Plastic surgery to shave down some of the nasal real estate on my face? Er, no. I’m patiently waiting for my time under the nasal surgery knife to not only breathe a little easier but more importantly, enjoy a few things that I’ve missed out on over the last couple of years..
It’s been 43 years..
And incredibly in all of that time, the closest I’ve gotten to anything surgically related was stitches when I was a kid (an accident prone kid obviously) and a couple of moles cut out of my skin. But nothing that’s required a night in hospital and waking up to surgery success.
But hopefully later this year (Read: September 2023 onwards) that’s exactly what will happen – my nasal surgery will happen and I’ll wake up Nasal Polyp free, the little fleshy bastard that’s currently causing me no end of grief at work and beyond.
And in case you’re wondering:
What are Nasal Polyps? Causes and Symptoms
Nasal polyps are soft, non-cancerous growths that develop in the lining of the nasal passages and sinuses. They are typically teardrop-shaped and can vary in size from a tiny pea to a grape. Nasal polyps are common, with an estimated 4% of the population affected. They are more common in adults, particularly those over the age of 40, and are more likely to affect men than women.
The exact cause of nasal polyps is not completely understood, but they are thought to be the result of chronic inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses. This inflammation can be caused by a variety of factors, including allergies, asthma, infections, and certain medications. Nasal polyps can also develop as a result of genetic factors, as they tend to run in families. While nasal polyps themselves are not harmful, they can cause a range of symptoms, including nasal congestion, runny nose, facial pain, and a reduced sense of smell. If left untreated, they can also lead to complications such as sinus infections and sleep apnea.
In my case I tick a couple of boxes here:
Which means currently:
-I can’t smell a damned thing unless it’s at nuclear levels of sharpness. Baked bread, cut grass, ground coffee are all my favourite smells but I can no longer pick them up. I can sense the sharp punch of petrol through and strong whiskey strangely, but I’ve got to be pretty close to it.
-Because of the lack of smell receptors, my taste is pretty limited too. I tried some white chocolate liquor over the weekend and couldn’t taste any chocolate at all, just the tang of something alcoholic. Salt’s and chilli sure, subtle flavours? Not so much. So now the finest coffee sadly tastes like instant and instant tastes like dirt.
-Depending on the hour of the day, my nose either makes no noise (it’s completely blocked) or whistles like a steam train (or gurgles like a plague marine out of Warharmmer 40k). This is especially annoying when a) I want to breathe through it but can’t for obvious reasons and b) I’m on air and it’s making noises in the back ground when I’m trying to talk.
-When not blocked, it can run more than a Kenyon Marathon champion. Work, social situations, day, night it matters not, I’m reaching for the tissues. I have to blow my nose, a lot. It’s not pretty as you can imagine. I’ve gone through quite a few trees already.
-Anything alcoholic soon turns my nose into a sneezy, wheezy mess. It can be beer, wine or even the basic mead from my shed but if it’s boozy, thanks to these polyps things are sooner or later going to get messy.
-And sleep has been super rough too, especially having to breathe through my mouth most nights (and according to wifey, the strange noises I make labouring through my sleep). I’m looking forward to being able to sleep properly again because gods know I need to.
(Now in case you’re reading this and thinking ‘Wait, didn’t rapper Busta Rhymes pictured above have this?’ well you’re close, he had throat polyps. Given how depressingly infuriating these nasal ones are, I can only imagine the hell he had with his.)
How to deal with this
Having tried a variety of nasal sprays and the like since early 2020 when I first noticed I suddenly couldn’t smell much I can attest that short of nasal steroids, they do little aside from possibly relieve the symptoms. And I say possibly because sometimes they dried my nose up, sometimes not. Sudafed PE slows things down on occasion, as does anything with fexofenadine but depending on the severity of things it could take a while.
A hot steamy shower will get things unblocked momentarily so if you can’t breath in our out of your nose, try a shower.
Best in show has to be Predisione which does a fantastic job of beating nasal polyps back and helping you to breath as well as bringing your smell back. Unfortunately it’s temporary, you can’t be on them for long, you can only have them so often and long term use can lead to some serious side effects, so there’s that. (And if you take them, take them in the morning – they can cause insomnia just to keep you on your does.) They do a wonderful job for sure, sadly it just doesn’t last forever (however it can make things a little easier during the heavier times – like the weekend I just had where I sneezed and wheezed my way through.)
Which means if all else fails, it’s nasal surgery time. Which if you can afford it, is great, if not, it’s a wait. In September I’ll have clocked up a full year on the waiting list which means I should be somewhere up the top of it. Unfortunately there’s only one Ear Nose and Throat specialist in town (and two registrars) which means that list is already heavily populated and there more than likely will be delays. Certainly no thanks to Covid for already stretching out the wait times even more, not just for nasal surgery obviously but all elective surgeries.
To get to this point I’ve had a handful of GP visits, a couple of visits to the ENT and a CT scan which showed the parts of my skull that should be open and breezy are anything but. It’s definately the polyps causing this and it’s time to go. Well, it will be when my time comes up really.
And once that’s done and the infernal things are ripped out (well, surgically removed) there’s a few things I’m really looking forward to:)
Post nasal surgery appreciation list
-Not having to blow my nose many times a day
-Not having to explain that I’m on the waiting list for nasal surgery (luckily I have some very understanding friends and family)
-Having a glass of red wine without paying the ultimate price. Actually having wine, beer, mead, vodka, anything boozy really and not reacting to sulphates.
-Basically breathing through my nose and appreciating the smells around me like cooking and the like, something I’ve missed for a very long time now. I’ve had to ask people around me to describe what they’re smelling and I’ve missed so much :/
Suddenly I can’t smell anything anymore, what should I do?
First stop should be to your local doctor who will go over possibilities (like Covid being a dick again) and possibly put you on medication. They may suggest (and provide a referral to) an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. From there you might undergo some scans and depending on the severity, possibly nasal surgery too.
If that’s the case I wish you luck and who knows, I might just bump into you at the surgery line!
Here’s to smelling the world all over again!