Saturday, July 27, 2013

About my nose

Not a blog entry title I've ever expected to write, but one that's appropriate given some of the questions I've received since posting those three old photos of me.  As the questioners have correctly noticed, my nose today looks rather different from the nose on the younger me in the photos.  Some folks want to know why.

I could lie and say the change is the result of aging, but it's not.  I could also make up some dramatic story, say one in which a cop busted my nose during a protest for women's rights to control their own bodies, but that didn't happen either--though I strongly support such protests and believe that women should of course have those rights.

No, my nose looks different today because I was stupid when I was seven and a surgeon was incompetent when I was twenty.

At seven, I was playing tree-tag with a group of friends.  If you don't know this game, as the name suggests it's tag you play in a group of trees whose branches overlap.  You can't touch the ground except at one or more designated bases, which you can reach only by hanging from a branch and letting go.  I was doing just that, heading to safety, thinking all was well--which it was, until I let go of the branch.  I'd failed to notice the smaller branches hanging off the large one from which I was hanging.  One of those smaller branches caught in my nose when I let go of the bigger branch.  The end of this particular little branch was forked.  When I let go of the bigger branch, the forked end of the little one caught in my nose and tore up the inside of my nose, leaving my septum deviated on both sides and me the unhappy recipient of quite a few stitches.

When the injury healed and my then-father pulled out the stitches, a wonderful treat I received because he didn't want to pay another doctor bill to fix another of my stupid injuries, I had almost no air flow in one nostril and only about ten percent of normal air flow in the other.

At twenty, my mother told me that before I went off her medical benefits she could arrange for the insurance company to pay to fix my nose.  After much thought and many conversations, I agreed to have the surgery. 

The surgeon botched the operation.  I emerged from the operating room with almost no cartilage in the end of my nose, a very thin septum, and no better nasal air flow.  I had a new, somewhat different-looking nose, but it worked no better than its predecessor.

About a dozen years ago (I honestly can't remember the exact date), I had a second nose-repair surgery.  This time, an excellent surgeon was able to give me normal air flow in both nostrils and take very little cartilage in the process.  He did not change the way my nose looked. 

So, the young me in the pictures had his natural nose, but he couldn't breathe through it.  I at least can breathe easily through mine, a big improvement--in function, if not in appearance. 

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