This blog contains material I wrote and posted on multiply.com between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
This used to happen rather often when I was a pre-school child, maybe about once a month: I'd begin to get a strange sensation under my tongue. It was a sensation as of something pushing out from inside, as though the floor of my mouth was imprisoning something that was trying to be free. This sensation would increase steadily, never quite reaching the point of pain, but getting close. And then the bottom of my mouth, under the tongue, would begin to literally stretch and swell, until, suddenly, there would be a bursting sensation and the pressure would be relieved in a mouthful of saliva full of little granules.
I didn't know it at the time, of course, but what I had was salivary stones, or sialoliths, specifically in the submandibular gland, which opens into the mouth below the tongue. I was lucky that these stones were all very small and came out by themselves, with no more than a temporary blockage of salivary flow and a little discomfort.
I last had a submandibular salivary stone work its way out about five or six years ago. Knowing what it was, even though three decades had passed since I last experienced one, I looked for it and saw it, too, stuck in the opening of the duct - a tiny white dot which finally worked its way out as a little stick of mineral about three or four millimetres long. And that was that.
I've been considering orthodontic treatment, and at the suggestion of a colleague who's an orthodontist, I got my skull X-rayed a few days ago. And, apart from proving to me that I do possess a skull, it revealed a large, floating calcified body off to the side of my right lower jaw.
What it is, isn't a mystery: a large salivary gland stone, about the size of a big marble, entirely occupying the lower lobe of my right parotid salivary gland. The parotid gland is the one which is affected by mumps, so those of you who have had the disease (I did when I was seven) will know what I'm talking about. This stone, which is shaped somewhat like Africa, and in fact like the lower parotid lobe, isn't a problem right now - it's right at the lower end of the gland. However, if at any time it grows or migrates far enough to block the duct, there isn't a chance in hell of my being able to extrude it like I did the tiny submandibular gland stones. In that case, pain, swelling, and surgical removal of the gland await.
Oh, by the way, parotid gland stones are actually rather rare, since the watery saliva of the parotid gland doesn't have much in the way of minerals and isn't conducive to producing stones - and a big one, like mine, rarer still. Some 80-90% are submandibular stones, like the tiny ones I used to have.
The oddest thing is that now that I know the stone is there (and I canfeel it if I palpate the angle of my jaw, faintly but clearly) I'm getting kind of paranoid about it. It's like someone who's phobic of cats becoming aware of a cat in the house. As long as he or she doesn't know the cat's there, it's fine. But once the presence of the cat's known, even if it's several rooms away, the feliophobe seems to feel it everywhere.
Well, if and when this object inside my body gives me trouble, I'll let you all know.