Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Adventures at the ENT - Part 1

For about 8 years or so now, I have struggled with chronic sinus issues. If I cry - I get congested for a day. If I stir up too much dust - sinus headache. 2 glasses of wine? Dry sinuses and discomfort (if I don't have enough water afterwards). Change in weather? Pain and congestion. Pollen time? Ouchies. If it's not one thing wreaking havoc on my sinuses, it's another. 

In December 2009, I had a bout of really annoying sinus problems that wouldn't quit. I went to my doctor and she advised that it was not an infections, she renewed my script for Flonase, and sent me on my way with instructions to call back if (this is gross) the color of my snot changed. It did, so I called back and went in. She looked again, and $20.00 later she advised that I had no infection. This time though she gave me another tool to tackle the old sinus issue and advised I continue to take decongestants and Advil to reduce the swelling in my sinuses (which theoretically would relieve pressure). It all began to work right around Christmas.

About a week ago, they started up again in full force. Yicky snot, etc. So I started up my routine again of the Sinus Rinse, Flonase, Sudafed PE Non-Drying Sinus, Advil, and a humidifier at night. Three days later I had a sinus headache that hurt so badly that I had a hard time getting out of bed. Clearly, the myriad of things that I am taking to treat the symptoms are not doing their job to the best of their capacity.

Two days after that I had a persistent enough sinus headache that I decided it was time to call an ENT (ears, nose, throat) specialist, or an otorhinolaryngologist. A doctor who dedicates their entire life to relieving the pain and suffering of those whose upper respiratory system gives them nothing but trouble. I got a couple of recommendations on Facebook, and set up an appointment with Dr. William Postal at Andover Ear, Nose, and Throat Center.

Here's where I have to make the confession that I went into the appointment nervous to begin with. I had heard enough about sinus surgeries, polyps, and deviated septum surgery to legitimately shake me up a bit before I made the appointment. I've never had any sort of surgery done EVER - not a tooth extraction. The closest I've ever had to surgery was stitches in my knee after a car accident I was passenger in. So yes - I was nervous while I sat in the waiting room.

The very friendly Russian nurse/secretary woman brought me into the examination room and advised that I should sit in the chair. I waited, and Dr. Postal came in, introduced himself, and asked me a few questions about the issues I have. He took a look in my ears with some contraption that puffed air into them, opened my nasal cavities up with what I can only describe as mini-forceps to take a peek, and looked down my throat with a popsicle stick.

First look diagnosis: Chunky tonsils (whatever that means, he didn't seem too concerned) and a deviated septum. On a deviated septum 0-4 scale of severity, I'm at about a 2. Again - he didn't seem too concerned.

He then shakes up a nasal spray container and informs me he's going to shoot NOVOCAINE up my nose. Yes. NOVOCAINE. Why? So that he could numb it up and take a look with a scope.

I got a little bit nervous.

Then the very sweet Russian nurse knocked on the door, said "Oh yes! You're by yourself!", exited the room, and returned with this:

THAT is a flexible fiberoptic nasal scope. THAT is what the nice doctor intended to shove up my nose to "take a look".

As I felt the back of my throat and back of my nose go numb, the good doctor came back in the room and proceeded to unceremoniously shove said scope up my nose. Talk about an eye-watering experience. It didn't hurt, but it wasn't comfortable whatever he was touching was making my eyes water something fierce.

I didn't care. I want to know why the heck I keep getting sinus headaches.

Scope and Novocaine Diagnosis: No signs of polyps (yay!), no immediate signs of infection.

Next steps: CT Scan to see if I have signs of chronic low-grade infections or other signs of inflammation that he couldn't see with the crazy nasal scope. Depending on how that goes, probably a meeting with an allergist to see what I'm allergic to. He seems to think that it's related to some sort of dust or mold or other allergies. I've never had a CT scan and from what I understand the allergy test is a bajillion little needles with allergens in them.

I look at it this way: It's a way for me to get over my fears. I'm afraid of medical proceedings in general and especially of needles. And hopefully at the end of it, I'll have a bit more insight into whatever is going on with my sinuses all the time.


Marie said...

Sounds like a fun time was had by all. CT scans aren't anything to worry over, I found that and the MRI I had for my knee to be pretty fascinating.

And yeah, facing/getting over fears is a b-- er, pain in the rear, but pays off in the end. And needles, however distasteful, are a fact of (medical) life, and just can't be avoided (unless I suppose you move to Jamaica and can make do wit da voodoo). Western medicine does like its needles.

Cara said...

My eyes watered just from your description!!

Laura Haven said...

All of my aches and pains, as well as stuffyness went away the minute we landed in aruba... maybe that is the answer?? If so, we will move there with you...! ;)