With my ongoing battle against the bouts of my swollen Parotid glands to contend with on a much more regular basis (from a manageable bulging every other month to an annoying almost daily flaring) my outpatient treatment has now started to appear slightly more worrying, to say the least. My latest hospital appointment was at the end of March, which is a full two years on from my last check-up due to yet another cancellation - see “Bad letter day“ for more details - and so during this interim period, I’d been allocated a new and younger Consultant. With this fresh pair of hands and eyes assessing my jaw line, a dynamic shift in my future medical reviews had begun in earnest as soon as I was seated (un)comfortably in his surgery...
‘Mmm,’ said the Consultant as he firmly attempted to press my Parotids back into their previous space behind my jaw-line. This proved impossible due to their grotesque swelling and as I received a mouthful of unburdened saliva tingling my taste buds, he began to realise things may be a little more serious. ‘Ah, I see... they’re not really ready to go back in their place, are they?’ was said rhetorically to himself, a slight furrowing of his brow giving away his concern.
I attempted to answer: ‘Mhbhbrahaaa...’ was the only nonsensical garble that managed to leave my agape mouth. The Consultant quickly glanced downwards at me with a look of pity and then continued to knead my rock-hard glands (oh-er!)
‘Just a minute, I’m going to bring in a colleague of mine for a second opinion,’ said the Consultant as he stood up and wiped his hands clean of my facial fop sweat. Off through the door he went, leaving me reclined in the Dentist-style chair with a gob stuffed full of cotton balls and a worrying doubt beginning to grow in my head. Almost immediately, he returned with an older Consultant whom I recognised as my previous examiner from two years prior; this was the same person who’d tried to convince me that there was nothing actually wrong with me and that my ailment was purely psychosomatic, even though my face was as round as a full Moon at the time!
I tossed a restricted, half-crooked smile in the older Consultant’s direction, who appeared to half-recognise my prostate form. They then both lent over me - one on either side of my head - and began to confab and ruminate in the way only medical Doctors speaking between one another can achieve.
‘You see, the swelling is more pronounced at the left-hand side of the mandible, around the externus and internus muscles,’ came out of the younger Consultant’s mouth, accompanied by more poking and prodding.
The older Consultant concurred. ‘Yes indeed, there appears to be some restriction in movement right through to the buccinators,’ and at this point, they both flexed my lower jaw bone to prove the point, expelling a sliver of drool from the corner of my lips.
As I lifted my hand up to wipe away this watery dribble, the Consultants’ stepped back and conversed further in hushed tones of apparent seriousness.
I decided to remove some of the cotton balls and speak. ‘Er, so is there a problem?’
They both turned and smiled at me, shaking their heads in unison as the younger Consultant spoke. ‘Oh no, everything’s okay...’ he said and then allowed the older Consultant to continue with the rest of the statement, ‘... it’s just we have decided to send you for an MRI scan, just to make sure.’ Now their heads began to nod in unison in the hope of placating my fears: sadly it didn’t work.
So, another check-up finished and my Parotid future now looking much more complicated due to having to wait for the MRI appointment to arrive sometime in the future; It’s not an appealing prospect being trussed-up and thrust into a six foot long plastic phallus to be bombarded with magnetic waves of some kind, but if it’s a necessary evil that must be performed then so be it.
I await the arrival of this appointment letter with bated breath, swollen glands and a pessimistic apprehension only a hypochondriac can possibly hope to maintain...