Nose Surgery: The Anxiety of the Follow-Up Appointment
Hello from a gal who can finally breathe through her nostrils.
Well, sort of. I’m doing much better today, but I’m far from the finish line.
Two weeks ago, I went under the knife to get my deviated septum corrected. As you might expect for someone with panic disorder, this wasn’t an easy decision. My ENT recommended the surgery last April and it took me until October to muster up enough guts to even schedule the procedure. (After scheduling, I thought daily about backing out.)
As I type, I’ve got a pair of plastic splints in my nose. (Amusingly, I didn’t notice them until yesterday. And of course, now I feel their presence all the time. Figures, right?)
And I’ve got this little bundle of stitching — I think that’s what it is, at least — at the base of my left nostril. I don’t like it. It bleeds every once in awhile and feels so foreign.
Both of these odd artifacts have two things in common: first, they both make me sneeze.
Second, they both make me anxious.
Just as what goes up must come down, what goes in must come out. Right? The plastic splints seem sharp, and if I gaze deep into my nostrils (ew, yes, but you’d probably do it too if you had a foreign object up there), I can’t see where it ends. It disappears around the dark corner of septum and swollen turbinate (those bulb-y things that form ridges on the outer edge of your nasal cavity. Cue the theme music: The More You Know.)
The doctor, undoubtedly, is going to have to pull those babies out. And, because it feels as if they’re packed deep into my cerebellum, I’m scared. I don’t do well with that sensation. On the day after my surgery, the ENT pulled out the packing (read: nose tampons) from my nasal cavity and I swallowed a crap ton of blood.
That’s a scientific measurement, you know. Crap ton.
Anyway, that horrific feeling of dragging a foreign object out from the center of my head keeps replaying in my mind. Last time, it went like this: horrible feeling of the bloody nasal packing being tugged out, followed by blood in my throat and on the floor, followed by nearly passing out, followed by a 2.5 hour panic attack during which I had to lay with my head below my heart.
So, of course, when I try to mentally prepare for tomorrow’s appointment of splint removal and a cleaning (and what the hell does THAT entail?! I’m not even going to think about that yet, frankly), I freak out. I feel like I’m not going to be able to handle getting those splints removed. My script for “stuff being pulled out of my nose” devolves into a 2.5 hour panic attack.
I am trying to think positively. I am trying to tell myself that they are only splints, and they’re not going to feel as uncomfortable leaving my nasal passages. I am trying to remind myself that if there is any blood, I’ll be in the right place — the doctor will spray something or stuff something up my nose to stop the bleeding.
And what about the stitching? Who knows. Who knows what he’s going to do about that. Will he remove it? Will it dissolve on its own? I won’t know until I ask, so there’s no sense in playing the “what if” game today.
I am trying to remind myself that, unlike last time, my body is no longer metabolizing the whatever-the-hell chemicals that were pumped into my veins to anesthetize me for the procedure. Therefore, perhaps I won’t be quite so primed to panic. Maybe I’ll be less likely to feel faint.
See? Positive self-talk. I can do it. Positive self-talk. I can handle tomorrow’s appointment. I can deal with the splint removal. I can do it.
Positive self-talk is great, right? Yeah. It’s really easy to do.
Too bad I don’t believe a word of it.
Beretsky, S. (2013). Nose Surgery: The Anxiety of the Follow-Up Appointment. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 10, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/panic/2013/01/nose-surgery-the-anxiety-of-the-follow-up-appointment/