Struggling with a Proper Diagnosis
Updated: Jun 6, 2020
July 22, 2019 ⋅ 4:20 P.M ⋅Annelise Gazale⋅ Editor: Guadalupe Sandoval
My nose had been crooked all my life. For at least 15 years, I’d only taken photos from one angle, never worn sunglasses, and spoke to people with a tilted head. I couldn't go an hour without thinking about my insecurity, but I never spoke about it to anyone except my mom. I feared that if I spoke out, it would just make it more noticeable.
With every year that passed, I found it harder to breathe; it had progressed so much that I considered myself a mouth-breather. In addition to my struggle to breathe, I had pain in my nose, but none of the doctors I consulted with were able to explain the pains I had. Sometimes the bridge of my nose throbbed, sometimes it felt as if there was some sort of inflicted piercing pain, and at other times I simply felt extreme pressure. The pains occurred when I woke up, chewed food, ran, used the restroom, bent over, or rubbed my lips when applying chapstick--it was completely random. It seemed as if every part of my life was cursed to be in constant disturbance by pain.
The many years of being unable to breathe correctly led to my diagnosis of anxiety, leading to many new issues. I started seeing the doctor about my nose to complain of my breathing difficulties about six years ago and was misdiagnosed with post-nasal drip, excess mucus in the back of the nose and throat, which did not relate to any of my symptoms. As a result, I was prescribed saline and Flonase. I continued going to several doctors, but none could correctly diagnose me.
Finally, I was told that when I hit my nose as a child, it altered one of my nasal conchas/turbinates, forming an air pocket that never stopped growing, a severe Concha Bullosa. The Concha Bullosa critically deviated my septum, preventing my nose from growing in its natural position and preventing me from breathing correctly. I went to several surgeons, but many turned down the procedure because of its complications. If a doctor was willing to perform the surgery, the cost was way too much for my family to cover.
My parents have had to work very hard to afford my care and after many years of suffering with this condition, I only wish there had been an organization willing to advocate for my needs. I recently had the surgery, but still need to go back under and have adjustments made. The surgery has already changed so many aspects of my life like my breathing, pain and headaches, and my security. Seeing the impact that surgery has had on my life, I would love to offer the same opportunity to other children who face similar concerns and give this same experience which is why I resonate with Speak Out for Surgery’s mission.
About the Writer
Annelise Gazale is an undergraduate student at University of California - Los Angeles.