12-15-07– There is a beautiful snow falling. It will soon be Christmas, and I am depressed beyond description. (From the journal I kept following my destructive nasal and sinus surgeries of October 2007.)
12-15-09– It is two years later, almost Christmas. My life has been irreversibly changed, but I am living again. This, in itself, is a kind of a miracle.
I can breathe. It is not the deep, easy breathing I enjoyed pre-surgery. Now, I think about it every day, every hour. I shift into deep breathing exercises often. But the dyspnea is no longer a dragon I wrestle moment by moment. No more days and nights of clawing a coffin lid.
My nasal dryness is manageable if I am not too tired or overwhelmed. It has improved since the days of torturing dryness. I’ve gotten used to the routine of spraying, moisturizing and irrigating. I am accustomed to packing my bag with nasal supplies when I leave my apartment. At least I can leave. I can venture more than a few blocks. I remember the first time I performed this feat—this going out, like a normal person. It was April 2008, six months after the surgery. I went to the mall on an errand. Then I walked through the interior, thinking, “Look at me. I am walking through the mall.” My lungs were bursting and my head exploding, but I saw a smile on my face as I passed by my reflection.
That was an important day, marking my first intimation that I could live something beyond the life of an invalid. To be honest, it is still not much beyond. But every small improvement is a gift. It is more than I had before, more than I dared to hope. Two years ago, the reality was that I could just as easily get worse. I had antibiotic-resistant infections gnawing at my sinuses and eyes. At last, they have cleared.
I won’t pretend that life is easy now. If you read my blog, you know that it isn’t. If you have Empty Nose Syndrome, you know what life is like. But there is a small capacity, again, for receiving goodness and experiencing joy.
Two years ago, there was no Christmas, though my family had come from New Hampshire. I spent Christmas Eve in the hospital, having aspirated a cotton ball. I’d put it in my nose in an attempt to create normal resistance—such as nasal turbinates are meant to provide.
I have moved beyond continuous trauma. I experience moments of openness to the beauty of the world. Right now, the sky is violet-blue out my bedroom window. The buds on the maple tree are tight red fists. They bob gracefully on slender limbs.
In that twilight space between wake and dreams, I am whole. I rise up out of dreams drenched with the passionate wholeness of being. I waver over the threshold, savoring the strength and power of my mind and spirit. Before I fully return, I remind myself I am free.
This Christmas season, I am able to recall that no matter what I experience in the body, there is more. There is more joy and fulfillment in the spirit. I wish you peace and infinite good will.