An Unnecessary Surgery: A Devastating Result

October 30-November 15, 2007

 

October 30, 2007, I went to an outpatient surgery center to have a sinus polyp removed. I hadn’t known that I had a sinus polyp until the ENT I was seeing told me that I did. I had gone to see him for tinnitus (ear ringing). He had ordered some scans and had found a polyp. He had said that he’d fix that “deviated septum” while he was removing the polyp. I had not known that I had a deviated septum, either. I thought the septum was just that divider between the nostrils. I had envisioned Dr. S. clipping the polyp with a long wire snaked up my nose, as I slept on the operating table. Dr. S. had removed a cyst from my scalp the previous week, in the same surgery center, without knocking me out, or even cutting any hair.   

 

Though Dr. S. had not mentioned it, there had been something on the surgery order about a turbinate reduction. I had tried to look that up on the Internet, and had not found a definition. The term appeared on sites having to do with sinus surgery, so I assumed it was something connected to removing a polyp—probably just trimming of a little swollen tissue right next to the polyp. It worried me enough that I called his office and asked his assistant what it was, but when she sucked in her breath, I said, “Never mind.” I thought I was being difficult. Dr. S. had snapped at me, “Don’t ask stupid questions!” the day that he had ordered the surgery, and I was still shaken and upset about it.

 

I know. Why didn’t I walk out of his office when he spoke to me like that? The answer is that I had suffered a recent carbon monoxide exposure—hence, the ear ringing. I was not in my right mind. Dr. S. was informed of the CO poisoning.

 

After the surgery, I was sent home—driven there by a friend–with a prescription for painkillers and an instruction sheet, which I was in no shape to read. The next day, I drove myself back to Dr. S.’s office, in a drug haze, because one of his nasal splints had collapsed. He removed both splints. Normally, they are kept in for a week to maintain the shape of the nose. My nostrils have never matched since the surgery, I assume, because one of the splints collapsed that first night. I called the surgery center the next day because I noticed that my nostrils were pulled up. My nose had a porcine look which I hoped was temporary. Interestingly, when I later acquired my records from the surgery center, this call, and the reason for it, was notated in the tiniest hand printing I have ever seen.

 

I tried to follow the instructions and I slept. The instructions disturbed me. I was required to buy a bottle of nasal spray and use it daily, for a week. Wobbling through the drug store, I was dismayed to be searching for a product that I had never before, in my life, needed or used. It didn’t seem right.

 

Sometime in the next two drowsy weeks, I woke up suffocating, my nose parched, my lungs unable to draw a satisfying breath. I called the doctor and made an appointment. He told me that everything looked fine. The next week, I called, again. And the week after that. “If you had atrophic rhinitis,” he said. “You’d smell like a dead moose. I’d be able to smell you clear out in the waiting room.”

 

Atrophic rhintis? What was that? I looked it up on the Internet, and found this site: http://www.utmb.edu/otoref/Grnds/Atrophic-Rhinitis-050330/Atrophic-Rhinitis-050330.htm. It describes an incurable rotting condition of the nasal cavity, involving crusts, bleeding, a purulent discharge and a nauseating stench. “Sinus surgery alone comprises 90% of secondary AR…” People with atrophic rhinitis can be smelled blocks away, but they cannot smell the odor themselves due to anosmia—loss of smell.

 

I was now in the stage of the instructions wherein I was irrigating my sinsuses with saline several times daily. This, too, unnerved me, when I read it—I was required to what?  Make a solution of salt water, and squirt it up one nostril, and then the other, with a bulb syringe, and spit it out my mouth? Why should I be doing this? I had never had a sinus problem in my life! The irrigations were washing out blood, pus and crusts. The sight of this mess combined with my suffering was terrifying. What had this man done?

 

I was nauseous and weak, and I’d had diarrhea ever since the surgery. It was a struggle to stand up in the bathroom, and get through the irrigations. I couldn’t get the hang of it. I was spitting the saline all over the bathroom mirror. I had to keep resting, and returning to the chore, before it was completed. Then I had to clean the bathroom. I felt that my conditions were unsanitary, and that I should be in a sterile environment. I felt that I should have help.

 

I was nauseous, and couldn’t eat. I went to the grocery and bought loaves of French bread, which I gobbled down to kill off hunger pangs. A near-vegan before the surgery, now the only other thing I could eat was Wendy’s hamburgers and chili. It passed right through me.

 

For the first time in my life, I had arthritis pain. It started the week after the surgery. I woke in the early morning hours with excruciating pain in my hips and lower back. My breathing was so compromised that I could sleep only a few hours, but the pain in my bones would have prevented sleep, anyway. When I went to the bathroom, in the night, my knees hurt so badly I couldn’t get up.

 

I was in agony. The suffocation and nasal dryness were so intense, I felt my head would explode. The pain in my head was horrific. Every day—every minute—was a challenge to get through it. I couldn’t speak for more than a few minutes. After that, I squeaked, whispered, or could make no sound. I cried often, though not for long, because it made my nose feel awful. I could not produce mucous, and my nose felt strained and puny.


13 Responses to “An Unnecessary Surgery: A Devastating Result”

  1. Omgs! I had sinus surgery 8mths ago and experience same thg u went thru. I had blood clots filled my face and kept going back to Dr and she made me feel like i was making it up. I was n her office.at least 2-3 x’s a week. She said it had scab over and that’s why nothing was coming out. Every thg i was experiencing was normal! I would lay n bed and cry i hurt so bad! I lost my job cause i didn’t know day by day if i could work. I was n so much pain and depressed i wanted to end my life !this went on 5 mths. She did CT and never saw it but got phone call from office saying there was a lot of mucous and put me on a machine with antibodies and steroids. Which cost me 200.00 a. Mth! So i called after a mth a said it wasn’t working for me i was told i have allergies, ?,,?? Really, I’ve never had allergies before. So i switch Dr in Jan (working on mth 6) this Dr did 40 day antibiotics and CT on 30th and n his office that day. He didn’t even have to enlarge CT to c my nose was zig zag up the right side where I’ve had nothing but problems. So within that mth I’ve had surgery done again. I just broke down and cried in his office. He worn me ill b in more pain recovering this time then last time because of the correction work he was going to have to do.it’s been almost 2wks sense II’ve had this done. He said he had to remove a very large polyp and lots of small. Yes i have pain right now but it’s nothing i went thru the 1st time. I’ve been up moving around and even went to the store yesterday: ) i just felt like i was alone in experiencing this, untill i read what you went thru. Thank you for sharing your story: )

  2. Omgs! I had sinus surgery 8mths ago and experience same thg u went thru. I had blood clots filled my face and kept going back to Dr and she made me feel like i was making it up. I was n her office.at least 2-3 x’s a week. She said it had scab over and that’s why nothing was coming out. Every thg i was experiencing was normal! I would lay n bed and cry i hurt so bad! I lost my job cause i didn’t know day by day if i could work. I was n so much pain and depressed i wanted to end my life !this went on 5 mths. She did CT and never saw it but got phone call from office saying there was a lot of mucous and put me on a machine with antibodies and steroids. Which cost me 200.00 a. Mth! So i called after a mth a said it wasn’t working for me i was told i have allergies, ?,,?? Really, I’ve never had allergies before. So i switch Dr in Jan (working on mth 6

  3. DOCTORS AINT SHIT

  4. I was going to have inferior turbinate resection surgery in two days but am going to cancel now. I have vasomotor and allergic rhinitis. My turbinates constantly swell and unswell all day and especially at night, contributing to poor sleep. But after reading yours and others story about ens, I am terrified!! I already feel like I have a dry nose especially at night and have to cover my nose with my hand or a sheet during the night for humidification. With ens, feeling like that all day must be hellish. I already have fibromyalgia and arthritis and it becoming worse behind ens is scary. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry you had to go through this terrible ordeal but your bravery and honesty in sharing gives others (me) the info necessary to know what could happen as a result of these nasal surgeries. Thank you again.

    • I always feel a sense of purposefulness when my words have spared someone else this misery. I hope you find a more conservative solution to your medical issue. Thank you for sharing.

  5. OMG! I had the same experience as yours. I was supposed to have a surgery for nasal polyps and sinusitis but it ended up with septoplasty and turbinectomy. I had no idea what turbinates were and I didn’t know the guy removed the entire turbinates on my both nose cavity. I am so regret that I didn’t do enough research before I proceed with the procedure. It is too late now. I have lost my health, job and family after this disaster. The only thing keeps me alive is the hope of stem cell that one day can all the ENS sufferers. God, please save us!

  6. I don’t know if u r still suffering with the nasal dryness but my nasal polyp rival surgery resulted in excessive dryness that necessitates me holding a plastic bottle of nasal solution because I get blocked nasal passages at night resulting in horrible sleep. Ponaris which is a nasal emollient ( look under Amazon. Com is not too bad along with a Allegra -D antihistamine pill in the morning. I truly empathize w u

  7. My nose now sticks up and the nostrils are huge with one larger than other. Always crusty. Remember when you took a shower and after you can blow your nose. Don’t even get moisuture in shower. I only can blow it if I cry and then I have some blood. Headaches in front and back of head. I am on phone so sorry for texting spelling. I hate surgeons mine lied about gall bladder he never said mine was functioning. Only odors I detect are bad, nothing tastes good — with teeth e wn water hurts. I wish I could share before and after photos with you. Are you on East Coast. I am in NJ and traveled 4 hours to try to get help. Dentist there wants 15000 no guarantee on pain relief and not addressing the 10 front teeth that have no fillings. I see you started this in 2007 are you better now??

  8. Some $30,000 (in out-of-pocket expense), and three lost years later, my conditions are greatly improved, but I will never be completely recovered. And I will always be at risk for further problems.

    I have been infection-free for about 9 months. I suffered antibiotic-resistant infections for about 3 years post-op. I still suffer a dry nose, but the condition is manageable. My breathing has improved. I believe that the bones of the nasal cavity made an inward adjustment improving airflow resistance. I continue to treat a dry eye condition.

    My face will never be my face again. My cheekbones collapsed inward as the bones knitted to fill in the giant holes drilled in the Caldwell-Luc procedure. The right side of my face collapsed more than the left. I am left with a drooping right eye. I have stretched and pulled down on my nose so it is not as pig-like as it was, but with the loss of my cheekbones, the nose is now too large for my face. I have fluid retention on my cheekbones from the cutting of lymph pathways.

    I suffered terrible facial pain for 3 years. The right side of my face shrank due to bone loss from the surgery and I lost a three tooth bridge on that side of my face. The teeth beneath the surgical sites were damaged. I lost one and had 2 more rebuilt. In all I lost 4 teeth due to the surgery. I have had some dental implants and need some more.

    I feel like I have survived a horrific assault and mutilation. I will never be what I was before, but I am living again. It is still profoundly stunning to me that a doctor can do this to a patient and all around, there is silence.

    • Are you sueing against that dr?

      • no it was was possible to sue the doctor due to laws protecting doctors and doctors refusing to testify truthfully in a case against a fellow doctor.

    • All of these stories sound so horrible! I am so sorry for each of you that is suffering from something you shouldn’t have ever had to go through. My brother had sinus surgery in July. Since then he has had 4 infections and suffers from a very dry irritated nose. He says he doesn’t feel like he can’t breath but I see him constantly touching his nose. He keeps hoping that it only needs more time to heal but he shows a lot of signs of ENS. I’m terrified for him. I’ve watched him suffer and he’s crying almost daily now. I have looked up and found the only treatments in the country seem to be Dr Houser in Cleveland. Does anyone have any insight? And as a family member I’m trying to be supportive and do everything I can to let him know I’m here. Is there anything else I can do? I feel so helpless and afraid:(

  9. Then… have You solved Your problems?

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