WELP. I believe I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had pretty intense sinus and headache pain that I believed was sinusitis for over a month now. On top of that, I’ve had various bouts of nausea, lighteheadness, and eye blurriness, which I believed were all related at the time. After I tried three different antibiotics and a round of steroids from my general practitioner with no relief, I ended up going to an ENT, Dr. Sharma.
On my first visit to his office, he put some drops in my nose to dilate something inside it and scoped out my nose with a camera (this was all weird-feeling, but not painful or anything). He quickly determined that my facial pain was NOT in fact, the result of sinusitis. My sinuses were totally fine. This was mildly confusing to me, as my GP had previously said that my sinuses looked irritated (something I should address with him at some point).
Dr. Sharma initially suggested waiting a few weeks before getting a head CT, but once I explained how much of a toll this constant pain has been taking on me, he ordered one right away. I’m really glad I got it done sooner rather than later, as I was starting to get pretty freaked out over what might be the problem.
I got my head CT yesterday. Easiest medical test I’ve had all year! Yes - this is…at least my fourth, maybe my fifth, medical test to figure out mysterious pain this year. LUCKY ME. But this one didn’t require any fasting or medicine prep or anything. I just made sure I wasn’t wearing anything metal around my head, lay down, stayed still during the CT, and then left. It was awesome. I must admit though, I was pretty nervous and keyed up about it all afterward, just waiting for those results and hoping I didn’t have a tumor or something terrifying.
In the past, it’s taken several days for my doctors to get back to me with results, but I actually got a phone call from Dr. Sharma’s office first thing this morning asking me to come in and bring my CT CD so he could look at it and tell me what was up. So less than 24 hours after actually getting the CT - I had an answer. My sinuses are still totally fine. It’s a deviated septum that’s causing my facial pain. My nose looks totally straight and non-distinctive from the outside, but on the inside, it apparently is super wavy. So I’m going to get surgery to fix it and hopefully that should solve the problem.
I’m actually a little surprised that my septum ended up being the issue! That was not something I expected at all. My nose is straight and pretty non-distinctive - not really too small or too large or anything. I’ve never had a problem with it because it’s just…my nose. I’ve also never had trouble breathing out of either nostril and I don’t breathe through my mouth, so I really don’t display most of the classic deviated septum signs. The facial pain I started having at the start of July is really the only trouble I’ve ever had with it. If I hadn’t had that, I literally would never have known my septum was anything other than totally completely ordinary. I don’t actually mind it too much, but it definitely wasn’t the diagnosis I was expecting! (I thought my CT would be totally normal and I’d probably have migraines or something, which would be a pain in the ass to treat. :/)
Dr. Sharma actually was trying to get me in for the surgery tomorrow, but because I’m in a play next weekend and going to a writer’s conference the weekend after that, I elected to put it off for a while. From what I’ve read online, recovery from a septoplasty can be pretty grody and you can look pretty awful for a few days after it. I don’t want to risk messing up my performance or my face right before a theater production we’ve been working on for months. I also don’t really want to go to a writers festival that I intend to use as a learning AND networking opportunity with a giant bandage on my nose. So as bad as the pain is, I’ll just tough it out for a few weeks and then get the surgery. I feel like I can handle it now that I know what’s going on and I’m not just flailing around for a diagnosis.
All in all, the whole experience hasn’t been too bad. Considering it took me YEARS to get a diagnosis for my osteoarthritis/neck pain and over 8 months to get a diagnosis for my more recent chronic pain issue (which I’m choosing not to name, as it’s…of a slightly more private nature, and I am Southern, after all. I gotta have SOME boundaries.), getting a diagnosis for my new fun facial pain in just about a month really isn’t so bad. AND I’ve got a solution for it which is likely to remedy the pain entirely; in contrast, my neck pain and unnamed chronic pain #2 are continuing issues that I’m going to likely have to take active measures to battle the rest of my life. :/
I think the fact that I have a good ENT who believes me, takes my pain seriously, and is willing to work with me to get that pain addressed ASAP is a huge factor here. Dr. Sharma and his office followed up with me on my medical test faster than any other doctor I’ve ever had, and they were literally ready to get me in for surgery within 24 hours! That’s seriously quick for a relatively minor outpatient procedure that isn’t life threatening in any way. I am very very grateful for his work and his office and am very happy to have an answer!
I’ll have more updates later as I actually go through the septoplasty and recover from it. I had trouble finding straight answers online on what the recovery for an outpatient septoplasty under local anesthesia and without rhinoplasty would be like. The doctor’s office estimated 2-3 days, while accounts I was reading online and heard from friends was more like a week or two. But everything I read was also for in-patient procedures, under general anesthesia, or also included a rhinoplasty. So I definitely want to document my exact experience for anyone else who might want to get some answers in the future!