Monday, October 12, 2015

I Am Jack's Weird Nose

I don't know that I have ever had a good relationship with my nose.

Even as a child, I was constantly a plagued with congestion, usually blamed on allergies, and bloody noses. I have often been a mouth breather - something I actively work to avoid, but sometimes it's a choice between mouth-breathing and not breathing. 

Once in a while, I've entertained the thought that I would look pretty cool with a nose piercing, but never got one because I thought it would probably piss off the nose gods and I'd be stuck with constant sinus and piercing infections. It would not be pretty. 

The ultimate nasal betrayal came in high school with my first bout of GPA (at the time it was Wegener's... names are tricky).  In the months leading up to my diagnosis, I was having there horrendous bloody noses. I mean horror movie bad.  And I was getting them two or three times a day. Almost every night I would wake up with a bleeder sometime in the wee hours of the morning, and I would sit there and bleed for 1-2 hours.  I thought that was why I was so tired - I never slept through the night because of my stupid nose; and I figured maybe I was a little short on blood at some point.

I did go to an ENT about it.  Actually, I was visiting my normal doctor because I had a cold that wouldn't go away, and my nose started bleeding while I was there.  After 20 minutes, he took me to the ENTs.  They cauterized some stuff, my nose started bleeding as soon as we left, they cauterized some more stuff, my nose started bleeding as soon as we got to the lobby, they said there was nothing left to cauterize.  After that, my nose started hurting too; and the nose bleeds kept coming.

It probably (definitely) didn't help that I was taking a lot of ibuprofen at the time for various aches and pains, most of which involved my nose.  Ibuprofen, as you might know, is a blood thinner so it just made the nose bleeds worse.

When eventually I checked in to the hospital, I freaked a few nurses out with the crazy bleeding.

Then came the diagnosis of Wegener's Granulomatosis - confirmed by a biopsy of some nasal tissue.  After the biopsy, the nose bleeds kind of stopped - partially due to treating the disease, partially due to the packing they stuffed in there after cutting stuff up.  Since then, I've still gotten occasional nose bleeds, but nothing really more than any normal person in a dry climate - and they've been less frequent than they were for the first 17 years of my life.

Saddle nose is a thing that you get with GPA and I was left with a little ridge.  I used to joke that if I had a relapse, maybe I would at least get a new nose out of it.

My nose problems were far from over, though.  Since then, I've had trouble with congestion and frequent sinus infections.  A couple years ago, I saw an ENT about it and he said surgery was the answer to all my problems!  So he straightened up my septum and reduced my turbinates.  The latter was supposed to open up my nasal passages to I could breathe better.  All that happened after the surgery was that my congestion problems moved farther up my sinuses where it was harder to blow my nose and get rid of the gunk.

I really haven't had any nose bleeds this time around - which is part of why I was in denial so long about the possibility of a relapse.  Also, the nasal tissue we biopsied this time was negative for GPA.

Still, we can be pretty sure at this point that my nose has GPA all up in its business.

And I definitely have saddle nose now.  I'm also really sensitive about my saddle nose - so maybe I think it's worse than it is.  And I'm pretty sure I feel like it has gotten really bad recently... but I couldn't pinpoint exactly when.

But check this: Timehop showed me this picture today -->

My first thought when I saw it was "wow, check out how not jacked-up my nose is"

This picture was from 5 years ago.  Because I'm a little obsessed with my nose at the moment, I've actually looked through all my pictures from the last several years trying to pin point when it got bad.  There are almost no pictures of me in profile, so it's almost impossible to tell.  In some lights, you can see a shadow across the bridge of my nose.  It's just really hard to tell what is going on with it.

This is my nose now though.  For the straight shot, I did chose bad lighting so you can really see the shadow.  But I do have people fairly regularly ask me what's wrong with my nose.  It's honestly just a shadow - but it often looks like a bruise or like I have something on my face.  My grandmother has told me several times to cover it with make-up, but it doesn't really work that way.

And then with the profile, you can really see how the bridge of my nose has collapsed.  Compare that to five years ago, it's pretty drastic.

I've gotten really conscious about it too.  I've never really been one to worry too much about my looks - I mean, I like to look good, but I've never wanted to change my features to meet some ridiculous beauty standard.  I do want a nose job now though.  I hate my nose.

The profile is bad, but I think I'm bothered more by the shadow from the front.  I get tired of explaining it.  It's not really something that's easy to explain

Random person: Hey, there's something on your nose
Me: Oh, no, that's just how my nose is
Rando:  No, just right there, it's like ink or a bruise or something
Me: Yeah, that's just my nose.  It's actually a shadow.  I'm missing some cartilage in the bridge of my nose, so that's just how it looks
Rando: *walks away slightly confused and feeling awkward about the interaction*

Anyway, there may actually be a legit medical excuse to get it fixed - I will get my consolation nose-job.  Having it collapsed like that does actually make the airways smaller which makes it hard to breathe.  Of course, surgery is not really the greatest thing in the world, and there's always the possibility of things going horribly wrong. If it comes to purely cosmetic reasons, I'm not entirely sure I can justify the cost.  I mean, it's just my face; I can still be confident and sure of myself with a weird nose.  Maybe I can start wearing fake glasses to camouflage the shadow.

I have a post planned for my throat too, so you can get a clear picture of what's going on there.  That's another possible surgery.  But we'll go into later.

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