Maybe don’t read this whilst eating…
It’s a constant wonder to me that people hear, “Sorry, I’m ill again” and follow this with a request for me to do something. Now that my illnesses have not only been vindicated by a somewhat shocked Harley Street specialist but are also finally, hopefully, coming to an end, I realise I’m finding such wilful deafness increasingly irritating, in direct and inverse proportion to the decreasing amount of time til the operation in January.
Broken nose – what does this mean? It’s one of those terms that, unless you’ve ever had one, you think you understand but have never actually thought about (another one is periods, for those who don’t have them at all, and those who have them only mildly – some of us will never want to go roller skating with Dalmatians at that time). If you’ve had your nose broken you know the immediate shock, the amount of blood, the pain, the difficulty in breathing whilst blood blocks your nose and runs down your throat and the awkwardness of sitting around with copious amounts of tissue or towels waiting and waiting and waiting for it to stop. Possibly for several days. If you’re unlucky you may know the headache, the muzzy thinking and even some effect on focussing or balancing but hopefully you had proper medical attention and these things have been somewhat submerged in the events of a difficult few days now long past. Hopefully you didn’t have an incompetent paramedic, a disinterested doctor and an elderly demanding relative to care for. Spool forward 18 years of difficulty and I hope said elderly relative didn’t smash you across the face with a flailing, almost fleshless, forearm.
So, what’s it like? It’s like having a lump of wood and a shard of glass permanently wedged in you nose, mouth, teeth and ear. Sometimes it’s a small piece; sometimes, when there’s an infection, which is often, it’s a huge piece. Local swelling in the face is only visible externally if you know what you’re looking for but it affects the muscles around the eye and the nerves leading to eye, ear, teeth causing blurred vision, muffled hearing and toothache. It causes large production of mucus, completely bunging up the nose, and dropping down the throat into the stomach and lungs. The former causing stomach ache, indigestion and constant hunger, the latter causing racking coughing, vomiting and gasping for air. It causes bleeding, doing all of the above plus scabs with sharp edges causing more injuries to delicate membranes, and infections. Even when there isn’t an infection, one nostril is already obstructed with broken bone and cartilage and the other pulled shut by the whole mess, requiring that all breathing is through the mouth. This means a permanent sore throat from cold air constantly hitting the back and regular infections as the usual nasal filter of bacteria and viruses is bypassed. Oh, great.
Eating is affected as one can’t breathe and chew; one has to choose food that needs minimal chewing, or swallow it poorly chewed, and one always ends up swallowing more air than one should anyway. This, especially when combined with that extra mucus and the unbalanced gut flora that results from its inappropriate presence in the stomach, results in upset digestion – wind in both directions, constipation, diarrhoea.
Even on the best of days, the system is flooded with toxins so there is joint pain, stomachache and headache, and one has to be very careful where and what one eats, who one accepts an invitation from, making sure one can leave at the right moment, checking one knows where the bathroom is at all times. On the bad days…
So, when someone tells you they have a broken nose and are feeling unwell, maybe think twice rather than instantly dismissing it as irrelevant and asking them to mind your dog or kids, walk round town all day, go to a nightclub, clear out your attic, eat a roast dinner with your mother in law….
Oh, and please restrain the urge to announce, “It doesn’t look broken” unless you happen to be an ENT specialist.