Matt version 3.6 available for download
Should you have stumbled upon this link thinking that there is actually some software called Matt available to download I fear you may be out of luck. This is simply a personal piece of writing which possibly only has meaning to myself and what I have endured for the past months, perhaps even the last year or two.
The story so far
In the last 12 months I have not been well, in fact, I have been really very ill. I had complained about sinus issues for sometime and they would come and go but they had dominated my behaviour to the point of not allowing me to go out at night and barely being able to work. Even if I had people over I made sure I had certain drugs in my system to mask how ill I was, I am truly a master of disguising pain.
I am truly a master of disguising pain
In the early part of the year it was managable and I had hoped it might improve with time and rest, oh how I was wrong. At the end of June my contract with Sensis ended and I was at home. Now normally this would be no big deal and in fact I liked the idea of being able to have some time off. Sure, a winter in Melbourne is not exactly my cup of tea and generally I would have booked a flight to the warmer climate of Europe and got the hell on out. But how my nose denied me the idea of sitting in a 75% air pressured airline cabin. Resting up and waiting it out seemed like my only option. I thought it might improve with rest.
Oh how I was wrong
The pain got to the point of ridiculousness. Some days the headaches were so intense I could do little but get up, throw down every painkiller I could find, try not to vomit and crawl back into bed. When you are taking all the painkillers I was and it was doing nothing at all, something is not right. I was also experiencing blurred vision which I thought was simply the pressure of the sinus area, that became apparent later. The GP I had been seeing simply kept throwing antibiotics at me and told me, and I quote "You have to take better care of yourself". No shit Sherlock. So after eating half Australia's supply of amoxicilion, I was still in the same state. Lucky if I could leave the house, barely sleeping and starting to loose weight.
The mental degradation
This exile from humanity was not of my choosing. Yes, sometimes I find the funny hairless monkeys frustrating but in general I like their company. Without any body but a cat to talk to my mental state degraded. The pain fed the hungry depression till it was well fed beast roaming my hallways, waiting to eat me when I least expected it. The loneliness left with me no outlets or distractions from the pain and at certain points I would stand at my kitchen sink and stare at the knife sinking there and say to myself "I can solve this problem now". Fortunately I fear seeing that much blood, and who would feed my cat? But on a serious note, that thought didn't happen just once, I needed help.
Pumped full of vitamins
In a previous life (when I was in my mid twenties) I had suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a reaction to having Glandular Fever and not resting myself properly more than likely. During this time I had heard of the wonders of introvenos vitamin infusions to attempt to boost the immune system. I found a place in Hawthorn which did this and saw a slight left-of-centre GP who got me pumped full of vitamins. Now my mental state was down already but spending 2 hours, twice a week with an IV drip in your arm in a room full of post-op cancer patients may not be the best but the results were in fact amazing. A day or two after the IV treatment I would feel almost super human. I had this done for 6 weeks and the course ended and the results, as I found, were only temporary. I slipped back to the state I was before. To make matters worse, the GP I was seeing at the clinic went on holidays for 2 months and I couldn't get any further advice or help.
In steps the professionals
The pain was getting bad again. Really bad. I hit the wonders of Google to see what GP's were around in my area, would be nice not to have to travel half the city to get some medical advice in general. And so it was I discovered a gem of a doctor right nearby in North Melbourne, Dr Christos Pavlidis. The reason why he is brilliant, he actually listened to me. The second part of his genius came in the words: "Well, the sinus is a tricky area, hard to see what is going on up there. How about we get you to have a CT scan." Holy crap! A test! I had begged the previous GPs to run any sort of test on me, I knew something was wrong, but this guy just did it. I was dealing with a professional.
The results of the test took a few days and I wandered down to Dr Pavlidis's rooms. I was extremely anxious that day, terrified what might be found. I had moments of fleeing of the waiting room before I got called in but I waited it out. Finally my turn came up and I sat down with the doctor and he scanned over the results. "Oh, there is your problem." My right hand side maxilary sinus was almost completely blocked and in fact, actually the whole right side of my face under developed. It was if my internals of my nose had forced across to the right. The words "have you been in a car accident or some sort of sporting injury?" came out of the doctor's mouth. The condition is rather rare and is known as Silent Sinus Syndrome, when one of the maxilary (under your eye) collapses and actually forms a vacuum. It does the opposite of what a sinus is meant to. In fact not only does that but it actually pulls and reshapes your eye socket, hence the blurred vision and mind blowing headaches. It was actually quite noticable in the distortion of my face at the time too.
There is very little that can be done outside of surgery for this condition, so it was off to an ENT specialist for me. It is a sad state of affairs for Australia's medical system, but thank the gods I have private health cover, as I was straight into to see another professional, Mr Tim Iseli. If I was public, I could have spent a year on a waiting list and by that point the damage done would have been very noticible and that is if I could have endured the pain any longer.
Surgery is fun
The surgery was booked in fast, less than 2 weeks after I saw the specialist I was being put under the knife (so to speak). I have been knocked two other times in my life, once due to a leg break that needed to be rebroken back into place and the second for an emergency appendix removal. Each time I have been impressed with Austraila's medical service, these people are professionals in the very sense of the word. This time was no different. I was admitted at 11 am for the surgery, with the operation booked for 1:30 pm, however things were running a bit late. It was not until 6:30 pm until I was in the theatre for the operation. The anathetist was yet another gem. Dr David Gilbert explained everything to me, what would happen, what drugs I would be given (I asked ... my objective curiousity out did my anxiety), what would happen when I came to ... everything. I appreciated this.
Wow, this is awesome. My mouth feels like fairy floss
"Now this is going to be like a little gin and tonic" Dr Gilbert said as he shot something absolutely wonderful into the IV into the back of my arm. My last words before I slipped under were "Wow, this is awesome. My mouth feels like fairy floss." I probably should have rethought those words, they may have been my last but they seemed fitting.
Apparently I was out for over 2 hours, it was a long and complicated operation. While sinus operations are common, my situation was rare and I had done a good job of it. I vaguely recall Dr Gilbert being there when I came to to make sure I got a shot of something to stop me vomitting, explained all went well and double checked me over. Within 20 minutes, 2 shots of morphine later, I was back in the ward to be watched over by the excellent nursing staff at East Melbourne St Vincents. Everything is better with 2 shots of morphine but the staff there at the hospital were indeed brilliant.
post op is messy
While I recovered surprisingly well, the next few weeks were a little up and down and to be honest, messy. I won't go into it, but I can use the word "douche" and not necessarily refer to our current Prime Minister.
I can use the word "douche" and not necessarily refer to our current Prime Minister
There are benefits, and one of these benefits is known as Endone. Endone, or Oxy is a lovely little opiate which did make my evenings rather pleasurable. It is sad that I will only ever get to chase that dragon again unless I end up post-op again. I would rather not have to endure that all again just for a little buzz.
It all looks different now
So here I am, writing this piece of drivel which I am not sure anyone will read but myself, but it doesn't matter. Not only does life look different now, but it smells different, tastes different. It really does look, smell and taste wonderful and how I have missed that. Enduring all that pain for so long, I have discovered that the absence of pain is pleasure. I am almost having moments of euphoria with the thought I can think beyond the next day and wondering what might be happening in a week's time or a month's time. I have even had my first decent drink of alcohol in over 2 years ... and oh it was good.
My confidence has been rather shattered and I have lost a bit of weight, 7 kilos in fact. Some of that has been a rather drastic change in diet, other parts some exercise, but a lot has just been illness. But it feels like it is coming to an end and so begins a new start to things. My previous battle with Chronic Fatigue tells me that this low moment is transient and in fact leads to a stronger human, a better human, a more resilient creature.
I look at the world at the moment and it is bit of a mess. For so long I have been frustrated that I can't do anything about it, confined to an apartment-like prison, but now I can. More to the point, now I want to.
If you have a moment, and have endured all the typed characters above, please consider saying hello, you might find yourself enjoying a coffee and a yarn with a very much improved version of Matt.