Wednesday night, after work, Ann and I went to the grocery store and then made a homemade dinner at my house. It was pretty fun (even if I was slightly grumpy), and dinner (baked macaroni and cheese) was delicious. I was taken off guard when I noticed that my jaw felt funny – I can’t really describe how it felt, other than it being “not right”.
I reached up and felt the side of my face where the strange sensation was (my left side) and found it feeling VERY swollen. It hadn’t been swollen at ALL when we started eating and now, a few minutes later, it was. I didn’t know what it was, so it had me kinda worried. I knew it WASNT a food allergy, we’ve made this particular meal before and it’s from my moms recipe which she used to make a lot when I was younger.
Later that night, after Ann had gone home, I fixed up a small snack and while eating I again noticed that strange sensation around the left side of my jaw and my jaw swelled up again, even larger this time. I stopped eating the snack and took some alieve to help with the now painful swelling. I also took a picture with my iSight for quick documentation (it’s the picture at the top of the post, click it for a larger version). That was a few minutes after I took the alieve.
Yesterday morning I started off by calling my doctors office – he was on vacation. They suggested going to an urgent care place, but I have lost all respect for those places. Instead I called my dentist, figuring she could at least take xrays and make sure I hadn’t broken my jaw or some sillyness like that. I told her the symptoms and when things occured, and she immediately said its likely a blocked parotid gland, and that I needed to see an oral surgeon that day. Her office made me an appointment at an oral surgeon not far from my house.
The surgeon’s assistant took an x-ray when I got there so they could rule out things like a fractured jaw, then took me to the exam room. The surgeon came in and, after looking at the chart and referral information started checking my parotid glands. She did this by watching the opening of the salivary duct from the parotid gland ( it’s on your cheek inside your mouth) while stimulating the gland – which if it were not blocked would produce saliva at the duct opening. The duct on the right side of my mouth produced saliva, not so on the left side. That was confirmation that my dentist was quite correct – I had a blocked parotid. The surgeon then used an instrument to probe around a little in the duct – a process that was altogether unnerving and uncomfortable (slightly painful too).
She said I have “something” blocking it, which could be any number of things but is most likely a stone ( kinda like a kidney stone, but not from my kidneys – same concept though). I was told to drink plenty of fluids and to eat sour candy to try to flush it out. They’re giving it a week to flush itself out before going to the next step which, if I understand correctly, means a battery of tests and potentially surgery. They didn’t go into details about that, as they didn’t want me to be worrying about it.
So basically, whenever I eat or drink or start to really salivate the left side of my face swells. This effectively limits the time I have to eat before it swells to the point where I can’t chew. Yes, it does swell that much. It’s also pretty painful when that happens. They gave me pain killers for that, but I am not taking them right now because they make me sleepy and unfocused.
At least it’s not infected.