Surgery coming up

I have a date for my surgery now – this Wednesday. They didn’t give us very much notice so I’m scrambling to get everything organised. Yesterday, between my Cert 4 in small business class that morning, and my night class for the Visual Arts degree, I was at the RAH going through several hours of pre-op tests and appointments. It’s exhausting. I’m constantly sick with this sinus infection, my weeks are full of medical tests and specialists appointments, I’m falling behind on all my homework, and the short notice has forced me to let down customers and cancel long standing bookings for work. I hate it when my schedule falls apart like this. 😦 I can’t wait for it all to be over.

It’s not helped by various other things not working. My car isn’t running properly and I need to sell it. My phone is dying and needs replacing. My beloved Rose has her birthday and an anniversary of pregnancy loss this weekend. One of my test results didn’t come back quite normal and I’m now booked to see a gynaecologist after this surgery, with a possible exploratory surgery and biopsy on the cards. I can feel the rest of this year slipping away from me.

So I’m working hard to stay present. I’m asking for help with the things that are wiping me out into massive anxiety, like my car. I’m plodding through the most important admin on my better health days. I’m exploring options to reduce my workload. I’m spending an hour here and there crying hysterically on the couch when it all gets too much. I’m eating and drinking and remembering my meds and touching base with friends and enjoying my pets. I’m not as prepared as I’d like – usually I’d have a bunch of blended soups frozen for recovery, but nothing is going to fall apart either. I have some new movies I’m looking forward to watching, and lots of books to read. Rose is preparing to support us to keep our most hospital friendly part present. We’re talking through the anxiety and sense of helplessness that being a patient in the public system creates. I don’t even know who will be performing the surgery as the surgeon who ordered it will be away. But, curled up at night reading Harry Potter with Rose, or walking with Zoe in the golden sunshine, everything is okay. There are better times ahead, and there are still good times now. Riding it out.

Booked for surgery

Yesterday had a bit of shock in it, I went off to see a sinus specialist and I’ve been booked in for surgery! Sometime in the next three months the hospital will call and arrange the date. That does make it quite difficult to plan for. I’ll be having septoplasty, ethmoidectomy, antrostomy, and tonsillectomy. The first three are surgery on the structures of my nose, hoping to improve the functioning of my sinuses. The last I’ve already had as a child due to severe and chronic tonsillitis, but enough tissue has regrown that I’m getting bouts of it again frequently.

I wake up most mornings feeling like someone has punched me in the face. I’ve never had troubles with my sinuses until 2 years ago, when severe facial pain was misdiagnosed as TMJD (pain due to tightness in the muscles of my jaw) – which I also suffer from chronically. Unfortunately, in that case, I actually had an infected tooth that had developed into an abscess. The infection went unchecked for long enough that it breached through my gums into my sinuses and caused a severe sinus infection. I was very, very sick and in terrible pain! Fortunately my doctor became concerned and ordered a cat scan which revealed the problem. I went onto steroids and antibiotics for the infections and had a root canal on the dead tooth.

One year later and I’m getting constant sinus infections. That winter my immune system crashes and I develop along with sinusitis, laryngitis, tonsillitis, bronchitis, and severe inner infections in both ears. I am profoundly ill for three months, and in recovery for longer.

Two years on and I’m suffering severe anaemia due to unmanaged endometriosis, chronic facial pain, and constant low grade sinus infections with the occasional flare into a full blown severe infection needing antibiotics. The structure of my sinuses has been altered so they no longer drain, despite treatment with steroid sprays we can’t make the chronically inflamed and swollen drainage do it’s old job. So sinus fluid stays trapped in my face, as stagnant ponds ready to host the next infection.

Fibromyalgia for me has brought with it not only a fragile liver that no longer processes many common medications I used to handle fine, it’s also shut down my mucous producing cells. This means things like – I don’t produce enough saliva, and without sufficient saliva to protect them, my teeth decay at many times the rate of most people. So there will be a lot more dental work and infections in my future. An average year for me has between 5 and 11 new caps and fillings applied to my teeth, under minimal anaesthetic. With this in mind and the potential for chronic tooth infections to be travelling into my sinuses, the specialist was unhappy about proceeding with any more conservative approach and booked the surgery on the spot. I’ve also been advised to avoid extraction of any top jaw teeth at all costs and continue to use root canals as the teeth die,as any extractions risk creating holes into my sinuses where infection can travel from my mouth.

I’m off tomorrow to a TMJD specialist dental surgeon to discuss the role that TMJD is playing in the chronic pain, and for a specialist opinion about shadows on my xrays that may be chronic infection at the roots of my teeth, or may be merely scar tissue from previous infections. Obviously you handle those situations quite differently, so it’s important to assess them correctly.

All very well and good, but the last times I’ve had minor surgeries, things have been pretty rough. One was the extraction of 5 teeth and a salivary biopsy. I wound up with no pain relief after 24 hours as I was psychotic as my liver began to break down. The pain was intense as stomach acids ate into the 6 wounds in my mouth, the vomiting caused by allergic reactions to the pain relief. I remember sobbing on the floor thinking that if childbirth was going to be worse than this, the vivid feeling of biting deeply into red hot coals, then I would never be able to be a Mum.

Another surgery was supposed to be day only but I wound up in hospital for a week with allergic reactions to the anaesthetics and everything else. It triggered a major fibro flare that saw me into a wheelchair for mobility for a long time.

So, I’m nervous! This could be great, I am very frustrated by being constantly sick and run down with chronic infections and pain. On the other hand, I am probably in for some pretty bad pain, allergic reactions, and possibly another med induced psychosis. The breezy 10 day recovery time suggested in the literature may extend considerably for me. And the whole hospital experience is one I find pretty traumatic.

The plan is to keep my inner kids away from the whole experience as much as possible as they’re scared. With the exception of the 12 year old who is the only one of us who handles hospitals. Rose will take a couple of days off work once we come home, and we’ll plan for the possibility of an extended hospital stay if it’s needed. Apart from that, mindfulness, being present, managing the anxiety around possibly getting very sick again, and spending time doing fun things with friends. Focusing on healthy eating and exercise with the idea that the better shape I’m in, the better I’ll bounce back from the surgery, and continuing with my business plans. I’m so lucky to have friends and family who care about me, it makes such a huge difference to handling scares. I won’t pretend I’m not spooked and in need of some extra love – cuddles from Rose, dinner with Mum, killed a lot of zombies with my sister last night (Left for Dead 2, best game ever!). But I’m also determined not to let anxiety cloud my days and steal my joy. Life is still good! Carpe diem. 🙂