Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gone for Surgery

Short Story: Just came from a doctor's appointment and the diagnosis is that I need surgery for my nose. I'll be checking in at the hospital on January 6th, having the surgery on January 7th, and hopefully exit the hospital by January 8th (and then there's the one-week recovery...). So most likely no blogging updates for anything past the 6th and if there's any complications during the surgery, I can die knowing that my last published online interview will be with Victoria Blake of Underland Press.

Long Story: The bone dividing my two nostrils is bent. This is called nasal septum deviation. I've known this even before I was a teenager. At around six or seven, my pediatrician asked if I had gotten into a fight because my nose was bent. At the time, this wasn't a problem. Last week, it became a problem because I hadn't picked my nose in years and it was only then that I realized my pinkie couldn't reach the nether regions of my left nostril (a stark contrast to my right in which my descriptions I'm sure will not interest you).

To illustrate the discrepancy, my doctor had dipped some cotton into some water and inserted it into my right nostril. To me, it seemed to vanish like magic. And then he did it again. Again, magic!

The procedure was repeated for my left nostril. It felt cramped and painful. If pharaohs had any sparks of life, they would have died during the brain extraction process. No wonder mummies are so angry. And in my case, it was cotton, not some lumpy nerve cells.

All three cottons were later plucked out. You can imagine my relief. Obviously, the pronouncement of the doctor was surgery.

Now my doctor, a family friend and this is the first time that I'm meeting him, has an attitude that is best characterized by Hugh Laurie. Even before the diagnosis, he asked why I didn't have surgery before. Of course he doesn't bother asking that the first and only time surgery was brought up, I was something like six or seven years old and I had no problems inserting my pinkie into my nostrils back then.

And then he mistook my stoicism for fear. This is my translation on what passes for Filipino-Fookien: "If you live to 90, how long will you live the rest of your life like that?" This was interrupted by my mother saying that I don't understand Fookien and then in Fookien, he asks her "So he's Fookien illiterate" which actually sounds like "So he's stupid."

When he asked if I have any heart problems and the like, I told him I had allergies. To antibiotics. Obviously, one can see the problem here. Much of modern medicine relies on antibiotics and there's a wide variety of them. I can't be allergic to all of them. And so the succeeding question is what antibiotics I'm allergic to and all I can say is I don't know.

There's a series of wide-eyed shock here. The first is the doctor's realization that I haven't taken any antibiotics for the past sixteen years or so, as if it's possible for me to still survive without doing so. What do you take for a cold? A soar throat? Nothing. (So if I'm the type of person who espouses healthy living, now you know the reason.)

And then there's the question of how come I know I'm allergic to antibiotics but not aware of the specific type. Well, a long time ago, I had this skin test in which I found out I was allergic to, among other things, cockroaches and chocolate. The doctor said I was allergic to Neozep, a standard antibiotic for the common cold. "You can take it but the next time you have a cold, it'll be worse."

The doctor looks at me and asks again what antibiotics I'm allergic to. I said ask my mom. And I only say that because to this day, I have to fight tooth and nail with her just to get my birth certificate. If she dies today, my bank account dies with her. And so we look at her and ask "Yes mom, what is it that I'm allergic to?" Because I'm smart and all but when I was ten or eleven, when the doctor said I was allergic to antibiotics, I thought that was the be-all and end-all to pharmacology. Little did I know there's a variety of antibiotics out there besides penicillin (and if I am allergic to penicillin, all one can say is "oh crap").

So once the holiday break is over, it looks like I'm going to have an unofficial break of my own. Will be checking in at the hospital on Tuesday afternoon, hopefully when I've stockpiled on books to read and podcasts to listen to. They're gonna cut up my nose and re-align my bone structure. Is it going to cure my chronic respiratory problem? No but at least I stop having migraines every time I have a cold.


Anonymous said...

Charles! Charles! Ask if it's going to change your voice! (I'm inclined to believe that the nasal area DOES affect how one sounds.)

Anyway, will pray that everything will go well in your operation. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday!

pgenrestories said...

Holy cow! I hope this isn't too serious. Get well soon!

Dom Cimafranca said...

You should take this opportunity to tell your doctor: "I want a nose like Tom Cruise's."

Kidding aside, will be praying for your safe operation.

P.S. Coincidentally, the captcha for this comment is "broke".

Ben Parzybok said...

Best of luck Charles - here's to hoping everything goes smoothly.

Kosmo said...

Charles, I'm sorry to hear about your nose troubles. Get well, man.

When I had knee surgery a while back, the anesthesiologist was asking me a bunch of pre-op questions about my breathing and possible bad reactions to medicine, etc.

Then he looked down at me and asked me how long ago I'd broken my nose.

"Uh, never," I said. "It just looks like that."

Unknown said...

Yikes! I hope everything goes well!

Charles said...

Thanks everyone!

Elyss: I will speak like Darth Vader from now on...

Anonymous said...

"I am ... your faaaaatthhhherrr..."