Thursday, July 5, 2012

Trying Not To Salivate

About a month ago, I had a surgery to remove a tumor on my right parotid salivary gland.  Fortunately, the surgeon was able to get the tumor out without serious damage to any facial nerves, so I don't have facial paralysis -- just a bit of numbness and a big ol' Frankenstein scar which will fascinate my 7th graders next year.  (I also have a scar where the drainage tube was on my neck, and it resembles a vampire bite, which I find amusing.)
But things didn't go quite as smoothly as the doctor had planned.  The tumor was NOT harmless, as he had thought, and my parotid glands are over-sized, so he had to dig much farther to get the tumor out.  This left me with a big gouge of missing flesh near my right ear.  Ugh.
And then the sliced salivary ducts did not seal themselves off the way he expected them to do.  Instead, they kept sending the saliva to where the tumor used to be, and I ended up with a large saliva-blister thing below my ear.  The doctor put me on a medication to shut down my saliva production, but even that wasn't enough, so, Tuesday, he stuck a needle in the bulge and drew out about a tablespoon of spit.  (Gross.)  He then swathed me in another tight bandage around my head (so I look like a mummy again) and told me to keep pressure on the wound at least 48 hours or longer.
So the trick is not to salivate right now in hopes that those stupid ducts will seal themselves up -- because if they don't, I'll have to have the surgery again to remove the whole gland at high risk to that facial nerve.  (Plus, I'll have a lopsided face if the whole thing is gone.)
Now, not eating is one thing.  We've all fasted for medical and/or religious purposes at one time or another.  But have you ever TRIED not to salivate?  Dang.  It's tough.  Saliva is produced when you chew anything.  It's also produced when you smell or think of food.  It's produced when you suck on anything, and you get extra saliva if you put anything sour into your mouth.
So, I can't eat anything because that's chewing.  I can't suck anything through a straw, have juice (sour), or even have a lozenge to ease my dry throat (dry because there's not much saliva).  All I can manage is to drink Slim Fast in milk three times a day, drinking it fast so that it doesn't stay in my mouth and cause saliva.  I also have to push hard on the bandaged saliva-blister thing every time I feel saliva going into it (yeah, I can feel it.).
Things get worse if I smell my neighbors' barbeques or other cooking, or if I look at Pinterest and find that people have been posting cupcake pics again.  In fact, just writing about food here has forced me to stop and push on the blister several times.
And I have no idea how long it will take to stop -- or if it even will.  Ugh.


  1. Oh my gosh, I am so sorry you are going through all of this! How awful!! Hope this last procedure will resolve the duct issue and you can begin to heal.

  2. Let's just hope they seal themselves up soon. I can't imagine how hard it is to keep yourself from salivating, and having to live with a dry mouth. Sorry you have to go through this!

  3. I'd been wondering how you were, and hoping that the fact you hadn't mentioned your health meant that you were all healed up - sad to hear that's not the case yet.

    Let's hope it works soon and that you can avoid further surgery. All the best!

  4. I'm thinking good thoughts your way! Time heals all things!

  5. That's bad. I can only hope it gets better soon. Do you get time to rest over the holidays or is just more 'teachery' work.

  6. That's terrible! I am so sorry to hear it. I hope things all get better from here on.