July 6th @ 6:30am: Arrive at UAB hospital for surgery.
I basically skipped into the hospital. I am by no means a morning person so the fact that I was even walking at this hour is a miracle. I was having a parotidectomy for a benign mass in my left salivary gland (Glanda) as confirmed by a CT scan, an MRI, and a fine needle aspiration previously done in May as well as several scans done in years past leading up to this point. The incision would run from the top of my ear (on the cheek side) all the way down and curl up around my earlobe, down through my hairline, and down my neck like a hook.
Glanda had always been a bit bothersome as she was tender to touch and she was positioned just right so if I turned my head the right way, layed on her funny, or hugged someone on that side, I could feel her and it wasn’t totally pleasant. I also experienced what’s referred to as first-bite syndrome which means I would feel tinges of pain through my cheek and jaw on the first bite of food or a new flavor. However, since none of my pain was ever constant and it wasn’t unbearable, there was no malignancy suspected.
Pre-op they gave me a new blue dress, a matching hairnet, and some rubber ducky yellow socks with grips on the top AND bottom in case surgery went awry and I was forced to walk on the tops of my feet after surgery. Jk. I still walk normally. The usual folks stopped by to prep me and my family kissed me, told me they loved me forever, and gave my gurney an extra push down the hall to hopefully speed up the time that would pass before they saw me again.
4 hours later.
Surgery went as planned. My tumor was relatively marble shaped and scooped out whole. It ended up being plastered to my facial nerve and had to be peeled away, however, there wasn’t any disruption in the function of the nerve itself which is an unexplainable blessing. Parotidectomies usually come with some temporary facial paralysis due to the involvement of the facial nerve so if you happen to notice my face looks different for a little while, try not to laugh. Actually, my pucker looks ridiculous and I give you permission to giggle a little. I’ve also been practicing my whistle.
I had packed for vacation so I was expecting to win a stay in Hotel UAB West Pavilion and I have to say I was quite pleased with my corner penthouse suite I was awarded complete with a husband, mom, dad, brother, and mother-in-law. The only unfortunate part was that I wasn’t hilarious like I was when I got my wisdom teeth out that one time.
So actually there was one more unfortunate part. Dr. Carroll did his rounds around 6:30pm and was quick to share with me that my tumor looked “fishy” and that it had some indications of malignancy. Path straight up didn’t know what it was at the time, so we really didn’t have any other option except to get our on our faces and pray and know that whatever it was, the Lord was already before us as well as with us in these moments. I think I knew the moment Dr. Carroll looked me in the eye and expressed his concerns. And the vision of my family’s dry eyes circled around my bed absolutely haunts me and gives me the sweetest peace at the same time.
The family started to trickle out and my brother was the last to hang around and hug my neck before it was just KT and me. It wasn’t long before KT crawled up in the hospital bed with me and put his head on my shoulder and shared that the family knew that there was a chance of malignancy before I was even taken to recovery (which explains the dry eyes). In the days to come I did everything I could to talk myself out of the fact that there was any chance that Glanda was meaner than I thought she was. I told everyone we talked to that I really felt like it wasn’t anything and I was going to be fine. And both of those things are true.
The Lord carried me and my family through surgery, waiting, and many doubts and fears. He gave us rest and led us to green pastures and quiet waters so that we were refreshed even though we were weary. He gave us peace in hard moments and wiped tears from our eyes when our mouths couldn’t speak the words our hearts wanted to say. And He made dang sure that Glanda was removed from my body in just the right timing. Praise the Lord, y’all…Glanda is Goneda!