A Shocking Experience

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had trouble breathing through my nose. The problem is especially bad in my left nostril. Over a decade ago, I had surgery back to cut back my turbinates, but didn’t get a deviated septum operation as my insurance company at the time denied it the day before the operation. (They claimed it was cosmetic only.)

Last month, I went to an ENT specialist concerning my nosebleeds. I was getting them on a daily basis and they were really troubling me. Now when I say nosebleeds, I don’t mean a bit of blood coming out of my nose, I mean a gush of blood necessitating constant pressure for 10-15 minutes. The nosebleeds always came from the same nostril, the left one. Yes, the same one that I can hardly breathe through.

Last month, the ENT packed my nose with special gauze to help my nostril’s blood vessels heal. This worked for a week or two. Then I got a nosebleed. The next week, I got another one. Then they started coming every 2 or 3 days.

Meanwhile, last week, JSL had strep. When I developed a sore throat (and heard that a few of my co-workers had sore throats), I wondered if I was getting strep as well. So I went back to the ENT, figuring I’d find out about the strep at the same time that I talk with them about my nose. They didn’t think I had strep, but did a culture just to be sure. (Results will take a few days.) Then it was time for my nose.

The nurse practitioner took a look in my nose and said that it was time to go for electrical-cauterization. They got their tools ready and here’s the intrument of torture:

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First, they soaked a cotton ball with some numbing solution. They shoved this up my nostril, causing numbing stuff to run down my lip and into my mouth. YUCK! After it had a few minutes to work, and after B took JSL out of the room, they began the cauterization. Think of the static electric shock you get from time to time when you touch a light switch. Multiply that by 10. Now put that shock inside your nostril. Yes, it was painful. Very painful. And, even worse, I could smell my nostril burning. (This burning smell would persist for hours afterwards.)

As a side effect of this procedure, I can’t breathe through either nostril now. (Not going to go into any more details since I think I’ve already strayed into TMI territory.) Last night was spent passed out for an hour, then up for an hour hacking and coughing and trying to, somehow, get comfortable enough to sleep.

I know that, in the long run, this will help me avoid nosebleeds. It was also a prerequisite for even considering any form of surgery on my nose to correct my breathing problems. Still, in the short term, it was quite the nasty procedure. I’m hoping to be able to rest a bit more today so I can go back to work tomorrow. (Not to mention being able to breathe a bit better.)