Old Wounds

Three months to the bar and I discover the hard way that I have cystic lesions of the maxillary sinus in both of my sinuses. To my dismay, my doctor says that surgery is the only way to remove them because of their size. So it comes to pass that I spent the past week in hospital away from writing (but not from study – I finished reading Ethics and Commercial Law as I was convalescing).

The cysts ruptured on Monday just as the wife and I were going out to meet her family for what was supposed to be a relaxing three-day sabbatical in Matuod. I took antibiotics to stem the tide but to no avail. By Wednesday, the left side of my face had swollen to elephantine proportions and I had a terrible time opening my mouth or chewing food. Just eating a banana was torture enough.

This, my ENT tells me, is the result of severe trauma to both sinuses that resulted in the drains of my sinuses being blocked by scar tissue. This blockage caused cysts to form that could only be seen through a CT scan. The trauma was caused by a Caldwell-Luc operation I had when I was twelve to remove nasal polyps. Scar tissue had formed around the polyps and tiny cysts began to form. Fast forward to this time last week, and I had cysts the size of eyeballs under my eyes just waiting to explode. Ironically, it would take another Caldwell-Luc operation (this apparently is the only way to effectively explore the nasal sinuses) to clear the cysts and take all cystic matter out of my head.

As a result, I can breathe quite well through both my nostrils with my mouth closed (something which was alien to me for most of my life – I thought this was quite normal). My nose is now more prominent – large areas that I thought were cheekbone were actually part of the cyst wall. In fact, Iya says I now look quite older because my cheeks have sunk in a fashion similar to having had a collagen injection removed from the cheekbone. I can’t smile at all as my upper lip seems to be numb from the procedure. On the flip side, I can only take food that is both liquid (or at least soft) and cold – read: ice cream diet.

The operation and costs involved (my health plan couldn’t cover it as it was a preexisting condition) effectively put to naught all our plans of a honeymoon before the bar. Iya and I never had a honeymoon because we went to law school immediately after our wedding. Now, that honeymoon looks oh so remote. Quality medicine isn’t cheap at all.

We’re all very disappointed in this (me more so than her, as I had really been looking forward to it), but what can I say? C’est la vie. Vacations will be ruined by untimely illness (or in this case, an untimely display of complications). I guess that’s just part of the process. I know it’s a life lesson (always see the doctor if there’s anything wrong with your nose – it could be something far worse), but why does it have to be so painful to learn?


2 thoughts on “Old Wounds”

  1. Sorry to hear about the suffering.
    I had a Caldwell-Luc a few years ago to remove a cyst. After the operation my face swelled up and was really scary.
    I read recently in a book from the Harvard Medical School that surgery is rarely necessary for cysts and that they should just burst by themselves.
    I guess your situation is different. Anyway, all the best.

  2. Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words.
    I was crying the night before the surgery to my wife, not because of the thought of surgery but because I was scared of the post-operative recovery period – the cure being worse than the cold, so to speak.
    Fortunately, my swelling’s subsided, save for that on my lip, which came from the surgery.

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