So Here's My Life

The things we make,
the food we eat and
the shenanigans in between.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sinus Surgery, Recovery, and What I've learned

Happy December! It's hard to believe that this year is almost over. Some of you may know that I had surgery on my nose and sinuses at the beginning of the last month, but I only mentioned it briefly in a post about my closet organization ideas. This past season has been unbelievably hectic, but the month of November, even more so. Here's what you've missed in the midst of all the projects that I've posted:

When I was a teenager, I broke my nose. I went down a Slip N' Slide at a summer came and hit my face. I only have vague memories of it, but my mom told me that I told her my face hurt for several days afterward. Then when Mac was about 18 months or so, Joel was out of town for the night, and Mac started crying in early one morning around 3 AM. In my half-awaken state, I got up to check on him, and totally missed the doorway. Instead I walked straight into the wall. With my face. Next to the doorway. Totally serious. It was bad. It hurt a lot. I forgot about checking on Mac, who was no longer crying, attended to my bleeding nose, took some Ibuprofen, and went back to bed with an ice pack on my face. In addition that incident, I've had couple more separate occasions where both of my children were in a state of wild excitement while sitting on my lap, jerked backward and smacked me in the nose with their heads. Being a mom can be so dangerous. ;) Needless to say, that my nose has been in bad shape for a while.

Anyway, to make a very long story short, I get sick easily (due to allergies and asthma), and stay sick for a long time. My nose issues only exaggerate the problem. At the end of July, Mac & Cheese both got sick and were nice enough to share their germs with me. So, of course, I ended up sick - and I managed to get a sinus infection that lasted until mid-October. Seriously. I was at the doctor several times over the past couple of months and Joel and I, along with the ENT specialist finally decided the best route for recovery was surgery to fix my sinuses and a deviated septum.

sinus scans
Side by side CT scans of my sinuses 6 weeks apart. The right one was the first scan.

So, at the beginning of November, I went into for a short 45 minute procedure to fix my nose. Let me tell you, I was SO nervous. I almost started crying when the nurse called me back to get prepped. I HATE getting things done to my head - things like dental work, oral surgery, and stuff to my nose. HATE it.

The week following surgery was truly one of the most miserable times in my life and the first 3 days were the worst. I was completely congested, incredibly tired, nauseated from the medication, and coming off the anesthesia was insane. I would have these random and uncontrollable shivering episodes. So unpleasant. I was so congested (and unable to blow my nose) that I had sleep apnea and woke up frequently. Plus, the medication I was taking (a pain killer) caused anxiety. So, every time I woke up unable to breathe, it would send me into an anxiety attack, which made everything even worse. It was a continuous battle to fight through the feelings and fear of suffocation. I was lucky to get 4-6 hours of sleep each night. It was rough. Very rough. Through this, I realized how important patience was during my recovery time. I had to remind myself that I wasn't always going to feel this terrible.

post sinus surgery
One of my better moments during the first week after surgery. There must be something wrong with me for posting pictures of myself like this.

After the first week, things got better after my post-op appointment with my doctor. He removed my stints and stitches and I was finally able to breathe again. Each day has gotten better since then, especially when I reached the point when I was allowed to blow my nose again. My nose and face still ache at times and I still have some post-surgery fatigue, BUT I can breathe so much better. Huge difference. In fact, for the first couple of weeks, I caught Joel checking to see if I was still alive when I was dozing because I breathe significantly quieter now.

November has been a difficult month for me. My very patient and giving husband took off work, took care of me during this time, slept next to me on the recliner (and sometimes the floor), managed the house, took care of our rambunctious boys, and fed us. After Joel returned to work, I've done my best to stay on top of everything at home, run Mac to and from school, and make sure everyone was fed and dressed. There are a lot of things that haven't gotten done, though. Our house has been VERY messy lately. It drives me crazy, but the fatigue has kept me from accomplishing as much as I want to. I have to remind myself that this is the best that I can do at the moment - acceptance of my current situation.

Despite the conflicts I dealt with during November, I have been very blessed with amazing friends and family who provided a lot of encouragement. I had so many friends who offered watched my children, bring over food, called and texted to check on me, and one friend even surprised me with a new pair of pajamas. I am so grateful for all of my friends and family. It meant so much to hear from them during my recovery.

Through all of it, though, I have learned a lot about patience, acceptance and gratitude. Life definitely has its hard moments, but during these moments, it's important to figure out what you can learn. It's also important to watch a marathon of TV series. My TV marathon of choice was Downton Abbey. Oh, how I love that show.

What have you learned through your difficult experiences?

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