Scorpion, my book about my unnecessary turbinate reduction surgery resulting in Empty Nose Syndrome and my subsequent patient blacklisting, is now available in all formats from Smashwords, Inc. and in Kindle format from Amazon.com. Because I want everyone to read my book, I have reduced the price to $2.99.
Scorpion at Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/165161
Scorpion at Amazon: http://amzn.com/B006GIV74I
I called Dr. Shark’s office and told Wendy that I wanted to pick up my patient records when I came for my appointment on December 5.
I got the records as soon as I arrived. Before my name was called, I had time to see the term “atrophic rhinitis” on three records—November 7, November 12, and November 26—all of my post-operative exam dates, except for the first one. November 26 was the day that Dr. Shark had accused me of having an emotional problem because, as he’d said, there was nothing wrong with my nose. My fear for my condition overshadowed my feelings of betrayal
Dr. Shark was trying out a new tactic this day. “Tell me how you’re doing,” he said, magnanimously, as if his only concern was my well-being. I skipped over the question and pointed out the term “atrophic rhinitis” on my records.
“Is it true?” I asked.
“Only temporarily,” he said. I knew that atrophic rhinitis was not a temporary condition. It was incurable, but I clung to his words with ragged hope. He asked again how I was doing. I barely heard the question. My universe had been reduced to atrophic rhinitis—“dead moose.” I told him I was better, but that I still could not breathe well or sleep. He checked my nose. He said that the crusts were all gone on the left, three-quarters gone on the right, and that I did not have atrophic rhinitis today.
When I got home, I called Wendy and told her that I had forgotten to ask the doctor if I needed to take any precautions when my two-year-old grandson came to visit on Dec. 22. He had MRSA. Actually, so did Leah. She had gotten it from her son, but the baby’s infection was worse. Wendy said that she would get back to me. Jack had reserved a motel room for Leah and the kids. My apartment couldn’t accommodate them. They were coming for Christmas, as was Laura and her family. For the first time in seven years, Jack and I and the kids were going to have Christmas dinner together.
That evening, I looked through my patient records. The CT report of November 18 stated, “No significant septal deviation is seen.” One of the premises upon which I had based my decision to have the surgery was that I had read that a deviated septum can contribute to the development of polyps because air doesn’t flow normally through the nasal passages. I didn’t have a deviated septum.
The surgical pathology report noted a clinical history of deviated nasal septum and chronic sinusitis. I did not have a deviated septum and when did I get chronic sinusitis? I had never been treated for a sinus condition in my life before I met Dr. Shark. I had gone to him for tinnitus. On the medical history that I had filled out on August 6, following Respiratory—asthma, emphysema, lung–I had written “none.” After Allergic, Immunologic—environmental–I had written “Lyme’s Disease, Fibromyalgia since 1984, hay fever, CO exposure winter 2006-07.” None of these things qualifies as chronic sinusitis. People with chronic sinusitis have miserable noses, they can’t breathe, they use nasal sprays. I had never had a breathing problem or a dry nose, or used a nasal spray, until after Dr. Shark’s surgery.
On the progress notes, dated August 6, Dr. Shark had noted “chronic sinusitis.” I wondered when he had written that. There had been no discussion of sinusitis in August. If we had discussed “chronic sinusitis” on August 6, I would surely have mentioned it on the patient form that I had filled out on the same day. A piece of that form seemed to be missing from my records. Where was the paper that asked why I had come to see the doctor, and asked for a description of my symptoms? I had filled out a lot of these forms lately, and that was always one of the questions. He allegedly noted “infection” on August 6, yet failed to mention it in his August 8 letter to my GP.
On a pre-surgery report, dated October 28, Dr. Shark had written, “She complains of recurrent sinusitis, throat congestion, and extensive sinus disease per her recent CT.” I had told him that I had noticed stuffiness a few times when I cried. This stuffiness had been so insignificant that I had not mentioned it until the day he’d told me that I needed surgery.
I had never discussed a sinus problem with any doctor in my life. I had gone to the same doctor’s office for five years. Nowhere in those records was there a single complaint about a sinus problem–nor in any previous medical record. I had just been approved for Social Security in March. I had filled out copious medical forms. Nowhere was there a mention of a sinus problem, detailing and evidencing my medical history since 1984. How did he think he could get by with this?
My patient exam report of November 12 noted not only atrophic rhinitis, but “chronic rhino sinusitis.” This was the second time the doctor noted atrophic rhinitis, and now, he bestowed a chronic rhinitis condition on me, which I assumed was something worse than sinusitis. He was ramping up the diagnosis. Was he inventing chronic conditions to explain why I had atrophic rhinitis two weeks after his surgery?
According to the surgical pathology report, this was removed from my nose and sinuses: multiple pieces of flat bone and cartilage, in aggregate measuring 4.0 x 4.0 x 0.2 cm. Also some gray mucoid soft tissue measuring 2.0 x 2.0 x 0.6 cm. I ran to my bedroom and got a ruler. 4.0 cm was larger than 1 ½ inch. Suddenly, I was wearing a little cage and I was falling down a dark hole in my cage. This was why I had atrophic rhinitis. Turbinate “tissue” was bone. This was why the poster on the ENS forum had told me that turbinates did not grow back.
The surgical report was full of words like “power dissector” and “mocrodebrider” and “blade” and “trocar obturator” and “Killian knife.” I couldn’t look straight at it. I peered at it, through fingers covering my eyes. Near the end of the report, I saw these words, “This left a markedly deformed septum.” Was this why he’d told me that I had a deviated septum, reinforcing the verdict at every exam? Had it been a necessary part of the diagnosis because he didn’t have the skills to operate without destroying the septum?
Now I knew why Dr. Shark had told me that he would start me on Premarin soon. Premarin is a treatment for atrophic rhinitis.
I thought back to Dr. Shark, on November 26, complaining that other people had worse noses than mine and were not suffering that much, asking me if I had an emotional problem. I thought of him knowing full well that he had brought terrible suffering upon me for the rest of my life with an unnecessary surgery and trying to shame me into silence. I started to cry, but it made my nose feel so horrible that I had to stop. My nose was ineffectual. It couldn’t even produce snot.