I originally expected to be away from my genealogy pursuits and my blog for just a couple of weeks while taking care of a minor medical issue. Those two weeks have stretched to almost a month and a half. Everything has turned out O.K., but the situation got more complex than expected. Here’s what happened…
I felt a small swelling at the base of my jaw. The next day it had grown. I assumed it was a swollen lymph node. A CT scan and urinalysis resulted in a) a round of anti-biotics and b) a visit to a head and neck oncological surgeon. The surgeon immediately scheduled a laryngoscopy and biopsy. It’s a simple procedure, but done under general anesthesia. The biopsy went to the tumor board and was found to be benign. Good news, but not the end of the story. As a consequence of the tumor board’s findings, the surgeon scheduled a follow-up parotidectomy (removal of the parotid saliva gland). This is a fairly routine surgical procedure with some risks because of the presence of the main branch of facial nerves. One nerve (to the ear lobe) would have to be severed during the surgery. No permanent damage except loss of feeling in the lower part of that ear. The surgery was scheduled two weeks after the previous surgery and would require an over-night stay at the hospital.
After this second surgery was completed, the surgeon told me “You caused mr some gray hairs today. We found a lot of infection, and it was all around the nerves.” The good news was that he was able to remove the infection, with only some minor, temporary weakness to the left side of my lower lip. That weakness should be gone within four to six weeks. My follow-up visit with the surgeon confirmed the benign nature of the mass that was removed, but with an interesting twist. “You had us all flummoxed,” he said. As a result they sent the tissue samples to an oncologist in Michigan for additional input. The final conclusion: I had an infected cyst.
Because it takes time for the body to rid itself of the effects of general anesthesia (even moreso with two surgeries two weeks apart), I have been dragging myself around with low levels of energy. Because of the severing of the ear lobe nerve, I have felt almost no pain from the four inch incision. Of course, without the pain, I kept telling myself that I should be feeling better and I over-did my activity level on a couple of days… resulting in that feeling of being “totally washed out.” My learning has been that pain is simply evidence that the body is marshaling its forces to deal with something significant that is happening within. I guess I’ve always known that, but I had to learn it all over again.
Special thanks to those of you who took the effort to share your prayers and concerns at the beginning of this process. Now it’s time for me to get back to my genealogy, slowly at first. My energy is still at a lower level, but I need to press on. I’m back!