How can I describe the procedure itself? It happened in darkness. All I have are the sounds, the intense pressure on my nose, imagined visions, hallucinations.
After all of the anesthesia had been (mercifully) injected, the doctor told me that if I felt any pain, I should tell him.
I wanted to say that, if I felt any pain from having my nose sliced open with a bone saw, I think he would know. Quiet fellow though I am, I promise I wouldn't be silent if I felt that.
I was kept blindfolded by means of a sort of green pad, similar in feel to those vests you wear when getting X-rays taken. Imagine that vest, but with a hole only big enough for your nose and cheeks to peek through--eyes covered, mouth covered.
That was laid over me. Close your eyes, don't move your hands. I could feel liquid--probably antiseptic, or anesthetic--dripping into my mouth. I felt a great amount of another liquid splash on my arm, and then around my cheeks. It seemed as though someone was cupping water in his hands from the sink and then trying to pour it on my nose without any slipping through the cracks of his fingers.
Then it started in earnest. I don't know what any of the tools looked like, nor do I know what the actual procedure involved. But the design was to rid me of the bumps near my bridge (as low as possible without my nose collapsing) and to give me more "projection" at the tip (less Jewy).
The bumps were first. The experience was harrowing. I can see why people would want to sleep through it. I could feel the pressure deep in my skull, but not whatever was actually happening on my nose. There was cutting occurring at the speed that mountain-men saw logs during the Outdoor Games--back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, so fast fast fast fast. I could sense through my closed eyelids that a bright light was shining on my face.
It wasn't painful. I could feel the force of being pushed down, but I wasn't in any pain. But what I was thinking, the whole time, was that I hoped to God that my anesthesia didn't wear off--and that if it did wear off, that I hoped I passed out from the pain quickly. Those intense, pressure-filled motions, so strong--and the sound, like mechanically sharpening a pencil--I wondered if I would pass out even without the pain. I hoped I would so much, at the beginning--just fall asleep, conk out, wake up an hour later after the grinding.
I wondered, too, if I had died. It feels stupid to write, but I was thinking about it. After the grinding stopped, and the doctor backed away, and all was silent and I could feel nothing, I wondered if I were dead. The bright light, the motionlessness, the total lack of sensation. I was floating, until I felt an intense pressure in the back of my head, like when you dive underwater very deep very quickly, in the sinuses.
I hoped I would pass out some more.
The doctor came back and inserted something into both nostrils. The sensation reminded me of those contraptions, like retainers, they place into your mouth at the end of each dentist's visit, that are filled with a flavored gel of your choosing (I was a strawberry lad, but now I find it too sweet, and so I've switched to mint).
Here, there was no taste; only the feeling of something much, much too large being in my nose.
(Those of you who knew me when I had my previous nasal surgery might remember that, days after the operation, at my first post-op visit, dozens of large "slugs" of dried blood were removed from deep within my nasal recesses. This felt similar, except it was permanent, without the end-of-constipation relief that came with the removal of blood slugs).
I don't know what happened during this part of the surgery (Part 2). I remember my large voluminous nostrils, and the fear that there had been some misunderstanding with the surgeon, a communication gap, failure to translate, and that he had understood me as having asked for wider nostrils, and that I was going to end up looking like a dumb Jewish gorilla. I remember two cell phones (neither of them mine) went off inside the operating room during this point; one of the ringtones was Pachelbel's Canon, the other was K Pop.
I hoped to God that I fell asleep. The feeling wasn't so intense, only uncomfortable, and so I thought that I might be able to sleep, as I was tired. No such luck.
The doctor twice told me that the procedure was almost finished and I waited patiently. He kept checking something around the ridge of the left nostril with his fingers (I could feel this). He said it would be finished within five minutes. I wondered if this meant less than five minutes, or if he had just used the wrong preposition and it was going to be at least five minutes.
I think it was less. He pulled out the voluminous nostril retainers, and my nose still felt huge. I was told to sit up, that the surgery was a "good job." They were able to "lop off" much bone, that bumps had "slowed down" and that my tip "is more projection." He asked if I wanted to look in a mirror, and then had second thoughts--there was a lot of swelling. I said I wanted to see one anyway.
I looked at the operating table. Several dentist-y looking metal tools, all very sharp and severe; shavings of what seemed like fingernails on a washcloth (this was surely nasal bone); the very, very bloody gloves of the surgeon.
A strip of toilet paper was held over my nose, pinched behind both ears, as I was led out into the waiting room, where three teenage girls collectively gasped. A curtain was pulled; I laid down on another table; the toilet paper was taken from me. A nurse cleaned my face and covered my nose with a long piece of gauze, stretching from the tip to between my eyebrows. Clear tape was placed horizontally up-and-down my nose, like stitches on a football. She gave me my survival kit--a bag of pills, to be taken twice a day, once "after breakfast," once "after evening"; a wax that was to be applied inside of my nostrils for two days, thrice a day; and a list of instructions and caveats, all in Thai.
"I have a friend that can read," I assured her.
The doctor wanted to see me. I was told "Moment ka," and the nurse left. I laid down. My nose was quite sore; I felt that I could sleep if I wanted to. I wondered how my face looked--not my nose, but my face: if it was bruised, if I had black eyes, scars. I had heard of black eyes and scars on botched nose rhinoplasties.
I hoped the surgeon was right. I hoped it was a good job.