Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sea of poppies - Amitav Ghosh

Sea of poppies - Amitav Ghosh
Book Review

I read this book because Aamir Khan said it's a good book (on twitter). So I stopped reading 'Wings of Fire' and started with this book. I read/ watch whatever Aamir Khan recommends, not that I like all of it. Art/ beauty is subjective. A book which was nominated for the Booker prize award can be tedious and boring for some readers like me.

The premise of the book is awesome and unique. The story revolves around a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean shortly before the outbreak of the Opium Wars in China. I thought the book is very long and gives tedious (and non engrossing) details like how the room looked how was the lighting; furniture etc. Many dialogues are in a language that I didn't understand (Bhojpuri?).

This book had a lullaby effect on me. I would read 20 pages each night and then sleep like a baby.
But of course, give it a try, you might happen to like it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A girl with a straight nose

Breathing right is so important  to sleep well at night, to feel productive and fresh during the day, to exercise and basically to live.

Ever since I remember I had a breathing problem. I started taking Ayurvedic/ Homepathic medicines. I tried various things over the years Neti, steam, herbal oils, vicks and breathe right strips. Afrin / Otrivin nose drops were my constant companion. My situation kept getting worse. Since last 2 years I wasn't able to breathe at all through my left nostril, right side was functioning may be 40%. I had severe sleep apnea and snored a lot. I had to take lot of breaks when hiking/ biking or doing any sort of cardio activity. I caught either rhinitis or sinusitis at least once a month which almost always ended up in an antibiotic treatment. A simple cold would leave me in tears as it would make me feel suffocated.

I remember my father calling me 'सरळ नाकाची मुलगी' all my life (a girl with straight nose). It is ironical that I had breathing problems even with a straight nose. That proves internal beauty (pun intended) is important :-). The condition I had is called deviated septum.

They say around 70 to 80% people have deviated septum which is a birth defect (or is caused by an accident). My case was severe. I had to get Septoplasty surgery done in order to fix the issue. I am absolutely satisfied with the surgery and regret why I didn't get it done earlier.

Here is some information on the surgery:

A. Appointment with ENT:
  • You need to visit ENT specialist if you have symptoms like sleep apnea, recurring sinusitis, breathing problems. A small test would determine the severity of the deviation and what kind of surgery you need to get done (There are various types like septoplasty/ rhinoplasty/ turbine reduction etc.)
  • I went through an allergy test too as just getting the surgery done might not fix the problem if you happen to have allergies. I didn't have any allergies.
B. Before the surgery:
  • First of all you will need someone to drop you/ pick you up from the hospital and be with you on the day of the surgery for the first 24 to 48 hours.
  • You will need to eat soft foods after the surgery preferably liquids.
  •  You can not lift heavy objects, travel via plane or exercise for the first 3 weeks.  So plan accordingly.
  • You will need around 7 days off from work if you have a job which requires physical presence.
  • I took 3 days off and worked from home after that for around 7 days. Work kept me busy and made me forget the discomfort.
  • Q-tips would be a great buy at this time as you will need to use at least 10 every day after the surgery.
  • You can not eat or drink anything for 8 hours before the surgery.
  • It is an outpatient surgery meaning you get to go home on the same day of the surgery. It is covered by insurance (do check it with your insurance before you make the surgery appointment)
  • Total surgery time is 45 minutes. You will be given general anesthesia.
  • If this is the first time you are getting general anesthesia then check with your immediate family members if they ever experienced any reactions with general anesthesia.
  • Septoplasty does not result in any cosmetic alteration or external scars.
  • You need to use mineral water in NetiMed Sinus rinse bottle so have one big mineral water can ready at home.
  • Buy hydrogen peroxide bottle as you will need it along with Q-tips to clean the blood crusts formed after the surgery.
C. On the day of surgery:
  • Reach the hospital 1 hour before the surgery time. Arrangement for giving you saline and anesthesia will be done.
  • As I lied on the surgery table I was given anesthesia. Before I could feel anything I was knocked out. 
  • People who have motion sickness always have a problem with coming out of anesthesia and so did I. It took me 3 hours to come out of it and I vomited a lot after that. Eating/ drinking made it worse.
  • Opening the mouth can be painful on the first day of the surgery.
  • The most difficult part of the surgery is that the nose will be stuffed with two big splints. That means you can not breathe at all through the nose until they are removed (the splints have 2 small holes for you to breathe but that hardly helps).
  • One may get panic attacks (as I did) because the nose is completely blocked. Of course there is medication prescribed by the doctor to help you in this situation. I was given painkillers and anti anxiety medicines. Anti anxiety medicines make you a little numb to the situation, drowsy and also help you not go through panic attacks. 
 D. After the surgery
  • I could sleep for the first 2 days after the surgery but then was awake for 48 hours straight because of the discomfort. I went through buyer's remorse and thought it was a mistake that I got it done. Those 4 days felt like hell. 
  • On the second day of the surgery blood crusts will form only to make the situation more difficult. Showers with hot water, applying vicks, steam, cleaning the blood crust from the tip of the nose (without touching the stitches and splints inside) with Q-tips and hydrogen peroxide gave me a temporary relief.
  • During these 4 days I called my ENT specialist everyday and requested her to take the splints off. But they can not do that as they want the stitches to heal a bit.
  • Finally when the splints were taken out on the 4th day I could not believe my eyes. They were huge and I wondered how and where did they fit it in the nose. Of course I slept a lot after they were taken out and also didn't need the anti anxiety medicine after that.
  • It took time for my body to get over with the effects of all the medicines and anesthesia. 
  • I had a weekly nose cleaning appointment with my ENT. 
  • I cleaned my nose everyday thrice a day with Q-tips and hydrogen peroxide. I also used NetiMed Sinus rinse bottle. I blew my nose very lightly after the rinse. Sticky blood clots would come out everyday for the first 2-3 weeks after the rinsing.
  • I was on antibiotics for 10 days. There is inflammation in the nose and they don't want you to catch bacterial infection during this time. I started having severe side effects of the antibiotics so I had to stop taking them within 7 days (after checking with my ENT). 
  • I caught a bacterial infection at the tip of my nose in the third week so an ointment was prescribed by my ENT.
  • For the first 8 days I had no energy to do any sort of activity. Walking even 10 feet of distance made me feel tired. 
  • I started getting severe headaches/ migraine starting second week of the surgery. Tylenol did not make me feel better. Ibuprofen relieved the pain immediately but do not take it until your ENT tells you if it is okay to take it. 
  • I got migraines once a week for the first 2 months. It was intense pain between my eyebrows. The frequency and severity of the headaches went down after the first 6 weeks. Its been 3 months for my surgery and I haven't had any headaches in last 3 weeks.
  • I still catch sinusitis once a month and have to get an antibiotic treatment for it but as they say it takes around 1 year to actually experience the benefits of the surgery.
  • Even though I still catch sinusitis it is so much bearable as in spite of the sinus pressure I am able to breathe. Before surgery sinusitis made me feel miserable.
  • I started taking walks after 4 weeks of the surgery and started with my regular cardio/ yoga/ pilates routine 8 weeks after the surgery.
Its been just 3 months for my surgery but still I can comfortably say that even if the first 2 two months after the surgery were very tough I am glad I got it done. It changed my life for better. It fixed all my sleep issues. I haven't used nasal drops like afrin at all after the surgery. I do not feel suffocated when I catch cold. I notice a lot of improvement in my stamina during exercising. I had to take frequent breaks to breathe while hiking/ biking before the surgery. Now I hike/ bike the same distance without taking breaks and faster than before. Two months of tough time was totally worth to spend the rest of the my life breathing better. If deviated septum had to happen again then would I go through this all over again?
Hell yeah!!!