A few weeks ago, I decided to finally go through...
A few weeks ago, I decided to finally go through with the septoplasty/rhinoplasty that I've wanted for years. I've been reading the reviews here obsessively and researching surgeons ever since, but I wanted to start sharing my story in case it can help anyone the way that so many of you have helped me!
I've had a lot of nose-related incidents in my life - when I was 3, I was on the floor and my cousin fell on my head, breaking my nose. When I was around 12 or 13, I slammed face-first into a wall during a game of tag (yup) and hurt it badly again. As if all that wasn't bad enough, when I was 17, I tripped during track practice and fell face-first, hard, breaking my nose again. That was the incident that finally sent me to the ENT, who confirmed that my septum was deviated and that I would probably want to get it fixed at some point. He then said something which has completely haunted me ever since - "You're a pretty girl, but if you'd just let me shave off that bump, you'd be MUCH prettier." It's true, but it hurt a lot at the time, and I swore that I would go through life with my ugly nose just to spite him.
Well, almost a decade later, and I've changed my mind. I'm sick of feeling self-conscious about my "bad side" in pictures. When I'm walking with someone, I like to be on their right because I'm fairly deaf in my right ear, but then I worry that they're going to be wondering how I ended up with such a hideous nose! I'm finally at a point where I can comfortably pay for the cosmetic portion of the surgery, and I have a job that will let me take a week or more of paid sick time.
I'm still deciding on a doctor. I will likely stay local, since I have quite a few in-network doctors to choose from in Buffalo. All I want is to straighten my nose out and get rid of the bump - should be pretty easy, right?
I scheduled my consult with Dr. Sherris today - sadly he doesn't have anything open until March 9th! I'll just have to be patient.
Less than a month until my consult!
March 9th still feels so far away! I don't want to wish the time away, but I just want it to go a little faster! It's funny - I was okay with my nose for years, but now that I'm finally in a position to get it fixed, I'm getting SO impatient. I just want to get it done already!
I have to admit that I'm starting to get a little nervous about a few things. I'm afraid that what I want is too subtle - if for some reason my nose can't be straightened out, I'm going to be super bummed, because it'll be a lot of money just to get a small bump shaved down. I'm also terrified of the recovery period - I haven't taken more than 10 days off from running in the last five years, and it definitely keeps me sane. I'm a little nervous that I'll have a meltdown after 4+ weeks off (and I'm a little sad that I'm going to get out of shape). Plus, the fact that my nose will be swollen for months is a little scary. I'm afraid that I'll do something to hurt it again, and I'm also afraid that it's going to be completely obvious to my coworkers and other people who I don't really want to tell.
I hate that I just said the words "nervous" and "afraid" so many times - I'm a worrier, but I'm sure that talking to Dr. Sherris will put me at ease. He really seems to be the best in the business here in Buffalo, and I'm sure he'll do a great job. I really don't think I'll regret anything once it's all said and done.
I added a couple more pictures (from terrible angles, ugh!) that show how crooked my nose is. I never thought to take a picture from underneath until I saw people doing it here - I was shocked to see just how closed off my right nostril is! No wonder I have trouble breathing.
I had my consultation today with Dr. Sherris! It went super well! I’ll try to describe it in detail, but if anyone sees this who is interested in going to Dr. Sherris, just let me know if you have any questions!
I arrived for my 11:00 appointment about five minutes early. The office is located in a very nice stretch of Delaware Ave., and there’s plenty of parking behind the building. The office itself is really beautiful and cozy.
When I made my appointment seven weeks ago, Lisa followed up by sending me some paperwork to fill out ahead of time (basic medical history, insurance information, etc.). When I got to the office today, I signed in, filled out another form relating to privacy/medical records, and forked over my insurance card and $20 co-pay. They were running slightly behind, but I was taken back around 11:15.
The entire consultation took about an hour. Dr. Sherris’ assistant (whose name I’m completely blanking on!) took my vitals and gave me a smell test, and then Dr. Sherris came in and did a brief exam. I could tell right away that he knows his stuff – he pretty much instantly identified that my septum is deviated to both sides (although it’s worse to the right) as a result of breaking my nose. He numbed my nasal passages and poked around the inside of my nose a bit with a lighted scope and two little sticks while asking me some questions about my breathing and sinuses. He said that I am a PERFECT candidate for septorhinoplasty and even asked if he could take some pictures of the whole consultation process for a talk that he’s giving soon! That was pretty entertaining.
After the mini-exam, we moved to a different room for the mugshot pictures and before-and-after morphs. He did this pretty quickly, but he showed me the changes that he would make if I decide to do the rhinoplasty portion (rotating the tip, straightening the curve out as much as possible, and shaving down the bump). I didn’t think to ask to take a picture of the morphs, but the change was really beautiful and VERY natural-looking – just a nice, straight bridge (not that there’s anything wrong with wanting a little ski-slope nose, but I don’t think it would look right on me!). He explained that the morphed results should be very achievable, but that he might not be able to get my nose perfectly straight since cartilage can be stubborn. He also showed me some before-and-after pictures from previous patients with similar noses. (They were the same pictures from his website, but it was nice to see full-sized versions.)
Dr. Sherris then talked me through the basics of the surgery (two hours, outpatient at one of two hospitals on a Tuesday or Thursday) and the recovery (cast and splints for a week, no blood-thinning medications before or after surgery, no glasses for a month) and gave me a packet with some more information. I was relieved to see that he only asks patients to take two weeks off from light exercise, since that was something that I was worried about. (I just got into the NYC Marathon, which is in November, and I don’t want my training to get too derailed!)
Dr. Sherris told me that my insurance miiight pay for the cosmetic portion of the surgery since my nose is visibly crooked. Apparently it’s very helpful that I went to an ENT and had x-rays taken right after I broke my nose back in 2007. Without x-rays from the time of the injury, they definitely will NOT cover anything cosmetic. He took down my old ENT’s information, and his assistant had me fill out a form to allow them to request my medical records.
Lisa came back in and walked me through the pre-surgery medical requirements (a physical, bloodwork, and pregnancy test, all coordinated by the hospital where I will get the surgery). She also walked me through the worst-case scenario quote, which was for about $5,500. She told me that they will get my medical records from my old ENT and submit everything to my health insurance company. The insurance company will get back to the doctor’s office in 2-3 weeks with a determination of what they will and will not pay for, and then we’ll talk dates for the surgery.
I feel like I’m in really capable hands with Dr. Sherris, and I had a great experience today – everyone was really warm and friendly, and I felt really well taken care of. I also never felt like they were pushing me into anything, unlike the experience I had years ago with my old ENT. I know most people go to more than one doctor for a consultation, but I feel like Dr. Sherris is my guy. I’m really looking forward to hearing back about the final cost and figuring out when I can get this thing done!
My health insurance pre-authorization came in today, and they're covering the whole procedure! I scheduled my pre-op appointment for May 11th, and my surgery will be on May 31st. I am SO excited!
The timing couldn't be better - it's just a couple days after my upcoming marathon, and I'll have plenty of time (~5 weeks) to recover before I have to start training for the NYC Marathon. It's also timed perfectly between a couple of work trips and a vacation, so I'll be able to take a full week off (and maybe more, if I need it) to rest and recuperate. I know it's not a minor procedure and that I'm heading toward a long road of swelling and such, but I couldn't be more excited to get the dang thing done.
19 Days to Go!
Yesterday I had my final pre-surgery appointment! I got detailed recovery instructions, they gave me a bottle of arnica pills, and the doctor submitted my scrips for antibiotics and pain killers. I also filled out my HIPAA list and signed some paperwork saying that the doctor has my permission to perform the septorhinoplasty.
I also made an appointment for my pre-surgery testing yesterday, which will be first thing on the 24th. I'll be getting some blood work and a pregnancy test.
I think I'm ready! I have a neck pillow, topical arnica cream, mouth spray, saline spray for my nose, hydrogen peroxide and q-tips, and neosporin. Any last-minute tips? I barely had any questions for my doctor, but I feel pretty well-prepared after all my research. I'm nervous but excited to get it over with!
Here are a few more before pictures. I'll try to take afters from the same angles to compare!
Pre-surgical testing done!
Had my pre-surgical testing this morning at the hospital. I got a quick physical and had some blood work done, which was vaguely unpleasant. I also went through a ridiculously thorough medical history and confirmed some contact information.
I think I'm all set with supplies - I added round gel bead ice packs, Afrin nose spray, and straws to my already-large stash of supplies - q-tips, hydrogen peroxide, neosporin, arnica cream and tablets (which I start on Sunday), pain meds, antibiotics, steroid pack for swelling, mouth spray, saline nose spray, lots of pillows, and face wipes. I also have some jello, pudding, yogurt, saltines, and applesauce for the first day or two. I also may or may not have acquired a Forever Lazy onesie for recovery. Don't tell anyone or I'll never live it down! ;)
I also wrote up all my pre- and post-op instructions broken down by day in one Evernote so I don't forget anything. I think I'm ready, although the timing still leaves me feeling a bit overwhelmed (a week after an exhausting trip to Disney, two days after a marathon, and three weeks before a big work trip). It's the only time that I could have fit it in before November, so I'll just have to deal, but it's stressing me out a little. I'm just trying to focus on how happy I'll be once it's done and I'm recovered.
Alright, I'm out until the 31st! Next time I update, it'll be done!
31 May 2016
Day of treatment
I'll write more later, but I'm all done! Waiting to get wheeled out to the car and head home. I'm not feeling too bad at the moment but I did need extra pain meds for a bad headache when I woke up.
First, a little more detail about yesterday: my procedure was at 7:30, and I arrived two hours early as directed. I got checked in and waited about a half hour before being taken to a bed. I changed into my gown and did my urine test (what a relief - I really had to pee by that point)! They took my vitals and went through some more health history questions and took my health care proxy form before the transporter guy came to take me to the pre-op area.
I said goodbye to my dad and was wheeled into a bay in the pre-op area. I had to wait a good half hour before the nurse anesthetist came, and my anxiety was really out of control. I couldn't see anything without my glasses, and I was getting really worked up over the procedure. I'm terrible with needles, so listening to the other patients around me getting their IVs inserted was seriously freaking me out. Luckily, everything was downhill from there. The nurse anesthetist came and got my IV going, and my doctor and the anesthesiologist also greeted me. I was wheeled into the operating room and they had me scoot onto the table from my cot. The anesthesiologist held the breathing tube thing up to my mouth, and I was out within a couple breaths.
I woke up in the recovery area two hours later, and it took another two hours before I was able to leave. They put an anti-nausea medicine in my IV, and I broke out into a ridiculous sweat. I also heard them talking about a rash that I broke out in during the surgery, saying that it was starting to go away. They had me rest for a while and sip some water, then they had me slowly get up to use the restroom. I got very lightheaded, so I had to rest for a bit longer. They gave me a hydrocodone for my headache, and then I was able to get changed and wait for my wheelchair ride to my dad's truck. All in all, it took about six hours.
I slept for most of yesterday and last night, getting up every 4-5 hours for food and medicine and water and saline spray. I had quite a bit of bleeding yesterday (the anti-nausea medicine must have helped, because I never felt nauseous despite swallowing a bunch of blood), but it seems to have stopped today. I'm still using a drip guard just in case.
It hasn't been painful, just uncomfortable. It definitely helps that I have a very comfy setup on the couch at my parents' house, so I've been getting really good rest/sleep.
Today, my bruising and swelling is a little worse. I'm keeping up with the arnica cream and tablets, so hopefully it won't get too much worse.
I was able to clean the sutures and very inside of my nostrils today, and that helped make me a little more comfortable. I can already tell that I'm going to be able to breathe better through my right nostril!
Day 2 was more of the same - lots of sleep and Netflix with breaks for medicine and arnica and cleaning out my nose. I'm probably not going as high as I should be with the q tips, but it makes me a little nervous, so I'm just taking it slow for now. The bruising seems to have hit its peak and is getting a little better.
I'm going to try to switch to regular Tylenol starting tomorrow. The pain is pretty minimal at this point, and I think the hydrocodone is overkill.
I really need to figure out a way to wash my hair - a bath, maybe? Or maybe I'll just have my mom help me. I haven't felt this gross in ages!
Ventured outside today for the first time and went back to my apartment from my parents' house. Feeling weirdly emotional today - possibly from coming off of the hydrocodone?
Feeling mostly fine at this point, although I'm definitely still congested and uncomfortable. The cast is getting sooo itchy and gross feeling - I can't wait until it comes off!
Got my cast off this morning! Getting the stents and sutures out was highly unpleasant - I got super lightheaded and sweaty and had to lay down for a while after. The nurse was sweet, though, and super gentle. I did a terrible job of cleaning my nose (I tried, I really did!), and it felt amazing to have all the crusty gunk gone. I can breathe wonderfully through both nostrils! It's definitely still very sensitive, and the tip and my upper lip are both still numb (hence the death glare in the photos - I swear I'm happy!). It's so awesome to finally have the cast off.
The swelling is most definitely real, and I have some residual bruising - I went back to work, and I'm definitely hiding out until I get better concealer. I was upfront about the surgery, and no one is acting like I'm a hideous she-beast, so I don't think it's too terrible.
Anyway, I am THRILLED with the results, especially the profile. Dr. Sherris did a beautiful job!
Swelling starting to go down
Alright, so I'm really starting to feel a lot better now! In hindsight I wish I had arranged for about 10 days off from work, but it hasn't been too bad. I've fessed up about my surgery to a lot of people since I sound terrible still due to the congestion. I found out that a lot of people have had the same thing done! Everyone's been pretty nice about it.
The swelling has gone down quite a bit already. It definitely leans to whatever side I slept on the night before. I'm trying to alternate sides every night so it doesn't get too unbalanced, ha.
One big issue - I'm still getting insane crusting. I almost can't breathe through my nose from the junk, even though it was perfectly clear when I left the office on Tuesday. The nurse at the surgeon's office told me that I should try not to use q-tips anymore, but the crusts aren't budging even with lots of saline spray and the occasional q-tipping with hydrogen peroxide. Not sure what to do other than to wait it out or make another appointment at the office. Any tips?
Feeling like myself again
I'd say I'm pretty much 100 percent recovered at this point. I have tiny bruises left that are visible in certain lights, and I still have a little crusting (although it's slowly getting better with tons of saline spray), but my nose isn't really tender anymore, and I'm starting to get feeling back in the tip. The swelling is really not bad at all, and it's getting better every day. I drank last night and again today (wine tasting!) and have gone back to my normal diet, and I haven't noticed any extra swelling.
Definitely still very happy with my decision. I wouldn't want to have to do it again, but I can already tell that it's going to be such a confidence booster (and being able to breathe well is amazing). I feel more like myself now, if that makes sense - this is the face I should have had if I hadn't broken my nose as a kid and again as a teenager, and it just feels right! Super, super happy.
Two month update
28 Jul 2016
2 months post
So the honeymoon phase is over, and I'm finding myself less than 100 percent satisfied by my results. I know that it takes time, so I'm trying to remind myself to be patient. And looking at my before pictures, there's definitely a big aesthetic improvement, so I will try to put my perfectionist tendencies away and focus on that. Having said that, my concerns are:
- I have noticed a bad odor from my nose at times. The nurse warned me that this would happen, but I have never heard of anyone else having that happen, and I'm concerned that something is awry up there (an infection??).
- I have quite a bit of scar tissue just inside my nostrils, and I'm not sure if that will improve over time.
- My septum cartilage appears to be bending back to its original position. I knew that was a possibility since its stubborn, but it's still disappointing, since I was hoping for better breathing through my right nostril.
- I am still quite swollen around the point where the curve of my nostrils meets the bridge of my nose. It feels like there is a hard bump there on both sides, and I really have no idea what it is and it's freaking me out.
- Despite keeping up with the saline spray, my nose is SO dry all the time. I wake up practically choking on crap in my throat every day with my nose painfully dry.
I think I'm going to try to schedule another follow up with my surgeon after I come back from vacation. I'm trying not to obsess, but I'm starting to feel like it wasn't worth it, and it's bumming me out. Hoping some of these issues resolve with more time.