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.

Parotidectomy Surgery

parotidectomy surgery

Yesterday was my parotidectomy surgery to remove the entire parotid gland on the right side of my face.  It’s also known as the saliva gland.  There were several stones that were blocking the path which caused the saliva to stay in my gland causing it to stretch, which hurt like a mother trucker.

When I woke up in the recovery room I was totally confused.  I had no idea where I was or how I got there.  I felt like I had been in a car accident, like a Mack truck crashed into my face lol.  That’s a bit severe, but you know what I mean.  I had trouble waking up too.  You know how when you didn’t get enough sleep the night before and people are forcing you to wake up and your body is fighting you and you can barely open your eyes?  That’s how it was waking up in recovery.  I wanted to wake up, but I was having a hard time.

The nurse came over to me to talk to me.  I asked her what happened, why I was here because I was still confused, but then the memory of what happened started coming back to me.  I said oh wait I remember.  She asked me why I was there and I said to remove my parotid gland.

The doctor came to me and was telling me what he found.  The cat scan with contrast told them that the stone was 1cm which is pretty big, but it wasn’t just 1 stone, there were 3.  After the surgery, he told me that it was the size of his pinky finger tip, you know the part of the tip that has the nail and he held his fingers up to where the finger bends.  That was how big it was.  Plus he said there was a lot of infection in the gland.  He sent it to the lab.

He wanted me to come back in 7 days to remove the tubing that is sticking out of my neck into a ball which collects the drainage, and I just called them to make that appointment, but this doctor is only in the surgery clinic on Friday’s and he won’t be there next week due to Thanksgiving.  She wanted to make the appointment for December 6th and I was like whoa, I thought I only had to have this for 7 days.  I asked her to ask the doctor to call me to tell me what to do.  Since he is only in the clinic on Friday, I hope he calls me this Friday to tell me what he suggests I do.  If I can just come in as a walk in and have them remove the tube then that would be fantastic, otherwise I will have to wait until December 6th to have it removed.

During surgery, they intubated me to help me breathe.  When I speak now, it’s with a lower volume and a softer tone.  I’m sure it’s temporary, but I kind of like it lol.

Dr. Trang at Kern Medical Center did a wonderful job with the surgery.  He made sure that my nerves weren’t damaged and the stitches are beautiful and I know it will heal nicely so you barely even notice them.  Scar cream is a bit on the expensive side, but I will use some of that to make the scar go away.

2013-11-21_13-07-57Anyway, he prescribed 2 medications for me.  Keflex which is an antibiotic and Percocet for pain.  I have never taken Percocet before so I don’t know if it’s addictive or not.  I hope not because I don’t like to have any vices.  It says it’s Oxycodone/Acetaminophen which is generic for Percocet.

I told my aunt that I was taking Keflex which by the way I’ve taken before.  She told me that it will cause a yeast infection (YIKES!) so I need to eat at least 1 yogurt a day.  My yogurt of choice is Yoplait.

I fortunately don’t have any pain and I am not as exhausted as I thought I would be.  I mean I’m not laying in bed feeling sorry for myself.  I actually have my normal amount of energy if you can believe that.  My partner said that it looks like the hole in my face is already starting to fill up.  I don’t know how, and I certainly can’t see it filling up or what it would be filling up with.  I’m positive that everything will go back into place and the scar won’t be too bad and everything will be fine.  I don’t have any worries.

Here are a few more pictures.

Parotid Surgery

A couple of months ago I mentioned that I had pain in my saliva gland aka my Parotid gland.  I went to the doctor who gave me an anti-biotic medicine and said I may need surgery and even asked me if that was what I wanted.  He sent me to Kern Medical Center and that surgeon told me that I had Sialolithiasis which is apparently a very common thing.  I’ve never heard of it.

The surgeon at KMC gave me some options, have it removed with a scope in L.A. or have surgery to remove the entire gland.  My partner didn’t want me to have it removed because it would leave a huge unsightly scar.  He said we could go to L.A. to have that procedure, but then we discussed how many trips we would probably end up making, so he changed his mind.  See, I told the surgeon that I wanted to have him perform the surgery because I knew it would cost money to drive to L.A., and you know that I would have to come 2 or 3 times.  But the surgeon today told me that the stones are too big to be removed with a scope anyway.  The scope would fit in the, I’m just going to call it a vein, but the stones were way too big to be pulled out of said vein.  So surgery is my only option.

My surgery will be in late November, which just happens to be 1 week before Thanksgiving, and I will have a port in the back that will drain into a container which I will have to be mindful of.  I will have to keep that on me for 1 week and then he will remove it.

On one hand I’m very excited to finally have this removed to fix my problem, but on the other hand I’m not looking forward to having a huge scar on my face lol.  I mean, if that’s what it takes to end this constant agony then so be it, but why did it have to be my face?  Why couldn’t the gland be inside my mouth?  Or why couldn’t the stone be somewhere in my stomach where I never have to worry about people seeing my scar?  Why of all places did it have to be on my face?  I mean, I’m not a model so it doesn’t matter, it’s not like I’m going to lose any modeling gigs, but still.  You never want to do something that will put a scar on the first thing people look at when they see you, or bring too much attention to yourself when you are trying to stay invisible.

Well, it’s inevitable, so there is nothing I can do but learn to live with it.  I’m sure the scar won’t be too bad and I can use scar creams that will make it disappear, so there is something to look forward to.  I’m just glad the pain will finally be gone soon.

So until November…

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.