"That's what I told myself.
And if you can believe it - that's what the doctors told me."
"I'm 36, and I'm hoping I get at least twice as much life in the future. I have a 6 year old daughter, I want to be able to run around with her when she's 36 and she's got kids."
Andy is a father, a U.S. Army Veteran, and an avid volleyball player with a lot more life to live. Yet, for as long as he can remember, his breathing issues have been getting in the way.
"I'm always the first one out of breath."
He recalls being an unhealthy kid with an inability to sleep. And as a teenager and avid athlete, he tried to keep up on the basketball court and with the other runners on his cross country team. Because these breathing issues were all he knew, he never truly understood how much they affected his ability to participate.
It all boiled down to his inability to breathe through his nose. He was forced to always breathe through his mouth, causing him to snore. This meant, nearly every day, he was waking up with a dry mouth and painful headaches.
These lingering issues followed him everywhere, from his bed to his job site to the volleyball court. "When I force myself to breathe through my nose, I feel like I'm suffocating." The poor airflow left him battling a debilitating lack of energy.
Andy had resigned to just dealing with - especially because this is how other doctors had made him feel about it. That there were no answers, no sense of relief. Frequent illnesses, the inability to sleep, and constant congestion were just simply his way of life.
Andy Goes to ADVENT
"If I could sleep better and breathe better, it's worth it." Andy had a lot more life to live, and he wasn't ready to throw in the towel. He sought treatment at ADVENT and visited the Wauwatosa, WI ENT clinic, where he met with Physician Assistant Molly.
Within this first visit, Molly examined his sinuses, and because of the chronic inflammation, she even had difficulty exploring his airways with the scope. She found years of damage from chronic infection and discovered the turbinates on both sides of Andy's nose were impacted.
In fact, Andy's nasal passages were about 85% blocked. While being told this was alarming, it was finally an answer to his lifelong congestion -- and it also meant there was hope for a solution.
"Knowing there's a path to success, with an end state in mind… We have the CT scan planned, this will tell us more." For the first time in his life, Andy was hopeful he'd find his answers.
A CT Scan for Answers and Relief
At his second visit, Andy received a CT scan of his sinuses and airway. His doctor sat down to review his CT scan results with Andy.
"To have scientific proof that I'm not crazy... All my life I was told to just deal with it. And now for the first time ever, someone's saying there's an option."
Just as expected, the turbinates - which are soft bones covered with spongy, soft tissue - were too large. Turbinates naturally get bigger and smaller throughout the day, responding to airflow and foreign debris, and they get engorged when you lay down to sleep, pinching off the airway. There's a space between turbinate and septum that collapses when you lay on your back, causing even a healthy-functioning nose not to work well.
Andy's doctor also discovered that his sinus openings were very small. But balloon sinuplasty, a fairly simple in-office procedure, would help open them up so they could function properly.
"I'm feeling confident that I was just born this way, but there's something we can do about it."
Andy's Balloon Sinuplasty, Turbinate Reduction, and Road to Recovery
Andy's in-office balloon sinuplasty and turbinate reduction were surprisingly painless. Noise. Pressure. Pinching. Nothing he couldn't handle within the easy, 20-minute procedure.
Following his procedure, he followed the simple at-home step-by-step process to keep things clean and healing properly. After a sinus rinse, nasal spray, and antibacterial ointment, he could feel things begin to open up.
"I can already feel things opening up, and I'm really optimistic about this whole process."
As he continued to heal, it was up to Andy to retrain his brain and body to breathe through his nose.
Andy attended a follow-up visit after 1 week, and again at 3-, 6-, and 12-weeks. Every time he visited the ADVENT clinic to meet with his doctor or PA, the next steps of what to expect were clearly laid out. He felt more and more relief and felt reassured his progress was on track, and he was exactly where he should be.
"Since the procedure, I've definitely noticed a huge difference in my ability to breathe. I played a lot of volleyball last week, and I realized that at no point did I have to stop to catch my breath, and that's the first time that's ever happened in my life."
He was able to cut his reliance on ibuprofen in the morning and no longer experienced the dreaded afternoon crash. He's now able to work more productively, without feeling slowed down. He's living his days with more energy.
"Having this procedure really has been life-altering. It allowed me to take control of something in my life that I had struggled with and just accepted for what it was. But now, I'm enjoying my life the way I want to enjoy it."
"Today, life is just better."