just to fill those in who were curious about where I had been last week and what had happened: I underwent throat surgery, which was long overdue. About 12 years ago, an ENT doctor found a stone in one of my salivary glands, which had settled quite a ways in the back of one of the salivary ducts. He opted for the stone to come out by itsself, but that never happened. Over the years, that thing caused painful and disfiguring inflammations, which produced a full state of sickness including high temperatures and overall grogginess. I actually lost a major career related opportunity for an interview with Joyce Cooling at the 2010 Smooth Jazz Festival Augsburg that our late friend Levon Mitchell had arranged for (not the interview per se, but Ms. Joyce Cooling’s appearance in the first place). To this day, I can hardly forgive myself for having missed out and trust you me – I only miss out, when I’m really spread out flat and almost “dead” beat!
Anyways, the surgery was long due, but I had been nervous about the associated risks, which involved permanent impairment of the facial nerve in addition to your usual “standard” risks with surgery. The mouth section of the facial nerv runs in close proximity of the area that had to be cut into and removed. In very rare and very unfortunate cases there is a possibility that this nerve gets accidentally severed, in which case it will never regain its previous functions, which control a lot of mimicking, smiles, pouted lips etc. etc., in short: Most of your facial expressions to begin with. The result could have been some disfiguring condition along with slurred speech or otherwise impaired articulation and limited facial functions (even something like kissing wouldn’t have worked as before, just to give you an idea). In yet different words: A nightmare for professional speakers, singers and anyone needing to speak in public a lot. As singing is part of my musical skills – although I don’t use it much at this time in my life – it could have meant the end of that, not to mention speaking in public – and in this day and age we’re all more or less public all the time as we engage on social platforms and skype and chat via visual link all the time. So, I guess you will see the scope of my concerns there. It wasn’t so much about being scared of surgery or anesthesia in general or for reasons of vanity, but for this specific concern of facial functionality with regard to speaking, singing, articulation.
So I’m very – very! – relieved and thankful to be able to report that everything went well all things considered. They tried to remove that stone prior to removing the entire gland. However, that thing had wandered towards the back of the duct and had settled somewhere around a “corner” so that the surgeon was unable to grab it and pull it out. On the other hand, I’m satisfied now, because even if they had succeeded in removing the stone, chances were that the inflammations would have returned due to major scarring from all those previous inflammations and infections. I see the bright side of the outcome. And the brightest outcome of all is that I feel content about having conquered my fears of going in in the first place. As a lifelong sufferer from post traumatic stress disorder and complex post traumatic stress disorder due to recurring trauma in my infant and toddler years all of which happened in a medical/hospital setting, going inpatient is always a major, I mean a major trigger of unresolved trauma for me. Think of the worst nightmare you ever woke up from in cold sweat and screaming and it still doesn’t come anywhere near the feelings I reencounter with retriggered trauma. It feels like hearing your death sentence and then being hand-cuffed and lead to the gallows. No kidding, this is how something like this feels. I can keep telling myself “no, it’s a new situation, don’t feel this way” a thousand times – makes no difference! The feelings are stored in the body. So, a major part of my relief is about having overcome these deeply stored and still virulent fears that produce a full “fight or flight” reflex in the system. But I realize that I’m digressing now. For those of you, who are interested in learning more about this debilitating condition, follow the two previous links in the text above or google “PTSD” or “C-PTSD” (or go here and here). But there is a silverlining and positive outcome with this as well: Having managed to overcome this fear reminded me that it can be done, that I still have the power and choice to rise above whatever fears may be stored in my psyche and system (and they are, make no mistake about that).
I am going to do my best to ride the wake of this personal triumph in order to reclaim some more control over myself and ultimately my life at some point (although the latter is pretty much in pieces for the time being. But whatever… I’ll keep doing what I must do)
So, with these words, I wish you all a great weekend and hope you’re all being fairly safe, sound and all around happy campers.
Have a great one!
w., June 2013
P.S. Find some – slightly graphic – pictures to entertain yourself with my bubble face 😉