On the Nose


This page written circa 11 February, 2012.

This story starts over 2 years ago, when I broke my arm. I had been accustomed to favour my left side heavily in sleeping, and I ran out of working sides with that incident. I eventually figured out what was going on and took my nose to an ENT specialist.

The fellow who was my GP at the time sent me to Clarence Day Hospital. After a brief inspection, Dr Hugh Litchfield told me I needed my septum straightening, a simple day-surgery. With hindsight that was correct but rather too simple a diagnosis, but it looked reasonable to me at the time. I duly took his quote and passed it on to my insurance company. They decided that since my nose had likely always been like this it counted as a "pre-existing condition" and was not covered. In fact it would be covered after I finished the qualifying period, though of course they did not mention that in their letter. (This insurance company is well regarded by doctors in NZ, but in comparison to the apparently-fair attitude we encountered with US insurers, they acted more like Mr Incredible's employers from The Incredibles.)

In the mean time, I entered the public hospital system by default. My sleep deteriorated, and after another 6 months or so I was about to shell out the cash, when I got a appointment with John Clarkson at Waikato Hospital out of the blue. He turned out to be sharp, thorough, and frankly a very credible doctor. He properly took me through the various non-surgical alternatives, steroids and so forth, over a period of months. We came to my having a CAT scan. The unsubtle asymmetry is visible at right. Mr Clarkson's acoyltes and proteges were solid supporters of his skill and work, and as Harvey's PA says in Suits, if you want to know about someone talk to their subordinates not their superiors. I changed GPs.

Mr Clarkson recommended a septo-rhinoplasty with reduction of RH turbinates and it was done on the second of February 2012 using nasal bone and nasal/septal cartilage grafts and cauterisation of the turbinates. It was a 3.5 hour operation, a fact I only discovered on the day... a far cry from the previously-proposed quickie. Phew.

At right is a self-portrait taken 4PM same day. As with the arm there was not the slightest pain or discomfort, not bad at all.

Interestingly, my resting heart rate sat between 95 and 110 PBM all the time I was in the hospital (30 hours). I knew from measurements made with my iPhone over the previous months that a value of 58--65 was usual. It dropped as soon as I got home. I can only assume that the stress of being in hospital rather than home was responsible.

After a few days large chunks of clotted blood tumbled out, but none of the yukky stuff some colleagues anticipated. View at right. On day 4 after the op I had the front sutures out, and I started to look less of a Frankenose. On day 8 I had the splints out.

At this point---as I first start writing this up---my left nostril is working superbly. The right still has a tendency to clog up, I can feel a little mucus still collecting. I am hoping this is the turbinates healing. Mr Clarkson commented that the LHS would be fine, and any residual problems would rest with the right, which is logical as it just lost a lot of its free space to a newly-centered septum, and been beaten back. My sleep, wretched for the last 3 months, is already better.

30 March: Saw Mr Clarkson. RH nostril still acting as a one-way valve, LH nostril is all systems go. His advice was not heartening, along the lines of wait a few more months, "there is only so much space in there and age makes things a bit floppy".

To be continued?

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