Making History

Last June, I was admitted to a specialist unit of an NHS hospital for surgery on my head. I was no stranger to the place having had a major operation there two years previously. Revision surgery was now required as further complications had developed. On this occasion, I was under the care ofΒ  a surgeon who specializes in image-guided endoscopic surgery. I was about to undergo an operation which required high precision and carried a significant risk of accidental damage to critical organs. I was also about to make medical history.

I was admitted to the hospital the day before the operation, to be assessed for the complex surgery which lay ahead. My first port of call was to a photographic studio in the basement of the hospital, to have my head photographed from every angle. This was because of my stunning good looks to record the cosmetic defect in my facial profile, due to previous surgery. Next, it was off to the nuclear medicine department to have my head scanned under the supervision of the surgeon. These scans were subsequently used for navigational purposes throughout the technically demanding surgery.

are you totally lost

When all the preparations were complete, it was time for a consultation with the surgeon and his team. It was at this stage I learnt that plans were afoot to record my operation for teaching purposes. My history of multiple sinus surgeries* provided the surgical team with an unusual challenge and the operation now planned, had the potential to become a valuable training resource. I had absolutely no hesitation in granting them permission to make me a ‘film star’ for a day. Anything that helps to lessen the risks associated with complex surgery and ultimately, increases patient safety, is to be encouraged.

*For those with an interest in Otorhinolaryngology…

My ENT surgical history includes : A bilateral antrostomy; a Caldwell Luc procedure; multiple endoscopic nasal surgeries; 5 external frontoethmoidectomies; a Riedel’s procedure and a modified endoscopic Lothrop procedure (Draf 111).

My ENT medical history includes recurrent sinus infections, chronic frontal sinus disease, MRSA infection, orbital cellulitis and osteomyelitis.

I also have an inherited connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) which has added to the complications over the years.

Well, as you can see, I’ve lived to tell the tale. While the signs are encouraging, it’s still too early to know if the latest operation will prove successful in the long run. After what seems like a lifetime of surgery, I feel I’ve earned a place in medical history.

Any guesses what label I’ll be given? πŸ™„

13 Responses to Making History

  1. Alhi says:

    I’m just wondering, and I hope this isn’t considered too personal a question, given the extent of your surgeries is it apparent when looking at you the number of problems you’ve had? Sorry, I’m not a doctor so don’t really understand the surgery that you’ve had but it sounds pretty major.

  2. Steph says:

    Hello! Alhi

    No problem! You’ve given me a good laugh. I think, as anyone who knows me will testify, I look remarkably normal considering what I’ve been through. A scan of the inside of my head however, tells a very different story.

    One of the wonders of today’s surgery, is that it can be done with minimally invasive scarring. My surgical scars are well disguised – inside my jaw, in the contours of my eye and eyebrow, and across the top of my head above the hairline. Apart from an indentation in my forehead where diseased bone was removed, you wouldn’t notice at all!

  3. Lily says:

    Steph, I’d have to add, I noticed absolutely no scars so they indeed must be very well hidden. However even if they were visible, I think people would be noticing your personality. πŸ™‚

    I always believe scars are part of the record of one’s journey in life, part of one’s life story!

    As to a name … I’m still thinking

  4. Grannymar says:

    Steph – How about the 8th wonder of the World!

    Alhi – Having known Steph for several years, I can guarantee that unless the area of surgery is pointed out to you, you would never notice!

  5. Annb says:

    The Nobel Head Piece prize? The Swiss Cheese Award for Cranial Cavities? Customer of The Year Award from the International Surgical Society? The ENT Excellence Award? Or simply…. The Head in a Million Medal of Merit ?
    I could go on…..

    Wow though, with all this historical greatness, can we still call you Steph? Should we address you now as ‘your headness?’

  6. Steph says:

    Lily – Thanks! πŸ˜€ Having had knee surgery , shoulder surgery , gynae surgery and abdominal surgery as well as all the surgery on my head, I can definitely map out my life story in scars!

    Grannymar – Yes, you’re right. I am a bit of a wonder but if you were to ask the surgeons, they’d probably tell you I’m their ‘worst nightmare!’ πŸ˜†

    Ann – I LOVE those! Maybe I’m already labelled ‘The Head Case’ πŸ˜†

    Talking of history, there must be a blog post or two in you on the making of medical history in your family?

    When I had MRSA, friends jokingly called me ‘Staph’ (as in Staph aureus) instead of Steph, or MRS ‘A’ instead of Mrs B. In light of all the holes in my head, I think from now on, I should be addressed as ‘your holiness’ πŸ˜‰

  7. Baino says:

    You are definitely a medical miracle and a surgical wonder. Will they be releasing it on You Tube? And I have everything crossed that the latest surgery will be your last.

  8. Steph says:

    Baino – Gee whiz, thanks! Fool that I am, I always believe that every operation will be the last. Otherwise, you’d crack up!

    You Tube? Blimey, if I’d thought of that, I would have insisted they allowed me to keep the nail polish on my toes πŸ˜‰

  9. Laura Daly says:

    I am a bit of a stranger here of late (being catching up on all your movements) have nothing but admiration for the way you handle it all. Courage is your label. Scars just as Lilly said a map of where you have been and the battles you have won.

  10. Geri Atric says:

    Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, just ‘Super Steph’ and her battle against sinus skullduggery!

  11. magnumlady says:

    Get well soon, it sounds like you’ve had a tough time of things.

  12. Alexleej says:

    Hi Steph,

    I have just come across your wonderful blog after trying to find anybody that could possibly be in a similar situation to me – I could be your X-ray twin! Last surgery 6th August for reconstruction of my forehead, 2 readmissions since then and now at home on iv 4xday until…..

    The X-ray was impressive enough to get those behind the scenes to come out and see if the person it belonged to was still breathing!

    I would love to know who your surgeons are and maybe we could swop notes.

    Great to meet you and I will try to catch up with your writing x

  13. Steph says:

    Laura – OMG! I was only thinking about you the other day. It’s made my weekend to hear from you!

    I’ve some prominent scars from joint surgery but they don’t bother me at all because as you say, they’re testament to battles fought and won. However, facial disfigurement is a different kettle of fish but as Lily has kindly pointed out, it’s personality that shines through.

    Geri- I like it! πŸ˜€ This being Halloween and all, skullduggery sounds very appropriate!

    Magnumlady – I am well, thanks. I’m in a good place right now. I wish I could say the same for you and Jono. Fingers crossed Crumlin will come up trumps!

    Alexleej – Hello and welcome! I already have a real twin but not on x-ray. Is there really another skull like mine? I’m fascinated! I’d be delighted to swop notes. You’ll find my email address in ‘About’ at top left of blog page.

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