October 02, 2013

new sinuses, new job, new husband

That's actually the subject of an email my sister just sent to me. I have this awesome habit of changing ALL THE THINGS! in my life at the same time.  The last time I switched jobs, for example, it was the same week I moved in with Chris, right as we also took our first major international trip together. 

Meanwhile, I just quit my current job, accepted a new one, and also had (minor) sinus surgery yesterday. While planning a wedding, of course. Whee!

So, the sinus thing. I've had crappy sinuses for ages, which is not news. I switched to a new ENT (after the oh-so-assuring insurance mix-up at the old place) and I really like them. I've been on a new regime of allergy drops for a year, so I went back in to be retested a few weeks ago to check on my progress.

The good news: there has TOTALLY been progress! I am reacting WAY LESS to a lot of the things! 

The bad news: I would never have guessed that to be the case, because no one told my face about the situation and it's been causing me just as much pain as always.

As a result, I decided to go ahead with a balloon sinuplasty. Basically, they numb up your face, then stick tiny catheters into your sinuses and inflate balloons inside your face, like they would for an angioplasty. The balloon "gently restructures and widens the walls" of the sinuses without needing full-on traditional sinus surgery. The benefits are that it can be done in the office as an out-patient procedure, without general anesthesia, and recovery is supposed to be quicker and less painful. The downside is that it might not always fix your problems, especially if they're due to something more structural like a deviated septum or gigantor turbinates (both of which I have).

(Part of the reason I want to write all this down here is because I did A LOT of googling prior to going in for the procedure to try and find some first-hand info from people who had done this, and wasn't able to find much. Aside from testimonials *on the websites* for sinuplasty providers, there wasn't a lot, especially from people with my symptoms & history.)

I was hesitant to go ahead with the procedure only because I wasn't sure it would DO anything. I don't have a lot of congestion: just a lot (A LOT) of sinus pain & pressure. Most people with these symptoms can directly attribute them to congestion and a lack of drainage, and it seemed a lot of people with those issues were helped by the sinuplasty. Whereas congestion *wasn't* my primary issue, and getting elective face surgery for something I wasn't sure would help was... not super appealing.

But, after learning that my allergies were being successfully treated, yet my face was still a mess? I figured I would go for it. I knew from the CT scan 2 years ago that my sinuses passages were super-narrow, and it seemed like getting some more space up in thurrr could only help. And as my doctor assured me, the only real risk to the surgery was that it wouldn't work. 

So! What To Expect From a Balloon Sinuplasty:

  • They'll offer you valium prior to the procedure, because some of the numbing stuff can trickle down into your throat, and apparently "numb throat" sometimes translates into "your throat is closing" to your brain, even though it definitely is not. But they recommend valium so you don't freak out if your brain does get that wrong message.
  • Fun fact: I'd never taken valium before. So I did not know that my body's reaction to valium would be prolonged uncontrollable sobbing. It was SO AWKWARD. I was actually in a good deal of pain & discomfort at the time (more on that in the next bullet) so at first I thought maybe that was the problem... except that I've been in a lot of pain & discomfort before, and don't usually find myself WRACKED WITH DESPAIR and unable to stop weeping about it. It caused quite a (SUPER EMBARRASSING) scene at the office, where they kept trying to gently ask me what the matter was, and I kept hiccuping that I diiddnn't knooooowwwwwww. I later recounted this story to my mom and discovered she has the EXACT SAME reaction to valium. So! Good to know! Valium will not calm the ladies of this family down; it will make us sob, a lot, while being very confused about the sudden DESPAAAIIIIR and SAADNESSSS that we're feeling.
  • The getting-numb part is the absolute worst part of the entire procedure. They spray some numbing stuff, and then some Afrin, directly up into your sinus cavities, then pack your nose with cotton that's been soaking in more numbing stuff. While the numbing starts to take effect, shit starts BURNING. Your eyes, your sinuses... it's not pleasant. Add to that the building pressure from having cotton packed in your already tight sinuses, and you get some serious unpleasantness. (Which is why, at first, if you find yourself crying uncontrollably, you may wonder if it's just because you suddenly are unable to deal with pain.)
  • Once they took the cotton out of my nose (and, uh, the valium-sobs had worn off) I felt MUCH better. The next step is to shoot more numbing stuff directly into your face with a needle, from inside your nose. This is why they did the first round of numbing, so you don't feel these shots. (And I didn't, not even a tiny bit.)
  • Now it's time for the actual ballooning! They turn off the lights, because there's a wee, very bright light on the end of the tube they're sticking up your face so they can see where it's going from the outside. They put it in place, then inflate the balloon. All you feel is some weird pressure.
  • However.. um.. you can HEAR what they're doing, and it sounds... not good. For me it sounded like a series of loud pops & crackling from inside my face, which I could only assume was the cartilage and whatever else in my sinus cavities hairline fracturing outwards as the balloon expanded. I don't know if this is true, but the thought weirded me out a lot.
  • So much, in fact, that I proceeded to pass out in the chair before the next round. HAHA I AM A FUN PATIENT.
  • (Technically I let them know I was about to pass out before I did it, so they were able to put my chair back and spray cool air at me until I became less of a delicate flower. But between my valium-sobs and inability to stay conscious during a routine in-office procedure, I'm sure I made a lot of friends.)
  • (I do have to say that everyone there was AMAZING about all of this, by the way. They pretended everything I did was perfectly normal and didn't make me feel awkward or like a burden, even though I CLEARLY messed up their entire schedule for the day by taking waaay longer than I should have. I cannot recommend the folks at Metropolitan ENT enough.) 
  • Anyway. Once I recovered, they went on to do the rest of my sinuses and it was all a-ok. No more passing out or sobbing or anything! You really can't feel anything they're doing at all, just a sense of some pressure in your face.
After that, they sent me home with some antibiotics, vicodin if I needed or wanted it, and a different kind of netipot than the one I already had (the squeeze bottle kind). I would recommend stocking up on tissues before you leave the office, because as soon as we got out to the parking lot I found myself leaking blood from the nostril region, which was super-pleasant for everyone who walked by until Chris got back with supplies, I'm sure.

I felt fine when I left the office, but once we started driving home the pain set in. My whole face was in considerable pain, all the way down through my lower jaw. It was.. not great. When we got home I threw down 2 vicodins as quickly as I could then huddled on the couch with an ice pack draped across my face until the meds kicked in. It took about an hour and a half before I was comfortable, so for any future sinuplasty-ers out there reading this, I'd ask your doc if it's OK to take a vicodin right before the procedure to get a head start on that.

The good news is that after those first few hours, everything IMMEDIATELY got better. I only took 1 vicodin at the next dosage opportunity, then stopped altogether.

(I don't get the happy-fun reaction on vicodin that others apparently get. Instead I get EVERY SIDE EFFECT there is. So while on vikes, I can't stand up for more than 5 minutes without getting dizzy, I'm nauseated half the time, I have no appetite, and I constantly itch like a mo-fo all over my body. I am always thrilled to STOP taking vicodin.) 

Today, aka The Next Day, I feel GREAT. I'm stuffed up with some sinus pressure as if I have a mild sinus infection, but I have NONE of the pain from yesterday. I haven't taken any meds today at all and I'm completely fine. Even pushing on my face from the outside doesn't cause any discomfort.

It's a little hard to tell how effective this is / will be, since I am super-stuffed up at the moment (this is a completely normal / expected side effect) but I have to say it SEEMS to already be helping. I'm stuffed up... yet I can breathe about the same as when I have no congestion at all. Before I got stuffy yesterday, Chris asked if I felt any different, and I cooed with glee about ALL THE AIR I was breathing in! SO MUCH AIR! (I am very easy to please. Breathing! IT'S LIKE CHRISTMAS!) 

I'll update for posterity after a few more days of recovery just in case someone does in fact google this one day. 

September 18, 2013

The rest of the planning is a breeze, right?

So this is really happening.


We got a date! And a venue! WEDDDING AHOY!

August 29, 2013

Pulling together a wedding theme

So far in the wedding planning process, Chris and I have:

a) narrowed down a date (April-ish); 
b) narrowed down a venue (still working on the details there); 
c) figured out who we want in our wedding party; and
d) decided to have a friend to officiate our wedding

Additionally, I've sort of non-noncommittally sort of-ish decided on a general wedding color theme, which so far has amounted to "...eggplant? I think? I don't know, do you like eggplant-ish?"

OH, and also, I bought a wedding dress. 

(I did that, like, 2 weeks after getting engaged, the first time I went to try on dresses. My mom was in town so my parents could meet Chris's parents, so it seemed like a good a time as any to do my first preliminary excursion... and then I up and bought a dress on the spot. So! Exactly one decision down!)

ANYWAY. So at this juncture, my entire "theme" is composed of "eggplant. ish. I think."

Which is why it is so awesome that Jenn (one of my maids of honor) sent me this picture, with the advice to cancel the order on the dress I already bought, since she had found me THE ONE:



Done, you guys. The entire rest of the wedding is being designed around this dress. 

August 13, 2013

How to ask your bridesmaids to be in your wedding and freak people out in one easy step


Once I found myself affianced, the next logical step was figuring out who to ask to be in my bridal party.

(Incidentally, back when Chris and I first started dating, I informed him we actually COULDN'T get married. I'd come to the conclusion it was too hard to choose bridesmaids amongst friends, so I planned to only have my sister in my wedding since that was the easy way out... but Chris has 2 brothers plus several best friends. Therefore we were obviously incompatible.)

Once I had narrowed the bridesmaid pool down a bit, the NEXT logical step was figuring out how to ask them to be in my bridal party. For help with this, I turned to my good friend Pinterest. Most of my bridesmaid candidates are not particularly local, so my first inclination (show up on their doorsteps with a bottle of booze + a note requesting their participation) was mostly foiled. Pinterest, however, had loads of ideas for me.  Loads of thoughtful, touching, cutesy ideas.  

I am... none of those things. 

I just could not see myself putting together a memory chest with swatches of fabric in my wedding colors (I.. don't have wedding colors yet?) and little items that reflected my theme (I don't have a theme?) and a touching, calligraphied note... much less mailing these boxes across the country (or across an ocean, in one case!). I disliked the idea of "proposing" to my own bridesmaids. I didn't really get the appeal of writing the request on a puzzle and sending over the pieces. I didn't love the "I've got a man, now I need my girls!" or the "be my bitch!" style requests.

So I decided to come up with something more... me.  And what I am, apparently, is cheesy. I decided to embrace the cheese, embrace my legacy of high-quality artistic skillz, and make my own bridesmaid-requesting cards.

Here are some handy step-by-step instructions should you, too, want to make your own:

Step 1: google an image of a bride & a bridesmaid. If you're me, find the most amazingly dressed bride & bridesmaid you can. 

Step 2: find an adequately ridiculous photo of yourself with your face turned to roughly the same angle as the googled bride.

Step 3: find a (slightly) more flattering photo of your potential bridesmaid, also with their face tilted to roughly the same angle as the googled bridesmaid.

Step 4: photoshop! The poorer the quality, the more they'll know you care. 


Step 5: print, back with fancy paper, and mail to unsuspecting friends.

I showed Chris the proofs after printing them at the Target photo department, and he asked if he was sure my friends would still want to be friends with me after receiving these. 


(I'm also having 2 maids of honor, because I couldn't NOT have my sister and I equally couldn't not have my bff, so... there's two of them. Not particularly sorry or bothered about it.)

To all my friends' (and sister's) credit, every single one of them thought the cards were hilarious... albeit terrifying / insane / creepy. Which is cool! It's not like I was laboring under the delusion that these were adorable and twee or something. 

Apparently at my sister's house, it went down something like this:

Her bf, on the phone: it looks like you got something important from your sister.
My sister: oh really? I can't leave the lab tonight; can you just open it and let me know what it is?
Her bf: [opens it] 
Her bf: [prolonged silence]
Her bf: I.. really can't. You just need to come home. 

NAILED IT. 

July 02, 2013

Oh hey! I have a fiancé!

I realize this won't be news to anyone who knows me on Facebook or Twitter... but:

Holy crap you guys, I'm engaged! 

I have a fiancé! I am betrothed to be wedded! I am affianced! 

(It sounds funny no matter HOW I put it. I've taken to addressing Chris as "fiancé," as in "Hi, Fiancé! How was your day at work?")

On June 22, we drove out to Annapolis, MD with our friends Jenn & Derek - a gorgeous little city on the Chesapeake Bay where they had just gotten married in March - for a weekend of relaxation and day drinking. We had planned it ages ago so I definitely wasn't suspecting anything.

Further throwing me off the trail, the boys stopped in a comic shop on our way to the waterfront where we picked $1 comic books at random to use in drinking games.

We each picked from the bin that our name started with - as you can see, I got pretty much the best comic book EVER. That's a roman legionnaire riding a T-Rex.

After drinking a few painkillers, Derek announced that he was feeling a little tipsy, and asked if we'd mind taking a breather before the next bar. There were some neat gardens nearby, and maybe we could go check them out briefly before the next drink?

I said that sounded great, and off we traipsed to the Paca House


The gardens are old time-y hedgerow style, with some semi-secluded areas partitioned off by the hedge walls. After pointing this out, Jenn and Derek promptly scurried off into a different section of the garden, leaving Chris & I alone.

(In retrospect, yes, this all seems super obvious. I honestly had not caught on at this point.)

It wasn't until Chris turned me around so he could give me a kiss and tell me that he loved me that I started to think something was up. And I had just barely managed to get suspicious when he dropped to one knee and said he had another question for me. 


Highly accurate and perfectly to scale artist's rendering of the moment

I think I squawked "WHAT!?" followed by "YES!" Chris then produced The Most Gorgeous Ring In The World from his pocket.  And then I probably yelled a combination of "OH MY GOODNESS!" and "HOW DID THAT JUST HAPPEN??!" for about 2 straight minutes. I just could not wrap my mind around how the afternoon had gone from seemingly innocuous day-drinking to marriage proposal so suddenly. (Except obviously, it was only sudden to ME. Everyone else knew it was coming!)

Hi! We just got engaged!

We went straight to another bar and ordered champagne. Celebration time!!



It was so delightful and awesome. I was thrilled and surprised, and having Jenn & Derek there to immediately celebrate and hug (and admire the ring!) was absolutely awesome.




(I can't stop admiring the ring either. Like, all the time. It's so beautiful and so perfect for me.)

So! Now we get to (haha, "get to") plan a wedding. Eek. 

June 10, 2013

A thoughtful Father's Day present

Some of you may recall that I had a somewhat.. uh.. startling.. experience getting a thai massage last year.

(Please to let me jog your memory:



Sorry. Consider yourself jogged.)

I got this email in my inbox this morning, from the same establishment where the above experience took place: 




..and after a horrifying mental image of my dad being put through those same poses, I thought perhaps What To Do for Father's Day would be to not get him a thai massage. 

June 07, 2013

(more) Icing! ZzQuil! Knee diagnosis!

Continuing the "where have I been?" theme... 

Florida! We went on the annual "hang out with Chris's friends and get iced" trip:


(for an explanation of what the eff is going on, see here. or here. and don't forget when we got ICED AT A WEDDING by this crew as well.) 

Then... oh, hey. What do you know, that actually is the last trip I took! I haven't been on an airplane since April at this point. (Which, uh, won't last long. I'm flying to London - for work! - next Friday, then after another weekend in Annapolis, I'm headed to Miami in July for a bachelorette party.)

Well then! News in stuff that doesn't exclusively involve being out of town:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ZzzQuil: Have you tried this shit? I was so! excited! when it came out, because I've totally been known to knock back a shot of Nyquil from time to time when I'm having trouble sleeping. However, it has to be a pretty egregious situation, because I haaaaaate - nay, HAAAAAAAAATE - the taste of all Nyquil / cough syrup type things. But hell, it works. So imagine my delight when I found out I could get Nyquil not only without the extraneous medicine, but ALSO in pill form so I didn't have to *taste* it!!


Yeah. Complete and utter crap. I've tried it twice now and have laid awake for literal hours after taking it both times. Too good to be true, I suppose. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Oh! My knee! So I got the MRI, and I went back to the doctor, and it turns out I have.... nothing.  Nothing he can see on an MRI, anyway. The ortho was so surprised by this that he asked to re-examine my knee to make sure he hadn't imagined the whole "my right kneecap pops grotesquely when torqued" situation. (He didn't.) I think his exact words - spoken with some amount of disappointment - were, "Huh. I really thought we were going to find something more.... interesting."

So basically, I have the diagnosis of "Official Bum Knee," along with a shrug and an acknowledgement that it sucks. And a prescription for physical therapy to see if they can figure anything out. At least this time they believe there is something wrong (I mean, it DOES swell up on cue now whenever I do anything vaguely athletic) (or, you know, drive for a few hours) as opposed to my tailbone trubs of old when I suspected most doctors thought I was exaggerating / making up the pain. 

AND it's kind of nice to know I'm not on the verge of, like, popping my knee out sideways because something in there is structurally damaged, so I'm only limited now by how much pain I can take rather than fear of major injury. And since I'm, like, ALWAYS hurting something, I'm OK with some level of pain if the other option is "never run or play frisbee or go to the gym or.. drive a lot... for the rest of ever." 

My short term plan is to invest in more ice packs and/or frozen peas.