Friday, October 1, 2010

Surgery - 1 Year Post-Op

1 year ago today, I had surgery. Why am I bringing this up on a healthy living blog? Because if I hadn't lost weight, I wouldn't have known that I had a tumor in my head!

Now, the tumor was NOT cancerous (thank god!). Let me start from the beginning of my little story.

In August 2009, my mom noticed a lump on the side of my face (?), upper neck, right next to my jaw bone and right by my ear. After a visit to the regular doctor, who then referred me to an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat Doctor), and after a CT scan, he found it was a tumor in the perotid gland. Here is a picture of the lump. This picture was taken surgery day and my mom was making me laugh so hard!
Quick medical info: Per my doctor, tumors in the perotid gland are most always not cancerous. He said I could have it removed (surgery) or leave it in and monitor it. He said there is always a chance that they could turn cancerous but it's unlikely. I opted to have it removed.

He told me that per the CT scan, the lump was rather large...3 cm X 3 cm. He said that the lump had to have been there growing for at least a couple of years to get that large! I had just noticed it though. Then I said that I lost a lot of weight and my face was much thinner. He said that is probably why I didn't notice it before but did now.

Wow! I thought that was pretty amazing! What if it was a cancerous tumor?? If I hadn't lost weight, I might not have known it was there! Again, thankfully it wasn't a cancerous tumor. It was benign.

So long story...long! On Oct. 1st, I had surgery to remove it. The surgery lasted about 3.5 hours (it was expected to only last 2 hours). I ended up having to spend a very uncomfortable night in the hospital. I had to go home the next day (Friday) with a drain tube. Then back to the doctor on Saturday to have it removed! There was a chance of facial paralysis! My whole right side of my face could have been paralyzed! There was a high tech nerve monitor lady there and everything!

The bandage they wound on my head was SO TIGHT that it ended up cutting into my forhead and left the space between my eyes swollen! The incision at the hospital didn't even hurt, it was the bandage on my forehead that hurt. I was in so much pain from that that I woke up every 1/2 hour that night. I was nauseous. I couldn't eat ANYTHING. I had to have a nurse go with me to the bathroom every time I needed to.

Afterwards, at home, I took only a few days (plus the weekend and Monday) off. I could barely walk from the train to work. I couldn't turn my head from side to side for a few weeks.

I wasn't supposed to lift ANYTHING or do anything that could cause my heart rate to increase for at least 2 weeks. So I didn't walk or go to the gym or anything for 2 weeks! Then when I did go to the gym, I still couldn't turn my head or jump around so I did very low impact moves in my classes (toe taps instead of jumping jacks, etc.).

I couldn't sleep on that side of my head for months! My ear was numb and the skin around the area was numb. I couldn't talk on the phone either.

Now, I can sleep on that side but my ear is still partially numb and so is the surrounding area. I think it is 80% better than it was immediately following surgery. I still don't like to talk on the phone on that side, which is really annoying!

I don't have any facial paralysis now, which is a very good thing! I do have an indentation from where the bump was removed but the scar is just a thin line.

Would you like to see some hospital pics now? Yes, I brought a camera and this was before my blogging days! And my dad, true to form, knew I wanted pictures and came into the recovery room while I was feeling completely miserable and started snapping pictures of me! Thanks Dad! I wanted to rip that camera from his hands and bash it into his head! :)

Thanks Dad, these are super pictures! lol
In this one was as I was getting ready to leave. One of my cousin's was checking to see how I was doing. And there is that wonderful drain tube that I had to keep with me at home for an entire day! I was just happy to have that darn bandage off my head!

This was about 2 days after surgery. The stitches are in there but you can hardly tell. It actually looked really good. The surgeon did a fabulous job. The incision went in my ear (in the front), then down and around the bottom of my ear, then down my neck as you see in the picture.

So are you super excited I shared my surgery story with you all? I know you are! But the purpose for me sharing it was for health reasons! Losing weight can help with all kinds of health issues: diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, etc. But in my case, it helped me FIND a health concern and take care of it.

And what happened to my weight during this time? I was 168 before surgery. I lost 5 lbs in the 2 weeks following surgery (best diet ever! lol). I couldn't move my jaw much and was on pretty soft foods for a few weeks! Then by the end of the year (2 months later), I had gained 12 pounds (175 lbs)! So yes, I was discouraged but I blame the surgery. The important thing was I was able to get back on track in the new year and eventually lose that weight!

Moral of the story: Take care of yourself. You are the only YOU you have!


  1. Thanks goodness it wasn't cancer!! You were so lucky.

    Love the hospital pictures too - and I used my camera just as much before my blog as I do with one! :D

    Happy Friday - we are going to have beautiful fall weather this weekend! :D

  2. Apparently I said to my dad after going to my room was "Let's not do that again!" lol.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story. I've had a couple surgeries over the past 5 years, and my son has had to have a few different lumps removed. Lumps are scary. I don't know why they would want to leave them in and just monitor them. We opt to have them removed so that fear is removed. And you couldn't have said it are the only You you have and you only get one chance to heal correctly, so take care of yourself, gets lots of rest, and don't over do it during the healing process!!

  4. Wow, that sounded like a difficult time! So glad you are okay and it wasn't cancerous!

  5. Wow, that DOES sound like a rough time. You came through with flying colors though, huh? I'm getting close to the one-year anniversary of my surgery as well. It was also a lump, on my foot, that was thought to be a tumor, but turned out to be a large mass of scar tissue. Better to have things removed when they're not sure.

  6. Surgery is always scary - sounds like you were pretty brave in your approach

    I liked that you added the bit about your weight at the end. Every time I've been in a hospital I've felt HUGE and like I take up way more space than I should.

  7. Thanks everyone. I appreciate all the responses!