I haven’t been able to breathe well, with my nose, in years. Maybe even in a decade. For example, when I think of a yoga class, my very first thought is, but will I be able to breathe? The answer was usually “no”. I came to associate yoga classes with a slight anxiety–what’s the point of going if I can’t experience the benefits, simply because I can’t breathe through my nose!
As I’ve worked on my singing skills on my own, I’ve spent a lot of time on mixed voice, which requires some air to go out through the nose. Once I got up past certain notes, I would feel resistance in my nose, restricting the airflow and making the notes unsteady and strained. With even higher notes, I would feel my soft palate trying to flip around to compensate.
I work in voice-over, and it’s been difficult because I’m always congested. Not only that, but my sinuses audibly click. I’d have to do multiple takes sometimes and really modify how I formed words in order to work around it.
It took me years to start looking into all this in earnest. Medical expenses being what they are, and work schedules clashing with doctors’ office hours the way they do, it took a while (years). Eventually, I got to an allergist. I figured I’d start there. I must be allergic to something, so if I could just eliminate that, then I could at least start finding the Big Problem by process of elimination. I got shots, took allergy medicine, used a nasal rinse, and used a prescription-strength nasal spray, and I still couldn’t breathe.
I finally saw an ENT, and in fact, by some miracle of my HMO, a board-certified laryngologist (this is the classification vocal performers should look for, as they specialize in our area and are certified by an overseeing panel of experts), and it didn’t take them long to perceive that I had a deviated septum (the septum is the wall separating the two nostrils on the inside, and deviated means it’s bowed to one side). Not only that, but I also had enlarged turbinates and a nasal obstruction. Turbinates are bulbous things in your nose that direct airflow, and some people just have them too big–either genetically and/or due to inflammation from allergies or another condition. A nasal obstruction refers to a nostril that collapses when inhaled through. The doctor had tears spilling out of my right eye from getting the camera up my right nostril to take a look around–it was quite tight.
I did a lot of research. I asked people I know personally, I asked a Los Angeles singers group I’m in, I looked on Reddit. I spoke to an ENT I know personally who’s in the final years of their residency. Across the board, with few exceptions, the feedback I got was that the procedure is very helpful, and usually people end up regretting not doing it sooner. My doctor also told me what every doctor in their practice does one to two of these a week. It is incredibly common, and a straightforward procedure. I signed up. And that’s that!
If you came to the same decision I did, make sure to check out my Tips if you’re getting a deviated septum corrected post! This covers pre-surgery, the surgery itself, and the following week of recovery leading up to the post-op appointment.