As we await the mother-of-all budgets to be announced in early December, I had hoped to be able to bring you a good news story this week but sadly, that’s not to be. Having enjoyed a summer free of infection in my head, it seems that the holiday is now well and truly over. I’m back on the treadmill of chronic infection once again.
Within 2 days of finishing the antibiotic after the recent acute infection, the congestion in my nasopharynx began to recur and a foul discharge seeped into the back of my throat. I requested an urgent appointment with my surgeon and was seen in his hospital clinic last week. Following a nasal endoscopic examination, the surgeon was able to identify the cause of my symptoms. While my forehead remains completely free of infection, pus could be seen dripping from my sphenoid sinuses. A swab was taken for analysis (culture and sensitivity) and an air of despondency descended on the room.
My surgeon confirmed what I already knew which is that the donor site (one side of nasal septum) used for the graft procedure last February, has still not fully healed. This failure to heal is more of a nuisance than a cause for concern. The infection in my sphenoid sinuses is a new development and is definitely a cause for concern as these sinuses are near the middle of the skull and are the most inaccessible of all the paranasal sinuses. They are also bordered by more vital structures than any other sinus.
While recovering from the surgery in Nottingham earlier this year, I developed severe headaches which were different to anything I’d experienced before. The pain was deep behind my right eye and radiated into the top of my skull and to behind my right ear. I was sent for a precautionary MRI brain scan which came back as normal so a ‘wait and see’ approach was adopted. The headaches gradually petered out over the summer months only to return with a vengeance when I developed the recent acute infection. In hindsight, I now realise that those headaches were classic symptoms of sphenoid sinusitis which subsequently developed into an acute bacterial infection.
The surgeon is now of the opinion that the radically altered internal anatomy of my head, has left my sphenoid sinuses more prone to infection. As the normal drainage channels in my head have been surgically removed, the ostium (opening) of the sphenoid sinuses is now exposed to a greater risk of bacterial infection. I could hardly believe what I was hearing.
I left the consultation armed with a prescription for further antibiotics for when needed. My normal ‘glass half-full’ self seems to have deserted me while I try to digest this bombshell news. All I can tell you is that if feels like the goalposts have just been moved again.