Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Ear, Nose, and Throat

When I got my appointment to see the ENT people, I learned a new word. Not panjandrum (although that is another new word I learned recently and haven't had the chance to trot out yet) or fissiparous (likewise), but otolaryngology. Which, it turns out, is the proper name for Ear, Nose & Throat. I had always vaguely wondered why other medical departments got to use such fancy names - cardiac for heart, renal for kidney etc - while the poor Ear, Nose and Throat people were stuck with a name that sounds like an extended edition of the popular children's song "Heads,Shoulders, Knees and Toes". Turns out they do have a fancy name after all. Who knew?

So I went to see the otolaryngologist. I went into his office and he asked about the problems I've had with my nose and sinuses since my first operation - I still use a nose spray twice a day because otherwise it's too painful. He was very nice, right up to the point where he announced he was going to put a camera stick up my nose.*

Firstly I had to have a topical anaesthetic, which was administered as a nose spray. It went right down my nose and numbed the back of my tongue as well, which not only felt incredibly strange but tasted revolting. Then after giving it a few minutes for the anaesthetic to work, out came the camera stick which was slowly fed into my left nostril. It wasn't too bad at first, although it was incredibly freaky to see quite a long stick disappearing into my head. I felt like one of those "human blockhead" circus sideshow acts where they hammer nails into their nose, except it was uncomfortable enough even with topical anaesthetic that I can't imagine volunteering to do it without one.

Then once the camera was at the back of my nose, the otolaryngologist started poking around more, and that was genuinely painful; it was quite hard to keep my head still and my eyes were watering. Then of course, he had to do the other nostril.

The good news was that there's nothing much wrong with my nose, although part of one of the structures inside (I cannot for the life of me remember what he called it, and Google has been no help) has ended up knocked sideways, probably from the surgery. I just have to keep using the nose spray I already take, indefinitely. It may eventually clear up, or it may not.

Then after the pituitary surgery, I'll go in to have a check up with ENT once I've healed up. After the operation I have to use a nasal wash, which sounds pretty gross - basically it involves putting saline solution up one nostril from a little pot and rinsing it around inside your nose. Eurgh. I have heard of this before, I believe it's quite common in India and Pakistan and that part of the world - I believe in Pakistan recently there was an outbreak of cases of naegleria fowleri, a particularly nasty brain-eating amoeba (no, I'm not making this up) as a result of people using water that hadn't been boiled to wash out their noses.

So the moral of the story is: boil the damn water.


Anyway, then I returned home to regale my housemates and boyfriend with the story in glorious technicolour detail, by which time thankfully the anaesthetic had mostly worn off and my face was starting to feel a lot more normal again.

* N.B. In fairness, "camera stick" is not the term he used.


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