When I look at this picture in the past it has been with a mixture of happiness, and an equal dose of sadness. There are very few pictures of Christopher and I together. Gracie took this picture of us on our vacation to Boston, it was in Wood's Hole. We had a beautiful day at the ocean. When I see this picture, my mind takes me back to that amazing vacation. When I look at this picture the first thing I see is not the whole picture, but my nose, and that breaks my heart.
There was a time that I had a really nice nose. It was small and straight. It was not perfectly straight, it had a little bump at the top which was a little parting gift from the day I was 11 and did a face plant off my new bike (and broke all the bones in my wrist). When Christopher and I were first dating he called me "Chief Little Nose". As the kids came along each of them tried to break my nose, it took the last to seal the deal.
It seems funny even to me to be so uninvested in my over all appearance, but to be so fixated on my nose. Everyday I would trace my nose's crooked slope, and feel sad. Sometimes I childishly pulled it back to where it belonged and it sprung to it's uneven place. I think for me the largest part of it that last straw part of it, that complete loss of control. In the past 7 years I have had 5 surgeries including this latest. I have one more expected later this year. My nose is the only surgery that does not go back to our car accident. My abdomen has begun to look like a pirate's map... I'm o.k. with that, that does not bother me. I have an ugly keloid scar that runs the length of my abdomen, it is flanked by several smaller lesser scars from other surgeries. I will be honest, I would feel guilty to not carry scars from that accident when my son lost his life, and Gracie carries both emotional and physical scars from it.
The nose is kind of like "Have I not suffered enough?" Even in writing it, it sounds overly dramatic, but honestly that is kind of what it felt like. It was like one more loss. As time went by it got worse and worse, to the point that I could barely breath out of it. Part of me is a little embarrassed to be so vain, part of me says, "What's wrong with that?" Why should I have to suffer? Why should I just accept this? As the breathing steadily became worse, I knew that I needed to get it seen to.
About 16 years ago I had seen a local ear nose and throat doctor who had done surgery to correct my deviated septum. He was a butcher. I was in agony. I had a nurse come to my apartment every day for several days to give me morphine shots. I did not want to go through that kind of pain again, but I also did not want my nose to collapse. When my family doctor referred me to a specialist, I made it clear that I would not be seeing the butcher again. They referred me to a lovely, gentle ear nose and throat surgeon named Gabriel Fuoco in Peterborough, Ontario. He took one look at my nose and told me that he was not the man for the job. He refereed me to his mentor, Dr. Oakley Smith in Toronto.
I had a consultation with Dr. Oakley Smith in his Toronto office. I instantly felt like this was the right decision. He was really nice, and answered all of my questions. Not only is he really nice, he has amazing credentials. He is a facial cosmetic surgeon. He is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. He is the surgeon -in-chief of department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Toronto East General hospital. He has been featured in magazines and on television. If his credentials did not seal the deal, his lovely kind manner certainly did. We booked my surgery date, May 29, 2012.
|Dr. Oakley Smith|
As the surgery date approached I became more and more excited, until about a week before, and then I became nervous. Was it wrong to get this fixed, even though I really could not breath through my nose. My husband was taking valuable holidays to be home with me. I worried about the pain, thinking back to the deviated septum surgery. By the time it was surgery morning, I was nearly beside myself. I had never been worried like this in any of my surgeries, but then they had not really been elective. When we registered that morning they told me that the person before me had eaten, and they were glad I was early, I could take his surgical spot. They whisked me into the OR, I barely had time to catch my breath, or kiss my husband good-bye.
When I walked into the OR, I was so nervous, and there was Dr. Smith. He stopped what he was doing to speak to me, to reassure me. It would not be overly painful, he told me, more uncomfortable. His voice was gentle, reassuring, the panic began to slightly lessen. I then met the rest of the OR team, the two super nice and kind nurses. The anesthesiologist, was so kind and re-assuring. I told him that I usually have a violent vomit reaction to anesthetics, and I was worried about that with my nose. He then talked me through, what he could do to lessen that. Every single one of them was so kind and gentle with me, even bringing me a warm blanket. The kind anesthesiologist then asked me where I would like to go on vacation. Why don't I think about palm trees as I drift off, and so I did.
|Day of the surgery|
|Day 5, I even went out in public.|
looked at my nose, took out a few stitches. By this point there was not terrible pain, but the pressure in my nose and head was terrible. I asked if I could take anything for that. Dr. Smith said I could, but he doubted that it would help with the congestion. We stopped on the way home and bought Advil Cold and Sinus medication. It did not get rid of the congestion (that was caused by plastic stints holding up my new nose), but it made all of the difference in the world to my pressure, it became bearable, less claustrophobic. I was only really needing pain medication before bed.
June 5, I got the stints out, and my cast off. Getting the stints out was not painful, but it was also not entirely pleasant. An amazing thing happened when he took the stints out... I could breath! I had forgotten what it felt like to breath out of my nose it had been so many years. Then the cast came off my nose. I sat feeling a little fearful waiting for the shoe to drop... it didn't. Then Dr. Smith put a mirror in front of me and asked how I liked my nose. I blurted out "IT'S BEAUTIFUL!" Yes, that's a vain thing to say, but to me it was. When we were all finished I asked Dr. Smith if I could hug him. He looked a little taken aback. Not in a way that he found my request to be repugnant, but more in a way that he did not often get asked for hugs from his patients. How could I not hug him, he had given me an amazing gift, how did more people not want to hug him?
On day 8, the day after the stints were removed, I had a bit more pain than previous days. My top lip looks a little like Moe from the Simpsons. My bruising is almost all gone, but I have a bit more swelling (apparently the stints were holding some of it at bay). Even with the unexpected pain, it's still bearable pain (especially with the pain killers). I keep running my finger ever so gently down my nose. I am in disbelief how straight it is. Every time I do it I want to cry with joy! It will take at least 6 months for all the swelling to go, and for me to see my nose in it's end result, but so far I love it!
I have to say that this surgery has been an amazing gift. It has been a gift on so many levels. The most obvious is to my self-esteem. Now when I look in the mirror I won't want to cry, I will smile, when I see my beautiful nose returned to it's rightful place. The most unexpected gift has been the gift of peace. I have lay in bed for a week. My kids each took turns coming in for a cuddle and to watch t.v. or just to talk. At one point Rowan came in for a snuggle, and I fell asleep with with him all cuddled in beside me, it was bliss. I did not realize the degree of stress that I live with on an ongoing basis, until I had a complete vacation from it. For one whole week, all I had to do is to get better. It did not just help my nose to get better, it helped my soul to get better. It's funny how these things work.