My Septoplasty Survival Kit

by Carrie Pokrefke

I recenly had my deviated septum corrected and as a result, I came up with a “survivial kit” in case anyone has this same surgery and is looking for helpful information.

Three of the most important things you will need to get through this are….

•People who support you in your surgery and will take care of you after the surgery (My parents came to help me)
•A good doctor that will listen to you and will perform a successful surgery (Dr. Philip Robb was my surgeon)
•A good medical staff for pre-op, surgery and post-op (I can’t say enough about Dr. Robb’s staff during this whole process! They were top-notch!)

As far as things go after you have the surgery, the following is a list of things I found helpful for my situation. This is not medical advice and should not be taken as such or should it replace the medical advice and instructions you receive from your doctor. If you have any medical questions or concerns, call your doctor right away. These are things that helped get me through my recovery, all while under the supervision of Dr. Robb:

•Ice chips – Ice chips right after surgery helped with the throat irritation from the tube they used during surgery

•Popsicles and Icees- the nurse gave me a popsicle in the recovery room and it helped a lot. Then I made Dad stop at the gas station as we were leaving to get an Icee. My throat was sore a good bit (from the tube and drainage) and I ate a lot of popsicles.

•Chloraseptic throat spray – Because the popsicles and ice chips weren’t always enough.

•Relaxing music – I played some nice music on my iPod to help relax and keep my mind off the pain and soreness.

•Ice packs – I had soft ice packs to place on my sinuses to help with pain (Also someone suggested ice packs to help keep me from sneezing)

•Dark-colored button-down shirts – The dark color is because I didn’t want to stain any clothes from the drainage and the button-down is so I didn’t have to pull anything over my head and risk hitting my nose. I went to the hospital for surgery in a button-down and wore them for several days after surgery.

•Dark-colored sheets, towels, pillow cases – I put my old, dark bedding on my bed so I wouldn’t stain anything from my drainage

•A reclining place to sleep – I don’t have a recliner so we had to come up with something else. (I looked into renting a recliner, but it was too expensive. I also looked at the wedge pillow at Bed, Bath and Beyond, but I knew I didn’t want a huge pillow taking up space after surgery, so we improvised). I had the pillow off the chaise sofa that I returned to Bassett, so Dad took that pillow and placed it under my mattress to give my mattress and incline. After two days like that, we moved it so that the sofa pillow was on top of my mattress and at an incline. I had to watch slipping down the incline and rolling side-to-side. Mom ended up putting pillows and towels around my head so I was “stuck” in one position (think of a baby in a car seat and the u-shaped neck pillow around the baby’s head). It worked well. I am NOT a back sleeper, so this was a challenge for me, but it is necessary to keep the drainage moving.

•Humidifier – Dad grabbed me a humidifier after surgery to help keep the air moist. It helped a lot. I couldn’t breathe out of my nose, so that left me with my mouth open to try to breathe. The humidifier helped so I wouldn’t get so dried out.

•Lip balm – someone recommended this to me and it helped a lot! If you weren’t ALREADY a mouth breather, you will be right after surgery! This will help keep your lips from drying out.

•Kleenex – I didn’t have enough. You will use a lot. Trust me.

•Gauze pads and “holder” – I left the hospital with something that held the gauze pads under my nose (it looped around my ear) and they also gave me lots of gauze pads. We bought some more at Kroger, but I didn’t end up using them.

•Saline Nose Spray – The doctor had me get Ocean Saline Nasal Spray (the point is to keep your nose and the stints moist and to help clear the junk out). I’ve never used nasal spray before (I have used the Neil Med bottle) – it was easy to do and it really made a difference! I was supposed to do a fine mist every hour. I didn’t stick to that so well the day of surgery, but I stayed on top of it the day after (Tuesday) up until the day they took the stints out (Thursday). I think it made the stint removal easier. I’ve kept using it to help keep the final drainage moving and to keep my nasal passages moist.

•Water or gatorade – I drank a ton of fluids to keep my body hydrated. This was important for the pain medication and for the Mucinex-D. I probably drank close to 2 liters a day.

•Pain medication – mine didn’t always help with the pain, though. I think they just made me antsy and restless the day of my surgery. The day after surgery, Mom and Dad kept me on a schedule to keep the pain at bay (My friend told me “it is harder to get rid of pain than to keep it away!” – she was so right!) and that helped a lot. The nurse also allowed me to take ibuprofen, so we started that as part of the schedule.

•Aquaphor – I used this on the outside of my nose where it had gotten rubbed during surgery and was sore. (My dermatologist gave me this when I had a mole removed to help aid in the healing of the skin)

•Q-tips – I used these a lot and still am using them. To be quite blunt here – I just had surgery and there was some serious gunk at my surgery site. I had to keep things moving and clean, so I would squirt some nasal spray on a q-tip and GENTLY swab the very end of my nostril to help clean things up. I could only blow my nose so much and things just stopped. I made sure no one could bump my arm while I was doing this and – again – I stayed on the very edge of my nostril.

•Hot showers – The hot showers really helped get the drainage moving – they weren’t too hot because I didn’t want to overheat, just warm enough that my sinuses would drain. (Just be careful when you wipe the water out of your eyes that you don’t hit your nose!) I would let mom know that I was taking a shower so she could listen in case she heard me fall or cry for help.

•Steam nose baths at night – I took showers in the morning and did steam nose baths at night to help hydrate my nose and to help move the drainage. Mom put a coffee mug half-full with water in the microwave to heat it up and get it steamy. I put a towel over my head and then held the coffee mug up to my nose. I was careful to make sure the steam wasn’t too close or too hot.

•Comfy clothes – I was pretty much in my bed or on the couch, so I stuck with comfy clothes.

•Bread/Waffles + (vegan) Nutella/Smoothies – And, just to add more difficulties to things, I am on a vegan diet. I actually allowed myself to go vegetarian during recovery to make things easier. I ate a lot of bread and waffles to help coat my stomach for the pain meds. I had a few spinach and kale smoothies to bombard my body with vitamins and nutrients to help heal.

•Salt – The day after surgery, I started gargling with hot salt water to help my throat and to help clean the drainage out of my throat.

•Dark room and ability to hold my breath – lol…I have a loud and “active” sneeze. I did NOT want to sneeze with the stints in my nose (or even right after they came out). If I felt like I had to sneeze, I would go into my dark bedroom (opposite of “look at the light!”) and hold my breath (mom taught me this trick – her doc made her do it post-surgery so she wouldn’t sneeze). I also used the ice pack trick (if your ice packs aren’t handy, you can close your eyes and hold your breath). I didn’t sneeze until the Friday after my surgery. A few of them hurt, but I just let them come.

•Mucinex-D– By Friday, some of the drainage started moving into my lungs and I kept coughing. The nurse recommended I start Mucinex-D and to get whatever cough syrup the pharmacist recommended. It’s Sunday and I am still taking the Mucinex-D to help with the drainage.

•Ability to expectorate or spit out mucus stored in your throat (I left this one for last because I don’t really know how to spell this out in a PC-manner). If you are one of the people that can clear out your throat (and maybe even your sinuses?), this ability will serve you well after a septoplasty. I had stints in my nose and those openings were only so wide. Being able to clear out my throat (and sinuses) helped me get the drainage out without it having to work its way through my stints.

One trick is to make sure that the majority of all of these things are handy by your bed because you can’t lean over and if you are in pain, you won’t want to get out of bed anyway. Mom put a stool next to my bed and put everything on it.


Kit contents right by my bed

Kit contents right by my bed