Letter From a Suicidal ENS Friend
I was operated on and permanently injured by an ENT. I was naive and trusted him not to hurt me. He froze, cut, and resected two vital organs in my nasal cavity called inferior turbinates. My ENT destroyed these organs to the point where they no longer function. As a result, I now average 3-4 hours a night for the last 6 years. I feel like I am suffocating 24/7. I no longer produce mucous to humidify the air for my lungs. I have chronic anxiety, depression and a complete loss of well-being. I cannot focus or concentrate. My condition has progressed to a point where I am completely disabled. Despite my efforts, there is not a cure for my condition.
Before this happened, I never even heard of turbinates. They are the key organs in the nasal cavity, shaped like small fingers. Their functionality is necessary to well-being and a good quality of life. They perform many functions, including humidifying, heating and cooling the air for the lungs. They are rich with neurons that send signals to the brain regarding gas exchange, information about sleep, and provide well-being. As a result, I have a crippled nose, sinuses and nasal cavity, that do not produce mucus, do not sense airflow, and do not function. I have severe maxillary nerve damage as well. The nerves that line what is left on my mucosa are damaged so I feel like I am suffocating 24/7. My subconscious mind cannot sleep through the suffocation. As a result, I sleep a few hours a night and never feel refreshed. When I am awake, I experience what only can be described as torture. My anxiety and level of well-being are terrible. Humans are hard-wired to experience anxiety when they feel like they are suffocating. All of the pleasurable sensations that come with breathing are absent. My sinuses are dry. The quality of my life is gone.
I saw Dr. Steven Houser in Jan of ‘09. He diagnosed me with ENS. The condition is nicknamed Empty Nose Syndrome because, when you look at a CT scan, the nasal cavity appears empty. This silly-sounding condition is chronically debilitating. Dr. Houser mentioned it was a potential suicide condition. There have been numerous suicides due to ENS, as documented by Dr. Eugene Kern, formerly from the Mayo Clinic. My good friend, John, with whom I spoke every day for a year, had ENS and ultimately took his life a few years ago. I realized I was having suicidal thoughts because the symptoms exceeded my ability to cope with the condition. I had a friend in college who took his life. I remember thinking to myself–what could be that bad that he would go to that extreme? I did not understand it then, but I understand it now. I hate that option. I want to live. I do not want to take my life anymore then the next guy. I do not agree with suicide on principle. It is a terrible legacy to leave my children. They need me as a father. So I have been fighting the urge for many years. However, I feel I have no hope and things are not improving, but rather getting worse. I am not sleeping hardly at all, and my mental anguish and anxiety are terrible. Years of sleeping just 3 hours a night, and the complete loss of well-being, and the torture ENS brought to my life have become unbearable.
One thing that makes it tough is there is no escape. Since it is breathing related, it is constant. The lack of nerve signals being sent to the brain makes it torture. That is the hardest part to explain. I was so sleep-deprived, and sleep is such a motivator, I would do anything for it. My friends and family cannot comprehend my suffering, and cannot understand why I cannot transcend my problem. I would like nothing more than to successfully cope. I have two beautiful children that need a healthy father. I want to feel better so I can be there for them. Other than the physical symptoms, I suffer from a complete loss of well-being. I have severe depression and anxiety. I always excelled in school and work and, overall, things came pretty easy for me. I was so very capable. Now everything is so hard. Little tasks are hard. I spend my days trying to not lose it mentally. When I discuss my problems with my friends and family, it is very hard on them. They cannot help the situation so they do not know how to react. I try my best not to burden anyone anymore. As a result, it is a very lonely condition. Only my fellow ENS sufferers, who I met online, can comprehend what I go through. I confide in them. This is not my suicide note. Although I am suicidal. Every day, I feel the urge. I force myself to make it one more day. I have been saying that to myself for years. I have never imagined such pain could have been brought to my life to ruin it.