Friday, 19 December 2014


So, I'm home!

A lucky cancellation meant my New Year's Eve surgery was moved forward to yesterday. After Monday's meeting to go through all the possible complications it was a bit of a relief to not have more than 24 hours to worry about it all.

Thankfully, the surgery went very well. Joffrey has been forcibly evicted and now we await the pathology results. Due to lack of a biopsy result we are still at the stage of proceeding on the basis that it is cancer, and tests on the tumour itself will give a definitive answer either way. We are still being told parotid gland cancer is by far the most likely outcome as suggested before, but there's still a slim chance the tumour is benign and behaving in a malignant fashion.

At the moment, I'm very stiff and sore. Moving my jaw is uncomfortable so I'm sticking to soft food for now, and I have a regime of painkillers to stick to and a gel to apply to the area regularly until the stitches come out next week.

As to the complications, I've escaped relatively unscathed. I will have a scar stretching from in front of my right ear down to my neck, but as most of it is unstitched it will fade over time. I've also got a bit of a dent in that side of my face too, because they have to take a fair amount of tissue out. You can't see it from the front though.

There was some involvement of the nerves and I do have some damage, but it seems to have been restricted to just my lower lip. It is weak and doesn't always move when it should, but while it won't ever return to normal function entirely if a crooked smile is all Joffrey leaves me with in the long term I consider myself very lucky indeed.

Me when I arrived home yesterday - very much in need of a bath and a sleep!

Some first thoughts:

  • Not being able to feel my right ear and the surrounding area is far stranger than I thought. If I run my hand over the right side of my face, there's a point where normal sensation stops and it just feels numb and a bit squidgy. This made me giggle far more than was probably necessary at first. This is in fact permanent, as there is a nerve up by the ear that needs to be cut through for a parotidectomy. As it's purely for sensation and has no affect on function, it's not a big problem. My hearing is unaffected.

  • Washing the gunk out of my hair whilst trying to keep stitches dry is far more complicated than my brain can cope with. I managed, but it probably didn't need to take quite that long!

  • The whole area itches like crazy. Because of the altered/missing sensation around a fair portion of it, it's virtually impossible for me to pinpoint where the itch is at the moment. Just take my word for it - it's infuriating!

  • Failing to remember to chew with the unaffected side of my mouth is getting me into all sorts of hilarity. 

The thing I find most people expect you to be upset about is the visible scarring. Before I say what I'm about to, I maintain it's entirely normal to be concerned about changes to your appearance after surgery - and particularly when it's somewhere like the face which is pretty much always visible.

But honestly, in the grand scheme of things? It's not important at all.

Anybody who is the type of person to make comment and be insenstive can just take a flying leap right now. They're idiots, you don't have to listen to idiots. There's no written or unwritten law on having to interact with them if you don't want to (and really, who does?)

Scars tend to be seen in a fairly embarrassing light, or as something to be ashamed of. The thing is though, we all have them. They might not be visible if they're under clothing, and there's such a thing as purely internal scar tissue. Everybody has some form of scarring though - raise your hand if you've scars on your knees from falling over as a child, for example?

I have. I have keyhole scars from having my appendix removed as a child, and burn scars on my arms because at the age of 25 I still haven't quite figured out how to avoid the top of the oven when I get food out. I have chickenpox scars over my back and stomach. When you start considering them, most scars are actually commonplace and result from entirely ordinary every-day things.

So this new one will in fact be just a little bit cooler than all the others. It had a bit more of an epic coming into being, and for a much more important reason.

Scars then. Wherever they are they tell stories of how they came to be there, and what has happened throughout your life. Some of them make interesting talking points.

Mostly, they tell the story of the things you've overcome.

Wishing you all many spoons xxx

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