Friday, July 3, 2009

The Grisly Details

I'm alive and well, thanks to my super-surgeon and, of all things, Channel 2 News here in New York.'s what happened.
Y'all know I've been sick since January. But with all the stuff going on with Dad's brain tumor, getting Dunes & Dreams off the ground, and edits for two books for two different publishers, I was kinda lax about taking care of my own issues. I went to the doctor, got a prescription antibiotic, had a nasty allergic reaction, wound up taking all kinds of tests, got another prescription antibiotic and still had no results.
Next step, an otolaryngologist (ENT doctor). What followed was another round of antibiotics, a few cultures, two in-office surgical procedures. The diagnosis? A staph infection in my sinuses. Another antibiotic was prescribed and several follow-ups ensued. Still, no relief. Time for a CT scan. While the ENT wanted to wait for the official radiologist's report, he did say he could see from the film that I had a pretty nasty sinus infection.The kicker came when I was in the middle of my fourth round of antibiotics and wound up in bed with a fever and chills, too incapacitated to lift my head off the pillow. A call to the ENT the following morning resulted in the conclusion, I needed a nasal endoscopy to clear out the infection. This surgical procedure could be done on an outpatient basis, but the doctor wouldn't be able to schedule it for six to eight weeks, and I wouldn't really notice any difference for another six to eight weeks afterward. Which meant I was looking at late August before I'd be recovered. And while in the recuperation stage, I'd need a week to ten days home from work, plus weekly follow ups with the ENT to clean the area and replace the packing in my sinuses. Ooh, sounds like fun. But...don't sign me up just yet.
I learned a hard lesson when I had my thyroid treatment several years ago and now I don't jump to treatment of any kind without a second (and sometimes third) opinion. So I scheduled a second opinion with another ENT specialist. While Doctor 1 called my CT scan "impressive," Doctor 2 used the term, "remarkable." The upshot? He not only concurred with Doctor 1's treatment plan, he also could not schedule the surgery for six to eight weeks and worse, his surgical center of choice was in the next county--a good 3o miles away.
Was I doomed to go through the entire summer with this infection? Then came my miracle.
While sitting in a waiting room, I was watching Channel 2 on the big screen TV the staff had on. The news blurb came on to tout a story at 5 that night about a brand new surgical procedure bringing relief to sinus sufferers. I raced home to watch and learned about Balloon Sinuplasty. Basically, it's like a cardiac angioplasty where a probe with a balloon is inserted (in this case into the sinus cavity), then inflated to open up a new passage for drainage.
A little Google investigating gave me the name of two surgeons in my area who did the procedure. Surgeon 1 couldn't see me until the end of July. Surgeon 2's receptionist said, "We had a cancellation this afternoon. Would you like that appointment?" Yes, please!! Within forty-five minutes of my arrival at this surgeon's office, I not only had all the information I needed to agree to the procedure, I had an appointment to have the procedure done within a week.
Yesterday, I underwent my Balloon Sinuplasty. And I'm thrilled to say it seems to have been a complete success. Since it's less invasive than a nasal endoscopy, my recovery time is less than a week and rather than the excessive packing required after an endoscopy, my sinuplasty requires me to wear a gauze strip under my nostrils to catch any bloody discharge for one week. Best of all, I'll gain my summer back and only miss one day of work.
Thank you, Dr. Matar and Channel 2 News!