Posted by: wrmcnutt | October 12, 2010

Rooto-Rootering Your Sinuses

Well – I’ve been neglecting you guys for a while, so I decided that I would share with you a little bit of what’s on my mind.  If you’re not interested in knowing what it’s like to have your sinuses scooped out, you may want to skip this one.  As most of you know, I’m currently recovering from a procedure on my sinus cavities.  I have had a number of things done, the most obvious of which is the septoplasty. Your septum is a thin structure of bone and cartilage that forms the wall between your nasal passages.  It can get bent to one side during puberty as  your head grows, or you can be born with a deviated septum, or a bully can deviate your septum for you, during childhood or teenage years.  A deviated septum in and of itself is not uncomfortable, but can be the proximate cause of snoring, sleep apnea, and chronic sinusitis.

The surgical treatment for a deviate septum is a little grim.  First the surgeon removes the mucous membranes.  Then he cuts and breaks the septum loose, moves it to the new location, and sets it in place.  I’m not sure what’s supposed to hold it in place.  Maybe he nailed it in.  Anyway . . .

In addition to the septoplasty, I also had some ducts opened.  As near as I can tell, this involves a drill.  Apparently, prior to having this work done, I walked around with a low-level sinus infection all the time, because certain areas were unable to drain.  I never really noticed, but apparently I felt sick all the time and didn’t know it.  Hopefully this work will allow me to recover and feel better.

Then there were the nasal polyps.  Know enough about the inside of my nose, yet?  These are, for lack of a better term, blobs of tissue that fill up the sinus cavities that are supposed to stay empty.  They are supposed to be caused by sinus infections, so a reduction of those will result in a reduction in polyps, and better breathing.

During the post-op period, it’s reported that I gave them some trouble – trying to remove the packing from my nose.  Apparently, it’s a normal response:  when you can’t breath, you try to take the junk out of your nose.  Unlike my two friends who have had this work done, though, I did not have to wear my packing home.  It was removed while I was still under anesthesia.  My procedure(s) were out-patient, so I made it back to the car under my own power, but I went straight home and took pain medication. I don’t remember most of the rest of the day.  I spent most of it on preventative pain management.  I wasn’t in much pain to start with, but I figured, “Why give it a chance?”

I’m now approaching day four.  (He started cutting at noon on Friday, so day four starts at noon on Monday.)  I stopped losing fluid on day two, which is unusual.  My bride sez she thinks she’s married to Wolverine.  Apparently, when allowed to clot, I heal quickly.


I really don’t write often enough.  I’m now ten days past my surgery and no longer in any significant pain.  I’ve been off my pain meds for several days.  The only remaining therapy is to hose a pint of high volume, low pressure salt water up my nose on a twice daily basis.  The process isn’t as bad as it sounds.  But it’s not pleasant.

I’m still very early on in the recovery process, but it’s already been worth it.  Last Thursday, six days after the Great Roto-Rootering, I left the house for the first time.  My Doctor’s office is only about five miles from my house, but to get there, you go over a landscape feature called Cherokee Bluff.  This is a ridge of the southern Appalacian Mountain Range that’s a couple of hundred feet tall and moderately steep in places.  As such, it’s undeveloped, with dirt roads crossing the main road here an there.  On my way over the ridge, a scent hit my nose.

It was a combination of dust, sand, pine, leaf-mould, and a little animal musk.  It was, of course, a dusty Dixie road. I can’t speak for Southern Girls, but no man who was once a boy in this part of the country managed to grow up without that scent in his life.  Driving over that ridge with the windows open, that scent hit my nose and I was NINE again.  Mom cut me loose in the neighborhood with the admonition “Be back before dark.” That scent brought back bicycles around the block and into the woods to go up and down hills and around trees.  It doesn’t sound like much now, but trust me, in 1972, it was high adventure.  Six years later, standing at the end of the paved road with some oranges and some soda bottles, my father taught me how to handle my grandfather’s shotgun safely.  And two years after that, out on one of the barrier islands, parked off of a paved road after dark, a very kind young lady taught me something entirely different.

Incidentally, with all three of those memories hitting my head at the same time and juxtaposed, it’s a wonder I didn’t drive off of the bluff.

Man, smell is evocative.   All of those feelings from those times came rushing back and I felt the same as I did back then.  I’ve been driving over that ridge for ten years.  And I never noticed the scent.  I think I’ve been sick for a very long time.  Right now I’m still only getting whiffs and snorts, not a steady stream of sensation.  I grilled steaks a couple of days ago, and realized that I’d forgotten what steaks smelled like.  Another childhood memory:  If I’ve forgotten or not bothered to put together a marinade, I use Dad’s recipie.  Salt heavily, both sides.  Pepper heavily, both side.  Then cover with garlic powder.  All of a sudden, I was five, and Dad was teaching me how to grill.

Then I got into my van.  I’m going to have to take steps.  It smells like my grandfather’s car.  When I got into it and got a whiff of that “old car smell,”  wow.  It brought back memories of Papa, who died when I was like, 15.  But the “old car smell” has got to go.

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  1. I believe science has shown that smell is the best, most ingrained sensation memory. Welcome to a whole new look back at your life.

    Glad you’re feeling better.

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