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.