About two weeks ago, I underwent a septoplasty procedure in an attempt to fix long-standing issues I’ve endured with my nasal passages over the years.
I’ve struggled to breathe through my nose – particularly the left nostril – ever since I broke it while playing soccer as a teenager. I was at a tournament in 2010, when an opposing defender mistook my face for the ball and head-butted me right in the nose when we were both going for a cross.
My April 14 operation wasn’t the first time I’ve gone under the knife to try and improve my breathing. I originally got a septoplasty in 2017, but within a few years, my nasal passages had regressed back to their previous state, prompting me to re-book an appointment with an ears, nose, and throat specialist in 2021. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, my surgery date ended up being postponed.
In terms of recovery from the operation, septoplasty 2.0 proved much more difficult than the first. I can recall healing in about a week or two from my septoplasty in 2017. This time however, the surgeon used nasal “splints” to hold my newly improved nose’s cartilage together. While this was probably the best way for my nose to properly heal, it meant I had two-inch-long pieces of plastic inserted up each of my nostrils – a very uncomfortable and painful sensation.
I did very little during the first four days after the operation, other than breathe through my mouth and complain to my wife about how miserable I was. I spent my Easter long weekend mostly marooned on the couch, binge watching a combination of soccer games, Better Call Saul, and Everybody Loves Raymond. I slept terribly the first few nights, as I’d been instructed to try sleeping upright – I’m usually a stomach sleeper.
The swelling finally started subsiding after the long weekend, and I was back at work by last Tuesday. But all week, I was counting down the hours until my follow-up appointment with the surgeon on April 22, as I knew that was the date I would get the splints taken out.
When the splints were finally removed last Friday – eight days after my operation – the experience was unbelievably excruciating. My nose was still quite tender at the time of the extraction, but the surgeon had to reach far into my nostrils with his pliers to remove the plastic splints. As he was doing it, my eyes watered like crazy and I thought my brain was exploding (metaphorically speaking) from how much it hurt.
But as painful as the brief ordeal was, I’d put up with that agony again just to experience that first, uninhibited inhale of air through my nostrils immediately afterwards. It was one of the most delicious breaths I’ve ever taken.