Friday, May 21, 2010

Bruised and battered for the better

My new friend Beverly is recovering from eye surgery and is still in that battered and bruised stage.  She'll heal and it will be fabulous but she reminded me of a surgery I had years ago.

Well, let me back up.  I've been sleepy for 25 years.  Not the drowsy, stayed up too late, need more rest kind of sleepy, but the oh my gosh I am absolutely going to DIE if I don't fall asleep right this very instant kind of sleepy.  Believe it or not, there is a big difference. 

When I was a senior in high school, I got mono...from sharing a Coke with someone, of course...which can cause some pretty serious fatigue.  I was sick, but functioning, for about 6 months.  My sister said she was walking down the hall in school one day behind this pitiful, emaciated girl who was pasty and freakishly thin.  Then she realized it was me.  Yeah, buddy, I was a looker.  Anyway, I got over the mono but the extreme fatigue never went away.

I just wrote it off as hereditary laziness until I started falling asleep while I was driving.  I'm not talking about driving cross country, I would doze off in the 5 minute drive from my house to Target.  I started thinking maybe that wasn't normal.

My first thought was sleep apnea.  Jayson said I sometimes....purr...when I sleep.  I certainly do NOT snore.  Much.  So I went to my favorite ENT doctor who took my tonsils out when I was 14 and still maintained a thriving practice between his golf games.  He took one look at the back of my throat and noted that I had way too much soft palate back there which could cause...purring...and could block my airway while I slept.  He recommended I have a uvulopalatoplasty where they essentially remove the uvula (that little hangy downy thing in the back of your throat) and the surrounding loose tissue.  He said my throat would be "uncomfortable" for about 2 weeks, then everything would be peachy.  Sounded doable to me.

During the exam he also noted that I had a deviated septum that needed to be corrected and he could do that procedure at the same time.  Worked for me.  Then he said, very delicately, "so, Mrs. Green, while we're in there is therrrre....anything else you'd like to have done...." as he waved the pen in his hand around my nose like it was a magic wand.

Okay, fine, I had a little bit of excess nose with some pointy protrusions on the sides.  You know when a cartoon character swallows a bone and they show it stuck in their throat sideways?  It looked like my nose swallowed a bone.  It wasn't altogether hideous, it just gave me a little more character than I cared to have.  Since a nose job isn't covered by insurance but he was already going in there anyway, he cut me a really good deal.  Sort of a buy 2 get 1 free type thing.

So, I went in for surgery (out patient if I remember correctly) to have the uvulopalatoplasty, septoplasty, and rhinoplasty.  I was told I would have a sore throat for 2 weeks and possibly some bruising around my eyes.  The day after surgery I would have to go back to the doctor so he could remove the packing in my nose.  Which, by the way, I am convinced was the inspiration for that trick that magicians do where they pull a 50 foot long scarf out the palm of their hand.  The doctor started pulling out the packing in my nose and more and more of it kept coming out until I was convinced that he was pulling my brain out through my nose.  It was not a pleasant experience.

Anyway...when I got home after the surgery, Shamayn brought Taylor to the house to see me.  She was probably 4 or 5 at the time and evidently Mayn had warned her that I was going to be bandaged and bruised and wouldn't look very good.  Taylor walked into the bedroom, looked at my face and tears welled up in her big brown eyes.  She said all tearfully, "Mommy?  I don't think you're gonna make it."  It hurt to laugh but I reassured her that I would, eventually, make it.

Then a couple of days later I had second thoughts.  And very vivid fantasies about torturing and killing that lying, deceiving, golf-playing doctor of mine.  He said I would have a sore throat.  He said it would be like getting my tonsils out where I would have to eat ice cream and jello for a while.  Ice cream and jello??  I couldn't swallow my own spit!  Sore throat does not begin to describe the pain I was in.  Childbirth would be closer but there would be fun baby at the end of it.  It was excruciating.  And it wasn't just the surface pain in my throat, it was the muscular pain that really got to me.  If I tried to swallow I would feel this sharp, stabbing pain going from my throat straight up into each ear.  No one warned me about that.  Oh, and that whole "2 weeks" thing?  Big. Fat. Lie.  I was miserable for over a month.  I couldn't breathe through my nose because of the swelling and yucky scabby stuff going on in there, but I couldn't breathe out of my mouth either because air felt like fire.  So basically I didn't eat, drink or breathe for about a month.

Eventually, everything healed.  I held on to the bruises around my eyes for almost 2 months which proved to be sort of fun once the bandages and swelling were gone.  I probably looked like a battered wife but I pretended I was a bad girl who got into fights.

Did this solve my problem with fatigue?  No.  It did not.  I could have been a little mad about that, but I got a discount nose job out of the deal.  I told my neurologist (who was treating me for migraines) about my continued fatigue and he said I could have something called central apnea which causes you to stop breathing while you sleep but not from a physical obstruction. My great aunt had narcolepsy so that was also an option.  He scheduled me for a sleep study to see what was up.

The sleep study showed that I have extremely fragmented sleep patterns.  During the study I woke up, not always to full consciousness, 3 or 4 times an hour.  There is another test called an MSLT that is usually given after a sleep study to verify narcolepsy but the doctor said that wasn't even necessary since he could see that my patterns are so screwed up.  So, I started taking medication to treat narcolepsy and I no longer fall asleep in my car, at the mall, on the phone, or in the middle of an IMAX  movie.  I am still tired 24/7 but I don't have that urgent, panicky *need* to sleep.  I just want to.  All the time.

So, that's what I've been thinking about since Beverly had her eye unnecessary yet beneficial nose/throat surgeries.  Well, the deviated septum did need to be fixed.  It was actually lying on its side so that part was necessary. 

Come to think of it, that's not the only time one of us has had surgery because of well-meaning yet inaccurate medical advice.  Jayson still whines about that.  Men are such babies, it was just one little vasectomy.  


Out Of My Head said...

precious, just precious

Out Of My Head said...

you need to check out this blog\beside you he is the one I read when I can's sleep at night. Funny young man. elementary school teacher with wife and little boy. I love his humor and of course I love yours plus the fact that I love your sister and family which makes me closer to you. Eyes still swollen. still in hiding

donnaj said...

i get that throat feeling-what i had for the wk after my "surgery" after swallowing the nail. the "i would feel back to normal the next day" surgery. the one where i woke up in the middle of it only to hear the doctor yell-"she's awake damnit" or something like that-as i'm gagging more than humanly possible to get the 3 tubes out of my throat. good times.