Reading time: 10 – 17 minutes
So, have you been wondering where I have been? Well, so have I.
First, my reasons for lack of blogging in this instance is the same as all other instances: LIFE. Yeah, it happens. I get busy and then I think, “I’ll write about this when I get a chance.” but then that chance is taken by yet another incident of LIFE. Crazy.
Still, here’s some of what I’ve been up to:
One night, as I was eating, I felt a strange swelling experience begin in my left cheek. It HURT. It felt like my jaw was locking and swelling at the same time. Did I mention that this HURT? It did. I did what I usually do if I experience a wave of pain in some way; I just “ride it” and try to let it pass. This swelling/locking came, peaked, then seemed to “melt” away. It just went away. I thought it was a tooth ache or something. I’ve never had a tooth ache, but I thought that’s the only thing it could have been, and judging by the pain I experienced in those moments, I was terrified that this was something I would have to endure until I could afford a dentist. I was so glad that it passed!
The next morning I was eating homemade waffles made by Clem and as I ate them, I felt the pain begin again, faintly. By the time I was done eating, it was really beginning to hurt. As I readied myself for the day, it got worse. I knew something was terribly wrong when Clem brought me a Potato Chip and AS IT NEARED MY MOUTH, my face swelled! The chip did not even have to touch my tongue! At this point, visible swelling had occurred.
I had no idea what was happening, but I figured it might pass again, so I “rode it out” most of the day, until I began to cook dinner. As I had not eaten since the morning waffles, I was getting hungry. I could barely drink liquids at this point, but as I was cooking, it seemed the swelling dissolved again in that weird “melting” way. I thought it was over. Then I started eating.
With every spoon-approach toward my mouth, I could feel the side of my face swell. I forced myself to eat, even though I could only take teeny bites because of the pain. By the time I was done eating, the pain had kind of subsided, compared to when it started, so I thought this thing was going to pass again.
Instead, as I took my dish to the kitchen and saw my reflection in the mirror, I gasped! I realized that the space behind my left cheek had swollen so much that I couldn’t turn my head, and the swelling was the size of an elongated grapefruit.
I immediately began searching on the internet for what my symptoms might mean. It turned up several considerations, but of all of them, I narrowed it down to:
Yeah, I know. WHAT?
Apparently, I had a blocked saliva gland! Here is an image of my swollen cheek vs a couple of days after, when the swelling completely disappeared. The image below does not do justice to how bad it actually got, but, much to the chagrin of my friends, I insisted on documenting this, LOL!
So, it became necessary to finally go to the Emergency Room. My experience was one of mixed emotions. The staff was very nice and friendly, but there was an element of unprofessionalism that left me mortified. For instance, as I approached the doctor, he began asking me questions about my condition as I stood in front of the lobby, with everyone listening. That’s not THAT big of a deal, but it was a little embarassing. More embarassing was when he sighed heavily, shook his head and walked away from me. I stood there, perplexed and in pain, and had no idea what to do. He then turned back to me and said, “Well, COME ON!” So I sheepishly followed him into the area where they treat everyone. It was soon revealed to me why he sighed and shook his head. He looked at my swollen cheek and with such concern asked me if I had any children. I said, No. He said to brace myself, but with the condition he could see I had, it would be very unlikely that I would ever be able to have children. WHAT!!?? I wanted to react and say, well, I don’t want any children and I’m gay, so unless a miracle of biology occurs, I am already assuming I won’t be having any. Instead, I said, well, what could I possibly have that you could tell just from looking at my cheek!? Of course, he took the route of consoling me as if I was reacting to my sudden, shocking news of being infertile. He told me that it was just a “high probability,” but that I might still be able to have children, even if they wouldn’t be healthy. WHAT!! So I said, Doctor, that’s not my concern. My concern is that I don’t think I have anything THAT serious. I think I just have a blocked saliva gland. He then went on to explain to me about adult “Mumps” and something else that I think started with a “d,” but I insisted he ask someone else to see me. He looked at me woefully, as if the news of my infertility was the cause of my questioning, but I just couldn’t believe he only GLANCED at me and told me this “news.” I kept thinking about the effect this would have had on someone to whom this meant something devestating!
A second doctor came in, finally, (much to annoyance of the original doctor) and checked me out. This doctor, however, actually opened my mouth and looked inside with a light. He asked me questions as he immediately ruled out what the first doctor had concluded. I suggested to the new doctor that I had what was called, “Sialolithiasis,” and he said, Oh Yeah, it COULD be that!
I was just sitting there in shock that I knew more about what I had than these two professionals!
This second doctor called in a THIRD doctor who specialized in mouth and oral and teeth.
Meanwhile, the First doctor had already written for me two massive prescriptions as treatment for HIS diagnosis.
This third doctor was immediately more obvious in her confidence and education as she approached me. I told her I thought I had a blocked saliva gland and she said, yes, that’s obvious. I was so relieved to have this woman finally listen to me and KNEW what I was talking about!
In the end, they told me there was nothing they could do, but I was scheduled for a more detailed examination for the morning.
I went home in pain with two crazy prescriptions; one for pain, one for powerful antibodies, and between the two, the cost would be approximately $200. I didn’t get the presciptions. I was in such pain, I really wanted them, but I could not bring myself to spend that money on PILLS! It just seems ridiculous. I consider myself “poor,” but I also know I am not as poor as a really poor person and I don’t know how someone could ever survive our medical and health industry.
ha: “medical” and “health” are such misnomers.
By the time I got to my appointment the next morning, my face had reduced in swelling quite a bit. The doctor told me there was no indication of a blockage anymore and that there really wasn’t anything that could be done. It had “worked itself out.” It had.
I have had no symptoms, since.
But I nearly had a heart attack when I got a bill for $700. In addition to the prescriptions, this visit where NOTHING of any significance was done, AND where *I* did all of the accurate diagnosing, *I* was charged nearly $1000!!
This is an atrocity.
My friends Cyprus and Johnny, and my boyfriend Clem, stayed with me throughout the entire ordeal, with my friends Cyprus and Johnny waiting the long hours in the waiting room of the emergency room, and Clem rushing out into the night to meet us, stay the night with me, and make sure I got to the hospital the next morning, enduring the day with me.
I appreciate and love these guys so much.
Poor Nick was out with his friend, Chrissy, when he got Cyprus’s dramatic v-mail about my being in the Emergency Room. Apparently the first message explaining the details was lost or muffled or something, so Nick’s second v-mail message had Cyprus speaking calmly about how I was now in the Emergency Room being observed, etc. and Nick about passed out from the horror of what might have happened to me.
I will miss these guys when I do die. I think I am very loved and wanted, even when I think I am not.
Finally, some snow!! In our unnatural, god-awfully WARM winter of ’06, we were finally slammed with a blizzard! Umm, except it disappeared completely within a couple of days, and returned back to the 50’s and 60’s (though, today it has again plummetted to the 20’s! YAY!).
I love the snow. I love Winter. I love Spring and Fall. I dread and dislike Summer the most. I hate humidity and sweat and stinky people and hot vaginas in closed spaces and moistness on faces. The only thing good about Summer is the hot, shirtlessness that graces our streets and parks, but even then I hate it because I’m not hot like that; just HOT, as in fuckin’ sweating to death. If I could walk around and show off some sizzlin’ abs, maybe I’d feel differently.
Someone want to get me into shape? Someone should be my mentor.
I’ve been able to see some great concerts over the past month, or so, and I wish I could keep up with my documentation of these! Saint Etienne (or here) sounded gorgeous, even if a bit bland, and LOW were as wonderful as ever. I love them so much. The big surprise was hearing His Name Is Alive, LIVE! I didn’t know what to expect, but I kind of expected a lot of chaos, and there was NO chaos! It was a most beautiful, pleasant, emotional set they played. I was so happy to hear them! I long to see them again very soon. Below are some pix!