How Amy Got Her Brain Back

Forgive me for the allusion to a certain vomit-inducing movie that I do not in any way support or condone — it’s just the phrase that popped to mind, and it fits. I don’t usually write about personal stuff here that isn’t related to design or code, but bah! It’s my blog and I’ll navelgaze if I want to. (But don’t worry, it won’t be a habit.)

I had surgery on December 27th to correct a deviated septum and tons of sinus problems which have plagued me since childhood. I’m sure that, put that way, it this sounds like a mild kind of problem, but I used to get so many sinus infections they’d call in an antibiotic for me without even seeing me. Add to that the yearly rash of strep throat, bronchitis, and pneumonia, ear infections every time I turned around or (worse yet) flew in an airplane, and constant nose-related stomach issues (you can imagine how those two are related). As an example, I was sick for nearly 3 weeks hacking and coughing after my trip to Toronto to give my two talks. Basically I’ve been plagued, and a somewhat unwell person in general which has, for as long as I can remember, affected my ability to do the things I want.

Of course, of the millions of times regular doctors looked up my nose before this past fall, nobody spotted the problem. And let me tell you, my deviated septum was VERY deviant indeed! But I digress.

I found a great surgeon and he did an awesome job, and I felt very little pain directly related to the surgery itself. I still went around in a fog for the better part of the 10 days between then and now. I figure it was a combination of not being able to sleep worth a damn—my nose was, of course, completely blocked, and I had to try to prop myself up to avoid choking on, uh, stuff—and the pain, and the stuffiness (big splints in the nose; gauze in all my sinus cavities). And the Tylenol with oxycodone probably didn’t help.

Today, though, around 2:10pm, my doctor removed the splints from my nose—to my horror, I discovered they were as long as my middle finger—and the gauze from all four sinuses, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would.

Then he stuck a two different types of metal thingies up my nose to suction out stuff from all four of my frontal sinuses. This part they don’t warn you about. My boyfriend was there for moral support and he later remarked that I left dents in the armrests of the chair from gripping it so hard.

BUT NOW I CAN BREATHE. Dear lord, I can breathe. I never really got much air in my left nostril, but you know I never really noticed it either. But now I do. Everything still stings, of course, but I managed to grit through the pain today and avoid the oxycodone. So, with a free nose, empty sinuses, and lack of narcotics… I CAN THINK, TOO! I feel human again.

Now everybody cross their fingers that this solves all the problems it ought to.

No Comments

  1. Chris says:

    Whew …

    I was beginning to think you got abducted!

    Though, the strange metallic tools … er, instruments sound like something from an abduction.

    In all seriousness, glad to hear the surgery went well and let me be the first to welcome you to full, easy breathing. =)

  2. Curt Hibbs says:

    I had that done about 10 years ago. I remember that removing the splints was the most intense pain I’d ever felt (good thing it only lasted about a half second). It really is amazing that they can fit something that big up your nose!

    Anyway, like you, I’m glad I had it done.

  3. Jon Maddox says:

    Nice to have you back! And congrats on the unblocked passages 🙂

  4. Amy Hoy says:

    Jon, that sounds vaguely perverted.

    Curt, surprisingly to me, the splints didn’t hurt. He had to put pressure on the septum to cut the stitches, and THAT hurt, but the removal was just sorta like… BLOOP. The suction, now… that’s a whole nother story.

    Amazingly, one can control the urge to jerk away from intense pain when one believes that any such movement would result in being gored on a nasty metal bit.

  5. Vamsee says:

    Hey Amy,

    Glad to have you back. I hope you make a full recovery and can do more things better. I sure learnt a thing or two from you about Rails. Looking forward to more great work. Good luck with everything!

  6. Polly Stark says:

    Really glad you’re feeling good – it’s so nice when a long term problem is corrected.

  7. JBrickley says:

    Take it easy now, let those surgical wounds heal fully and follow whatever advice the doctor gave you. i.e. saline wash or whatever.

    There was a study stating that those who rinsed their sinuses with a saline spray on a regular basis were less likely to catch common colds. The nose and sinuses collect and trap particles before they reach the lungs. Cleaning these particles out with a saline wash can keep you from getting infected by an airborne virus. The saline causes the bacteria and viruses to take on water and explode, so it’s a highly effective wound cleaner too. It also feels really good to moisturize your sinuses, especially if the humidity is low. It will flush the mucus membranes along with all the captured particles and your sinuses will just recreate a fresh mucus layer. Your breathing will improve and it will relieve sinus pressure. It will smell a bit salty but that doesn’t last long and it feels really good so one can ignore the salt smell.

    Obviously, follow your doctors advice about using saline following surgery. They might want you to heal a bit more before rinsing with a pressurized saline wash.

  8. Damien says:

    Have you taken a look at the Buteyko breathing technique? It’s supposed to do wonders for sinus problems. I’ve had asthma all my life and have developed constant congestion over the past ten years, and in two weeks I’m attending a class to see if it’ll help – I’m hoping it does, I go through more tissues in a year than most small countries.

  9. Glad to hear everything went well. With any luck you will be in great shape for the Victory Lap! at this years conference, either that or both trips to best buy.

  10. Darien says:

    Who knew that drilling a hole in someone’s head could be so relieving and lucrative? I’m considering starting a freelance business to do this, since the only real requirement would be a cordless drill and a selection of bits, and maybe something for them to bite down on.

    Congratulations on your septeronomy or whatever it’s called. I’m considering having the same thing done myself, as a friend of mine did, since she had all the same problems as I did, and all of them were solved by the simple and painless procedure she underwent. Here’s hoping!

  11. I’ve got a cordless drill!

    Can we work my circular saw into this somehow? I’ve had it for a while and i’m just itching to use it!

  12. Hm, interesting, this is. My nose seems to be (semi-)congested for as long I can remember. In fact, I’m totally comfortable breathing through my mouth alone. Perhaps I should swing by my physician and see what he has to say. They did mention something about my sinuses and allergies back in the day…

    Anyhow, glad you made it out of the OR in one piece! Looking forward to you next post, but for the love of God, woman, take it easy 🙂

  13. Alexandros Vellis says:

    Aaahhhhh Eeeewwww

    Just reading about that nose stuff makes me hurt.

    Anyway, welcome back. 🙂

  14. john athayde says:

    Yay! Glad that’s better. My dad went through a similar surgery last summer and it’s made a world of difference, especially since he was also having sleep apnea issues starting up…

  15. Keeran says:

    I’m new to your blog, but I’m glad you’re OK and surgery has fixed a long-time headache for you 🙂 get well soon


  16. Felipe Ryan says:

    Welcome Back Amy, why don’t ya move down here to Rio where it is nice and warm and colds don’t exist? (however there are other nasty diseases!)

    My breathign sucks as well, not like yours did but one of my nostrilss is constantly blocked, though I think it is not always the same one.

    I got a lot of the Ruby On Rails going, just trying to figure out how to keep it expanding so I can get the new "Brazilian E-bay" up and running!

    Maybe you can help me take over the world?

    Be well! Love you’re blog, keep up the awesome, funny and motivating work!

  17. Felipe Ryan says:

    Oh, and MAN is this comments page cool… how the hell is this done? Ruby on Rails? Beijos!

  18. Jean-Michel Durand says:

    I had that time of surgery done when I was about 16 (half a lifetime ago – gasp!).

    To this day, the feeling of removing those humongeous things out of my nose has found no match. Every time I see one of those cheap magicians pull out a mile-long scarf out of their mouths (or that scene in Total Recall where Arnie has that red blob yanked out of his nostril), I can only laugh. They have NO idea.

    Glad you’re better, Amy. This will, in a small way, change your life.

  19. FiZ says:

    I’ve never had the same issue as you, but I still suffer from something along the same lines (and in many ways is far worse) so I am ecstatic that someone else can be relieved of the kind of pain these conditions bring.

    Cheers to you for your recovery and finally doing without fearing what comes as a result. Rock on Amy.

  20. Well done, nice instructions…

  21. Thanks. Updated appropriately 🙂

  22. I had and the fix I found…

  23. I think it would be usefull for other users also…

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