When I was 11 years old, I broke my nose.

It was my first lesson in dehydration. I went to a friend’s sleepover, and the next morning, a few of us went to our friend’s softball game, and then immediately went to the carnival. I probably hadn’t had enough to eat (and definitely nothing with any nutritional value) or drank much water. It was a hot day, and like all kids, as soon as we got to the carnival, we went from one ride to the next. I think after 3-4 rides in a row, I blacked out walking to the next ride. Unfortunately, the carnival was set up in a parking lot, and I must have fallen face-first. I’m sure I looked awful (blood smeared on my face and the front of my shirt). It was my first (and so far only) experience wearing a neck brace, being strapped to a back board, riding in an ambulance and being taken to the ER.

The end result was a broken nose and a swollen lip. Luckily I didn’t break any teeth. (That was always my mom’s #1 concern for superficial injuries. Unfortunately, my middle-older brother has broken two adult teeth … one because he got in a fight, the other I believe was because he rode his BMX bike down a slide.)

To this day, I hate carnival rides. (I’ve also grown to hate roller coasters that go upside down. Or just being upside down in general.) Also, since then, I have fainted about three more times. Have I ever posted about that? I can’t remember. One of the times was after giving a speech during class in college.

Anyway, because I was still young, and growing, and played sports that included balls flying around, we waited on surgery. I didn’t really mind the way my nose looked (a little crooked and bumpy, but whatever), but the issue was I couldn’t really breathe through it.

So, after I graduated from high school, and had zero chance (or interest) in playing sports in college, my mom took me get a consultation for a nose job. I was actually surprised how easy it all was. I feel like the appointment went something like this:

Mom: “Doc, my daughter broke her nose years ago. We’d like to get it fixed.”

Doc: Looks at me. 

Doc: “We have an opening on [such-and-such date].”

Mom: “Great, let’s schedule it.”

Seriously. Maybe there was more to it. (Like a referral from my pediatrician that I was in good health and cleared for surgery. Right?)

Going into surgery, I had no idea what to expect. It was 2000. Did we even have Google back then? I remember right after being wheeled into the operating room, laying on the surgery table, getting poked and adjusted and whatever, and my doc walked in and I asked him “my brother asked if I will have any scars … will I?” I honestly had no idea how the surgery would be done. (Feel free to search “nose job surgery” or “rhinoplasty” on YouTube or something … I’m sure you will find LOTS of graphic videos … personally, I have no interest in watching them – I do now have a general idea how the surgery was done, but I don’t want to watch it, so I’m not even going to find a video to link to. There is a reason that despite my mom’s strong encouragement, I never became a nurse.)

Thanks to the wonders of general anesthesia, it felt like I blinked and suddenly I was in the recovery room. And miserable. My nose was packed with gauze, I felt nauseous, and there was a kid screaming on the other side of the room. I went home and couldn’t keep down Tylenol-3 so my mom gave me children’s Tylenol.

And I looked awesome.

This was a few days or maybe a week post-surgery. I looked MUCH worse immediately after surgery. Also, I would like to point out that I was wearing overalls. Why were those ever cool?

The absolute worst part of the whole experience? Other than going out in public looking like that? (I had to shop for school supplies … I moved into my freshman dorm maybe a week and a half after the surgery.)

Getting the packed gauze out of my nose.

It felt like that stuff was packed in tight, all the way behind my eyeballs. The worst of the worst part is they pull the gauze out of one nostril, and you start crying and feel like you want to puke and/or punch someone … and they have to do the other nostril. And this time you don’t have the bliss of ignorance.

The funny thing was, after all of that, my nose doesn’t look that much different. A little bit straighter, a little less bumpy, but more or less the same nose. Which was the goal – I didn’t want to look different, I just wanted to breathe through my nose. Which I can now. So, it was a success.

Since then, the only surgery I’ve had done was to remove four wisdom teeth. That was less traumatic. Having surgery on your face is no picnic. Personally, I would like to avoid surgery in any way I can for the rest of my life.

Have you ever had surgery? Did the experience suck? But was it worth it?