Endoscopic Sinus Surgery to Widen Sinus Openings and Remove Nasal Polyps and a Mucocele
Why I Had Sinus Surgery.
I used to take a Zyrtec a day and be fine. About three years ago, all of that changed. I moved to Northern Virginia where my allergies were horrendous. I developed bronchitis and a sinus infection because I was always stuffed up over there. I was on multiple rounds of antibiotics and steroids with no relief.
Every time I would finish up one round of steroids and antibiotics, I would get a rebound infection and have to go on a stronger round of antibiotics and steroids. By the time I needed the third round of antibiotics and steroids, I ended up in the ER in the middle of the night with an asthma attack. I had never had one before and I didn't even know I had asthma because my lungs had always been clear before I moved to Virginia.
After that, I saw many specialists including an allergist, an ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor), and a pulmonologist. I was put on all sorts of medicine to include nasal sprays, inhalers and tons of pills. Nothing seemed to help. I was constantly congested and my lungs were always wheezing.
They did multiple blood tests on me to see if I had an underlying issue that was causing this. The Allergist did allergy testing on me and found that I am allergic to pretty much everything green and all indoor allergies, plus tree nuts.
Nothing seemed to help get rid of all of this mucus. I am on tons of medication and it doesn't seem to be working. I was always getting sinus infections and constantly taking steroids and antibiotics.
They had me do a CT scan which showed that I had developed a mucocele in the far corner of my frontal sinus (the sinus above the eyebrow). I had to go back for repeat CT scans every 6 months to make sure the mucocele was not growing larger. My ENT wanted to take a wait and see approach because the mucocele was in a hard-to-reach area, which would make it a difficult and dangerous surgery. If the mucocele grew, it could push on my eye and push the eye downward on my face or it could push into the thin bone that separates the sinus cavity from the brain. If it cracked through that while infected, it could result in meningitis.
Fast forward three years later, I moved to Indiana and I am still having the same problems. I found a new Allergist here, who referred me to an ENT and a pulmonologist. They did a CT scan of my lungs and found that they are fine. Then they sent me back for a CT scan of my sinuses, which showed multiple polyps and that the mucocele had grown to take up my whole frontal sinus and it was beginning to thin the bone between my sinus and my brain. They determined that I had chronic sinusitis and that I needed to have surgery soon before the mucocele broke through to the brain.
The Weeks Before Sinus Surgery
Once they found that I needed sinus surgery, my ENT tried one last ditch effort to see if we could avoid the surgery. She put me on a very strong antibiotic that reaches areas that do not get air, like my sinus. I was also on another round of steroids. After completing the medicines, I was still no better, so we decided to schedule the surgery.
I was very lucky to find an ENT who felt comfortable doing this type of surgery. She said that she does sinus surgeries all the time, but my case was rare, so she had not done too many of them. She seemed confident that she could do it, so I looked at her reviews online and found that she was a very good surgeon. That made me feel more comfortable.
We scheduled the surgery for 3 weeks out. I had to get another CT scan that was more detailed and had more views from different angles because they would be using that as a guide during the surgery. I also had to get blood work done to make sure my blood would coagulate (scab) afterward. I got all of this done one week prior to the surgery.
I also had to make sure I did not take any blood thinners two weeks prior to the surgery. Blood thinners included ibuprofen, aspirin and fish oils. The only pain reliever that was OK to take before the surgery was Tylenol.
Two weeks prior to the surgery, I got another sinus infection that was making my asthma flare-up. I was put on another round of steroids and another round of antibiotics (Augmentin) which they had me take up to the day before surgery.
They had given me a packet of information about the surgery and things to do and not to do before and after the surgery.
I had to call the anesthesiology department at the hospital to go over all of the medicine. They let me know which medicines I could and could not take the morning of the surgery and made sure that none of the medicines would get in the way of the surgery.
The ENT office took care of all of the insurance. They were able to get me pre-approved. I will have three bills: One from the ENT, one from the surgical center and one from the anesthesiologist. Insurance approved them all!
The Day I Had Sinus Surgery
My surgery was scheduled for 8 am on a Monday. I had to be at the hospital at 7 am to prep me for surgery. I could not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before my surgery.
I got to the hospital where they verified that I was having sinus surgery and they brought me back to a room. The nurse had me pee in a cup, she took all of my information and went over my medications with me. I then changed into a gown and she put an IV in my hand so I would be ready for the medicine when I got into surgery.
My ENT came in and asked if I had any questions. She listened to my lungs and was concerned since I was wheezy. I let her know that I have been wheezy for three years now and assured her that I was OK. She had the anesthesiologist listen to my lungs too. He wanted to make sure I didn't sound more wheezy throughout the surgery.
They walked me back to a surgical room and introduced me to the staff that would be working on me. It was a very cold, antiseptic room. Everyone put me at ease. The anesthesiologist asked me a few questions and tested a bit of the medicine to make sure I could feel it. He said it would feel like I just had a cocktail, and it did. He then put an oxygen mask on me and I was out!
The next thing I know, I was waking up about 3 - 3 1/2 hours later and the surgery was done. I was being wheeled to my recovery room. I was very drowsy and I kept falling asleep. I was not in pain, just very tired.
They brought my husband in to be with me, but I kept falling asleep. The ENT went over everything with my husband. She gave him a sheet with my one week follow-up date on it, pictures from the scope while they were doing surgery. It even showed the polyp that was blocking my frontal sinus from draining. She said that I had two openings to my frontal sinus (which she had never seen before) but that they were both completely shut. She was able to remove the mucocele, open up the sinus openings for better drainage and clear out all of the polyps. They were mostly on the left side. I normally sleep on the left side so I wonder if it all just drained to the left and caused the problems on the left side mostly?
Once I started to wake up more, my head really hurt and my stomach was queasy. Even my top, front teeth hurt. My throat was also sore because they had put a tube down my throat. I am hypoglycemic, and I had not eaten since dinner the night before, so they got me a large Sprite, a pudding, and some graham crackers. I felt so much better after eating the pudding and drinking the Sprite, but it hurt to eat the graham crackers. They were hard and my throat hurt and my mouth was so dry. Chewing also made my nose bleed. I got through one cracker and that was it.
They took the IV needle out of my hand and had me get dressed, then they wheeled me out to the car for my husband to bring me home.
I was so tired and thirsty the first day. I slept on the recliner with my head up for drainage. They said that the more upright I am, the quicker I will heal. I have a gauze contraption beneath my nose to catch any blood. I had to change the gauze out every couple of hours. Eating and talking make my nose bleed faster, so I am trying to avoid that as much as possible. I am emailing people to let them know how I am doing instead of talking to them on the phone. I am also drinking LOTS of liquids.
I am taking Percoset (pain medicine) every 6 hours, Augmentin (antibiotic) twice a day and I am going through another steroid back (decreases inflammation). I am also taking all of my normal pill medications. I cannot take my prescription nasal sprays, but I have been using my saline nasal spray once every 4 hours. It seems to help get rid of some of the pain and dryness in my nose and it helps to get rid of the feeling that I have to sneeze. If I do sneeze, I have to sneeze through my mouth.
I cannot breathe through my nose. It is packed with a gauze roll that is supposed to dissolve on its own. I have to breathe through my mouth which makes it difficult to eat. I have to eat things that don't involve much chewing or I feel like I am going to suffocate.
I have no wheezing in my lungs today. There is no mucus in there finally! I hope this lasts!
CT Scan Of A Mucocele Pushing Eye Down
When To Have Sinus Surgery
- Medical intervention does not help.
- Chronic sinus infections.
- Constant mucus.
- Chronic sinusitis
- Polyps or Mucocele stop nasal passages from draining.
- Constantly being sick with sinus issues.
- On tons of Sinus & Allergy medicine and nothing helps.
The Day After Surgery
I feel pretty good! My throat is still sore and I am still breathing through my mouth. My nose is still bleeding, especially when I eat or talk, but not as bad as yesterday. I took my first shower since the surgery, and the steam felt really good in my nose. I do not have to switch my gauze out as often. I was able to get up and move around the house a bit, but I got tired very easily and took naps here and there. I made myself a shake in the blender with lots of fruits and vegetables. It was easy to drink and healthy.
I have to keep drinking! My mouth is so dry from breathing through it. I also need lots of lip gloss since my lips are drying out from all of this mouth breathing.
By the end of the night, I am starting to drain from the sinus area. A little got into my lungs. I coughed it up and it looked like my normal thick lung mucus with blood. It looks scary, but I know it is from the drainage. I coughed out everything I could because I don't want it sitting in my lungs and I took my inhaler to open my lungs and help get it all out. My lungs are clear again, but I think I need to keep drinking so I can redirect the mucus away from my lungs.
What to Expect After Sinus Surgery?
Complications After Sinus Surgery
Constipation From Medicine
What to use?
Saline Nasal Spray
Antibiotic cream inside nasal opening
Two Days After Surgery
I woke up with a headache, a throat ache a dry mouth and mucus in my lungs. I took my medicine and drank lots of grapefruit juice and coffee along with my oatmeal.
I took a shower and coughed up all of the bloody mucus from my lungs. They are clear again. I need to drink more to thin it out and redirect it away from my lungs. I used the nasal saline spray and that helped get rid of some of the pain and the urge to sneeze.
I feel like if I try to talk too much, my ears starting getting stuffed up, especially on my left side where most of the surgery was done.
It has been a few hours and I am feeling better. If I do not bleed on my nose gauze contraption, I should be able to take this thing off before the kids get home from school. They do not like this contraption. I think it scares them!
It is now nighttime and I have taken off the gauze contraption since I have not been bleeding much through my nose. My kids were so happy to see me without that thing on. They cheered when they saw me after school and their little faces lit up!
Three Days After Surgery
I am feeling much better! I was able to get up, get the kid ready for school and bring them to the bus stop. I did some very light housework and I mostly played around on the computer today. I just have to avoid looking down or lowering my head.
I did notice some funky discharge that reminded me of the inside of a tomato coming out of my nose today. I am keeping up with the saline nasal spray and the antibiotic ointment and all of the medicine.
My voice is starting to sound normal again. I finally went number 2 for the first time since the surgery. The nurse warned us that the Percocet could cause constipation. I looked up a few home remedies since I did not have laxatives in the house and I can't drive because of the medicine. Mix two tablespoons of molasses or lemon juice or a spoon of baking soda in water and drink it. I decided to mix a tablespoon of molasses with two tablespoons of lemon juice in a big cup of water and I drank three of those in a row last night. By this morning, it was working! Sorry if this is too much information!
I have not had much gunk in my lungs today. I think I may have had it a few days ago because I tried to do too much too soon. I have been relaxing a bit more and it seems to help.
Four Days After Surgery
I am starting to feel like myself again. I did my makeup and hair for the first time since surgery. I have globs that come out of my nose that reminds me of thick tomato insides. Sorry if that is too much information. When I spit, it no longer comes out bloody.
I have not been able to sleep well. I am not sure if it is the steroids, the surgery or the fact that I have been sleeping in a recliner to keep my head elevated.
I still can't smell anything, but I do have a bunch of gauze in my nose. Allergies probably haven't been effecting me for the same reason.
I have been taking the Percocet three times a day. It says to take it every 6 hours as needed, but I usually only need it three times a day. I will need to wean myself off of it over the weekend though because I have to drive myself to my doctors appointments and I can't drive while on Percocet. It's too strong of a painkiller.
I have been spraying my nose with saline spray a few times a day and using the antibacterial ointment up there. That seems to help!
Near dinner time, I realized I did not take a Percocet in the middle of the day because I was feeling awful. My nose was so plugged up that I couldn't make the M sound and I felt like I was going to suffocate every time I swallowed food.
5 Days After Surgery
I found out what caused me to be so plugged up yesterday. I was worried about blowing my nose, but it felt like it was so congested up there. This morning I could feel fullness in the back of my throat like something was just hanging there.
I was able to snort and spit it out into the sink. It was a huge bloody, thick mucus plug that was probably three or four inches long. Sorry if that was too much information. After I spit it out, my nose was so much clearer. I thought I was going to suffocate yesterday!
I am feeling much better today, especially after getting that stuff out of my nose. Tonight is the first time I am leaving the house. We are going to my in-laws for dinner, so it will not be anything to overly-exciting.
I am still using all the medicine. Spraying the inside of the nose with saline spray really helps.
One Week After Surgery
It has been a little over a week since I had my endoscopic sinus surgery to remove the polyps and mucus cyst and to open up the airways up there so the mucus can drain.
I had my one-week post-op appointment on Monday. They brought out a few surgical tools and a small, thin vacuum attached to a tube. The doctor put the long skinny metal vacuum up my nose all the way and began to vacuum out all the mucus that was there because of the surgery.
Lots of thick bloody mucus came out. I could feel it being pulled out. She had sprayed a numbing agent on before she began, but I don't know if it was really working. It was not a comfortable feeling, but I could feel the pressure being relieved from my head as she went on.
After my appointment, my sinuses did not feel like they were going to explode from the pressure anymore. I can now breathe through my right nostril, but my nostril still has a plastic tube in it because the upper part of my left nostril was trying to heal together which would have completely shut the opening to my frontal sinus again.
Next week, that tube will come out and I will be able to breathe and drain mucus a lot better than I am now.
I have another appointment in almost a month to recheck how well it is healing. I still wake up with a headache and sore throat in the morning. Hopefully, that will get better each day.
I will let everyone know how it feels next week after they take the tube out and then again after a few months.
A Few Years Later
It has been almost four years since my sinus surgery. I can breathe much better and I do not get sinus infections as often as I used to. There is little to no pressure in my sinuses. When I do get a cold now, I can usually fight it off. I was not able to do that before.
I did have the worst migraine of my life about a month after the sinus surgery which the ER doctor said may have been caused by the sedatives from the surgery wearing off in my system.
I am very happy I had the surgery. I barely remember the pain or inconvenience of healing afterward. The surgery literally saved my life since the mucocele was wearing the thin bone down between my brain and my frontal sinus. If I would have left it in and gotten a sinus infection, it could have easily turned to meningitis.
I definitely benefited from having the sinus and mucocele surgery. Even though it was scary and a little painful to go through at the time, it did not last long and I am much better off with having had it.
Have You Had Endoscopic Sinus Sugery?
Was Sinus Surgery Worth It?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2014 Melanie Casey