week 8/52 — coming up for air

Today it no longer feels like someone with large hands is squeezing my face like they’re palming a basketball.

Huzzah, as they say on THE GREAT.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve never been able to breathe out of my left nostril.  That tiny little hole may as well not have existed for all the good it’s done me.  Occasionally, if I pushed on my left maxillary sinus — the one below my eye — with my thumb, in the right way, I could breathe through my left nostril a little bit.  And, god it would be amazing.  Feeling air coursing through both nostrils was like taking a party drug.  But as soon as I’d stop pushing on my face — no más aire.  When I finally went to see an ENT about it last year, he took one look and said, “Oh yeah, now that is a deviated septum.”

Being unable to breathe out of both nostrils, while not great, has always been manageable, at least for most of my life.  It never even really occurred to me that what I was experiencing was not a normal person’s experience.  But the last year or so, a lifetime of shitty breathing started presenting me with some health issues, and one day I asked Jess, “Are you able to breathe out of both sides of your nose?”

“Uh, yeah,” she said.

“Hmm…” I said.

Which takes us to last Friday, when I finally had surgery to undeviate my deviated septum.  While I was in pre-op they administered a steroid through my IV that the nurse said caused “pelvic flushing” in 99% of people who received it.  I asked her what she meant by “pelvic flushing,” but she couldn’t get more specific.  I was actually disappointed to discover I was in the 1% for this one.

The procedure went fine.  The surgeon did some septum slicing and rearranged some cartilage, then jammed some splints and packing up in my face to help things heal and make sure my nose wouldn’t collapse in on itself, a horrifying thought.

The recovery period has gone as well as expected.  Some lovely black nasal drip the first couple of days, so I had to wear a piece of gauze taped below my nose to catch it.  A ton of pressure in my face, making my head ache and, weirdly, my upper teeth hurt.  (This last because there is a nerve running from the nose to the front teeth, and it gets bruised during the procedure.  It’s fascinating how interconnected our bodies are.)  Like I noted at the beginning, today is the first day where I don’t feel awful.  I’ve spent the last couple of days mostly sleeping and watching horror movies.

I go in on Thursday to have the splints and packing removed from my nose.  I was curious what that process would be like, so I watched a video on YouTube.  It’s like that scene in TOTAL RECALL where Quaid yanks out the huge-ass metal tracker from inside his nose.  I’m okay with that, just like I’m okay with this new trauma likely causing some more swelling and pain for another day or so.  My eye — nose? — is firmly on the prize of being able to fully breathe for the first time in… well, ever.

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