Sinus Surgery Recovery

My Experience of FESS – Part Two

If you have read my last post you’ll have seen that I got back to the ward in one piece after my sinus operation and enjoyed being high as a kite for about an hour. Afterwards I started to feel quite tired so decided to put my  NIV (Non-invasive ventilation) on. The NIV is a machine which does the hard work of breathing*, which really helps if your lungs need a bit more support. I had been told by the surgeon that I would be able to use the NIV without any issues.

CF patient wearing NIV after surgery
Using my NIV started a nose bleed that wasn’t in a hurry to stop!

Within a minute or two of putting my NIV on, I felt my nose starting to run. It had been running a bit straight after the operation as to be expected. This felt like a lot heavier flow. The blood really started flowing, down my nose and down my throat. At one point I was coughing up the blood that had trickled down my nose, and spitting in to a sputum pot. I had been giving some raspberry jelly in a white bowl. The two looked very similar next to each other! I have a photo but won’t add it on here – but let me know if you want to see it!

My brother used to get a lot of nose bleeds when we were kids. I was quite envious as I thought they looked fun. They usually stopped quickly but they seemed exciting. He said they were annoying more than anything. Be careful what you wish for as it may come true! 😀

Bleeding Hell, What’s Happened To Me Nose?

Bleeding nose CF patient
The beginning of the bleeding…

I had members of the ENT come up and tell me that my nose wasn’t bleeding – only to be called back by the ward nurses who were concerned. Eventually one of the ENT on-call doctors inserted packing.
This video shows the procedure:
Imagine the poor actor who had to undergo this. Whatever he got paid it wasn’t enough…. or they didn’t inflate the pack properly because he isn’t flinching at all!

The doctor said “It can be quite uncomfortable”. Well, that’s an understatement. I like to think I’m pretty tough, but this was something else. When they got the packing in I thought, Ok I can deal with this. Little did I know, the pain I would experience when the tampon type device shoved up my nose was inflated with 7mls of air. Your whole head feels like it’s going to explode, your teeth hurt, your eyes are squashed up. After reading the comments on that YouTube video I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt this way.

Painful packaging after severe nose bleed
After 5 rounds with Mike Tyson. If I ever become single, I will be sure to use this as a dating profile pic!

In the end they had to give me Oramorph as Paracetamols weren’t helping enough. Looking back on photos I’ve taken – my eyes are all red. Either from the pressure or through crying.

I barely slept that night and in the morning I felt really sick. Suddenly I started violently vomiting. The kind of vomiting that doesn’t give you any warning and is your body saying get whatever that is out of my body!

I had barely eaten anything since my operation, but I bought a bowl full of “chunky matter” up. On closer inspection (TMI – sorry!) there were long strips of what looked like onion-peelings and chunks of grisly looking matter. It appeared it was the “leftovers” from my operation that I would have swallowed as usually it comes out from the nose. 

Same Again On The Other Side

IV stand with paracetamol and fluids
IV paracetamol really helped after I’d stopped taking Ormaorph.

Unfortunately the other nostril was bleeding and needed the same horrific treatment as the other side. They even inflated the other side more. Noooo! I spent the majority of the day crying and trying to cope with the pain. I just couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t do anything other than get through that very moment in time. My nose looked 3 times wider than usual and I looked like I’d been several rounds with Mike Tyson.  That morning with the rancid vomiting and having the second nostril packed was my lowest part. I felt in so much pain and sorry for myself.

To help stop the bleeding, we stopped my heparin (which is used to flush the port after each IV dose) and I started taking Tranexamic acid, which I’d taken previously when coughing up blood. I was advised not to use my NIV if at all possible overnight, which didn’t help my sleeping. My brother was planning to visit that day but was in so much pain, I asked him not to come. It was the kind of feeling you just have to try and get through alone as best you can.

Fingers in a Bowl

After another sleepless night the next day I couldn’t cope anymore. All I could think of was getting these things out of my nose and relieving the pain/pressure. I told them I was going to take them out myself if the ENT team weren’t planning to! It wasn’t meant as a threat, I just needed some relief. The offending items were removed full of blood and looked like a pair of fingers in a bowl.

Nose packing after sinus surgery
Not fingers, nor tampons! I can confirm they are as painful as they look, especially inflated each side.

The ENT doctor came up and removed them and then put in some lighter packing which will be absorbed by the body. Made of potato starch apparently! This felt a world of difference.  My nose was still very swollen but over the next couple of days this went down more.

By the end of this day, the ENT team said as far as they were concerned I could be discharged from their point of view (day surgery my eye!). 

I gradually managed to consume more – starting with jelly and ice cream, then delicious calorific milkshakes and Skandi Shakes. Warm and more solid food was more difficult to consume/swallow but I got there in the end. 

Starting to Feel Better

Reduced swelling
A week after surgery and things swelling has gone down a lot. I still have soft packing in my nose in this shot

A week after the operation, I was feeling a lot better. The surgeon came to see me a few times and apologised for what had happened after the surgery. He said it was a non-standard recovery! I’m glad to hear it as all the things I read about the surgery said it recovery wasn’t too painful, and I felt like a wuss!

One of my nurses said she needed similar surgery but after seeing what they’d done to me she wasn’t going to! I don’t want to put people off having this surgery though, I just had a bit of bad luck. Hopefully now my sinuses will be a lot clearer with my chest benefiting as a consequence. I didn’t really have an option as they needed to sort out my sinuses before transplant, otherwise the new lungs would end up infected again.

Read about my experiences straight after the operation, meeting the surgeon and my ongoing chronic sinusitis issues.


* I realise breathing doesn’t sound like hard work to most people but trust me it is when your lungs are troubled!!