Archive for November, 2005


Monday, November 28th, 2005

Received a phone call at work from Dr. H. The preliminary results show a malignant lymphoma.

A sample from the biopsy was sent to Massachusetts General Hospital. He may have their results back by the time I have my follow-up appointment with him on Thursday, to get my stitches out.

I’m also scheduled to see an oncologist next Tuesday, the 6th of December.

Top Quotes from Disney World

Saturday, November 26th, 2005

Top Quote #3:

“Keep your socks on!”

Top Quote #2:

“I told you to go poo earlier!”

And (drum roll, please…)

The Number One Top Quote from Disney World:

“Don’t lick the railing!”

And yes, I wore my Wally World t-shirt and yes; one employee actually said she loved it…

Surgical Biopsy

Friday, November 18th, 2005

The surgery was at 0830 so we didn’t have to be there too early in the morning. Everything went really well. I’m not sure how much was taken out but the lump feels smaller.

I talked to Dr. H. before the surgery and asked him if there would be any benefit to taking out as much as possible. He said there wasn’t since there were nerves and muscles in that area.

I also finally spoke to the anesthesiologist, Dr. D., who had left me a message earlier in the week. He called to get my medical history, but I never could reach him. Every time I called he was in surgery.

Going under is always so weird. One moment you’re wide awake and the next you’re waking up in recovery. I thought I’d be groggy and need to sleep or at least rest when I got home but I had plenty of energy through the rest of the day.

They should have the results by the time we return from vacation on the 25th. There are a few post-op instructions – cleaning and lubricating the incision twice a day – but not much, considering. We’re taking bandages just in case, to keep it dry or protect it from germs when needed.

Scheduling Surgery

Friday, November 11th, 2005

Happy Veterans Day…

Called to schedule the surgery. It will be next Friday, 18 November. I have to call the day before to find out what time I need to be there.

As always, nothing to eat or drink past midnight the night before. I’ll be under a general anesthetic. No aspirin or Ibuprofen the day before; only acetaminophen. And I need to have an adult caregiver stay with me for 24 hours following the surgery.

I don’t really care to go under the knife the day before I get on a plane to Walt Disney World. But I told Sandi I’d be okay with that – I’ll be on Space Mountain with blood shooting out of my neck, I don’t care.

There will be some stitches of course, but I’m to leave the incision unbandaged. That should be interesting.

Nothing I can do now execpt wait.

Meeting the Surgeon

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

Today Sandi and I met with Dr. H., the ENT surgeon. We learned that the results of the needle biopsy were inconclusive and that I need to schedule a surgical biopsy.

He looked at the CT scan films I brought along. It wasn’t good news. The lump was not only on the outside of my neck. It was dumbbell-shaped, going from the lump on the outside, through the neck and up against my throat. [When I get a chance, I’ll scan a good snapshot from the CT films and post a link here.]

As a result, it wasn’t possible to remove through surgery. There is a major facial nerve in that area and the tumor is just too large.

He said there were two things that could cause a tumor like that – a viral infection, which might be treated with antibiotics, and lymphoma.

Lymphoma, I learned, is a fancy name for cancer. He said there was something along the lines of a 90% chance that it was lymphoma. Since it can’t be treated with surgery, that would mean chemotherapy or radiation.

Sandi took it hard, but I’m holding off on worrying about it until I find out more. We’ll see what the biopsy says. Dr. H. will be performing it.

A couple of concerns I asked him about: the tumor has grown rapidly, so is there any chance that it might push against my throat and cut off my air supply and/or esophagus?

He said that was highly doubtful. So that’s good news.

I also told him that until we did something about the tumor, I COULD NOT spend another night like last night. I’d been awakened by severe pain in my neck and a horrendous headache. He asked what type of pain relief medication worked for me. Sandi and I couldn’t recall what they switched me to in the hospital after my knee surgery – oxycodone or hydrocodone. So he prescribed both.

(Now I can recall that they had me on hydrocodone the first day after they took me off morphine. It definitely wasn’t working, so they switched me to oxycodone, which helped much more.)

I also found that the oxycodone tends to make me more drowsy, so at least I could take it before bedtime and take the hydrocodone during the day if needed.

He asked if I had any other symptoms from the tumor, and I told him that sometimes the right side of my tongue and/or mouth would go numb. Especially when I have my head/neck at a certain angle, such as sitting up in bed reading. If I change the angle the feeling comes back. He said that’s because it was pressing against the facial nerve at those times. It’s not painful, just weird.

CT Scan

Monday, November 7th, 2005

Had the CT scan today – didn’t care too much for that. But at least I didn’t have to fast before the test.

I don’t like to say negative things about health care professionals, but that small needle hurt more than any I’ve had in a LONG time. My eyes have never watered from a needle before.

Once it was in, I could feel it pressing against my vein. As the iodine solution entered my bloodstream, I felt a warm sensation spread throughout my body. Overall I guess it took about 20-30 minutes.

Fortunately I was able to take a copy of the films with me when I left. Which is good since I see Dr. H. in three days.

On an unrelated health issue, after the scan I had a follow-up appointment with Dr. B., who performed my total knee replacement surgery this past May. It’s now been six months and the knee is doing great. My next appointment is six months from now, at the one-year point.

This is what my new knee looks like:

Artificial knee

Initial Visit – Needle Biopsy

Friday, November 4th, 2005

Finally got in to see an ENT specialist, Dr. T. He called it a tumor and said it was probably located in the parotid gland, one of the salivary glands.

I found a good drawing of the lymph glands of the head and neck:

Lymph glands

He said it was near a facial nerve and could cause me some problems because of that. It may also cause me to salivate more and/or drool if the tumor causes too much pressure on the gland.

The Mayo Clinic site has a good article on Parotid Gland Tumors.

He decided to do a needle biopsy as a start to analyzing the tumor. After a shot to numb the area, the biopsy wasn’t too bad. He then emptied the contents of the needle into a tube with a solution in it. It didn’t look like very much came out of the needle but he said believe it or not, they can tell a lot from just a few cells.

If they can’t, the next step would be a surgical biopsy. I should hear something about the results in a few days. Dr. T. said I needed to make a follow-up to discuss the results with an ENT surgeon, either Dr. P. or Dr. H.

In the meantime I need to get a CT scan, so on my way out of the building I made the two appointments.

A Second Opinion

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005

Today I saw my rheumatologist for my routine semi-annual visit. He actually noticed the lump on my neck and asked if I’d seen anyone about it

I told him about what my dermatologist had said and he agreed that I should make an ENT appointment. He said if I had a problem getting an appointment that I should call him and he could make some calls for me to be seen by someone right away

When I returned to work I made an appointment for this Friday. The lump is definitely getting bigger.