Why three parts, you ask? Hell is a long journey. You need to know what led up to my getting surgery at USC Keck with Roxana Moayer in Beverly Hills, and every step thereafter. Stick around for all three parts. Right when you think it couldn’t get worse, oh boy does it.
Let’s rewind to 2020. My pandemic was going great. I hadn’t lost any loved ones to covid, I was creating comedy videos for the world trapped at home to bring joy to a time of uncertainty.
After reading the entire internet, reorganizing my home, and having time to sit around and analyze every cell of my body, I went an ENT about my right nostril not getting air passage without pulling my cheek on my pillow – called the Cottle maneuver in medical terms. I’d face planted few years prior while wearing sunglasses and they smushed against my nose. He said I had a deviated septum and septoplasty could help. I made it clear that I like my nose, the nose I gave to my daughter – I won’t look different, right? “No. That’s rhinoplasty. Septoplasty addresses functional issues”. Let’s do it.
July 29, 2020, Doctor #1 performed septoplasty, and created a tiny spreader graft from my own cartilage, and adhered it to the left upper bridge to fill in a teeny dent the sunglasses had made. I could breathe like a vacuum and looked just like me.
Seven months later, a tender, triangular bump arose just inside the left nostril. Feeling sure there must be a stitch embedded that could be removed in office, Doctor #1 said it was scar tissue. I felt it was different from scar tissue, and got a second opinion, who said “well, the spreader graft is gone, but if your surgeon says it’s scar tissue, listen to him.” But, where is the spreader graft? Another second opinion immediately said, “that’s your spreader graft. We need to open it up and take it out”. What? I cried. All jokes aside, I feared, yes, the Michael Jackson nose saga. However, this man seemed like a hero. He knew what it was without hesitation. He listened to me while I cried in the exam room. “How could doctor #1 not have know what this was? Was he covering up?” Doctor #2 shrugged. Wow. Now this is an honest physician. Over the course of a week, I decided that I should get the graft removed while we’re still in Covid lockdown and wearing masks, so that I could resume my life, as we all thought the world would open back up in 2022.
In October of 2021, Doctor #2 performed ‘revision’ septoplasty and supposedly removed the fallen spreader graft and placed it back. However, he also shaved down a great deal of the cartilage along the left side for some unknown reason, collapsing my nostril. The nostril now blocked the top of my naris (opening of the nostril), where air couldn’t pass thru. Not only that, it was retracted and pulled upward, like a one-sided angry witch, and not a good look on camera for a performer. My right side stayed as healthy and lovely as it had since the day I was born. Six weeks postop, I asked if my nose was going to stay like this. He told me I was imaging it. It looks great. I was frozen by his response. There were some other uncomfortable actions that took place, and I couldn’t face this man again.
I called around to find someone to take over my post-op care. They all kept saying it was too soon, go back to the surgeon. Out of nowhere – okay, out of Google, I found a female, yes, a WOMAN. Like a goddess, she welcomed me in, and I felt loyal to her. This was fate. She pointed out all the things he did wrong, kept asking if he broke my nose during surgery (???!), even commented on how I shouldn’t have been charged out of pocket for part of it. Wow. She’s on my side. I’m finally in good hands. Once again, I needed to wait a full year of healing, then she would proceed to add a Batten Graft under the left nostril to lift it, so that I could breathe again. She let me know that this will be a long healing that that the left side would stay very swollen after adding cartilage, and we’d have to give it a lot of TLC. This sounded good, but because of what had just happened with #2, I went back to get Doctor #1’s opinion. He knew my nose from the start, after all. He thought the batten graft was a great plan, and that I should be aware that adding the cartilage, the left side will be very swollen and much bigger than the right for quite a while. It’s a long recovery. He also seemed alarmed I’d had the #2 surgery, telling me it was IMPOSSIBLE that the spreader graft had fallen, and that it was only scar tissue. This made me feel even worse – I had never suspected that #2 might have been a scam, but I was anxious to get my nose fixed and on with my life. He suggested a couple men with specific training, but I felt like going with a woman was the best path now. Because women listen…or do they?
A few months before surgery, Dr. Roxana Moayer, Doctor #3, went over the plan of adding a left batten graft. I was so terrified, but also excited. My world felt like it was finally going to open back up in 2023, and I would join the all people living life to the fullest after the pandemic. I bought some new clothes and looked for a stylist to have my hair done after surgery. My lockdown is about to be over, baby! I’m ready to sing, dance, get back on stage, date, frolic, and resume the production plans with all the film equipment I’d bought during the pandemic, delayed after surgery #2.
A week before surgery, I requested to go over everything on Telehealth to make sure we’re still on the same page. Again, the plan for the Left Batten Graft was in order, as noted in all documents.
December 15, 2022, I wake in the recovery room with Moayer at my bedside. I was so excited to hear what happened. She replied, ‘there was a lot of scar tissue. We had to do a time out. But it is straight!’. I ask if she found a lot of damage from the prior surgery or how things looked. “You’re too groggy. We’ll discuss it later”.
Two days postop, I log into the USC portal, anxious to see my Op Notes and read what type of magic she performed. Right, right right. I said aloud, “but the left was the star of the show”. As a former medical transcriptionist and certified medical assistant, I know that doctors often use templates and fill in the blanks. I assumed this was a template that needed editing and decided I should be resting instead.
A couple days pass and the right side of my nose felt like it had been sliced open by Freddy Kruger. The pain was intense. I’d sneezed the night before. Oh my god! The stent probably shifted and is cutting into my nasal passage. I went to Doctor #3’s office, and she assured me that the right stent was in place.
At my 1-week postop for cast off and stent removal, I tell her how intense the pain is on the right. “Please look in there. Something is wrong. I’m certain that stent cut it. It hurts to move my face at all.” She removed the right and left stents, looked in the right nostril and said, “Those are your stitches”. I have stitches there? “Yes. Holding everything in place”. She stated this as common sense, but this was very confusing to me and I’m sure my face showed it. She also didn’t want to remove any stitches. Not even the front outer columella stitches that #1 and #2 removed at the 1-week visit. *Of note, sutures left more than 10-12 days, give risk of infection, scarring, and sutures growing into the skin. She was so ecstatic when she took the cast off, claiming how straight it was. She handed me a mirror. I wasn’t feeling very confident about her statement. She left the room and I took a selfie. My friend, Debbie, knew what I’d been through and had me promise to send a selfie as soon as I got it off. I texted Debbie that I wasn’t ready to show it to anyone yet. I met her for lunch when I left the office, and she stared and said, “oh my god. It’s no different that before. What did she even do?”. Debbie was focused on the left, where the action was supposed to take place. I felt the same, but asked to change the subject.
Over the next week, my right side continued to swell, was heated, dark red, and extremely painful to smile, eat, talk, laugh. The left felt amazingly like nothing ever happened. Had the left side felt this way, I would have embraced the pain. Shining a flashlight up my right nostril trying to find any clue of what the pain was about and the stitches, I happened to notice the right nostril had been reshaped. “Wow, she took extra steps to make sure everything is symmetric. Once the left heals, I bet it will match the right,” I’m thinking. At this point, the left still looked like an angry witch, but all the work was done over there, so it’s not showing the final result yet, right?
By week 3 postop I’m noticing all the dissolvable stitches falling out the right side into the sink as I’m doing the nasal washes. Then it hit me. The left is not going to settle, because there’s nothing to settle. It’s flat as a board. Flatter than before. She did nothing to it, but rasp down even more cartilage, than #2 had. She reversed the whole plan!
I jump on the USC Keck portal and message Dr. #3, telling her how bad the right is hurting, and is it possible that she accidentally put the cartilage and did everything to the right side instead of the left, since that’s where all the stitches, pain and swelling are at? The left feels like nothing ever happened. A nurse called and said that she’d see me on Telehealth late in the afternoon. I remember the Op Note saying right, right, right. I go to log in to the portal to look at it. What? “Jennifer Cosper’s account is unavailable at this time’. I’ve been locked out. I took a screenshot of the message, in case IT needed it for troubleshooting, so I can still do telehealth. Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks. There’s a reason I’m locked out. I clutched onto hope that this was a bad nightmare, as I kept trying to log in all day. Just before the Telehealth appointment, I had access. I repeat, “Is it possible that you put the cartilage and did everything on the right where all the stitches are, instead of the left? And you rasped down the left side instead of the right?” She’s like a deer in headlights. “You have no stitches on the right. They’re all on the left”, she says, robotically. At this moment, she stole my trust in healthcare. She had told me at Post op week 1 with my severe pain on the right, “those are your stitches”. This moment, I could not believe what was happening. We end the call.
I’m now able to access my Op Note. Right from the start, I notice from my years of transcription, that it never states that “a marker was placed”. Every surgical report I ever transcribed or proofread states “the patient was prepped and draped in a sterile fashion. A marker was placed over the R/L…” The body of the report now states left, left, left, and a Left Dorsal Onlay graft was placed. Wow. But also, the graft changed. I was supposed to get a batten graft. A completely different type of graft. I look at all of my other notes. They never state that I’ve mentioned the right side pain or that I’ve questioned any of it. The notes look as if I’m perfectly happy.
I immediately make appointments with two ENTs. It’s several days before I can get in, so I go to Unnamed Urgent Care in Echo Park to have written confirmation of the right stitches and have those front columellar stitches removed that were now inflamed and growing into the skin. The next two ENTs confirm the sutures are in the right nasal passage and nothing on the left, but ‘don’t want to get involved because this is a malpractice situation’. One ENT leaned in close and said, ‘I only use that type of stitch when I’m doing reconstruction. If she reconstructed the left, I’m not sure why this type of stitch would be on the right’. This was one of the two whom doctor #1 had recommended before I allowed Moayer to touch me with a scalpel. This physician also pointed out that there is a stitch on top of the bridge of my nose, under the skin. This, I hadn’t even noticed. When he touched it, it was very tender. I asked how this would be removed. “Well, I’m not sure“. Which to me meant, only by cutting it open.
By now it’s time for my six-week postop. I’m ready to let Moayer know that she is going to have to come up with a solution. But, she has a student in the room with her, which made the whole situation awkward. The tension between us could’ve been cut with a machete, as if we were trying not to say it, but we were saying it. I ask her to explain details of the surgery, and she tells me we’ve already discussed it. “No. You said I was too groggy and we’d discuss it later, but we haven’t yet”. She says ‘yes, we have’. I ask where she put the cartilage. She pointed to the left batten graft location. A moment later “I put some here, too” and pointed to the upper left bridge. I ask about the one permanent suture she just removed from the right. The painful SOB and the only one she removed. She quickly named a type of suture, case closed. I pointed to the ‘stitch’ that the second opinion had found on top under the skin. “That’s not a stitch.” What is it? I never got an answer.
When I got home, I message in the portal to get this in writing. I ask her to please explain the surgery in writing so I can understand it. No reply.
To be continued in Part 2.
#Septorhinoplasty #malpractice #RoxanaMoayer #healthcare