In January I noticed a gland under my jaw would swell each time I ate my favorite snack: apples and peanut butter. My grandmother was deathly allergic to peanuts so I wondered if I was developing a peanut allergy.
In March I went to a specialist about an ongoing sinus infection. While there, I mentioned my swollen salivary gland. The nurse practitioner quickly called in Dr. Prestridge.
He discovered I had a clogged submandibular salivary gland. Peanuts were not the problem.
Usually a swollen salivary gland indicates a blocked duct caused by a stone or infection. Dr. P tried to feel for a stone but was unable to confirm one. He ordered a CT scan to check for stones. It showed none. He ordered antibiotics to treat for a possible infection. They didn’t help.
In early April I left town. I was gone for a month. The swelling grew worse while I was gone. The normally walnut-sized gland would swell to the size of a small lime when I ate. Swelling could last for a few hours. It was becoming painful.
May 15 I went in for a follow up appointment with the doctor. The gland was still swollen and painful. I appreciate that he had treated the most common causes of swelling in the submandibular salivary gland before looking to scarier options, but the most common causes were not the issue, so Dr. P. decided to do a quick ultrasound.
Right off we could both see something was wrong. Even my untrained eye could see something strange on the screen. A mass.
“What is that?” I asked as I looked at the screen upside down.
“I don’t know. But it shouldn’t be there,” he answered. He wasn’t smiling.
After taking measurements of the mass/tumor, he ordered blood work and a follow up ultrasound. The second ultrasound was scheduled in four weeks so they could compare the two and measure the tumor’s rate of growth.
I went in last Thursday (6/14) for the second ultrasound. Dr. P. saw the change in the size of the mass and said he was not delaying the biopsy. He did a needle biopsy that morning, a procedure that hurts like all get out! Three times he used a large needle to extract tissue from the gland. I was in tears and shaking by the time he finished! I don’t recommend having one if you can avoid it. (Most glands don’t have pain receptors. This one has a bunch.)
According to Dr. P. about 40-50% of all tumors in the submandibular salivary gland are malignant. The rest are benign. Either way this gland and the tumor have to come out, and we needed to know what type it is to know how extensive the surgery would be.
We would have to wait 4-5 days for results.
I went home, took pain meds, and rested a few hours before Ron and I drove to San Antonio for a weekend get away. We had planned this trip a few weeks earlier; a friend was retiring from the Air Force on Saturday and we were having dinner with him and his bride Friday evening.
We stayed in a hotel on the River Walk. After checking in Thursday evening we went for a walk and had a late snack of tacos and tapas at the oldest restaurant on the River Walk. We strolled, talked, and enjoyed the cool breezes.
Friday morning we slept late then enjoyed a wonderful brunch. I threw up after brunch. I was still not feeling well from the biopsy.
We walked along the river and did a bit of shopping before heading back to room. I was not feeling well at all. I rested while Ron went to hotel gym to swim and work out.
Friday afternoon I continued to feel nauseous. We went to dinner at our friends’ home. We had to leave early due to my pain and nausea. I was ill all night.
For weeks I’d not felt well. Now, due to the biopsy, I was bruised and very sore. Each time I ate my entire jaw and neck hurt. Plus I was feeling sick.
We cut the weekend short and went home Saturday afternoon, skipping a planned dinner with another friend in Marble Falls.
I hadn’t told many people what had been going on. Maybe it was pride. I don’t know. But I didn’t want friends to think me weak, needy, or sickly. Over the weekend I realized I could use some help from people who cared about me and who know our Creator.
Sunday evening I humbly asked for prayer:
“Please pray this is benign and has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or other soft tissue or to the jaw bone,” I asked my friends via social media. “If benign and contained in the gland it should be simple to remove.”
Please pray for relief from the pain. It goes from my jaw to my ear down my neck. It hurts to swallow. At times I am in great pain.
Please pray for wisdom, strength, and skill for the medical team treating me now and during surgery. The nerve that controls the right side of my face is in the area of tumor. I am in God’s hands and am trusting Him, and I’d like to maintain this nerve.
Pray for Ron and my kids as I recover.
Selfishly I am praying that I am not disfigured by the surgery.
Most of all I Pray that God be glorified in this.
My friends prayed. They spoke to our Lord and God on my behalf. They also wrote me notes of encouragement.
Tuesday the nurse called with the results: BENIGN!
I am grateful for friends who know God and pray. I am grateful for the good report. I am grateful the tumor is not cancer.
Yet I am still in pain. My jaw is still sore. The gland is still enlarged. My throats still hurts when I swallow. The gland still swells each time I eat. The tumor is still present. And it is still growing. I still need prayer. God has answered the first prayer on the list. We are still praying the others.
I am having surgery to remove the tumor and the gland on July 18.
I’ll be busy getting things done until then. My To Do list includes…
- Scrub the entire house. Can’t go into surgery with a dirty house!
- Finish working with our lawyer to complete Will, Medical Power of Attorney, and other legal documents.
- Get financial paperwork in order so Ron can take care of things during my recovery.
- Fill holes on the property with dirt (we have a few sink holes from hard rains after the drought.)
- Finish spreading gravel on the driveway
- Plant new flowers in all beds
- Get the outside of house painted
- Prepare for a our new house guest. Ron’s brother will be living here the next few months.
- Finish 1 John study
- Schedule help with landscaping week of July 20 in preparation for a wedding taking place here in our yard on July 29.
And, yes, I have help with painting the house. I’ll be hiring teens to help mow before the wedding. A few items may have to wait.
I won’t be writing much. I may post updates, but I’m not up for much writing. I’m trying to keep my mind off of hard stuff.
I hope you all have a beautiful summer and enjoy time with family and friends.
Lord willing, I’ll be back to writing this fall.