Wish me luck and thanks for reading my latest adventures!


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