|

I wasn't living life properly until I fixed this - a guide to the Deviated Septum

July 05, 2019

For about the last 10 years I've suffered from chronic fatigue, lack of sleep, a negative mood and generally not having a good time

I attributed this all to my personality, a lack of motivation that I perhaps picked up through my choices throughout childhood and my use of digital media, the "maybe I just don't try as hard as everyone else" argument to myself. On top of that I would exhibit a few other strange symptoms during the day: I would completely zone out of conversations at times, have a hard time communicating, yawn heavily when exercising, randomly become overwhelmed and anxious. This general comprehensive state of discomfort followed me wherever I went and due to it's persistence dominated my train of thought.

To deal with this state of permanently lowered quality of life I changed my habits, moved out, travelled abroad, bought multiple mattresses, read countless self help books and spent hundreds of hours at the gym and at various physical activity programs - all to no avail and without ever connecting the dots. Then one day suddenly and serendipitously a thought popped into my mind that has redefined the last 10 years of my life and answered all of my questions. I was making fun of a friend of mine from Britain, explaining how long term mouth breathing may affect development of bone structure and how this may be caused by a deviated septum. Once I said this I immediately slapped myself and ran off to do research. (I have had a severely deviated septum since early high-school)

content

As it happens, a deviated septum is a common issue many people unknowingly suffer from, somewhere from 70 to 80% of the total population has some form of septal deviation, the effects of which vary from person to person. The range of total symptoms something like a septal deviation causes and the amount of people it affects is absolutely absurd for how little the general public actually knows about it.

There are hundreds of studies on the effects of septal deviation but one really highlights the general areas where it affects a persons quality of life: Outcomes of Septoplasty

In this study a questionnaire was given to three groups of people pre-and post op for correcting breathing issues caused by a deviated septum. The results of which are fantastic - I mean literally magical. All three groups reported significant psychological, sleep, social, physical, general health, emotional, nasal and even hearing improvement. Every single conceivable area of discomfort affected by poor nasal function was improved. Considering that this study averaged each individual report and that the surgical procedure in general (Radiofrequency turbinate reduction) has been considered lacklustre compared to the alternatives for outcomes you could imagine that the procedures effects may be even more astronomical in some cases.


My Experience

Upon learning all this I immediately rushed to action. I booked an appointment to see a prominent ENT (Ear Nose & Throat) doctor through my General Practitioner. The ENT in question is Doctor Solomon, a Plastic Surgeon known for Rhinoplasty - unfortunately, unbenounced to me the Doctors office no longer took in non-cosmetic cases of surgery (something caused by the Canadian healthcare system) so I was transferred to another lesser known ENT operating from the same building. The wait time for this ENT was 3+ plus months and another 3+ months for operation. I was extremely disappointed to figure this out three months into my wait so I went to a different ENT who referred me to yet another ENT operating out of a major Toronto hospital who would see me in two weeks and operate in two months.

The operation happened on the first of February

content

(pictured: my ass with some random nurse five minutes after waking up)

The surgery was a Septoplasty and Electrocautery Turbinate reduction. It was really very scary to get operated on and I almost fainted when I got an IV drip since the nurse kept missing the needle BUT luckily in that situation the anaesthesiologist can give you laughing gas which after a few inhalations renders the body completely relaxed and the nerves completely at peace - at which point almost instantaneously I woke up three hours later.

It felt kinda like this:

content

The surgery itself helped immensely and was also a tremendous disappointment.

A week of total misery followed, the worst part of nose surgery is the recovery. My nose being very inflamed and stuffed with plastic to hold it all together made it completely impossible to breathe normally - but everything is bearable after your bear it so it wasn't too bad. The actual worst part was discovering that only half the job was done.

The doctor only fixed a spur in my septum in the back of my nasal cavity, which immensely improved breathing on only one side of my nose and the turbinate reduction also helped a little. When I questioned the doctor on why the other side of my nose wasn't touched I was given possibly the dumbest answer I could expect: "that would be a Rhinoplasty". So according to this ENT, fixing a deflection of the caudal septum was to him a "Rhinoplasty" procedure...

"This won't do" I thought and booked an appointment for Rhinoplasty with the first ENT I was referred to, Dr.Solomon. Dr.Solomon saw me within two weeks of scheduling the appointment and he said what I was looking for was a Septoplasty but agreed to do a revision Septo-Rhinoplasty in order to correct everything missed in the last operation and make my nose point forward (it has always pointed slightly to the left). I had this surgery on the first week of June.

So again I went under...

content

This time it nearly worked

But not quite...

For the first time ever I can breathe properly through both nostril's. However I can only do this one at a time... and it seems like the right side is slightly worse off. So what is the problem? Potentially the Nasal Turbinates, which swell over time due to septal deviation may not have been shrunk enough in the first procedure and were not addressed at all in the second one.

content

(The turbinates)

So I have now scheduled a second opinion from an ENT focusing on Endoscopic Sinus Surgery and Rhinology (nasal surgery) to hopefully solve whats left of this problem.

This is the before and after from right after the first surgery to just after the second one:

content

As you can see, not perfect but a huge improvement!


My Advice

Figuring all of this out and acting upon it is a difficult and confusing process. In Canada the the public healthcare system is slow, inefficient, indifferent and behind. It's very difficult to find a good doctor that knows what he's doing. Most ENT's here prefer to do the electrocautery turbinate reduction method, which is okay and safe but it is literally electrocuting your turbinates to get them to shrink, a method which can damage the turbinate and also has a high regression rate in one year follow up studies.

In my opinion, a microdebrider turbinate reduction in the right hands is a superior method to this surgery - the device physically removes the tissue and vacuums it way leaving unburned and lasting volume reduced turbinates. And all of this will only give lasting results if it's done in conjunction with an effective septoplasty procedure covering all area's of the septum.

So my advice is, get a US doctor they have generally more experience, know-how and tools when dealing with this issue - but if you can't and you're in Canada, go to a reputable and experienced facial plastic surgeon because more likely than not they will end up having leagues more experience in nasal surgery than a regular ENT. and finally, try to look for an ENT with clinical interests in nasal airway function, endoscopic surgery and Rhinology - this is crucial to not having to do multiple surgeries like me.

Finally all I can say is don't listen to anyone, most people don't understand the issue this can be and will never understand even if you explain it. If you see someone with a deviated septum though, tell them about it, you may just be giving someone the best information they could ever possibly get.



Getting images in your Gatsby/Contentful Blog Posts

April 18, 2019

Undoubtedly the most herculean task in building this blog has been learning how to get Contentful's rich text fields to output embedded images in a blog post. A variable Gordian knot of documentation is provided, littered with depreciated versions and scattered fragments of information, the deciphering and navigation of which has taken me the better part of a month to accomplish.

The difficulty of implementation is definitely in the lack of documentation. It seems that although there are many scattered guides on each component of the solution there are very few that actually bring it all together. Therefore to aid those who might be encountering similar problems in the future I'd like to shed some light on the subject through a quick tutorial.

Step 1 Dependencies

There are, two dependencies you'll have to have at the top of each page where you're displaying your rich text data.

content

You'll need to npm i @contentful/rich-text-react-renderer and npm i @contentful/rich-text-types

Your Gatsby-config.js file will also need to have the following included under plugins

content

Step 2 Query GraphQL

In order to actually retrieve data that rich-text-react-renderer can use instead of breaking your whole page you'll need to query your content model for JSON.

My query Looks like this:

content

So, if you just wanted to retrieve the rich text you would query "allContentfulBlog { edges { node { richContent { json } } } }" and "richContent" in this case would be whatever you name your rich text field.

Step 3 Putting it all together

This is the tricky bit, since a lot of the syntax here is unfamiliar to people who are newer to react.

In order to get rich-text-react-renderer to understand what an embedded image asset is you need to give it an options argument. The options argument is essentially a map function and BLOCKS.EMBEDDED_ASSET is their pre-built definition of the rich text image asset type.

content

So in this example we take the URL retrieved from the embedded asset and say, each time make it an <img> tag and set src to this external URL. Node.data.target.fields.file['en-US'].url is normally where the URL is stored in this situation - a lot of times however gatsby will give out the 'file is undefined' error in which case the solution that I've found would be to double check the 'gatsby-config.js' page and reload the application.

Now, remember when we imported 'documentToReactComponents' at the top of our page? This is where that will be used. 'documentToReactComponents' takes two arguments, the JSON string you retrieved from GraphQL and options which we have made above.

content

It's important to note that 'documentToReactComponents' directly outputs formatted content so it's pretty much the end of the line for outputting rich text fields.

And that it! rich text should be working and printing images wherever you implemented it, congratulations!

content


Setting your devices to Grayscale

April 14, 2019

Do you ever find yourself spending excesses of your time staring at your computer or phone? Everyone does, there's no limit to the amount of entertainment a phone or laptop can provide with a simple internet connection. A majority of apps and sites are built on and around user engagement and design is a huge part of that. If you check your phone twenty times a day or sit on YouTube for an hour or seven, YouTube wins and you got played. Unfortunately countless millions of us get played just like that every single day, (and we love it).

So what can be done? Grayscale, grayscale is the secret to beating internet addiction. The genius of it is in its brilliance and it's brilliance is in its simplicity. By simply turning your phone or computer grey and proceeding to use the the apps and devices you love to use so much you take away most of the satisfaction in using them. So much of an app's novelty is in programming the user to receive dopamine through engaging with a system of entertainingly coloured buttons that taking away the colour quickly makes the experience shallow and boring. Just like quitting cigarettes, do you think it would be easier to quit if you went cold turkey or if the experience of a cigarette no longer created and fulfilled an urge? Obviously the latter, in fact the most effective addiction removing treatments follow this principle.

The hook of scrolling through instagram memes is something deadly even without colour - it is almost inescapable. The ratio of my time spent on instagram with and without colour is something like 4 to 1.

The second colossus is the computer. Nearly half of my time at home is spent on the computer, and the overwhelming majority of that time is wasted. To a point where serious concentrated work on it becomes nearly impossible to sustain despite my own best efforts to do so. Without saturation however the computers power over the attention span becomes increasingly limited. Desaturated Youtube becomes something different, without the draw of coloured icons, clicking and watching through suggested videos becomes less of a novelty and more of a chore, reducing the average hour long session to something closer to a light skim.

Gaming also becomes moot with grayscale, although the core mechanics of gameplay retain most of their appeal the lustre of the entire product is lost. Without colour the design most games becomes harder to engage with. Where traditionally the enemy team would be coloured in red and the player in green or blue, in the world of grayscale everyone becomes just shades of gray - which in itself helps to provide a commentary on the meaninglessness of whichever conflict the game might be centred on.

Overall grayscale is an amazingly simple solution to very real problem. If you've ever been concerned about how much time you spend online or how many times you check your phone, you may be surprised by how little of a grip these things actually have over your time and how much more you can do with Grayscale enabled.


Cleaning the mess

March 04, 2019

This Blog is still extremely bare bones and If we want to get this web development career off the ground it's a very small first step in a very brutal marathon.

So far all we have is a few buttons, Gatsby, Contentful integration, some styling and some mobile scaling - tragically that's not nearly enough. Though this house is nice it's not a home, it's more like a bachelor apartment with a Bon-jovie poster and an Ikea chair, a lot more needs to be done if you want to consider this work anything other than a joke. To really breathe life into this space (and any space in general) I believe you need to give it an air of consistency, a space people come back to is a space that ensures it's patrons with a promise of continual future novelty. I could write a hundred articles under this current format but this blog would still feel like a shell of opinions by an irrelevant bipolar Ukrainian novelist.

So what do I plan to do and what do I mean by all this? Lets start with the basics, this website needs more details, any visitor here must instantly recognise the format and understand what they see. On the smallest scale quality of life UI elements are my next focus. Social media icons and a contact me page are absolutely essential as I feel that they give the website a feeling of more responsibility and connection to the real world - this isn't just some piece of paper, like any dollar bill it's backed by a gold standard, my reputation and everyone that comes here needs to see that as soon as they visit.

Following that this website needs movement, it needs action, it needs to be like a rotisory chicken. I need you the reader to want to hit every button to see what it does. That's one big order of rotisory chicken, but here is what needs to be done. The home page needs to present a rotation of the most recently published articles, the bar along the bottom of the index page needs to rotate and the featured image of the article needs to appear on hover, the sidebar needs to be collapsible and animated, don't forget animated! We should even add ambient music but that would be just a bit too much. The website needs to feel like it comes alive for the user and maybe it needs to have some of my presence (in an odd way), like the creator is watching you as you read this. A lot more design needs to go into it but but one could imagine the future projection of this domain as a growing entity which is exactly the feeling I want to go for.

Of course the most important thing which hopefully is coming very soon is Implementation of Contentful's Rich Text, which allows for the formatting of each blog post as it is written - which would change these blog posts from looking like a Microsoft word document to something a bit more entertaining and structured.


A Blog is Born

February 21, 2019

Hello and welcome to my very own blog!

A simple website with no content and little direction pointed towards the future! Introductions aside I decided that my very first independent project as a web developer should be this blog, as I understand it journaling is an exceptionally good way to collect and organise thought patterns. The intent of this blog therefore is primarily as an asset for my self learning, somewhere where I can stop and document information about my projects and learning that's relatively free form while also professional enough to be registered under my name.

In civilised life as I see it there is a fundamental need to be organised, coherent, intelligent and above all concise to really move forward in any kind of meaningful way, as such I see personal blogging as a sort of sharpening stone of the mind, something to collect and develop thought into a useful commodity which also serves the purpose reinforcing itself and producing better more meaningful content as it develops.

With all that said I christen this blog, lets see where it can go!