I can smell that I’m sick before I feel it. The smell of a sinus infection, of doughy green, of the backs of my eyeballs.
I broke my nose for the first time over ten years ago. During a high school soccer match, I hosted an inopportune meeting between my face and an opponents knee. I woke up amid a circle of faces, concussed, my white jersey a sopping red. It was freaking heroic. Not only had I scored a goal that game, but I walked supported by a teammate back into school through a sea of band geeks, jocks, dramatics, and girls’ sports teams. The crowd parted like the Red Sea, and I was its reflection. I heard the phrase,”Holy Shit!” more than once.
The moment was fleeting. The months afterwards taught me how horrific damaging one’s body can be. For some unremembered reason, I waited to have it fixed. My nose had to be rebroken; I was put under and woke up with two black eyes and a rolled gauze mustache taped to the peach fuzz on either cheek. My voice was that of a droopy-jowled cartoon dog.
Following this was the return visit to the ear, nose and throat doctor. Had I known what awaited me, I may not have gone. When the doctor entered the room, he handed me a well worn pencil with teeth marks in it, instructing me to place it between my teeth. He then proceeded to reach up each nostril individually and haul out an ungodly amount of bloody gauze. Which apparently my sinus cavity was packed with. The pencil snapped in my mouth.
A week later I was picking my nose. There was something strange inside. It was just…hanging there. Hanging enough that I was able to get the tips of my thumb and forefinger on it and yank. Searing pain from my nose to the backs of my eyes. I had just yanked out a saline-soluble suture that had apparently not been solved, which had been used to stitch back together my buckled septum.
The following two times I broke my nose I refused treatment. There is a visible kink in the bridge, and I believe the damage done makes me more susceptible to sinus infections. Which I am now sitting here smelling, the smell of some nefarious foreign civilization coming into florescence, the smell of the microbiol mongols as they ride in thick post-nasal formation to take position for the next week in my lungs.