Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The nose knows

In lieu of my many and frequently reoccurring sinus infections, I finally saw an ENT specialist today. While sitting in the waiting room, I briefly pondered why someone would choose to become ENT doctor. After all - looking through people's various orifices doesn't seem all that appealing.

Then again, if given the option I would choose Ear-Nose-Throat over gynecology any day. Or rectal stuff...yikes! That being said, I would (hands down) pick gynecology over podiatry . We all know how much I hate feet (involuntary shudder).

News flash: if you weren't aware of it - I hate feet. Hate hate hate. Yes, hate is a strong word, but it doesn't begin to describe how I feel about those things we walk on. Even my own. I had a pedicure once and that was plenty. I forgot how many times I apologized to the lady working on my toes (major involuntary shudder!).

Other people's feet are even worse. So please, please don't be offended if I gag at the sight of your bare feet. My stomach isn't all that great when it comes to this stuff, and my gag reflex is non-existent.

Bottom line, I'm happy to not be in medicine, thank you very much. There are just way way too many gross things. But I digress...

Where were we? Oh yes...the nose. ENT. My sinuses. Loveley!

After filling out a few forms and waiting a minute or two in the waiting room, I was lead back to the doctor's office. I was expecting a regular exam room - but I guess those ENT people do things a little bit differently.

The doctor was already in the room, looking - as it turned out - at a copy of my sinus CT scan taken last November. Usually CT stuff fascinates me; after my back surgery, I was mesmerized by the plethora of MRIs and CT scans. There's something just fascinating about seeing yourself from a totally different perspective.

It's like - woa! That's me! That's what my septum looks like! Sure... a little crooked... but neat-o!

However, my attention wasn't drawn towards the computer. Not one bit. Instead...I saw...the tools.


Tools of the Ear-Nose-Throat trade, so to speak.

I can't tell you exactly what they were - but they had an ominous look about them. There were maybe 30 or 40 of them, all lined up according to size and thickness. They were all impossibly long - longer than the average nose. And while some looked thin and pointy, others were thicker and still, just as pointy. I couldn't tell if they were flexible or not. They seemed too metal-like to have any flexible properties, but they were unfathomably long. But ALL of them - regardless of thickness - seemed destined for one orifice.

The Human Nose.


In all honesty, when I saw them I stopped, paused for a millisecond. I may have even stuttered; I can't remember clearly.

They all looked - (for lack of a better word) - icky.

...As in, ancient-Egyptian-brain-removal-hook-for-mummification-preparation-icky...

...As in, stick-the-impossibly-long-prod-up-the-nose-through-the-bone-into-the-brain-and-scramble-things-around-while-the-brain-leaks-out-the-nose...ICKY.

And before I could help it, my hands got sweaty.

Now I should say - I'm pretty good (now) at controlling my nerves. My hands rarely get sweaty...in the past its been things like college exams, violin recitals, and thirty seconds before the start of a race. Presently, only rock climbing and race starts make my hands sweat. And I've honestly never had an aversion to medical instruments.

Until today.

By the time I sat down in the overly push chair (in attempt to relax you into distraction, I'm sure), right next to the ominous instrument tray, my hands were a damp mess. I left marks on my pants. Yeah - I was that sweaty. And that was before the doctor checked my sinuses and told me the news.

According to the CT scan, my sinuses are interesting. Yes, those were the doctor's words: interesting. Their shape is fine - the way they wind around above my teeth and from one ear to the other...Good! Great. Move on - tell me more I thought.

However...the problem was their size. My sinus openings are really, really small. This in turn is not letting fluid and other crud drain properly, thus causing a build up of bacteria and other things that don't belong stuck in one's sinus cavity. Additionally, I seem to be retaining some unknown fluid on the left side, in one of my sinus pockets.


Swollen ankles - I'm used to dealing with. Give me some compression socks, an elevated spot to put up the feet, and cool-ish weather...and my lower limbs look normal. Nothing like the post-Ironman cankles. Those were not pleasant.

But now - my left sinus cavities are - holding fluid...???

I swear to you - I looked from the CT scan to the doctor, to the CT scan to the tray of ominous-looking instruments, and back to the doctor again.

She didn't miss a beat; I'm sure she gets the same deer-in-headlight look all the time. In fact - I'm sure that she jokes with her fellow ENT colleagues about the looks of horror that cross her patients faces when they suddenly realize exactly what and how the tray of instruments will be inserted into their person.

It dawned on me...at some point - unless I wanted to continue fighting sinus infections 3-4X per year - I would have to get one of those icky-evil-yucky looking probes stuck up my nose.

Suddenly I realized in comparison: I love feet. I love feet I love feet I love feet! Feet aren't the enemy, or something to be afraid of! Sinus Tools ARE. I love feet. I hate Sinus Tools!

My hands were soaking wet. And my doctor hadn't yet broken the really special news.

We continued to discuss the many options. I've already been on too many courses of antibiotics, have taken oral and allergy medication, have faithfully used the Neti Pot, have ingested more Sudafed than I'd like to admit - and still, without fail... Every time I catch a cold, it becomes a horrible, green-snot-producing, sinus-pressure-headache-from-h-e-l-l, teeth hurting from the pressure, knock-me-on-my-backside-for-two-weeks illness.

And I'm tired of it.

I've dealt with sinus infections all of my life. Enough is enough.

I looked again at the tray of instruments and nodded my head when she recommended surgery. I've explored all my options, and my CT scan is proof that my sinuses are NOT ideally shaped. And though I'm terrified of the mere thought of what the procedure entails, I just don't want to fight another sinus infection.

We chatted some more and I ignored the instruments next to my person. I swear, they were mocking me - calling my name in an effort to make me look at them. Again. And yes, my hands remained drenched for the rest of the appointment.

Eventually the doc sprayed a bit of mist up my nose in preparation for a quick exam. While we waited for the local anesthetic to kick in, we talked. I have no recollection of our conversation. I was too hung of on the words 'local anesthetic'.

As in...let me numb your nose so you won't feel a thing... I would have run out of the room as fast as possible if she was wearing a witch hat and had a wart on her nose. I've been working on a little bit of run speed and power - I can be fast over short distances.

The Sinus Tools were calling, I swear!

Yes, I was loosing sensation in my nasal passages. And I visibly gagged when she pulled out the "small" scope to examine the tops of my sinuses.

But I cooperated, REMAINED CALM (in spite of every fiber of my being screaming at me to RUN RUN RUN), closed my eyes, and let her push the probe up my nose.

At this point, my leg - beneath my pants - was soaked. No - I didn't wet myself. My hands were just turning into their own self-sustaining hydration system.

Yikes! I tried to not peek behind my closed eyes. The sight wouldn't have been good.

Luckily, I could feel no pain. Just pressure. And as it wasn't any worse than my sinus infections of late - I could deal. As long as I didn't think about what was being done to my person. I kept my eyes shut and tried to not think about the violation of my nose.

Mind over matter mind over matter mind over matter. Find a happy place! Find a happy place! Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, what do we do, we swim, swim, swim. You're gonna need a bigger boat. ...You've beaten my giant, which means you're exceptionally strong so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you also beat my Spaniard, which means you must have studied. And in studying you learned that man is mortal, and you would have put the wine as far away from yourself as possible. So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me...

In the end, I thought of movie quotes. "Finding Nemo", "Jaws", and my favorite, "The Princess Bride" did the trick. And before I knew it, she had removed her scope and I was left with slightly watery eyes and one violated nose.

We discussed a few surgery dates and - to my horror - I mentioned that I had a few upcoming races and I was afraid the surgery would get in the way of my training and racing schedule. I suppose the local anesthetic had destroyed my natural brain filter. Oops. Oh well.

As it was, the downtime involved with a procedure like mine, was projected for ten or so days. The doctor gave me a quick look and a laugh, and said that she understood.

I ignored the Sinus Tools sitting next to me, and ticked off a few dates in my head. Ideally, I would have the surgery done as soon as possible - but it was all contingent on her surgical schedule and available appointments. I didn't want to seem rude or ungrateful - she could have dismissed my case and told me to deal with my too-small sinuses, fluid cavity, and slightly deviated septum.

But she (and her Sinus Tools) didn't. Instead she told me that whenever I was ready and whenever my schedule would allow, I could have the surgery.


And as it turned out - the Sinus Gods were smiling in my favor. I'm booked for February 17th...with my pre-surgical appointment set for this Thursday. I'll continue to think HAPPY THOUGHTS and ignore any and all Sinus Surgical Tools that I may come across. Not that I'm looking for them or anything. BUT. I think its safe to say that I'll ignore the evil-looking-instrument-tray on Thursday. One more glimpse of those 8-inch tools...and I may just have to run out of the room screaming.

My run speed has gotten better and I could probably make it to the stairwell before they really realized what had happened. But hopefully it won't come to that. Until then...My nose knows what's about to happen. But as long as I don't think about it - everything should be a-okay.



As long as she doesn't show up sporting the mask of Anubis, I'll be okay. Okay? Okay. Find a happy place!


ADC said...

Oh, I am sure you will be fine. Just imagine that once the surgery is done you will not have to deal with any of your sinus problems again. How about that?!

Beth said...

Oh I'm right with you Marit - just thinking about it = GAG!!! Major GAG!!!! BUT, but...just think how much better once it's all over and done with! Get that surgery done and out of the way and then there will be happiness and no more sinus tools! ;) Remember, September is a long way away. ;)

Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete said...

You are going to do great, lady! I totally agree with ADC that you won't have to go through all the sinus problems that you have in the past! Just think: Your life is going to be 10 times better after the surgery!

Maria said...

Hahaha, Marit, you're funny! I love the switch from hating feet to loving them.
I'm glad to hear the surgery is scheduled sooner rather than later, I hope it's the magic trick to healing everything!

Angela and David Kidd said...

That's great that you have surgery scheduled. No more sinus infections will be fantastic! But I'm with you, some of those instruments really freak me out.

D said...


t-odd said...

At least there were no pictures, but I still feel a little "funny."

TriGirl Kate O said...

Love the Princess Bride quotes! They always will get you through a tough day. When Jim was 3 he had a nasty, stinky nose. Turns out he had a piece of paper stuck way up in there. I had no idea there was such a thing as a "nose speculum." Poor kid. They strapped him in a papoose and tried hard to keep his head still as they fished around to get it out. First he was yelling "Mommy!" and when I couldn't come to his aid he started yelling "Gammie!" (my mom!) They couldn't get it out, but it did come out over dinner a few nights later when he laughed while drinking milk, and the milk came out his nose, along w/ the piece of paper!

Ah, the joys of motherhood. Glad you'll be doing the surgery thing and getting it taken care of once and for all.

Kim said...

Holy Cow Marit.. You're getting sinus surgery. I think you are brave and you are doing the right thing for the long run. You might as well save yourself how many sinus infections/down and out feeling days in the future! Don't be scared.. everything will be fine and you'll recover very quickly!! Thinking of you.. hope you had fun with Chadly!

Kim said...

did i miss what's gonna happen in the sinus surgery? regardless of it being yucky, this will help you in the long run - it's like me and my wisdom teeth :) so we have to suck it up, be brave, and then we can celebrate when we are good and healthy again :)

GoBigGreen said...

I think JenC had something like this ! I am 100% sure it willbe a good thing long run. you are a young puppy and need to be able to breathe:)

Runner Leana said...

Wow, I wasn't so sure I should have been eating while I was reading your post! I'm not sure what exactly surgery entails, but it sounds like it is definitely the right thing to do. I'm sure it will help you out so much in the long run as fighting sinusitis all the time cannot be a fun experience. I am glad you were able to get in so quickly!

MM said...

Wow. Good luck with the surgery. They wanted me to have that in college and I said no. I'm too much of a wimp.

Kristi said...

A newbie to your blog....cracks me up. :)

I had the same problem....very small openings in the sinuses, so very little drainage. Just like you, every cold I had turned into a sinus infection. About 4 years ago, as part of another surgery, I had the sinus openings widened. And...knock wood...I've had 1 or 2 sinus infections since! Definitely worth it.

Speedy recovery!

Ange said...

oh man...so sorry you have to have Sinus surgery!!! Ugh! But this should help and 10 days is Nothing in the big picture. :) (for the record, I HATE Hate hate feet too!!! they're nasty. my kid's feet were adorable when they were babies...but as they get big...well... you know)
Jen Cunane had sinus surgery too...maybe check with her to see if it's the same?

ojs said...

I was squirming in my seat for the remainder of the blog after you mentioned the sinus tools. Whoa! Hope things turn out well with the surgery!

Trigirlpink said...

Oh Marit.... You will be fine.
Sinus tools and all. Just think, you will be able to BREATH better and no more icky antibiotics.
You'll be up and running before you know it.

...and no searching around the internet about your surgery. ;-)

Mer! said...

I had to skip over the part about hating feet...I hate them too and just reading about them while eating made me want to almost throw up.....so I only read 80% of your post =0.

I had NO idea they stuck things up your nose to figure out what is up with sinuses...YUCK....ugh...you did good....sweaty hands and all!!

Dave suggested you come stay with us if you want if Nate is out of town!?? We'd LOVE IT! And Soren goes to bed at 7:00..I PROMISE!! And only wakes up once!!

Seriously..we'd love to have you and I can take care of you!! =0

BTW: love the new pics and "thoughts" on the pics of your sidebar!!

jennabul said...

I have very similar sinus issues. So I can definitely relate. The one ENT I saw said he couldn't guarantee surgery would solve my problems. After reading your blog today, I think it might be time for a second opinion. Especially since I think I am getting another sinus infection...Best of luck with your surgery!!!!

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