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A sinus surgery pre-op tale

A sinus surgery pre-op tale

I’ve been ready to cut off my nose to spite my face. Sinus infections, facial pain, difficulty breathing and even tooth/jaw pain have put me over the edge.

Nearly 18 years ago I was a having a very difficult time breathing from my nose. I suffer from chronic sinusitis and allergies. I was urged by my regular physician to see an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. It was upon seeing this ENT that I first learned that I had nasal polyps.

Nasal polyps are growths of inflamed tissue. For me, they were causing chronic sinus infections, the facial pain and headaches. We tried to shrink them with oral steroids, nasal sprays and antibiotics, but nothing worked. I needed surgery to remove them.

Surgery itself was welcomed if it meant I was able to get back to a healthy routine again. However, the surgery recovery was not an easy one. Dealing with the drainage from the surgery was giving me an upset stomach. My nose was packed and I had to follow-up with the physician every few days to have my nose cleaned and checked. The cleaning process was uncomfortable.

The best way I can describe it is that it felt like my brain was being sucked out of my nose. The good news was that once I was healed, I felt much better. The bad news is that the surgery-fix only lasted for five years and I found myself back at the ENT and learning that the polyps came back.

A second surgery was not on my priority list but I knew I had to suffer through the recovery process in order to get some relief in the end. The second surgery was a similar process and I vowed at the end that I would never have sinus surgery again!

Well…here I am 12 years later and in need of a third sinus surgery. Not only are the polyps back with a vengeance but I also have a deviated septum. The facial pain has become intolerable. I have broken my vow and decided to have the surgery again.

This time, I am switching to a new doctor, Dr. Jay Dutton, an ENT on staff at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. I have all confidence in him that he is doing all he can do to make this a permanent fix, although I know there are no guarantees.

Polyps find my sinuses to be a great living space. I just hope this time those polyps take their eviction notice seriously. I will keep you posted in my next blog on the results.

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15 Comments

  1. I had that surgery in 1994, cannot believe you had to do it again. Since I won’t be telling you anything you don’t know, it was one of the most horrible things I went through. I got PTSD from it.
    Good lucl

  2. Good luck Shannon. I hope this new dosctor can really help you and you don’t need to go through this ever again.

    I had surgery on January 17. The ENT also thought I had a polyp on my nose then he discovered, while doing the surgery, that it was a tumor not a polyp (benigne, thank God). The recovery has not been easy. My nose was not packed but it is like nothing comes down that side, everything stays inside up, looks disgusting and the side of my nose still hurts at times. I am going to see the ENT tomorrow to make sure it is not infected. I never asked if the tumor can come back, I need to find out.

  3. Hope you have a speedy recovery, Shannon!

  4. Julie Nakis

    Best of luck with this surgery and a speedy recovery, Shannon! I also had a deviated septum and know that alone can bring on a lot of pain.

  5. Erin Abbey

    I feel your pain quite literally. Though I don’t have polyps I’m just now starting my journey with an ENT at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital. Not sure where it will lead but I want my constant sinus infections to go as away as well. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

  6. I feel for you, Shannon. I also had surgery for a deviated septum and swore I would NEVER go through that again! I’ve also warned others not to do it, so I applaud you for going through it three times!! You are a brave woman! Hope this is the last time—good luck!

  7. Eric Alvin

    Best wishes, Shannon! I hope you notice a big difference this time around!

  8. Good choice – you’re a trooper! A lot of people would’ve given up and chose to live with chronic pain and misery instead. Once upon a time, I was told if I didn’t go see a dr regarding a long-standing sinus problem I would be headed down Surgery Road. I listened, and haven’t had to experience what you have. However, reading your description, I feel your pain in that the sinus problems (while I had them) made me absolutely miserable!

  9. Best of luck and a speedy recovery Shannon. Hope this is your final surgery.

  10. I am a 70 year old male who had polyp and deviated septum surgery 9 months ago. Used a Neti Pot and recovery was quick. Problem now is nose pours liquid upon wake up. I have to hold my head level with the table over a paper towel and it drips for at least 15 minutes. Not a nice way to wake up.

  11. All of your sinusitis issues and inflammed polyps can be wholy reversed with a plant-based diet. Watch: Forks Over Knives. Read: The China Study.

    I have had at least 3 sinus infections a year for the last 15 years. I had the sinus “roto-rooter” surgery in 1999, and all that did was help the symptom of inability to breath. Since I have been Vegan these last 2 years I’ve had Zero infections.

    Most American Doctors will not tell you that your allergies are linked directly to processed foods & low immunity, and your inflamation is linked directly to dairy consumption.

  12. I have had five nose and sinus surgeries between 1989 and 2001. I totally understand how horribly uncomfortable the packing, moustache dressing, mouth breathing, pain and the initial upset stomach (you swallow old blood that trickles down your throat and you may vomit once or twice after the surgery) can be. I found that good nursing care measures after the surgery will help make the experience much more tolerable. I used to be a nurse so I had some knowledge up front as to how to help myself. Take the oral pain meds when you need them and try to get as much sleep — short naps at least — as you can round the clock. Do not get overtired. The codeine may cause constipation — so watch for that and “fix it” if needed. Try to relax by listening to quiet music or restful tapes. Keep your head elevated with pillows and sleep however you are comfortable. Keep your mouth clean — brush teeth and use mouthwash often. Drink cool or cold fluids — not hot. Eat warm liquidy foods(soup/broth), yogurt, jello, ice cream, popsickles, ices, puddings, cottage cheese, chicken/tuna/potato salads. Eat small amounts frequently. Avoid hot, spicy, and heavy foods/meats that require a lot of chewing. Soft foods just slide in easily while solids make the mouth breathing more difficult and annoying.. Take meds or shots for the nausea as you are allowed. I stayed overnight in the hospital every time so I dealt with the vomiting there. Have your rest/sleeping area and refrigerator at home stocked and ready before you go to surgery so you are all set when you get home. Try to be as positive as possible — you will get through this and time really passes fast. Important — ask your ENT if using a steroid spray permanently beginning at some point post-op ( like Flonase ) will make you less likely to be bothered with polyps ever again in the future. It works for me! If the ENT wants you to use a saline spray after surgery, use it and as often as he directs you too. It really makes it more comfortable and keeps the post-op nose moist and cleaner inside.
    Good luck. Wishing you all the best. God bless.

  13. As I stated in my first post my fast healing was all due to use of the Neil Med Nasa Flo Neti Pot. I did this on my own after buying it from Walgreen’s. I used it from day two 3 or 4 times a day with sterile bottled water. On my next visit to ENT he was flabbergasted that I was healed and said he had never seen anyone heal so fast. Just use the pot and lay down on the couch with your head elevated.
    It works folks. I believe the salt content & other chemicals in the powder is what does it.

  14. I just had my third polyp removal surgery this past Tuesday and so far I’m feeling great however this time I’ve been diagnosed with AERD aspirin exasperated respiratory disease something that I had no idea that I had all these years and the reason for my polyps. You should look into this by researching Brighams women’s hospital webpage AERD clinic Dr. Tanya Laidlaw is my doctor. It’s also referred to is Samters Triad. Good luck !

  15. Hi, I’m so sorry about your situation. I completely understand what you’re going through. I’ve had 5 sinus surgeries because pylops love to live in my sinuses. My first surgery was in 2003 six months later I had the second surgery. Third surgery 2005 to remove pylops
    , correct a deviated septum and remove a tumor from the sphenoid sinus cavity. Followed by surgery in 2007 and 2013. This is truly a battle. It will take finding the right ENT and medications and vitamins. I wish you the best of luck.


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About the Author

Shannon Homolka
Shannon Homolka

Shannon Homolka, health enews contributor, is a manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate South Suburban Hospital. She is also an adjunct faculty member at two local Chicagoland universities. Shannon has a passion for figure skating, becoming professional at age 16, and has been coaching upcoming skaters for over 20 years. Her other love is her Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier named Mojoe who serves as her running and workout partner every morning.

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