Right around my thirteenth birthday, I was diagnosed with a sinus infection. The summer before my fifteenth birthday, that sinus infection was corrected with a really disgusting surgery, the specifics of which are gleefully shared in loving detail to whatever audience I have captive. But that makes for a year and a half of solid sinus infection agony, not including the Aftermath (if you’ve never had cotton packing appear out of your nose like a magician’s scarf, sans anesthetic and assisted by steel tongs and a vacuum pump, you are missing out on one of life’s little joys) wherein I couldn’t breathe through my nose for six weeks.
The most obvious sign I have aged is upon me, and it wasn’t what I thought it would be.
For a year and a half, I had debilitating sinus migraines located directly behind my right eye, the one good eye the Higher Power in his/her wisdom decided to grant me. I don’t recall it slowing me down that much. During that agony, I remember getting up and going to school, getting honors-level grades, going to dances, ambling around halfheartedly (we shan’t call what I do in warm-ups and sneakers ‘running’) on the track team, and skiing at LEAST once a week during the winter. Karate twice a week, summer camp, baby sitting 40 hours a week for family. And I went to a three-day concert festival in Lincoln, NH where the dust was so thick we coughed black for a week after. This was three weeks after my surgery.
The day of my surgery, a Thursday, I came home to a stockpile of comedies on VHS, changed the drip pad under my nose (yum!) on my own and took narcotic-level painkillers ONLY to sleep through the night. The rest of the time I just used strong Tylenol. The Tuesday after, I quite literally bounced into the doctor’s office for my follow-up with very little pain, swelling, or bruising, and certainly no more bleeding. There was a man there in his 50s who had undergone the same surgery. He still had a pad under his nose to catch the bleeding, and we found out from his wife that he had the same procedure on the same day as I had. We found that out from her because he was still utterly stoned on painkillers and if I had pulled a gun on him and threatened his life if he could not answer, he couldn’t have told me what day it was. His wife and my doctor’s receptionist just shook their head at me–bleach blonde with a slight summer tan (as much of one as I ever had, anyway), relatively pain-free, and bouncing along the road to recovery.
All this is by way of saying that this sinus infection, this particular round of debilitating migraines…this is the first time I’ve felt more like the guy in the waiting room than the fourteen year old. This time I’ve been totally and utterly knocked down for the count, and today is the first day in almost a week where I’ve felt like I could get out of bed and stay upright and functional for more than three hours. Also, my hair is kinda brown now and I found a ton of gray in it this past fall, and that sucks almost as bad as the sinus infection. I’m not so blonde or bouncy anymore.