Category Archives: gay health

The Gay Groom Goes Under the Knife

Yesterday I had Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery or FESS.

Some of you will recall I discussed my upcoming surgery in the blog Up My Nose With a Rubber Hose a couple of months ago.  FESS involves the insertion of the endoscope, a very thin fiber-optic tube, into the nose for a direct visual examination of the openings into the sinuses. With state of the art micro-telescopes and instruments, abnormal and obstructive tissues are then removed. In the majority of cases, the surgical procedure is performed entirely through the nostrils, leaving no external scars.

In other words, they slide a tiny camera up my nose to see what the problem is and then hack out whatever is up there (i.e. polyps) to open up my sinuses and allow me to breathe better.

Let’s call it a Roto-Rooter for the sinuses.

Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery. This is not the actual cross section of Your Humble Blogger's head... it is only a reasonable facsimile.

And hopefully the surgery will allow me to smell and taste better than I have over the last few years where basically I couldn’t do either – and having only three of five senses is a drag.  But as this is just one day post surgery… I’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to find out if my sense of taste and smell return.

Fingers crossed.

Because the surgery is done so close to the brain and eyes, the most serious risks associated with FESS are brain damage and blindness resulting from damage to the optic nerve. However, the chances of this complication occurring (they told me) are extremely low. Cerebrospinal fluid leak represents the most common major complication of FESS, but it occurs in only about 0.2% of cases in the Unites States. The leak is usually recognized at the time of surgery and can easily be repaired.

The surgery was uneventful… for the most part (there were no bright lights or out of body experience).  I arrived at St. Mikes at 11am and was immediately whisked into a small room (with the Husband in tow) where I changed into my hospital gown (they really should give you some kind of undergarment – especially if they are working on something far away from my manly bits… like a guy’s nose).

I also had to take my wedding ring off.  This was not because St. Michael’s is homophobic; there is no jewelry allowed in the operating room.  This created a kind of Lucy Ricardo moment the night before when I tried to take my ring off for the first time since my wedding almost two years ago – and couldn’t.   Suffice to say it took about a tub of margarine and a crowbar to finally get it off.

Jeffrey all set (and feeling cocky) before the FESS surgery Tuesday morning.

By noon I was being taken to the operating room (where I inadvertently mooned the anesthesiologist while being helped onto the operating table).

The last thing I remember was being told I would begin to feel sleepy.

The next thing I remember was pain.

PAIN.

Turns out having your sinuses hacked up hurts.   And the part where the packing consisting of bloody gauze was ripped out of my sinuses in the recovery room was perhaps the worst bit.

So the kind nurses gave me my very first Percocet.

But since your humble blogger doesn’t even drink alcohol, his very first Percocet totally knocked him through a loop.

The Gay Groom "totally stoned" and hurtin' after the surgery.

I was, according to the nurse who was nice enough to bring me hot tea and a digestive cookie when I was wheeled back to my room, “totally stoned.”

Personally, I don’t ‘get’ those folks on A&E’s Intervention take Percocets for fun.

What’s fun about feeling so dopey and out of it.   And I think the worst part was not being unable to snap out of it (though I tried).  La-la land just ain’t for The Gay Groom.  Luckily after a few hours the worst of it wore off and I could at least stop drooling and keep my eyes from rolling around in their sockets.

Anyway, the surgery went well and I was sent on my way around 5pm in a taxicab.  Or so I’m told… I don’t remember much.

Home and feeling sore and totally un-cocky

The day after: Icing the sinuses

Back home, the Husband has been a prince.

He’s kept track of my medication, made my dinner, brought me hot tea, and ensured I had whatever I needed when I need it.

Just goes to prove yet again that The Gay Groom knows how to pick em.

So currently I’m taking Tylenol 3s but (since I don’t like codeine and because there isn’t all that much pain anymore) I’ll be switching to Extra-Strength Tylenol tonight or tomorrow.  A Gay Groom reader has been nice enough to tell me that there is a video on YouTube of someone having the FESS procedure if I want to see what they did to me.

I most likely will have a look at the video – just not yet.

Jeffrey, your Gay Groom, on the mend

Big thanks to the staff at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

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Filed under blogging, ENT, FESS, functinal endoscopic sinus surgery, gay, gay asthmatic, gay blogging, gay groom, gay health, gay marriage, men's health, sinus sugery

Toronto Gay Pride Weekend (Photo Blog)

Although Toronto’s rotund mayor, Rob Ford, decided to skip Toronto Pride this year (renewing concerns that our mayor is homophobic), Toronto pulled out all the stops and had another brilliant Pride Weekend.

It started on Saturday with the Pride and Remembrance 5K in which your humble blogger partook – and did pretty well even in the 90 degree heat (see my last post “So I Ran This 5K Today“). After the run the Husband and I met up with my beautiful niece, Crystal, and her girlfriend for great lunch at Cora’s.

It was my niece’s first Pride.

On Sunday I marched in the Pride Parade with members of the Toronto area Liberal party including the Federal Liberal Leader, Bob Rae and the Liberal MPP for Toronto Centre, Glen Murray.

As usual, the weather was beautiful all Pride Weekend (I don’t believe in god but if I did I’d have to say that she must love the gays) and the parade was as colourful and joyful as ever… even without our mayor.

Happy Pride!

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

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So I Ran this 5K Today…

Jeffrey before the run

Today I ran the Pride and Remembrance 5K.

For those who are regular readers, you will remember seven weeks ago when I wrote a blog about your humble blogger beginning to train for his first 5K in a couple of years (Training for the Pride and Remembrance Run).   And the Pride and Remembrance run is one of my favourite events during Toronto’s Gay Pride Week.

I was a little nervous the night before the run.

The mistake I made was reading too much on what to do the week before you race.  First of all most of the information you find on the internet contradicts itself (taper down on mileage, don’t taper down on mileage, don’t eat before, eat before, don’t drink water two hours before, drink water right before, don’t drink coffee in the morning, drink coffee in the morning).  So I’m still not sure what I should have done – except I should have drank more water.  I made a mental note for next time.

I also wasn’t used to running on the road.

Jeffrey running

Because I’m asthmatic, my respirologist advised that I run only inside on a treadmill.  So none of my training for the 5K (five miles three times a week) was actually done outside on the road – I wasn’t used to the feel of asphalt, the hazy humid air, or the natural inclines of the road.  And your humble blogger’s legs took a bit of a beating.

But though it was a rough run (and sadly I didn’t hit my goal of breaking 30 minutes), I enjoyed it.

After the run

And I’m not going to stop now.  My next run day is Tuesday and I’ll be logging at least five miles.

Perhaps there is another 5K for me in the fall.

Though this time my training will include a few runs outside (on days where the air quality is good) and I’ll also have to start using the incline on the treadmill from time to time as well.

And next time I’ll break 30 minutes.

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

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Up My Nose with a Rubber Hose (with a Camera on It, No Less)

Ah, the first day of summer!

Funny how the summer solstice is always tempered by a little melancholy knowing that the days are now getting shorter. So I usually spend the first day of summer listening to five or ten different renditions of “Summertime” (Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin being my favourites) while rereading Leaves of Grass.

But for the first day of Summer 2011, I went to the hospital.

It had to see an ENT specialist. For those that don’t know that is an Ears, Nose and Throat doctor. I have been having sinus problems since I was diagnosed with asthma and allergies about eight years ago. I have trouble breathing through my schnoz for years and I haven’t been able to taste or smell well for about a year.  I’ve also had sinus pain so bad on airplanes that after one flight from LA to Toronto where it felt like my face and teeth would explode, I thought I could never fly again.

What a drag it having a sniffer on the fritz.

So after a sinus x-ray, CT scan and a probe with a camera on it that goes up your nose, it was decided that I would need sinus surgery. It turns out I have a number of obstructions from polyps and spurs (among other things) up there that need to be hacked out before a opening up the sinuses (with sort of a nasal Roto-Rooter).

At the ENT Specialist's Office

My ENT specialist said the surgery would be “a walk in the park”.

So we are setting up a surgery date for sometime in September. This will give me time enough to heal before the Husband and I fly to the west coast for our autumn cruise… I hope.

And your humble blogger won’t have to worry about sinus pain at 35, 00o feet again.  Well that’s the idea, anyway.

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

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Filed under asthma, blogging, ENT, gay, gay blogging, gay canada, gay groom, gay health, gay men's health, hospital, nasal polyps

Catching My Breath at St. Mike’s Hospital

I had what they call an “asthmatic event” last night.

Though I’m loath to write about asthma again so soon after my Breathless post, I hold that this is more of a ‘hospital post’ than an ‘asthma post’.

For the first time in my life I spent a night at the hospital.

It started just after midnight.  The Husband was out of town on business and I was enjoying a Carson McCullers mini-festival on TCM.  The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and A Member of the Wedding had finished and The Ballad of the Sad Café was just starting.

I suppose I could only take so much McCullers southern Gothic style or perhaps it was Julie Harris trying to sing “His Eye is on the Sparrow” with Ethel Waters because I was getting a killer headache.

There was only aspirin in our medicine cabinet.

Aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid or ASA

I had not taken aspirin since I had been diagnosed with asthma five years ago. My allergist told me at the time that asthmatics should not take aspirin due to something called ‘aspirin-induced asthma’.

Now I did consider my doctor’s warning last night… but my head was pounding from McCuller’s overwrought dialogue like this from A Member of the Wedding:

“We’ll just walk up to people and know them right away. We’ll be walking down a dark road, and see a lighted house and knock on the door, and strangers will rush to meet us and say, “Come in! Come in!” We’ll know decorated aviators and New York people and movie stars. And we’ll have thousands and thousands of friends. We’ll belong to so many clubs that we can’t even keep track of them all. We’ll be members of the WHOLE WORLD!”

That’s a tad much, don’t you think?

But I digress.

And since I had never had a problem with aspirin for 36 years of my life before I was diagnosed with Asthma, I couldn’t believe that I had developed a allergy to it over the last five years.  I popped two in my mouth and washed it down with some Strawberry Banana Crystal Lite.

It hit me in less than ten minutes.

My face became hot, my chest tightened, and my eyes began to water.  It was a full-blown allergic reaction.  I took two hits of my rescue puffer (which I never have to do) but my breathing became shallower, more distressed.

I knew what was happening, it was an allergic reaction – a nasty one too.   I dressed, went downstairs and tried to hail a cab.  But I didn’t see any cabs on the street and it was getting harder and harder to breath. I was wondering if I would make it to the hospital at all.

What if I keeled over right here on Wellesley Street, I wondered?

I began to panic.

In his memoir, Self-Consciousness, John Updike writes of one of his asthma attacks better than your humble blogger ever could:

“An asthma attack feels like two walls drawn closer and closer, until they are pressed together… I thought, This is the last thing I’ll see.  This is death.  The breathless blackness within me was overlaying the visual world.”

I seriously thought of flagging down a police car that was driving up Yonge Street when a taxi turned around the corner.

“Take me to Emergency at St. Michael’s Hospital,” I chocked out.

Saint Michael's Hospital, Toronto

Ah, now some folks are probably asking, “But Gay Groom, you said you would never EVER go to a hospital that refuses to provide safe medical abortions for Canadian women.”

The Gay Groom agrees that he has indeed said this – many times in fact. Furthermore The Gay Groom knows that St. Michael’s is a Catholic hospital that obviously does not provide safe medical abortions for Canadian women.  So why, you may ask, did I go there?

All I can say is that when one thinks he is about to die, many of their strongest principles can fly right out the window!  I went to the nearest hospital – St. Michael’s.

But again, I digress.

“Is someone sick?” the cabbie asked.

I told him I having trouble breathing due to asthma and needed to have it checked out by doctors.   He drove faster.

“I hope you feel better,” he said as I got out of the cab.

I made it through triage relatively quickly (people that can’t breath seem to go to the head of the line) and I was put on a nebulizer after a quick exam.   It was my fist time on a nebulizer too.

But instead of just relaxing while I was using the nebulizer as they suggested, I took photos with my cell phone for The Gay Groom blog.

I am always thinking of my awesome readers!  Even at death’s door.

Your humble blogger struggling to breath and with a bright red face from an allergic reaction to aspirin - but still taking photos with his cell phone.

Did I mention the snazzy blue hospital gown?

I looked at the mirror on the back of the door of the examination room and saw that my face was swelling and had turned bright red.  My eyes were red and watering.   I just felt better knowing that if I fell into anaphylactic shock, it will be the hospital’s problem and The Husband wouldn’t find me keeled over in front of TCM classic movie station.

Though I knew he’d be asleep, I sent this photo to the Husband and told him I was in the hospital and doing fine.

They then moved me into my own room in the Intensive Care Unit where two doctors and two nurses gathered around me.  I was put on a heart monitor before given a shot of epinephrine with an oral steroid chaser.

Heart monitor. Blood pressure is 126/80.

My lungs were feeling better.

“You’ll be here for a while” a male nurse said.  He was cute.

“How long?” I asked.

“We’ll have to keep an eye on your for at least six or eight hours.”

I thanked them as they all filed out.

The next seven hours was spent on an IV drip that was dripping (among other things) Benadryl.  Now your humble blogger quit drinking in 2002.

So main lining Benadryl was sort of a treat for me.

Intravenous in your humble blogger's arm. And of course the Gay Groom (being The Gay Groom) has to show off his wedding band as well.

Sometime around 4:00am, veins full of Benadryl, I fell asleep.   I never did take my Doc Martens off.

It was a restless sleep (maybe due to the Doc Martens?).  I didn’t like being around so many sick people.  Every so often an automatic arm band checking my blood pressure would tighten and startle me, waking me up.

Just before 8:00am a cheery doctor came in.  I was happy to see my bright red swollen face was back to it’s normal off-beige colour.

“We’re letting you go home now,” she said.  “Oh, and you’re alergic to asperin.”

Good to know, I thought.  And the bloody aspirin never did help my headache.

When I returned home I received a message from the Husband.  He saw my photo and told me he was coming home.  I told him I was fine and not to worry.  I was given (pretty much) a clean bill of health from the doctors at St. Mike’s.

“I’m still coming home,” the Husband said.

It’s great being married.

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

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