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Sinusitis Experience #022
Mother and Daughter, Both With Sinus Problems

My first sinus infection occurred approx. 6 months (1987) following the birth of my now 19 yr. old daughter while we were living in Germany. I had always known I had allergy problems, as from early childhood I was the kid who missed school due to frequent colds. I didn't know I had a sinus infection until it went into pneumonia. Needless to say, I was miserable and found myself in the emergency room one night with horrible pain in my face. From that time onward, I found myself infected nearly quarterly with increasing frequency.

We moved to Arizona after 3+ yrs living in Germany and for the next 13 months, life was BLISSFUL as I experienced only ONE infection during my stay there. I was in HEAVEN. But then we moved to FL, which by the way was my "home state" prior to our military life. In FL, I began again the sinus infections and was plagued every 3 or 4 months. Sometime meds. would help and sometimes I would be 'anti-biotic' shopping with the doctor to find the solution to the latest infection. I was desperate for a solution to the problem.

Another move took me to my current location, 'bloomin' CA, (1992) where the infections increased in severity and frequency. I FINALLY asked (because it was never offered by the general physician) and was referred to an ENT. I felt like doctors thought I was lying about the symptoms, frequency and such. I was infected constantly, and would sometimes have only a 4 or 5 days in between antibiotic 'servings'. I was newly married and found myself wondering how my new husband could possibly want this relationship.

I was rarely well and always 'surprised' at how fast and severe the onset. I was a full time employee and a part time student who was constantly sick. I had NO energy, was gaining weight because I was never well enough to exercise, and became very depressed. Let me say again, I felt as though the doctors thought I was lying about the frequency even though they were evaluating and seeing for themselves the recurrence. I felt I was alone because NO doctor EVER indicated to me how many people SUFFER with sinusitis. It wasn't until I began being my OWN ADVOCATE and EDUCATOR that I began to see how many people suffer as I do with my allergies.

I had my first sinus surgery (septoplasty/rhinoplasty) in 1994 and that helped markedly for severity, however the frequency of infections didn't change. I was infected monthly almost without fail. The second sinus surgery was in 1995 (ethmoidectomy) and I saw about a one year break in sinus infections. I thought I was CURED and rejoiced to the heavens. (I later read there is typically a one year hiatus of sinus infections
following that particular surgery.)

I became pregnant in 1996 and the sinus infections returned. It was supposed the infections were a result of the swelling due to the hormonal changes and that once the baby was born, all would reverse and I would be well once again. The infections were so severe during the pregnancy that I was put on antibiotics as a maintenance treatment until the baby was born.

The on-set of a given infection was extremely rapid (hours from feeling very well until I couldn't hold my head up) and the bronchitis incidents followed with rapid speed also. It was unbearable.

Upon delivery of my child, I was unable to nurse, even though I tried and tried and tried. I felt a great sense of failure. It is only now that I realize that the Sudafed and other drugs I was taking was keeping me so 'dry' that I couldn't possibly have produced the milk necessary to feed her. I knew I needed to nurse my daughter to help her immune system... At three years old, my daughter had her first sinus infection. She is now 9 yrs old and is plagued with monthly infections. She had her adenoids out by the same 'family ENT' when she was four years old. We have tested her and found she is horribly allergic to the environmentals as well as specific foods (which we have removed from her diet). Like myself, our diets have changed, our activities are altered. Our world often revolves around accommodating our sinuses and allergies as though we live with them as the pinnacle and not the other way around.

We both travel the same path of multi-drug maintenance, and are sick every 6-8 wks. We steam, live with air purifiers, increased vitamin supplements, and the social stigma which goes with not 'fitting in' in restaurants, school lunches, sports activities. The accommodations go on and on with exhaustion.

While my daughter has not yet begun the allergy shot (immuno-therapy) route, I have been on "maintenance" for over 3 yrs---for the third time...I have recently learned of the sub-lingual immunotherapy, but our allergist "doesn't believe" in it, nor does our health insurance group. It is cost prohibitive to use outside the insurance plan.

I often wonder if I am 'missing the key' which is at present elusive and blame myself for not researching enough. Logically I know it MUST be hereditary. Logically, I know I am doing more than anyone 'could' to control the environment, food and such, but I know I am emotionally raw from the efforts and overwhelmed at the almost 'superstitious behaviors' I employ and follow for myself and daughter.

We have done all the 'pick up the carpet', bathe to remove the pollen, don't let the pet in the room, use the air purifier, steam, increase vitamins, etc, etc, etc, routines. I can only hope and pray the science guys are continuing the search for the 'holy grail' and continue to assure my daughter there are worse illnesses in life and that we should be (and are) thankful that modern science has medication when we need the extra help, and that 20 yrs from now, when she is an adult, things will be THAT MUCH MORE progressed. It is a small 'offering', but the only other one I have...that is "HOPE".

This June, I am scheduled to have my tonsils removed as another step toward helping myself to wellness. There are NO assurances. I know that. But I have had so many infections now that my tonsils are pock marked and now act (in my opinion) as a 'catch-all' for the drainage, and then become infected.

You asked for a personal experience. I have given you two...from my perspective. I rarely tell so much as it overwhelms those who ask...they don't REALLY want to know. You have heard much...

To those who have a similar tale, "you are not alone". To those who cannot imagine. Give thanks.

~ D. Johnson

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User experiences should not be considered medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician for proper medical diagnosis.


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