Parotidectomy Surgery Complications

glands

It has been 3 weeks since I had my surgery and everything seems to be healing well.  My scar isn’t red and it isn’t too noticeable, except for the scar from the hole from where the tube was draining the fluid for 2 weeks which is quite visible, but disappears with a Band-Aid.

My face and ear are still numb, although the feeling is coming back slowly, but it is coming back.  But it still feels very strange.

The only thing that seems to have gone wrong is that I still have a saliva gland that seems to still be producing saliva with nowhere to go.  According to the image, there are three glands.  Parotid, which was removed, Submandibular and Sublingual.  The Sublingual gland is under the tongue, no problem.  The gland that is still producing saliva is my Submandibular gland which is below where the Parotid gland used to be.  It is still producing saliva, but it is not releasing into my mouth.  Instead of releasing into my mouth, it stores the saliva.

This is a really big issue because that is what my Parotid gland was doing.  It wasn’t releasing the saliva, so I was having to push (or milk) it out of the gland and into my mouth.  I have been trying to do that with this gland, but it is not releasing into my mouth, instead, I can feel it releasing under my skin.  I can tell because it tingles.  I don’t want it to release saliva inside of my body, but if it doesn’t get milked, it just gets bigger and bigger and next thing you know I will be rushed to the emergency room because of how painful it is.

The surgeon told me when I came back last week to have the tube removed that it was just some saliva that will be absorbed by my body, but I had no idea it was still producing more saliva.  I only know it is producing more saliva because I could feel it getting bigger and under more pressure when I ate some chocolate the other day.  Sweet and tangy are what seem to generate a lot of saliva for me, which over the years has been a major issue for me because when I start generating a lot of saliva after drinking orange juice, my saliva gland would get backed up and it wouldn’t release the saliva into my mouth.  That’s what I was trying to get surgery for, forget the stone, I want my saliva to be able to release into my mouth as it normally would without me having to milk it.

I can live without orange juice, which I have lived without for years because I know that sour causes this issue.  The one thing I don’t think I can live without is sweet, because I have a sweet tooth.  I love sweet flavors, such as sweet tea, or sweet coffee, or sweet oatmeal.  I can live without chocolate and cookies and so on, but I can’t avoid other sweet flavors because there is almost always something sweet.

My next appointment with the surgeon isn’t until March, but my next appointment with my regular doctor is next month and he will advise me on what to do.  I just hope by then it isn’t too painful.

I was hoping that my last post on this issue was my very last post.  I guess I jinxed myself by saying it was my last post.  This seems to be a pattern with me though.  I say I will never have to worry about something again, but then it comes back and I have to worry about it some more.  It’s a “if it can go wrong, it will” type of thing.  Murphy’s Law.  Why does Murphy seem to always be hiding in the shadows cursing me?  Darn you Murphy!

I will certainly update this issue if it becomes too unbearable and I end up in the ER or when I see my doctor in January, whichever comes first.

Invasive Questions About Homosexuality

Interogation

I had to come out of the closet at age 17 because my  mother confronted me about it.  I wasn’t ready to come out, but apparently she was ready for me to come out.  She treated me like dirt, lower than dirt, like pond scum, no, lower than pond scum.  The disgust she had in her facial expression made me feel guilty for being gay, but I knew it wasn’t my fault because I never chose to be gay.  But that wasn’t the only time I ever had to go through that.  I had to come out to every family member.  Some of them were more accepting while others were just as disgusted as my mother was.

It is one thing to come out of the closet to your family, but why do I have to come out of the closet to every person I come into contact with?  Why is it that when I go to a doctor’s appointment and I bring up my health concerns, like my HIV, why is it that my sexuality comes into question?  I recently went to a cardiologist because I need surgery to remove my parotid gland, but in order to do that, I have to have some tests done.  So when the cardiologist read that I was HIV+ he asked me how I became HIV+, so I told him.  His response was “Oh so you’re a homosexual.”  WOW!  Yeah I’m a homosexual, so what?  What the hell does that have to do with what I am here for today?  In what world does that have to come into conversation or into question?  I am gay, not my heart and/or my blood.

A couple of weeks later I had to go back to run on a treadmill and the woman who was doing the test was making conversation.  She asked me if I had any children and all I could think was here we go again.  I responded with no.  Then she asked if I had a wife and again, I said no.  She asked if I had a girlfriend and again, I said no.  She looked at me like you are a 43 year old man without a girlfriend or wife or any children, how can that be?  I told her that I was in a domestic partnership and she asked me what that meant, and I said I was gay.

Okay first of all, she’s there to give me a test.  Her job is to put stickers on my chest with wires and then stand there at the computer pushing buttons while I’m running on the treadmill.  Why is she asking me these questions?  I know that she’s just trying to make conversation, but it made me very uncomfortable.  It’s like people make me feel bad for being gay, like I should apologize to them for being the way I am.  I should never feel bad for being gay.  It’s how I am, how I’ve always been and how I will always be and that is none of anyone’s business but my own.

After she asked me those questions, she asked me if I’ve ever been with a female and I said yes, I tried to “change” because my parents and sister and then brother-in-law were making me feel bad about being gay and constantly telling me that I was going to hell if I didn’t change.  So yes, I slept with a girl, twice.  I hated every minute of it.

I have a story about my uncle, who by the way I looked up to as a child.  He was my hero.  He hung the moon.  When I went to my aunts house when I was homeless and about to start living in a homeless shelter because my mother kicked me out of the house, my aunt called my uncle (her brother) on the phone and made me talk to him.  I was shocked and bothered by his invasive questions.  After he accused me of horrible atrocities against my parents, like beating the crap out of my step-dad which never happened, and then running away from home, he asked “How can you take it up the ass?”  My sister’s ex-husband grilled me with those same questions.  “How can you take it up the ass?”  This coming from the guy who was using the back door on my sister, and the only way I know that is because they told me, multiple times, like they were bragging about it to me.  Why the hell would I want to know that?  They both bragged to me about what a massive dick he had.  Why do I need to know that?  Which begs another question, why is it okay for them to tell me in full detail about their sex life, but if I even mentioned being gay, I was shoving my sexuality down their throats?

I don’t think that it is appropriate for people to constantly ask me these invasive questions about my sexuality.  I don’t go around asking people about their sex life, so why is it that I am shamed and made to feel guilty every time someone asks me about mine despite the fact that it has absolutely no connection to why I am seeing them, like at the cardiologist office for example.

I know that people have questions and the only way to make “them” feel comfortable with gay people is to just respond to their questions to educate them, but why am I responsible for that education?  Why can’t they just buy a book?  Here is one called 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality.

Look, I am okay with non-invasive, non-sexual questions.  If someone wants to know something, fine, but don’t make me feel guilty about it.  The male doctor made me feel really bad when he said “Oh so you’re a homosexual.”  The woman who did my treadmill test, well she seemed a bit more accepting and didn’t really make me feel bad, but I still didn’t feel too comfortable.

One of the questions that she asked was when I knew I was gay and that is a question that a lot of people ask.  My response was this and it will always be this.  When I was about 3 or 4, I knew I was different, like in a sexual way.  In other words, I knew I wasn’t straight.  I had never seen a same-sex couple, so naturally I thought I was the only person on the planet who had feelings for someone of the same sex.  I thought there was something wrong with me which is why I kept it to myself.  When I was in the 2nd grade I had a crush on a boy in my class named Adam who lived nearby and we played together.  I had such a huge crush on him that I was dreaming about him.  It wasn’t just a dream like we’re playing in the sandbox or playing on our bikes, they were, you know… boyfriend dreams.  He was my first crush and you almost always dream about your first crush.  So that is a question I don’t mind answering because it tells people that I knew I was gay at a very young age.

Some people think that people who were abused as children become gay.  I don’t think that is true.  I was abused, but that had nothing to do with me being gay.  I mean, why would I be attracted to someone of the same gender if I am being abused by someone of the same gender?  That makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.  I’ve known straight men who were abused by their fathers, and they never became gay.  So there is no logic in that.

Some people think that being gay is a choice and I can say with certainty that it is not a choice.  Who would choose to have people call them negative names like faggot or choose to get beat up in school for being gay?  Who would choose to be an outcast?  Who in their right mind would ever choose to be different if they knew it was going to make their life a living hell?  Nobody, that’s who.  You choose to be a vegan, you choose to drive a motorcycle as opposed to a car, you choose to wear velcro shoes, you choose your career.  You don’t choose which sexual organ you are attracted to, and you do not choose the sex of the person you are going to fall in love with.  I mean if straight people think being gay is a choice, let me ask this.  When did you choose to be straight?

I believe I was born gay.  If straight people believe they were born straight, then why do they think that I chose to be gay?  Being gay isn’t a choice, but being an asshole is.

Read this article, it tells a lot about sex organs and sexual orientation and when it happens and why.

I am all for educating people, but I don’t feel like I should be obligated to educate everyone on the planet about my sexuality.  I mean, I don’t go around asking straight people invasive questions, so why do I have to put up with it?  If someone wants to know why someone is gay, ask themselves why they are straight.  It’s the same thing.  You are straight because well, that’s just the way you are.  That’s just the way gay people are too.  I’ve been asked how I can take it up the ass, well let me ask how a straight woman can take it up the ass and how can a straight man do it in the ass to a woman?  Why is that such a hard question to ask when straight people do it in the ass all the time?  And why are straight people so obsessed with taking it up the ass?  Straight people are more obsessed with taking it up the ass than gay people are.  I mean seriously dudes, just buy a dildo and get it over with.

I am not Dr. Ruth, so don’t interrogate me about my sexuality and don’t put my sexuality into question.  Educate yourselves on your own time.

Jumping Through Hoops For Surgery

Life isn’t fair, is it?  Murphy’s law says that if something can go wrong, it will.  Well, something is very wrong with how long it is taking to get my surgery.  I have been in pain, no, agony for going on 2 months now and I was told I could get surgery to help, yet I don’t see it coming.

I was diagnosed with Sialolithiasis which means my right Parotid gland (saliva gland) has stones in it.  You know how you get kidney stones?  Well, the saliva gland can get stones too.  The problem is that the stones are preventing the saliva from being released into my mouth and that causes it to swell up.  I can push on it and I can feel the saliva squirt into my mouth, and that relieves the pressure which is very painful.  I have been doing that for years, yes this has been happening to me for many years.  I would guess up to 10 years that I can recall.  I know it’s more, but I can’t be sure when it began.

So first thing that happened was it started and I waited a few days to call the doctor.  I figured that it has happened so many times in my adulthood and that I was almost positive it would go away from pushing on it, but it wasn’t going away, it was just getting worse and worse and there was a blockage preventing the saliva from releasing.  I made an appointment which meant I had to wait for a weekend.  I went to the doctor and he gave me an antibiotic and saw me again in 7 days.  I came back in 7 days and he gave me another antibiotic and told me that I might need surgery.  If this antibiotic doesn’t help in another week then I could get surgery if I chose to.

Naturally, it didn’t go away after that 2nd week.  In the past it has always gone away after taking the antibiotics, but this one has stayed with me.  He sent me to have an ultrasound which showed that I had a stone that was 1cm.  Look at your ruler, that’s nearly half an inch.  He then referred me to an Ear, Nose, Throat specialist who sent me for an CT scan with contrast which showed that I have multiple stones, not just on the right side, but also on the left.  The left side swells up as well, but not as bad as the right side.  The doctor said that the left side were much smaller, so it’s not as big of an emergency as the right side is.

The ENT doctor referred me to a surgeon at Kern Medical Center aka KMC which I always joke and call it KFC.  He gave me my options and I chose to go to LA, but then changed my mind and wanted to have him do the surgery.  Before he can do anything, he needs my original doctor to sign off on it because I have some other health concerns that had to be tested before he would do surgery.  My doctor had blood drawn and did an EKG which showed heart trouble.  UGH!

heart monitor I finally went to the heart doctor today and they gave me another EKG and put a heart monitor on me that I have to wear for 24 hours.  It has been recording since around 2pm or so.  I had to change my physical therapy for my scoliosis issue tomorrow from 10:45am to 2:30pm.  I hope that gives them a full 24 hours, but the nurse told me that I could take it off before 24 hours was up if I had to.  They also made 2  more appointments for me, one in 2 weeks and then another in October.

October?  What?  I needed my surgery like a month ago!  I’m so sick of this pain.  I mean, the pain isn’t as bad as it was for 2 months, but it’s still bad.  The pain from my saliva gland makes me think my teeth need to be pulled.  I know having my teeth pulled isn’t the answer because that’s not where the pain is coming from, the pain is just travelling to those places.  When I don’t have pain in my saliva gland then my teeth are fine.  If the problem was my teeth then I would feel the pain in my teeth when I didn’t feel pain in my saliva gland.

So I am hoping that I can get my surgery in October because I don’t think I can wait very much longer after that.  I just can’t take it anymore.  Nobody should have to live in constant pain every day like this.  There really isn’t anything I can do, so I guess I have no choice but to deal with it.  I really hope that it gets taken care of soon.

Today I found out that I have Sialolithiasis

Sialolithiasis

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.

inches and centimetersThe 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

  1. Live with it.
  2. Ultrasound which they don’t do there and my insurance doesn’t cover.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

parotid gland “Sialolithiasis (also termed salivary calculi,[1] or salivary stones),[1] 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.

Swollen Parotid Gland

swollen parotid gland

There is this strange thing that happens to me at the very least 1 time and at the most 4 times per year.  My Parotid glands swell up because there is a blockage and it hurts like a mother effer.  I wouldn’t normally use such profanity, but it really hurts lol.

What is the Parotid gland?  Nobody has ever heard that term, but apparently it’s a saliva gland.  This is where your saliva comes from, well, one of the many glands anyway.  I am not a medical professional or even a student so don’t listen to what I’m about to say if you expect to get an education from this, this is only my assumption based on my experience with this.

So you have these glands that produce your saliva.  They release saliva through veins that run from the gland to the inside of your mouth and it oozes out into your mouth.  If there is a block, your gland fills up with saliva and you can literally push on it and you can feel, and even see saliva squirting out of the inside of your cheek either into your mouth, or on the bathroom mirror depending on the direction of the vein and the position you are facing the mirror.  No joke lol.

When I feel it filling up, I push on it and it releases the saliva which gives me some relief, but sometimes the block is so bad that even pushing on it won’t release the saliva.  This happens to me all the time.  Although, pushing on it really hurts until the saliva squirts out, but then it still hurts, but it does give me some relief for a while until it fills back up.  I try not to think of anything that will make me salivate, but then everything makes me salivate.  I can’t win.  It’s like trying to think about baseball when you have an erection, it doesn’t always work.

About 2 weeks ago I could feel swelling and pain from my Parotid gland and we went to our regular appointment and the doctor gave me some antibiotics which was supposed to help.  The doctor told me that if it doesn’t help then I may need surgery.  When we went back a week later it seemed like it had gotten better because it wasn’t as swollen.  The doctor asked me if I wanted surgery and I said it wasn’t necessary.  Oh boy was I wrong.

Saturday evening the Parotid gland had swollen up again so I pushed on it and the saliva went through the veins, but then got stuck so there was a little bubble with saliva sitting in that vein and it couldn’t exit.  It’s still there.  That one little tiny mistake has given me massive amounts of pain since Saturday night.  I’m not the kind of person who cries when he’s in pain because I am literally always in pain so I’m used to it.  When I broke my arm earlier this year I didn’t cry once.  This swollen Parotid gland and saliva bubble pain is so bad that I want to cry.  I haven’t, but I want to.  Or maybe I’ve just bottled my pain emotion so much that I just want to let it out lol.

So I called the doctor’s office yesterday and they scheduled me to come in today at 11:30 a.m.  The doctor gave me a prescription for Norco as well as 2 antibiotics which he said I don’t take right away, he said to wait for it to get worse.  WORSE?  Holy crap!  I went to Truxton Radiology and had an ultrasound then went back to the doctor’s office to have blood drawn for a test specifically for this problem.  He said I will get a letter in the mail with the information for the surgeon referral which will most likely have the appointment in the letter with an address.

I am ready for this thing to go away.  You have no idea how ready I am lol.  I am just sick and tired of being in pain all the time.  If it’s not one thing, it’s another.  If it’s not my curving back which turns out to be scoliosis, then it’s my freakin’ Parotid gland.  I guess that means I’m getting old lol.

Back X-rays

back-pain-xray

We went to the doctor’s office today for our regular appointment and I mentioned that the Robaxin that he gave me for my back pain wasn’t helping at all.  That is a muscle relaxer and I don’t think the problem is in my muscles.  I told him that I had an MRI a few years ago and they found out that I had Degenerative Disc Disease in my lower spine and since then the pain has gone up to the middle of my spine.  In fact, if you look at the image above, the red area is actually where my pain is.  The top of the red area is the worst.

He poked my back and of course I wasn’t in pain at all because I was sitting in the waiting room and in the exam room.  I told him that the pain is usually when I am standing or walking for more than 5 minutes.  I described the pain by motioning my hand as if I were repeatedly stabbing someone in the spine.  I’ve never been stabbed repeatedly so I don’t know exactly how that feels, but I do know that my back hurts a lot, so I can just imagine that is what it feels like.

We went to Truxton Radiology and I had many x-rays taken.  The x-ray technician told me it would be up to 4 days, but I told her that I won’t see the doctor for 4 more weeks so no rush.  Besides, I’ve been dealing with this pain for many years, so another 4 days isn’t going to hurt me.

My pain first began in 2000 when I would bend over to pick something up and my back would literally lock up.  I would be stuck in the bent over position because I could not straighten my back.  After grabbing something to keep from falling and almost screaming from the pain, I would stand there for a minute until it unlocked and I was able to stand up slowly.  That happened in front of my aunt and uncle in Palmdale in 2004 or 2005, I forget when exactly.  I had pain in the lower part of my spine, but it was nothing compared to what it is like today.

Just before I went to get my x-ray I saw this humungous fish in a very large fish tank by the back door.  My first thought was holy cow that’s a big fish.  As I left, I took my phone out to take a picture, but first I reached my finger to the tank as if I were petting him, or the tank, and he rammed the glass while trying to chomp my fingers off as if they were inside the glass.  Holy crap that was an aggressive fish lol.  I pulled my hand away and he was looking straight at me.  He wouldn’t look at anything else, so to get him to turn so I could take the picture I had to put my right hand out to my side so he would turn his body.  Here are 2 pictures of the fish below.  You can see my reflection in the glass so you can use that as a scale.

big fish

big fish 2

Anyway, now I am finally getting my back pain taken care of.  The doctor said that the x-rays will determine whether I will need another MRI, but in the meantime he is going to call Truxton Radiology where I had the original MRI for those results.  I don’t know what they can do, but at least they will see where the problem is and possibly give me a brace or maybe injections for the pain.  I’ve seen the commercials for that exercise machine where you are upside down which helps to replenish your discs, so perhaps I will get something that is equivalent that is more affordable.  Who knows for sure.  I will keep this blog updated on that.

Diabetes Update

Last month my doctor gave me a new medication to help lower my triglycerides called Gemfibrozil 600MG that I take twice a day.  I was told to make sure I take them exactly 12 hours apart for it to be effective.  I created a schedule on my cell phone to remind me twice a day, once at 10am, and then once at 10pm to take my pills.  It has worked out so far and today is day 30.  We went to the doctor’s office on Thursday and they drew blood to test it to see if it helped so I will find out on my next appointment which is May 24th.

In the meantime, he gave me a prescription for a blood glucose meter to check my blood twice a day.  He told me to check it in the morning before I eat and before I have dinner at night.  So far it hasn’t been that high.  Thursday night I did a reading and it was 112 then the next morning it was 132, last night it was 100 and this morning it was 112 again.  Why is that so important?  Well, when they did that blood glucose test a few months ago I was near 200, so this just tells me that I have gone way down.  I have been eating a lot of chocolate lately, this just shows me that it hasn’t really affected me as much as I thought it did.  Although now that I have this meter, I have been staying away from the bad foods because I know if the number goes high, it will make me feel guilty.  Perhaps guilt is the kick in the pants that I needed to get me to stop eating so much sugar.

This is my new meter, the One Touch Ultra 2.  I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it because Darrin has a meter, but it’s a different one with different strips.  He couldn’t get the hang of his and he was going to just give me his since he stopped using it, but I didn’t want his, I wanted one of my own because, well I just did :p.

The needles that you use to prick your finger with (in the zippered pouch on the left) aren’t very painful.  The skin on my fingers on my left hand are so thick that even at the highest setting, which is 7, hardly any blood comes out so I have to use my right hand.  I have to really milk the blood out because even at the highest setting it still doesn’t penetrate enough.  So when I say I am thick-skinned, I’m not exaggerating LOL.  My first test was an error because I didn’t milk it enough, but I learned to really get as much blood out as I can so I don’t waste test strips.  The wound heals up so fast that I am only able to get that one little drop, if I try to milk out any more after the test, nothing comes out.  Not that I need to, but I was curious to see if any more would come out for S&G’s.

So this is what it has come to, I have to test my blood every day, as if the constant medication every day for 18 years isn’t enough.  I really hope that the triglyceride medication and the guilt from the meter really helps me lose weight so I am no longer diabetic.  I hope the day finally comes when I no longer have to go through all of this nonsense with health issues, although we both know when that day will occur, and it’s not going to be a good day.  Oh well, life goes on.