I was very sick last winter and finally feel good again. My remaining issue is that I can’t seem to do any exercise more strenuous than walking. When I do, I can’t catch my breath and end up in a coughing fit. So, I’ve continued doctoring to get to the bottom of this issue. I’ve had lung function tests, exercise tests, heart tests, etc. and they have come out pretty normal. My lung doctor requested a sinus CT which showed lots of concerns. This led me to see an ENT in Indianapolis named Dr. Ulm. At my visit he suggested surgery to repair my billateral sinusitis; open up both sides, the right side being completely blocked. I had lots of scar tissue so he thought I’d had lots of sinus infections that went untreated. I know of two sinus infections and they were pretty painful and made me think all my teeth were rotten, so it seemed odd that I wouldn’t know I had one. I told Dr. Ulm that I wasn’t ready to have surgery and he said we could do some allergy testing and see how I did this coming winter and then decide.
At the end of May, I met with a speech pathologist who explained that the medicine I take for acid reflux neutralized the acid in my stomach for 14 hours. This means that by evening the acid is no longer neutralized and this is often when I lay down to go to sleep which allows the acid to easily get to the back of my throat at my vocal chords. She explained that my vocal chords have been damaged by this acid. Therefore, when I breathe in through my mouth and the air hits my vocal chords, it causes the sensation that I need to cough. She explained that my vocal chords could be repaired in 3 months by taking the acid reflux medicine twice a day instead of once a day. This would keep the acid neutralized 24 hours a day. She also talked about the high possibility of me having vocal chord disfunction. My vocal chords have been closing to keep the acid from coming up and causing me to vomit, but now they are closing up when I take deep breathes through my mouth (like when exercising). I have to retrain my vocal chords not to do this. She taught me some breathing exercises to try that can open up my vocal chords when they lock up on me and I feel like I’m gasping for air. It was so great to talk to her and hear reasons for my gasping for air.
The same day I went back to my wonderful pulmonologist, Dr. Karen Wolf. She showed me my sinus CT scan and compared a normal sinus scan to mine. She also showed my deviated septum and explained how hard it has to be to breathe through my nose. My right sinus (under my eye area) was completely blocked with scar tissue. Dr. Wolf felt it was necessary for me to have the sinus surgery and that this would help my breathing/exercise issues. She felt that if I could breathe better through my nose, I wouldn’t need to breathe through my mouth all the time when exercising. She also prescribed my acid reflux meds for twice a day to help with the issue the speech pathologist had discussed. I really value her opinion and since she thought it would help with my real health concerns, I went ahead and scheduled the sinus surgery.
I didn’t make another appt. to see the ENT prior to surgery, so I started to look online and when I found a video of the surgery on youtube, I couldn’t watch more than a minute. I’m glad that I quit, as I’ve read some really bad stuff about the surgery in the last two days. I thought I would share my experience as it hasn’t been nearly as bad as most people seem to have had. Of course, it seems that when people have a bad experience they tell everyone about it, and when someone has a good experience, they don’t spread the word as much.
June 27th we set our alarm for 2:45 am. We quickly showered and got dressed and hit the road by 3:30. We arrived at IUPUI by 5:55 our time (6:55 Indiana time). We checked in and did the presurgery stuff. The anesthesiologist came to talk to us and Dr. Ulm came in to go over the procedure. I was a little alarmed when they said it wasn’t uncommon to have your teeth chipped during the procedure. I sure didn’t want that to happen! The Dr. explained that he would do a new procedure to stop the bleeding so that my nose wouldn’t have to be packed. That sounded like great news. My friend Tricia, who works at the hospital, came to check on me which was nice. Everyone was really nice and I didn’t get very nervous (surprisingly). Finally it was time for my surgery at 9:00 (8:00 Illinois time) and I walked back to the surgery area. This was an interesting walk as they made Darren take my glasses and I’m really blind without contacts/glasses. I held onto the nurse for dear life and still crashed into a few things! I then climbed up on the surgical table, but couldn’t breath with my head down lower than my chest. They got me some pillows, warm blankets, and started the IV’s and giving me the anesthesia. It didn’t take long and I was out.
When I finally awoke, I was totally drowsy and sweating like crazy. The sweet nurse kept getting cool cloths and wiping me down. Of course, I also had the urge to vomit over and over. I hadn’t eaten anything, so it was mostly dry heaves. My friend Tricia came back to check on me and I’m sure I grossed her out with all my gagging. It was just so hard to open my eyes, I was completely exhausted. Then they moved me into the post-op room and I moved into a recliner. Darren was able to come in and I asked if my teeth were ok and they were. Tricia came back and we visited a bit. My nose and throat were hurting, but it wasn’t THAT bad. She encouraged me to get a puke pan for the drive home. I didn’t think we were anywhere near ready to head home, but I was wrong. Soon, one of the nurses told Darren to go get the car and that she would bring me out front in a wheel chair. The nurse handed me my bag of clothes and told me to get dressed and open the door when I was finished. I couldn’t believe I was expected to do this myself. Why didn’t they let Darren stay to help me? Somehow, I got my clothes on and managed to open the door and then I fell back asleep. Soon, the nurse had me in the wheelchair and took me out to get in the car. I can’t believe how quick they move you out!
The ride home seemed to take forever. My sweet husband remembered my request in nearly all of my previous surgeries….a banana shake from Steak-n-Shake. He got me one in Terre Haute, but they didn’t include a spoon. I tried to use the straw, but it felt like too much pressure in my nose. I managed eat some of it, but slept most of the ride home. We got home around 2:30 our time, and I went straight to bed. I spent the rest of the day in bed. Darren offered to go get me some food, but I had no desire to eat anything. My throat hurt really bad from the breathing tube. Obviously, my nose hurt too. I took my pain meds and antibiotics along with my regular meds. At about 2:00 am, I awoke and felt awful. I think I was breathing through my mouth, but as I would drift off to sleep, I would try breathing through my nose and that just didn’t work. I got up and went to the kitchen and tried to use the netti pot. However, my nose was completely blocked and nothing was flowing through except some blood. I sat up in the recliner for the rest of the night. It helped to be more upright and I kept drinking cold lemonaide which felt good on my throat.
The next morning Darren went to work and mom came to stay with me. She brought me afrin which the doctor had recommended. I sprayed it in my nose and like magic I could breath again. If I had known it would work so well, I would have sent Darren out to get some in the middle of the night! My throat felt a little better as the day went on. I still didn’t have much desire to eat anything, but cool yogurt did feel good on my throat. My sister Becky came over as well. Her and mom cleaned out a few of my kitchen cabinets, mom worked on my flowers, and dad even came over and cut down one of our dead trees. Of course, they were taking care of my kids as well as feeding them. My friend Anna came over to visit and bring some goodies too. My Aunt Jan and cousin Amy stopped by too. It is so nice to have friends and family take care of me! I slept quite a bit and kept taking my pain meds every 6 hours to prevent the pain from getting too bad. My biggest complaint was really bad headaches. I read online that these sinus headaches can last for 1 to 2 weeks post-surgery. I hope that isn’t the case for me! I uploaded, edited, and ordered over 200 pictures from Walgreens that day too. In the evening, I was ready to get out of the house for a bit so we headed over to my sister’s and Darren and Kolten swam while I played with Miley. I came home and went to bed and slept all night until Darren’s alarm went off at 6:30. I was so happy that I could breathe through my nose and sleep.
I went back to sleep until 9:00 and then showered and hung out with Kolten for the day (Kendall had spent the night at a friend’s). I told my family that we would be ok and they didn’t need to come stay with me. It wasn’t long and Kolten started vomiting. Maybe I would need them after all! However, he was just cuddly, so we watched movies most of the day. Becky dropped off my pictures from Walgreens, so I put those in photo albums, and then we napped some more. Kolten had another vomiting episode after eating carrots and now thinks he’s allergic to them. My biggest pain today is my upper stomach, just below my breasts in the center. The doctor thought this was probably a result of my dry heaving so much following anesthesia. He said if it gets worse over the weekend to call. Or, maybe I’m starting to feel the acid reflux pain that I have never felt. I have an appt. set up to see Dr. Ulm on July 5th. Tonight I again wanted to get out of the house. I rode along to take Kendall to ball practice and then we went out to eat and visited Darren’s parents. We picked Kendall up from practice and came home. I watered my flowers and then got to work on this.
I just want to say that it hasn’t been that bad. This is my 7th surgery and probably one of the easiest. Yes, its not completely comfortable, but I can get around fine (unlike with c-sections, shoulder, and foot surgeries). Each day seems to be better and I’m a little less tired. I’m glad I didn’t read all the negative blogs about this surgery prior to mine or I would have been freaked out. I just hope this takes care of my exercise/breathing problem!