I have been dealing with a problem in my right saliva gland, called the parotid gland, for at least the last 10 years. It comes and goes at the least 2 times and at the most 5 times per year. The doctors have always given me antibiotics, or by the time I get to the doctor it has gone down so I don’t mention it. This time around I had the issue and I made a special appointment for it because it was too painful to ignore.
The doctor put me on antibiotics which lasted 1 week. I saw him a week later and was still in pain and it was still swollen and he gave me more antibiotics. Because it wasn’t going away, he sent me to get an ultrasound and when he found out that it was 1cm, he suggested surgery, but asked me if that was what I wanted. Not everyone wants to have surgery which would scar you, so he wanted to know what I wanted to have done. For scale, see image (left).
He referred me to an Ear Nose Throat doctor who sent me for a cat scan with contrast and when I saw him on Wednesday, he told me that I needed to go to yet another doctor. Are all these doctors getting a kick back for these referrals? I mean honestly, why do I need to have so many referrals? Anyway, he was trying to send me to Los Angeles and I told him that I’d rather go to a doctor here in Bakersfield because I don’t want to have to drive (well, I don’t drive, I’d have to be driven) all the way to Los Angeles just for a consultation to be told that I have to come back for the surgery and then after surgery.
So I went to a doctor at Kern Medical Center today for the consultation and he told me that I have 4 options
- Live with it.
- Ultrasound which they don’t do there and my insurance doesn’t cover.
- Surgery where they use a scope to go in there with a camera and grab the stone and pull it out, which is also not available there, I would have to go to LA and most likely make several trips, which we can’t afford and my insurance might not pay for it.
- Have him do surgery to remove the entire gland and give me a huge scar.
I decided on option 4, but when I told my partner out in the lobby he said “Oh no tell him you want to go to LA.” Without thinking I went back to the counter and said I need to tell the doctor that I want to go to LA. Then we got to talking, my insurance company probably won’t want to pay for that because I bet you that will cost more than having it removed. Plus, we’d still have to go all the way to LA and probably make several trips. I can’t afford that dammit! If I could have afforded that, then I would have just done that in the beginning. Sheesh!
Well, the doctor at KMC told me that before he can do the surgery (when I had told him I was up for option 4) he needs my doctor to sign off on it. So I made an appointment for Tuesday of next week so I could talk to him and tell him that I need him to call that doctor’s office and give them his okay.
This is what I have. It’s called Sialolithiasis.
“Sialolithiasis (also termed salivary calculi, or salivary stones), is a condition where a calcified mass forms within a salivary gland, usually in the duct of the submandibular gland (2) (also termed “Wharton’s duct“). Less commonly the parotid gland (1) or rarely the sublingual gland (3) or a minor salivary gland may develop salivary stones.”
This is what he said will happen. They will have to start cutting right at the edge of my sideburn just at or near the top of my ear which is where my glasses are, go all the way down below my earlobe and turn towards my neck and go down my neck. It’s a big gland as you can see in the image above, so naturally they have to cut a lot. He said there will be a pretty big scar, but I’m okay with that. Neosporin has a cream for scars to help them disappear.
I have no issue with scars. In fact, I feel scars give you character. Perhaps the doctor will let me keep the stone so I can have something to show when I tell the story of how I got that scar on my face.
As always, I will keep updating this blog on the progress.