Saturday, June 18, 2011

Breathe - Septum Surgery as a Life Changer.

Geesh, I hate writing like this, talking like this, I sound like a freaking old lady fixated on her medication, aches and pains.  But this is where I've been in my head for the past 10 days. Like Betty White says  for AARP,  I just need to "Get over it!"  And, it is important that I write this as people need to know that this surgery can be a game changer for people with sleep disturbances.

Breathing is pretty basic to life.  I've thought about the actual action of breathing a bunch over the last 10 days.  As soon as the surgery to correct my severely deviated septum was over I began to notice drastic differences in how I felt, how I breathed, and how I slept.  I was taking an opiate-based pain medication for the first 5 days after surgery and nasal passage swelling was pronounced during that time as well.  By the 6th day after surgery, with the stints still in place holding the new position of the septum while it healed, I noticed that was breathing better and I had not found myself with my mouth open and breathing through it in a day or so. 

This is also when my husband told me that I was not snoring at night.  This is absolutely amazing.  This is a really big thing to me.  Even before the apnea became apparent from the "snort, snort, choke, gasp" sequence of noises I would make several times at night and wake my husband,  I would snore like a sailor swears. 

My dad snored so loudly he shook the house.  I could hear him snore and gasp and snort in my bedroom upstairs and in the opposite corner of the big old farmhouse I grew up in.  He would take naps mid-afternoon if he could as he obviously had sleep apnea and never was able to really rest.  I appreciate how he felt, and I wonder if my deformation was inherited.  I've never broken my nose. 

I was happy that the surgery seemed to have worked better than I dared to hope it would.  Then it dawned on me how hard I had to fight to have this surgery and how long I lived half a life  because of something so simply, if not easily, remedied.  I think I am a little bit angry.

I asked my primary caregiver at least two years ago to have something done to check out my nose because of nosebleeds, sinus headaches, migraine and snoring.  She looked at my nasal passages and said things looked fine.  This year I asked at my check-up again.  It was with a different physician in the same university-based practice group.  He wanted me to use a steroid nasal spray and did not want to write a referral to an ENT specialist.  I insisted this time.   I'm glad I did.  I just hope it was in time to be able to undo some of the damage the deviated septum induced apnea caused.

I definitely will need to have another sleep study done to find out how my breathing really is.  In the last year my health has gotten worse and worse.  Two years ago I was diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver.  I needed to do more physical exercise and get some weight off, but I had no energy. I had enough energy to work half-time and do a bit of work on my own business, and that was about it.  If I kept up with dishes and laundry it was noteworthy,  and  I slept as much as I could and it was never enough. The diabetes diagnosis really was not what I wanted to hear.  I wanted to get the nose fixed, Ramp up the exercise and getmy weight down before I became diabetic.   It is all a chain-linked spiral.  I have to stop the cycle. 

I can breathe again.  I've lost 10 lbs. in the last month. Now to get to and from the gym without having to take a nap when I get back.  It will be ok.  But how much of this could have been avoided if my request to check out my nose had been taken seriously.  A CT scan should have been done before any thing else was decided. I'm definitely unsure how to proceed with medical assessments.  Major trust has been lost.

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