Flashback (circa 2009 – 2015): I almost always had flu. Ask anyone who has known me for more than a week, and they’d concur. It was a nuisance but what could have I done – I am allergic to dust and lived in Karachi/Dubai. What made it worse was that I had a deviated nasal septum (bone between nasal passages). My homeopath had told us this many moons ago, mentioning that surgery is an option to fix it. But Mother India would not have it. One of my uncles has had it (a couple of times, allegedly), and it never helped him. His nasal bone would grow in a problematic manner over and over again, and he had to use nasal drops all the time. Hence, his dheet naak left no choice for my terrhi naak but to suffer.

Fast forward to 2017. A night in January, I woke up with a start, gasping for air. My erratic movements woke N up. I told him that I can’t breath. In my bare minimals, I yanked open my bedroom window, stuck my head out and gulped air. It took me a couple of minutes to realise that my legs were bare and it was -2°C. Trembling, I closed the window, had some water, and went back to sleep.

This happened twice again in the same year. It would be okay in a few minutes, so I would forget all about it in a day or two (note: if it happens to you, please don’t be me and do not forget. Try to see a doctor as soon as possible).

In 2018, I lived in Berlin, by myself. Flu episodes were frequent, and as annoying as ever. When they started interfering with work, I visited an ENT doctor, who told me that my septum was far too gone to the left and needs surgery. Nasal drops won’t be a solution anymore. This surgery, called Septoplasty, is treated as an outpatient procedure, with a recovery time of one to two weeks. It was a lot of information for my Panadol Cold+Flu induced brain to process. I took all that information home, to make a decision.

After some intense Googling, Mother India-convincing, N-discussing and mentally preparing myself, I decided to go for it. I was high on annoyance, which really works for me. Negative emotions are truly my best friend. They make me do things that rational-me would overthink to death, and still not do.

But, there was a problem. I had decided to move back to Cologne, with a trip to London in between, and there just wasn’t enough time to get the procedure, recover and travel (ideally, no plane rides for four weeks post-surgery). So, it would have to be in Cologne.

Unfortunately, annoyance that had fuelled me then had now dissipated, and the whole matter was pushed down to priority 597575.

Pollen allergy season came, with a reminder to get my nose fixed. I asked about good English-speaking doctors on Expat Ladies Cologne (a Facebook group), and was recommended HNO-Praxis Köln-Nord. I got an appointment for three weeks later. Raise your hand if ridiculously long waiting times for an appointment with doctors in Germany has made you punch a wall or two.

I went to see my ENT in June 2018, where she confirmed the need for surgery. She booked me in for 25th August 2018. I went to Pakistan for five weeks in between, and returned on 12th August, with awful allergies. I called in to reschedule my procedure, and was asked to see a doctor to get another date.

I went to see Dr. Zastrow in September, and he asked me to get a CT Scan. From getting an appointment to getting reports, five weeks passed by. Eventually, I saw my doctor and he offered me an appointment for surgery in October. I had travel plans, and requested for another date. He said 19th February 2019.

I said yes. He smiled. I walked away.