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I like receiving mail from you.  While my doctor is a great guy, the kind of guy you would like to have living next door, there is nothing like talking to someone else who is actually experiencing what you are.  Thus I started this web page out of my own self interest.  However, I really had not fully thought through the the idea that people would actually write to me for advice. It puts me in an awkward position.  I understand exactly what you are going through.  Surgery is a scary thing and it makes you vulnerable.  Some people will hear what they want to hear and subconsciously block out what they don't want to hear.   I'm afraid of offering "bad advice" especially in regards to "Should I have surgery?"  Your doctor is truly in the best position to advise you in that regard. 

If I was faced with the exact same condition again, I would proceed as follows:

  1. I would look for the most experienced surgeon I could find.  I am a manager at a manufacturing facility and have quite a bit of experience hiring people.  If I want someone that is willing to take risks and make quick advancements in technology to get ahead of the competition, I look for an aggressive engineer that is smart and wants to set himself pr herself apart from the pack.  But when I'm looking for someone to keep my equipment running, I look for experience.  Someone that has been there, done that, and isn't easily surprised or discouraged.   I would prefer a surgeon that can "keep my equipment running."  Someone that has performed the procedure a few hundred times.  Others may argue that a younger doctor is more up to date with technology, but my own preference is to look for experience.
  2. Chances are you have seen a surgeon already because you found this page using terms like parotid gland and parotidectomy.  Not exactly stuff you read about on the back of a cereal box.  I would seek a second surgeon to talk to.  My mind tended to get stuck on things like, cancer, needles, knives, etc. during my first visit.   Take the time now to prepare a list of all the questions you forgot to ask.  What harm will come from seeking a second opinion?
  3. I've also been asked how to prepare myself for the surgery.  Many of you will rely on prayer and family support.  Others will need to draw from their own inner strength.  Let me tell you a totally unrelated story.  I was working in Thailand a few years back.  On a day off I somehow got the idea to go bungee jumping and I'm afraid of heights!  I was hauled up in the air over the edge of a cliff on a huge crane.  I rode up with an attendant that barely spoke English.  All the way up he repeated, "When we get to top, don't look down.  I say jump, you jump."   When we got to the top I stood up and looked down at the tiny little people and an empty concrete pool with plastic stretched across it.  The attendant yelled "JUMP!".  I stood there looking down.  He rolled his eyes, threw his arms up in the air, and yelled something in Thai.  Probably, "Here we go again."  I stood there for what seemed a long time.  Suddenly I put a wall up in my mind and totally blocked out what ever it was stopping me from jumping.  I jumped.  I remember very little of the actual experience of falling and bouncing.  On the day of surgery I put up that same wall.  For me the trick is not to put the wall up before I've gotten a second opinion and educated myself in order to make a good decision.  It would be easy for me to put that wall up as soon as the doctor mentioned the word surgery.  Save it for the day of surgery.
  4. I would ask for the shot to calm my nerves an hour or so before surgery.
  5. I would arrange for what ever time off the doctor suggests.  Then I would set goals to do things besides sitting around.  For me, recovery is an attitude.

Good luck,

Dwight 

Email me at:  shelato@aol.com

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