The last major step in my septoplasty was having the splints removed from my nose. My doctor usually does this four or five days post-surgery in cases like mine, but since four days out was on New Year’s Day, when his office would be closed, he very nicely arranged for me to come in on December 31 so I wouldn’t have to have the splints in any longer than necessary.
Boy, was I ready for them to come out by the 31st. They were not comfortable.
When I was shown back for my appointment, the nurse sprayed local anesthetic up my nose just like last time. I don’t know whether I was more prepared for it or whether the splints were making it impossible for me to smell anything, but the taste of the anesthetic didn’t seem as bad. She also put a paper bib around my neck just like they do at the dentist, only she called it “my Superman cape.” I suspected it was there to keep blood from spattering all over my shirt, which wasn’t reassuring.
This is what I would WANT my Superman cape to look like.
A couple minutes later, after the anesthetic had time to work, the doctor came in. I smiled and said hello, and he said that if his surgery patients were smiling, it meant that they had used the nasal rinse like they were supposed to. If they hadn’t used the rinse, they really weren’t in the mood for smiling.
Gold star! That was the first time I’d been glad I’d used the rinse.
“Well, let’s get those out of there,” he said, after looking in my nose (speaking of which, I’m sure the money is nice, but I wouldn’t want his job).
First he reached up into each nostril and pulled out some stitches that I didn’t even realize were there. Then he grabbed a tool that looked like a pair of pliers, stuck it up my nose, and yanked. The yanking didn’t feel very nice despite the anesthetic, and I was very, very grateful that they’d given me the spray first.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the ends of the splints came down very close to my nostrils, so I’d been able to see a tiny bit of them in the mirror if I’d tilted my head back to look (which of course I had, being the curious person that I am). The piece that I’d been able to see looked like the end of a straw, so I’d assumed that the splints were basically short breathing tubes.
Imagine my surprise, then, when the doctor finished yanking the first splint out of my nose and it looked nothing like a straw. It looked much more like one of those heel grips you can put in the backs of your shoes to prevent blisters. The splint was made of a clear, gel-like material and was shaped like a soft crescent moon, with a tube running along the bottom surface. What surprised me the most was its size: it was about the same length as my index finger and even wider.
How had that whole gigantic piece of gel fit up inside my nostril?
“Oh, my God!” I exclaimed as the doctor held it up for me to see. “That thing is huge!”
He laughed and then tipped my head back to pull the second one out. Now that I’d seen it, I tried hard not to think about the enormous gel whale that he was trying to fish out of my petite nose. No wonder the splints had felt uncomfortable!
“All done,” he said a moment later, tossing the second splint into a dish. “Now take a breath and see how it feels.”
I inhaled through my nose, and my eyes opened wide. The air flowed all the way up my nasal passages unimpeded, and although the membranes inside still felt very tender from the surgery, I could breathe better than I ever had.
“Wow!” I said.
“Your nasal passages are straight as an arrow,” said the doctor with satisfaction. He turned to Ray. “You’d better watch out–now that she’s getting more oxygen to her brain, she’s going to be a whole lot smarter.”
Look out, world!
When we got home, I was so excited that I threw my arms around Ray’s neck and tried to give him a kiss. That was a mistake. I hadn’t realized before how much your nose gets squished when you kiss somebody, and my happy romantic moment ended with me screaming and jumping around while clutching both hands to my nose.
And of course I’m not magically all better just because the splints are out. My nose is still really sore, and I still have a little bit of a headache and sensitive upper teeth. I’m very tired, and my brand-new, arrow-straight nasal passages have mostly been employed in pouring out mucus, which is annoying because I’m not allowed to blow my nose for another week and a half.
But sometimes, when the nasal drip clears up for a minute, I take a deep breath in through my nose and it feels AMAZING. I had no idea just how blocked up my nasal passages were. I can’t wait to see what it’s going to be like in another month.