More than once, people have suggested that I have my head examined. But last summer after a third bout of pounding sinus problems, I had a CAT scan that revealed my nose, which I had broken 45 years earlier, had developed scar tissue, blocking off one nostril and my sinuses were completely impacted.
The doctor casually explained what needed to be done, using words like boring and scraping — words I personally had never associated with the interior of my skull.
He stated there were dangers because the sinus is a thin membrane between the brain and the eye sockets. The operation takes about two hours and my nose and sinuses would have to be packed for five days. He makes it clear that nasal problems are nothing to sneeze at.
He said my condition was serious so I said, “OK, let’s do it.”
He said he would put my name on the list and I would get a call in five or six months.
Now, over that period of time, I ran into many people who took the time to share horror stories with me. They talked about swelling and bleeding, packing coming loose and getting stuck in their throat or packing sticking and not coming out.
If there was a success story, I don’t recall it.
That’s human nature; we tend to go to the extreme and obsess about what can go wrong. Those stories hide under our beds and creep from closets in the dark of the night when we’re alone. They sneak up onto our pillows and whisper horror stories in our ears that Stephen King would be proud of. Everything is going to go wrong.
I am finally given my surgery date and the weekend before, I sit down with some family and loved ones and discuss how I want my Celebration of Life conducted.
After all, there is a possibility that there will be a 6.4 earthquake during my surgery causing the surgeon’s hand to slip and pierce my sinus membrane sending a sharp surgical instrument deep into my cerebral cortex.
I want to make sure my ashes are spread in the right spot.
At 6:30 a.m. I am in the amazing Jim Pattison Centre and the recovery nurse, the anesthesiologist and the surgeon all take time to see me and reassure me that everything is going to be OK. Each one asks me how I’m doing and I lie and say fine. If the IV was a Horton’s double double, I’d feel much better.
As I listen to the pre-op conversations around me I realize there are at least three others in there for the same procedure. So, this is not all just about me. This place is a regular rhinoplasty drive-through.
Three hours later I am sitting up, getting more instructions and I’m home by 1:30. No pain to speak of, no swelling or black eyes nothing choking me, I’m not covered in blood, it’s all a bit anticlimactic.
The packing is uncomfortable and sleeping sitting up does not work, but I discover Kojak and McCloud are on TV at 3 a.m.
When the packing comes out there is a rush of cold air up my nose, almost causing a brain freeze and I’m wondering why I waited so long to have this done.
Don’t hide from your fears in the dark. Walk out into the sunlight and face them head on.
At least that’s what McGregor says.