i can smell for miles and miles


Here you go, A Few Things To Know About Surgery for a Deviated Septum, or The Worst Week You Didn’t Actually Know How Much You Needed. Or, in the original German, Nasennebenhöhlenchirurgie.

• I have oft-bemoaned Facebook for a number of reasons, the most central of which is “they shouldn’t get to have everything.” I’ve seen the toll FB has taken on some of my favorite things on the internet, and I’m happy to keep fighting that fight as long as I still have the pissin’ vinegar for it.

But somehow, in a post-op haze, I blindly groped for my phone and half-saw a picture Tessa took of me after the operation. Through sheer muscle memory, I posted it on Facebook, and then forgot I did so.


to quote Sean, I “look like the mom from ‘Brazil’.”

Around 3am that night, waking up from an awful dehydration migraine, I clicked on the phone and saw some of the comments coming in – and in that desperate moment, I was actually removed from pain, removed from that bed, and felt so, so much better. Some were from people who I last broke bread with in 1989, but it didn’t matter; I knew exactly who they were, I retained the little memories of their peccadilloes, that sort of “paradoxical intimacy” we had of each other back then, when we knew birthdays but not last names.

In short, it does work especially well for these experiences, and it was tremendously meaningful to hear from you there, and on here.

• I got a few emails from folks who said that picture made them reconsider getting the surgery, even though they were told they needed it. Let me add fuel to the fire: this shit was WAY more serious than either Tessa or I fathomed, and it’s made worse by being SO IN YOUR MOTHERFUCKING FACE.

I mean, with an appendectomy or a colonoscopy, you have some sense of perspective; those problems are “down there” or “over on that side”, but when you get surgery between your eyes it’s hard not to take personally.

However, I hold faith that everyone else is telling the truth: that it will be a night-and-day difference when it’s over. I still have the plastic stint in my head, but already, I can smell the irises downstairs, three rooms away. If it means not going to Hawaii to get strep throat, it will have been worth it. Actually, screw the future imperfect: it will be worth it.

• I remember my 5th year at Carolina, auditing one of Vic Randolph’s 1st-year med school classes, where the professor went on at some length about the serious design flaws in the human sinuses. The passages are too small, they run parallel to the same nerve pathways as our “fight or flight” hormones, and they’re prone to bullshit.

As such, getting them fixed is tricky… far too tricky to be sent straight home afterwards, as mandated by your insurance company. I was lucky and could afford to stay in an after-care hotel (which was really just a hospital with better carpeting) but if you don’t have the extra cash or an excellent caregiver at home, you are shit out of luck.

Often, you need an IV for fluids and pain meds, and if you can’t keep anything down, your options thin to the obvious: the otolaryngologist said that patients who don’t stay at the after-care center usually end up in the ER. How does that make any goddamn fiscal sense for anybody?

• This whole week has not been painful, really, at all. It has, however, been tremendously and unrelentingly uncomfortable, which takes its own toll. I opted out of the Vicodin very early on, because it was just making me confused, and I thought I’d rather be annoyed than confused. Having done it, my advice is to definitely opt for confusion.

After sleeping in some forbidden Vinyāsa position (you need a mountain range of pillows to slumber propped up) I woke up with one side throbbing and useless like a medieval churchbell ringer, and Tessa made me crack open the Vikes, which is currently allowing me to write this blog.

• At least it was, until…

…….*snurk* ZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz…..


0 thoughts on “i can smell for miles and miles

  1. Salem's little sister

    I had knee surgery 6 weeks ago and I hear you! On day three, the pain killers that the surgeon shot into my knee wore off and the meds they sent me home with weren’t touching the pain. I spent 4 hours begging my mom to smother me with a pillow and eventually ended up in the ER. Surgery sucks!!!
    Here’s hoping you continue to heal quickly!!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.