Sunday, February 8, 2009


As most of you know, I've made my career working in healthcare. Spending 8 hours a day in a hospital seems normal to me. I've always had a morbid fascination with the internal processes of the body, especially surgical procedures. So what do I do on my day off? Research surgeries! I know, I'm insane.

I've only had surgery once, but I've had a
long history of less invasive procedures. I had my sleep study last week, and I meet with my sleep specialist on Thursday to discuss the best treatment options for my sleep-disordered breathing. At my initial visit with him, he had listed a variety of surgical options that may be of value to my health (including Lap Band for weight loss, as my sleep issues will not subside until I lose at least 80 pounds).

This morning I've been researching UPPP - Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. It's a procedure where my tonsils, uvula and part of my soft palate would be removed to remedy my very constricted airway. I have been wavering for a few years whether I would get a tonsillectomy because I have large tonsils and frequently get tonsillitis, but I know the recovery time and pain level is horrible as an adult. But since my breathing has been so labored since October, and my snoring (caused by a constricted air passageway) is out of really may be time for surgery.

As I read about it on Wiki, I was freaked out by the following side effect:
Patients who have had the uvula removed will become unable to correctly speak French or any other language that has a uvular 'r' phoneme.

If I get the UPPP, I might have to give up on Le Français and take up Español.


Ian said...

haha my uncle whos a PA taught me that word when i was young and ive always loved saying it

Quixotic Healer said...

I know it may seem frivolous....but losing my French would be a serious deterrent for me! I mean, the accent is the only thing about French I do well!

Wahlee said...

Meh. I had a UPPP when I had my tonsils out back in 2003, and I can still speak French okay. :P

However, the recovery from the surgery was HELL. It was 3 weeks before I felt like I could swallow, and more than a month before I felt normal again. Bleh.

Anonymous said...

I'm debating getting the surgury myself. Wahlee, did the surgury help relieve your snoring once you finally recovered?

Rodney said...

I had UPPP and hyoid suspension surgeries seven years ago. Recovery was painful - not horrible as some describe. You'll have plenty of painkillers; morphine drip in hospital. Lortab elixir at home. Medicate to stay ahead of the pain.
Surgery lessened snoring and apnea but did not eliminate them. I immediately lost 25 lbs & had a little more energy.
What didn't they tell me?
1: I had to relearn to swallow. Liquids constantly went down "the wrong pipe"; coughed & sort of choked zillions of times. To this day, I cannot lean back when I drink something.
2: Talking - It took a few months for my tongue to seem right.
You mentioned French... In Spanish, "rr" requires rolling the back of the tongue. Because my hyoid is pulled forward, securing the base of my tongue, I no longer can say "rr".
3: Before surgery, I had ear aches & sore throats several times every year. These mostly went away.

My opinion: Unless you have a serious medical condition requiring surgery, try every non-surgical treatment. Don't dispair if one doesn't work. If none work, go to another doc & try everything again. There are new treatments, new CPAP masks, etc. every year.
My story: I had a horrible snoring problem. Wife said occasionally stopped breathing. She slept in separate bedroom and still had to wear ear plugs. One sleep study that found no apnea. A year later, another sleep study found apnea. I tried one CPAP mask, and then had surgery. I wish I'd tried other things before surgery.
good luck

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