Thursday, April 3, 2008

Reviews of Everyday Life: Sinus Infection

Having a raging sinus infection is not exactly everyday life. But after a week of uncertainty about whether the substance I feel trailing down my nasal cavity to escape the nostrils is snot or more blood, the sinus infection develops a certain sense of everydayness, that it is indeed here to stay.

My sinuses, for whatever reason, become inflamed and infected about two times a year. This is a joyous occasion every time. One particular infection kept me awake for three days straight. I tried sleeping the first night, but gave up the idea of sleep for the second night. So, tired and increasingly delirious, I watched Apocalypse Now. That made for a memorable sinus infection. I wish I'd had something by David Lynch on hand. There's always next time.

Given enough time, minor illnesses become strange memories that often blunt the misery that prompted prayers composed of cursing and begging and mock crying out of frustration. For me, this makes every sinus infection the worst one ever.

This particular sinus infection was the worst one ever. Even though my nose was never really plugged up.

It was a Tuesday night when the flesh between my sinuses and throat swelled and became very tender. But not very loving. I snored that night like I had never snored before.

I awoke each morning with sinuses full of discharge. The mucus and blood took at least a half hour to clear out. I did not care for that.

Soon, in addition to that routine, I could feel that a coagulated mass of phlegm and mucus had settled into the top floor of my lungs. Working this material out added another fifteen to twenty minutes to the morning discharge routine.

When I felt the sinus infection coming on, I started popping Zicam like candy. After two days of citrus tablets every three hours, I felt that I was winning the battle against the infection. Two days later I learned that I was wrong. Having consumed nearly two bottles of Zicam, I realized that I might as well have been eating candy. This sinus infection was something different, something special. I conceded victory. I am now convinced that this was all the sinus infection wanted, because it broke.

I believe that sinus infections are night owls. Up all night, sleep all day, as the 80's metal lyrics go. During the day I hardly felt like I had this invasive mucus factory working overtime in my sinus cavities. But when the whistle blew and the sun went down, hell did indeed break loose and begin running out of my nose. Only one more click toward paranoid and I could be convinced that sinus infections were developed by the government as a method of sleep depriviation and waterless waterboarding, producing compound fatigue and the perpetual sense of drowning. I'll tell you anything you want. I confess, I am Elvis and Marilyn Monroe and Jimmy Hoffa. I confess, it's true, just please make it stop.

Overall, this sinus infection could have been worse. My nasal passages could have been sealed off completely, making it impossible to sleep at all. My lungs could have filled up with more phlegm and developed into one of those rattling coughs that involve so much hacking that there is gagging and vomiting, too. My throat did not get raw and cause pain by merely existing. And, I only had one nosebleed. Plus, I feel like I've learned a lot about keeping my sinuses and lungs cleaned out. So bring on the next sinus infection. Maybe not.

Two closing thoughts:

I am seriously considering naming my sinus infections (e.g. Steven, Meatloaf, Apocalypse Now, Zicam-Shmicam, Katrina, etc). These little nasal hurricanes have earned a place in my memory.

I have just written at length about my sinus infections. I don't know how to feel about that.

8 comments:

Bradley Sands said...

I haven't read all of your entry because I am a horrible human being and I don't want to be reminded of sinus infections. I used to get them all the time in high school. I used to have a deviated septum until I had a nose job. It wasn't for cosmetic purposes, I swear. I think I may have had a deviated septum because my friend kicked me in the nose with his boot when I was lifting him up so he could crowd surf at a Marilyn Manson concert. After that, my nose made a cracking nose whenever I moved it around with my fingers.

Josh Maday said...

No problem. It is a long post about sinus infections, so I totally understand. Your sinus problems sound like they were severe. I wonder what makes sinuses prone to infection. Nose surgery sounds painful. Did it help?

Bradley Sands said...

Yes, it did help. I don't get them anymore. It was not painful. I did not feel a thing. I had anesthesia. It was a little painful for a bunch of days afterwards. The codeine they gave me made me vomit for some reason, so more pain for me.

katrina said...
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katrina said...

Have you tried nasal washes with a neti pot and saltwater?

Josh Maday said...

That's a good idea, Katrina. I'm willing to try almost anything at this point. I want to know why I have so much trouble with the sinuses to begin with. Thanks for the tip and for leaving a comment!

CM said...
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CM said...

Josh, I'm so sorry to hear about this. I had a sinus infection a few years back, and it was so painful I wanted to belt-sand my face off. And because I had never had a sinus infection, I didn't know what to do, or what was happening. Putting saline solution into my nasal passages helped flush out the problem. Hope you're feeling better, by now. Take care, buddy!