Monday, 30 November 2009

The Longest Operation in the World

Well, not in terms of time, but in terms of the name of the procedure. Try this for a mouthful (pun intended) - uvulopalatopharyngoplasty!

So, why did I decide to get my soft, fleshy, dangly bit cut off?

I've always been a very, VERY bad snorer. I still remember fellow dorm mates walking around my bed every morning to retrieve the shoes they'd thrown at me over the course of the evening in an effort to stop me chopping down tress. I was 13 years old at the time.

And I still don't think I'll ever be invited on another overseas race trip with good mate Ken Collins.

Add my lovely girlfriend into the mix of haters and it's pretty clear as to why I went looking for professional help. I will add that I tried all the herbal, nose strip and pallet spay options available.

I popped down to my local NHS GP, who did what she normally does and sent me to a specialist. An ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor. In all honesty, my main motivation to stop snoring was so that I didn't have to spend countless nights on the couch or wake up to a scissor kick in the back of the head at three in the morning.

However, after he poked and prodded around my mouth and nasal passages, he asked me an intriguing question. "When you wake up after a good amount of sleep (8-9hrs) do you feel properly rested?" It was like that moment on TV shows when the earth stops moving and a gospel choir sings, HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH!

Queue another of my terrible character traits - I'm not a morning person. Never have been. And I'd love to be one. What the doc explained was that because my snoring was so loud (I will often wake myself up with the noise) I never get those essential hours of deep sleep. The noise wouldn't allow me to drop into it (so just imagine my girlfriend laid next to me at this point). What surprised the specialist was that I'm not a 'classic' snorer. Most people with my condition are fat smokers that enjoy a few bottles of wine every week. When I asked to delay the op until after the Ironman, he nearly fell over.

That appointment was in February, and today I finally had my uvula removed and soft tissue pallet tightened. Think of it like a sting on a guitar. The tighter the string, the harder it is to make it vibrate without real force. Less vibration = no noise/snoring.

(BTW, that's not my mouth in the photo.)

So here's hoping to peaceful nights; deep, restful, undisturbed sleep and early morning wake up calls!

(I must say, Kingston Hospital was brilliant, but it's SO not like Scrubs!)

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