The weight of my lids made it difficult to pull myself away from my dreamy, anesthesia-induced state. But a gentle nudge was enough to launch me from my lullaby thoughts and bring the reality of an intensely dull headache and smothered breath into crystal clear focus.
“How are you feeling?” She said brightly in a voice laced with a light accent.
A moment of disorientation melted into a sensation of peace, despite the pulsing ache flowing through my head. Her sunshine demeanor radiated such warmth that it made it easy to dismiss the discomfort.
“Amazinggg!” I chuckled, trying to keep my head as still as possible and concentrate on breathing out of my mouth.
Three Weeks Prior to My Surgery:
Though it may have just been a simple golden doorknob when Sam* pushed open the thick black metal door to the Cosmetic Surgery Center it felt like she was opening the gates of heaven!
About a month ago, Sam* had a rhinoplasty procedure done by New York City’s top rhinoplasty surgeon renowned for his technique and specialization in ethnic rhinoplasty. Sam was about to have her first follow-up appointment since she had her cast removed.
This was also the first time I had seen her since she moved away, but I knew something was different when I saw her post her first Instagram picture a week after her surgery. Of course, I had to ask and my suspicion was confirmed! Beauty already gently caressed her face, but Sam’s new nose unlocked perfection. And I wanted that freedom too!
So, I scheduled an initial consultation with the Doctor’s coordinator. With a whimsical movement and a relaxed smile, they led me back to the ornately decorated office. Leaning forward and rest one elbow on the large mahogany desk stretching between us, she studied me with an intelligent eye as she began poking around with questions to gain a better grasp on what I was looking to have done.
“So, you’re interested in having a rhinoplasty done. What is it that’s bothering you about your nose?” they asked with a tilt of her head and a soft smile.
“Well, honestly, I know this is more for vanity than anything else, but I’ve always really disliked the bump in my nose and I feel like the tip of it is kind of doughy. I wish it was more defined and straight.” I explained.
After chatting with the Patient Care Coordinator for quite some time, I had the opportunity to meet with a plastic surgeon for a quick examination and explanation of the corrections he would make to it. I expressed my one fear: what if I missed my old nose after having this surgery? With a chuckle and shake of his head, he raised his eyebrows skeptically, “I don’t think you’re going to have to worry about that.”
At this point, I was already sold (okay…I was sold the second I saw Sam’s Instagram post) and ready to plunge nose-first into this decision. With both fingers crossed and possibly a slight variance on my income, I watched as the credit card companies both approved my loan! And that was it – July 5th couldn’t come any sooner.
Two Weeks Prior: June 21st
Over the course of the next two weeks, my days were busy with preparation for the surgery date, which really entailed collecting all of the items on the “surgical medication list” and felt more like playing a game of hide-and-go-seek than a treasure hunt. The items on the list included:
- Bactroban (an antibiotic nasal ointment)
- Bacitracin Ophthalmic
- Arnica Pellets
- Vitamin C
I did have a bit of assistance from Sam, who still had some of the items that I needed, and finally gathered all of the essential products in preparation for the surgery.
- In addition to the scavenger hunt for medical supplies, I also had to schedule a doctor’s appointment in order to be granted medical clearance for the rhinoplasty surgery. This strangely enough involved an EKG, along with the following tests:
- CBC w/ diff
- Chem 20 (CMP)
Two weeks prior to surgery, I began taking the Vitamin C tablets, which are essential for a smooth recovery, accelerating the wound’s healing process, prevent excessive bleeding and diminish bruising. A week out from surgery I began to devouring arnica pellets as an additional means to keep bruising at bay.
As the days flew by like the open pages of a novel blown by the wind, I grew more and more excited. At last, the night before my surgery had made its arrival. I painstakingly held my breath as I scrubbed my body down with Hibiclens, an antimicrobial wash, but I eventually had to succumb to the sterile, pungent smell as it filled my lungs. Since I couldn’t snack on anything after midnight, I then finished off my wild 4th of July evening by popping the antibiotic pill and pushing two blobs of Bactroban into my nostrils.
Surgery Day: July 5th
Because my surgery was scheduled for 7:00 am, I didn’t really have to worry about hunger pains (since you’re unable to eat between midnight and the time of your surgery).
5:30 am: The default tone for my alarm made an effort to annoy me out of my sleep, however, the excitement had gotten to me first, so I was prepared. I immediately tapped the “dismiss” button, leaped out of bed and hurriedly threw on sweatpants and a zip-up.
6:15 am: I arrived at the main office and was greeted with a sleepy smile from the coordinator. After changing into the surgical garments and a hairnet that she handed me, she led me back to the table. I was then hooked up to the IV and at 7 am I was rolled into the surgical room.
9:30 am: My eyes fluttered open and I was greeted by the cheerful voice of the surgical assistant. As she and I chatted, I tried to dismiss the increasing dryness of my throat, which felt so extensive that I swear it must have evaporated every ounce of water I attempted to sip. Despite the combination of excessive thirst and the dull ache warming my brain, I didn’t feel much pain at all. In fact, these were the only sensation of discomfort that I experienced.
As I was wheeled outside, Sam and our friend, Isaac, were waiting by the car to help me inside. I nursed a bottle of water on the ride home as I dozed off in the backseat. They guided me into my apartment and immediately had to change the gauze underneath my nose, which had become saturated on the 40-minute drive home. Throughout the day, Sam helped me change my gauze about 4-5 times before the bleeding finally slowed. I slept with my head propped up and had to lie on my back, so it was not the most restful sleep.
The next morning, Isaac picked me up and drove me to the office in NYC where his assistant removed the plugs that had been placed into my nose after surgery. Instantly, the pressure that had been building up between my eyes dissipated. It felt like a miracle! She then suctioned out the nostrils, cleaned around the area and applied more bacitracin. After this, the bleeding subsided to the point where I only had to change the bandage twice that day.
By the third day, I felt like I could take on the world…behind closed doors – between the swelling, light bruising and tan bandages holding my nose cast in place, I looked more like a victim of Hannibal Lecter than superwoman. As crazy as this sounds, by the end of the week, I couldn’t wait to have human contact again.
With the stitches snipped away, the cast peeled off and the tape removed, I finally faced the moment I had been waiting for. Fear and excitement ping-ponged around in my stomach as I lifted the mirror up to my face. My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe my eyes. A masterpiece in the middle of my face. My heart fluttered and I couldn’t contain my feelings any longer (not that it had been that long in the first place).
“It…is so beautiful!” I gushed, tears welling up in my eyes. I rotated my head slowly from side to side, examining every inch of it. It was everything I had envisioned. It still held the essence of my original nose, only the bump had vanished and the tip was smaller and more defined. And it was SWOLLEN still, so over time it’s continued to change, growing smaller and smaller.
Over the course of the past 6 months, my nose and I have gone through many experiences. The first couple of months, it was incredibly tender and numb at the same time! This meant that the tiniest tap or brush sent a blast of pain shooting throughout the tip of my nose. The sensitivity in my nose diminished fairly rapidly, though the numbness was a slower fade. In fact, I still have numbness along the columella where the incision was made.
Another thing I noticed about my nose was that it constantly was changing size – not that it was ballooning up or looked noticeably different to anyone else. I realized (when logic kicked in) that when my diet increased in salt or alcohol intake (especially red wine), my nose would swell slightly. When my diet was clean it would shrink back to its actual size. This discovery was a bit… soul-shattering, but on the bright side, it has improved my diet significantly!
Lastly, my main concern was that everyone would realize what I had done. This fear evolved into more of a disappointment as NO ONE – not even my parents (who were not aware of this decision) – noticed any change. But, I started to have my guy friends, who knew me with my original nose, make random comments about how cute my nose was. At first, these comments sent worry creeping up my spine, but as it curled around my mind I realized that no one noticed that I had rhinoplasty because the result was that natural – instead of standing out, it enhanced my appearance subtly, leaving my secret safe and my confidence elevated.