Life happens, as they say. For me, life happened on February 26, 2015 when I had an accident that caused severe trauma to my nose. Surgery was the only option to correct the damage.
Today, on the one year anniversary of my surgery I’ll tell you briefly about the accident, my recovery, share some “After” pictures with you, and give an update on the functionality of my nose.
I’m categorizing this as a “Plastic Surgery“; however, it’s just a little different than my others because this surgery was medically necessary and not relative at all to my weight loss. If you’re considering a Rhinoplasty for cosmetic purposes, or if you have no choice in the matter (deviated septum, trauma, etc.), I hope you’ll find this post helpful.
On February 26, 2015 I donated plasma, went to work, and collapsed an hour later.
I was demonstrating sewing machines to customers and I began to feel dizzy. My heart began to race, darkness began to cloud my vision, I began to sweat, and I felt incredibly tired. As we were finishing up their transaction, I was so weak I had to pull a chair up to the counter. This seemed to abate the symptoms, but they soon returned. The customers even asked me several times during those moments, “Do we need to call you an ambulance?” I declined them politely but had to excuse myself from helping them any further. I rang for assistance, got up from my chair, and made my way to the bathroom so I could simply lie down on the floor. But I never made it to the bathroom. I woke up on the floor in a pool of my own blood.
Too weak to protest all the fuss, paramedics arrived and began to “work” on me. My blood pressure was so low it didn’t read at all for several attempts. I sunk in to the shoulder of the EMT who was taking it because I didn’t have the strength to stay awake. One of them finally said, “80 over 50.” They lifted me on to the stretcher and made the decision for me, “You’re going to the hospital.”
I received an IV, 2 EKGs, and X-rays. Thank God, I’m healthy as a horse. After 5 years of donating plasma without any incident, I simply had a bad reaction. It was a freak accident and nothing more. Unfortunately, my nose broke on the impact of my fall.
The gash is where I made impact with the wall before collapsing. My nose bled from that wound and from my nostrils all night.
My nose was already pretty gynormous… so it doesn’t look too bad in these pics. As the swelling subsided, though, you could see how broken it actually was.
That bump is my septum. It was “relocated” when I fell.
Surgery was the only option to repair it.
On May 4, 2015 I checked in for surgery.
Dr. Bergman is the surgeon who performed my tummy tuck. I went to her, initially, to perform the repair on my nose and she declined. She specializes in cosmetic surgery and since my nose was trauma, she referred me to Dr. Stephen Perkins in Indianapolis. When I called Dr. Perkins I was informed he was not in my Anthem Health Insurance Network, so I was then referred to Dr. Scott Shadfar who was in fellowship with Dr. Perkins. Dr. Shadfar was in my Anthem network, so that’s how we came to choose him for this surgery.
The surgery was supposed to last for 3 hours, but the damage was more severe than initially assessed and I was under for nearly 4.5 hours instead. My nose, apparently, “crumbled like sand” in the operating room and had to be rebuilt… that’s what I was told several days later. My mom didn’t think I could “handle” that news fresh out of surgery (she’s hilarious, seriously). Because my nose was big enough to begin with, harvested bone from my rib or ear wasn’t required for the reconstruction.
We stayed in a hotel that night, per the Dr.’s recommendation, so we could be in close proximity to him.
There was a splint inside each of my nostrils and a splint on top of my nose as well. I was given 2 gel eye masks. While one was on my face, the other one soaked in ice water and I would constantly rotate them. I had to do that for the entire first week of my recovery; Day and night 24/7. Around 9pm that night, I finally woke up from my napping and was in the mood to eat. Tim got me a milk shake and I had to eat it with a baby spoon. Sucking through a straw is a no-no because of the pressure it puts on your nose. I watched a little Seinfeld on TV and Dr. Shadfar himself called me from his personal cell phone to check on me 🙂 True story. No other doctor I’ve had has ever done that.
The next morning I had my first post-op visit. He removed a few stitches (I have no idea why stitches were removed so soon… but it hurt like the devil). This is when he showed me how to clean out my nose. 4 times a day I had to soak a q-tip in peroxide and clean all my scars and actually go up inside my nostrils. After that, I had to repeat the process with bacitracin ointment.
I was given a pretty high dosage of Percocet… but I was still in extreme pain for the first few days. A had a POUNDING headache that entire first week. The pressure on my nose was just so intense and, not to sound like a baby, I had to physically stop myself from crying that first night of recovery (just the first night! 🙂 ). I knew that if I cried my nose would get congested and I would’ve been even more miserable because I wasn’t allowed to blow my nose or sneeze. I truly do have a high tolerance for pain, and this surgery tested that to its limits. On my personal pain scale this was a 10 out of 10 (As the days subsided, obviously, the pain did too. It was only a 10 for the first 48 hours). A few days out I said to my mom, “If I still can’t breathe after this, and my nose is still huge, I’m leaving it!” No revisions for me!
The ointment eventually made my bandages “greasy” looking. Bruising also got progressively worse in the following days. Again, you’re not allowed to blow your nose or sneeze, so I had to have the bandage over my lip to let everything just drain out of my nose naturally.
I’m on the sofa in this picture. This was my bed for 2 weeks post-op. I wasn’t allowed to sleep in the same bed with Tim in the event he’d roll over or accidentally slap my face in the middle of the night. Since I had to constantly change out my eye masks and take medication throughout the night, I slept on the couch so I wouldn’t bother him.
8 days after surgery, Dr. Shadfar removed all my splints and bandages. After days of laying around looking like this I was definitely getting antsy for them to come off/out! Because I couldn’t blow my nose (in case you forgot…), he had to suction the “goop” out with a little vacuum. That was especially pleasant 🙂
I went back to work the next day (1 week and 2 days after surgery). Dr. Shadfar told me it would take a year for the true shape of my new nose to come to fruition.
So today is the one year anniversary. And here’s what my nose looks like now.
I love my new nose. I love that it’s proportionate to the rest of my face. I love that it’s more feminine than my previous nose.
When I chose Dr. Shadfar to do my surgery, I was told he was in my Anthem network. As it turns out, he actually was not. He filed for out-of-network benefits on my behalf, and the letters from my provider all came back “We need more information to determine if out-of-network coverage can be provided.” So we sent more information (his documentation, my hospital diagnosis of nose fracture, X-ray results, etc.) in the hopes that I’d get coverage. So, we proceeded with surgery under the assumption I’d get the coverage because, why would I not, right? Well… on May 12 (8 days after my surgery) I got a letter that NO health coverage would be provided. Final decision.
I appealed this decision several times anyway before I was eventually “cut off” from appealing any more. Lesson learned: make no assumptions.
Surgeon’s Fee (including all follow-up appointments), Anesthesia, and Surgery Facility Use came to $10, 672. I don’t say this to elicit pity. I only mention it because if you’re, dear reader, interested in a rhinoplasty, strictly from a cosmetic stand point, this would be your approximate cost. If you need surgery on your nose for medical necessity, like I did, than I would recommend making 1000% sure the doctor you choose is in your Healthcare network.
Not only does my nose look amazing, but I could actually breathe out of it for the first time since my accident. Breathing was great… until it wasn’t. Gradually, several months out from surgery, I began to notice that breathing was very laborious in my right nostril. I chalked it up to my allergies because that’s something I’ve always struggled with. As my final appointment began to approach, though, I decided to talk to my new doctor about it. (Dr. Shadfar moved his practice to Oklahoma in December, so my final appointment was with his colleague, Dr. Kaete Archer). I told her what was going on and she informed me that my nose is still severely deviated to the right…
Needlesstosay, I’m pretty bummed. I’m not throwing Dr. Shadfar under the bus. He did great work on my nose. Somewhere, unfortunately, in the healing process things just shifted. Cartilage is not finite; it’s flexible… and that’s just the nature of the beast sometimes.
I’m going to wait until after Summer to see how my breathing is. My allergies could just be exacerbating the issue. If my problems still persist, though, I will probably have to undergo that revision surgery I swore to my mom I would never have.
On that note, I believe everything happens for a reason… Dr. Shadfar did an AMAZING job on my nose. It was a very difficult procedure (he told me several times 🙂 ) and he exceeded my expectations in numerous ways. And, honestly, I don’t think that some ER ear, nose, and throat specialist could’ve handled it… no disrespect intended by that, but I just don’t. Selecting a doctor is a very intimate thing… I mean, they cut on you. They know you and your body in a way NO one else does or ever will. You kind of want to trust them and I trusted Dr. S. In spite of my health insurance fiasco and the shifting of my septum, I’m grateful that Dr. Shadfar performed my surgery.
There is SO much more to be told about my recovery… I didn’t even scratch the surface. If you’d like to know more, just ask. I’m an open book.
Thanks for reading my epic Nose Diary.
*I get ZERO affiliate/sponsor kickbacks, commissions, or discounts from my doctors by recommending their services and linking to their websites. All expenses for these surgeries are paid for 100% out-of-pocket.
*All opinions expressed are my own.