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A nose for trouble


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He broke his nose a few times before we were born, but the circumstances are hazy. One might have happened when he accidentally strolled off the side of a cliff at night near his old hunting lodge, and another on the steering wheel of his car.

My brother has had at least three broken noses that I can remember. One happened playing ultimate, another skateboarding, and another in a bike crash. I may be forgetting a couple.

To see a family portrait of us, you’d think our noses were genetically crooked, but it’s sadly just a coincidence.

Anyway, largely as a result of my broken noses I’ve been battling sinus infections for the past decade.

At one point, I couldn’t even fly because every time the plane decompressed for landing I thought my head was going to explode. A small chip of bone had lodged itself in the sinus under my left eye – I still have no idea how or when that happened – and needed to be removed.

It took three years to finally get that surgery, and it was almost a success. Almost.

Following surgery to re-align a deviously deviated septum – a thin wall of bone and cartilage separating the nostrils – and remove the bone chip, the Toronto specialist who performed the operation somehow forgot to tell me to make a follow-up appointment in Halifax, where I was in school at the time. Well, he either forgot to tell me or he told me while I was still giddy from the gas. Either way, I had no idea I had to go back to the hospital for a post-op checkup.

As a result, my badly swollen nose exploded in a downtown Blockbusters video store about 12 days after the operation. It turns out that I still had a suture up there as well as a few chunks of gauze, all of which should have been removed less than a week after surgery. By the time it exploded, the whole works was badly infected.

A month of antibiotics later, I found I could breathe better. Best of all I could fly again.

Still, it wasn’t long before my sinuses were acting up again. I lived at home in Toronto for a year-and-a-half after university, where I was mildly allergic to the family cat. Naturally I assumed that when I put about 5,000 kilometres between me and Newman (the cat) my sinuses would clear up.

The Whistler air was great, at least at first. But four years in, and I’m as plugged up as ever.