Dust, My Bitter, Bitter Enemy

I did not make any big deal out of my recent battles with dust. I might have mentioned that I visited a doctor and took some steroids to try to get rid of some low level headaches, because we thought the crazy weather differential (outside -40F windchill and snow, inside 70 and dry) might have caused some sinus issues. Well, no real difference in the long run. I was having trouble with headaches, eye aches (lots of screen fatigue, and kind of a creaky, clicky right eye sometimes for mobility.) Sometimes I had congestion or a runny nose, some sneezing, some coughing. Classic ENT issues. And a little dizziness and nausea which I blamed on the headaches.

So I put off returning to the doctor for a couple of reasons:

1. I was busy at work and didn’t want to schedule it.
2. I figured they’d just tell me I was old and I would have to live with it (which is pretty much what I’ve been told about, oh, lessee, 4 or so maladies now. Yay.)

But Bryon was insistent I go, and honestly, I planned to go. There’d be egg on my face if I didn’t go, and I had some sort of tumor or growth or something. Not that I was too worried about that, which shows you how much my paranoia is ramping down these days.


With great glee, I can proudly report that this is something I don’t have to live with! I am, in fact broken.

I need an illustration. Hold on.


This is what the inside of my nose looks like right now. On the left you will see a turbinate, which is a wall of one of the 4 chambers the nasal cavity processes air through. To the right, that’s my septum, the nose divider. By the way, this is not my nose, just a nose I’ve pulled off the Internet. It is a representation of what it’s most likely like in my nose.

This turbinate could swell up like this for two reasons: infection or allergy. I have no infection. I do have a dust allergy, exacerbated by inside air quality, and the fact that I’ve lifted a carpet of dust from my office and house over the last 5 days. I still have to finish cleaning, but from now on out, I get to wear a mask.

The hulked-out turbinate is the cause of having fluid behind my ears, which explains the dizziness and nausea, as well as the clunky eyes, low level sinus headache, and screen fatigue. Dastardly!

What can be done? Our first line of defense is steroids. I’m doing 3 levels. First, the big steroid shot, which took me out for the count last night. Whatever was in there, man, it didn’t act like steroids do. A course of pills through next Friday. And Flonase, because I could use a visit from Antonio Banderas in bee form. That stuff? Smells like a lovely bouquet. We’d already bought a humidifier to help out the bedroom, and I’m supposed to boil a pot of water on my stove to get humidity into the air downstairs.

In 10 days I go back, and we will determine if I have been healed by the magic Banderas bee, or if I need to see ENT, at which point a CAT scan will be ordered to see if there are any funky blockages. If so, there could be surgery.

Right now, just concentrating on the bee.


Isn’t the body a mysterious place full of little nooks and crannies? Tuesday, I didn’t know what the heck a turbinate was. And now, I’m cleaning in a surgical mask.

Okay. Gotta go interview a job candidate. Laters.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

4 thoughts on “Dust, My Bitter, Bitter Enemy”

  1. My husband had a massive sinus infection in October. He was down for at least 3 weeks. The PA at the doctor’s office finally ordered a CAT scan which revealed an infected sinus cavity and bone had grown over the opening of the sinus.

    He had surgery to open the sinus, they sucked out the infection and I swear he’s the man I married again. It’s been YEARS.

    All that to say – GET THE CT SCAN.

    My Personal Librarian was down for 2 days after the surgery (probably could have gone back to work at that point, but when you have a bazillion days of sick leave, why not take them?) and feeling functional, if not healed on day 3. It was far less gruesome and painful than either of us expected.

  2. Haven’t heard anything from you about your sinuses… how are you doing?

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