After years of dealing with frequent nosebleeds and progressive breathing problems I decided to undergo septoplasty surgery. My septum has been deviated for years and it has progressively gotten worse. I feel it started causing me more discomfort with the nasal swabs I had to have due to COVID. I am going to focus more on my personal recovery on this post because it varies for everyone. This experience has made me more aware on how some of our patients feel during and after they are discharged from the hospital.
Day of Surgery – I woke up early since I had to be there two hours before surgery, which was scheduled at 9am, and also because I was so nervous. I also had not eaten since 10pm the night before and my stomach was being very loud and clear about that. I got called back to get my vitals taken and get my IV placed and ready. I felt like I was in that room waiting forever. The surgical team started coming in introducing themselves to me and asking/answering additional questions, including the otolaryngologist, anesthesiologist, the nurse(s), and surgical technicians. I very much appreciated how each one came in at their own time instead of all at the same time. They each went over what their role would be in the operation room and afterwards if applicable.
In between meeting the team, I did my best to stay as relaxed as possible while I waited, but I was so nervous. In fact, when the nurse took my BP it was 140/80 and 89 bpm, which is really high for me. My norm is 108/70 for BP and about 65 bpm. I get into the operating room and this is where it all gets fuzzy. I remember walking into the room with a nurse carrying an IV bag and I was asked to step onto the table by using a step stool. I am on my back and one of the nurses says she was going to place some heart rate monitor pads on me and that they will be very cold, I vaguely remember making a comment about her not kidding because they were so cold. Someone behind me then said they were going to get started and that I would fall asleep soon.
*blinking my eyes* I can hear and see people moving around the room through my peripheral vision. I can hear the clinking of tools. I start nodding off again. The nurse tells me they will be taking me into the recovery room now.
I vaguely remember being asked to slowly slide from the operating table to the hospital bed. I was in and out for the next few hours. I do remember being helped to go the the bathroom and asked to drink some water. I remember feeling nauseous and the nurse putting something in my IV to help with the nausea. I fell back asleep after this. At some point the nurse comes back in and asks me to drink some water to see if I can keep it down. I take a few sips and I instantly feel nauseous. I was told to rest a bit and then try again. The second time was much better but I kept nodding off. She came back in (she told me her name but I honestly can’t remember and I feel so bad), and I have no idea how we got on the topic but I ended up showing her pictures of when Raul and I got engaged (lol).
After a while, I was told I was going to be discharged soon and I was left to get dressed. I still felt loopy. I have no idea how I got dressed, but I did. I had been told to just bring clothes that were comfortable and had zippers in the front, but I do remember struggling with my clothes for a bit. I also really needed to go to the bathroom and couldn’t locate my call-button so I furniture-walked across the room to the bathroom. I know, I know. How many times have I told patients to please use the call-light for staff assistance? The doctor and nurse come back into my room and start asking me what procedure I had done and the precautions the surgeon had given me prior to surgery. I knew the majority of my precautions, which they were happy with. They also reminded me of the few I couldn’t recall at the time. I’m sure more happened during this time but eventually I was assisted to the waiting room where Raul was waiting for me. He had met with the surgeon and doctor earlier and they had given him my prescriptions which he got while I was in the recovery room. He held my hand as I walked out and pointed out any ramps or steps as we made our way to the car.
Now this is where it gets a little fuzzy again. I do remember calling my parents letting them know everything turned out okay, but nothing much after that. We eventually got home and I got settled in to start my recovery at home.
Day 1-5 Post-op
Raul had asked for the day off after my surgery since I was still going to be a bit groggy from the anesthesia. I tried to stand or walk a bit because my legs felt a bit numb from being on my back/in bed for about 9 hours the previous day. I made sure to apply ice to control the swelling and to get plenty of rest those first few days. I did experience plenty of dizziness and lightheadedness for a couple of days so Raul did help me with taking a bath/shower. I also had to be extra mindful about not bending to pick anything up. I constantly had to remind myself to squat down even if it meant picking up a piece of paper. We also made me a space in the living room with easy access to snacks, water, and the bathroom during the day while Raul was at work. I also pretty much stayed in the same couple of outfits those first few days. I don’t own many clothes that are open-front only and I did not feel safe to do the laundry on my own the first few days.
By days 4 and 5 I felt more like myself, but I was still very swollen and bruised. Especially around the cheeks and eyes. I was able to get up and walk around the house safely. I was also able to prepare simple meals.
Day 6 – Getting Splint Off
I had my first follow-up appointment and had my splint taken off and got to actually breathe. Because my nose is still fragile, my doctor educated me and provided me with tape to apply a certain way until my next follow-up appointment. I was provided with a new list of precautions and we problem solved a few scenarios to make sure everything went smoothly until my next follow-up. I was reminded to continue to take it easy even though I feel 100% back to normal.
Day 7 – 10 Post-op
I feel more like myself and able to walk around the house without taking any breaks due to dizziness or fatigue. My sleep cycle is back to normal and I am getting ready to return to work tomorrow (10/21). During recovery, I made sure to order scrub tops that are open-front for work (thank you, Landau!) I have also ordered masks that my doctor said would be okay for me to wear while I continue to wear the tape on my nose that will not cause any damage during my recovery.
Before heading into surgery, I did some research and purchased a few things I would need to help me during recovery:
1. Bed Wedge Pillow
2. Small Reusable Gel Ice Packs
3. Lip Repair Ointment
4. Eyeglass Suspension Nose Guard
5. Saline Nasal Mist
6. Front Zip Sports Bra
I don’t usually post to much about my personal life on here, but I felt like writing about my experience as a patient would help other practitioners reflect on how they approach patients or choose to educate patients after any surgery. To read what other healthcare professionals would want to experience as surgical patients, read this article.