April 28th 2008
Breathe Easy Campaign - SMD Number One
After neck surgery my nose felt continually blocked up - very uncomfortable when you have a cold, a nightmare when you can’t breathe at all for months on end. Nasal drops helped but the long term damage is severe so I had to find a surgical solution. I was told that an SMD would be the next step in my ‘breathe easy’ campaign. SMD stands for Submucosal Diathermy. Enlargement of the Turbinates leads to obstruction of the nose, Submucosal Diathermy to the Inferior Turbinates aims to shrink these soft tissue linings of the nose. Another general anaesthetic and another stay on the ward would be necessary.
The impending operation seemed like a walk in the park after my recent Neck Dissection. It wasn’t all easy though, my nose was blocked completely from the operation. It was a combination of swelling and blood, but was assured that it would die down after a week or so. Well I must admit it certainly seemed to work. A few weeks after the op and my nose was much clearer. Nothing like it was originally mind, but at least I felt I could breathe a little easier now. I felt that operation was worth it in the end and was quite pleased with the outcome.
I knew I would have this operation again at some point in the future but for now it had done the trick.
November 19th 2008
This is a procedure that sees collagen injected into the atrophied vocal cord to ‘thicken’ it, thereby closing the gap between the cords and subsequently improving the strength of the voice and making it less breathy. It turned out to be quite a distressing operation as I was awake throughout the whole process.
I had to have my airway anaesthetised and, guided by a camera put up my nose and down my throat, a series of injections were carefully placed in the paralysed vocal cord. Being awake was important as they could carefully balance the amount of collagen needed and test my voice out each time to see how strong it was getting.
Once the correct amount was reached, it took three hours without food or water and then a few days of rest to recover. The good news was that it worked very well. Unfortunately it was only a temporary procedure as, over time, the collagen would filter slowly back into the body.
The most important reason for doing it was to hear the improvement in my voice and it certainly worked. At some point in the future a more permanent procedure would hopefully be found for me.
February 9th 2009
SMD No.2 (See SMD No.1 above)
August 4th 2010
Well, the SMD operations I had done were successful for a short period but I needed something a bit more permanent, therefore another consultant was consulted, and this time I was having a procedure to straighten the septum in my nose. Although it hadn’t caused me any problems in the past it was now, so this was the next step for me.
Back in the familiar surroundings of the anaesthetic room, I chatted to everyone who I knew quite well by now, went out like a light and awoke in the recovery room feeling ok. Someone offered me a cup of tea which I thought was very nice of them. Big mistake. I took a few sips and a waterfall of blood erupted out of my nose. ‘You shouldn’t drink warm drinks after a Septoplasty’ I was told. Great I thought, wish someone could have told me that before my cuppa. The bleeding didn’t stop and a couple of hours later an ENT Registrar came down and sorted me out. That involved putting a tube with a suction thing on the end and sucking all the blood and gunk out. Mess everywhere including my nice new PJs. At least it solved the problem of my nose bleed so I was happy.
November 2nd 2011
|The day after my Goretex Thyroplasty op. My neck dissection and radiotherapy scars are also clearly visible.|
November 2nd 2011
Was really looking forward to this one. NOT! It was an hour’s operation in theatre under local anaesthetic. The surgeon was planning to insert a piece of goretex ribbon into my vocal cord. A difficult procedure as my neck was shot to pieces from my surgery four years ago, was full of scar tissue and my skin was like rice paper after radiotherapy. There was a 50/50 chance it could be done. After loads of of local anaesthetic my throat was sliced open and slowly but surely this incredible guy made his way towards my voice box. Things were looking good and suddenly he was there. He managed to place the ribbon in my voice box and as soon as I made a sound you could hear the difference straight away. It was incredible.
My wife was in theatre to support me as I was wide awake throughout the procedure, and she could hear the difference in my voice straight away. The thought of being awake during the procedure horrified me at first and I was very nervous beforehand but I have to admit it was so worth it. Having your voice back improves your quality of life no end.
I was very sore and swollen for the first night but the improvement was worth it. Not only has the thyroplasty helped me with speaking but also with swallowing and breathing so my quality of life has improved immeasurably. It was great to have my wife there as well. She has been so strong for me throughout every procedure I’ve been through these last four and a half years, and this occasion was no exception.