A number of weeks ago I noticed a little lump on my tongue. Actually, I noticed a little lump inside my tongue – on the right side, near the tip. It didn’t seem to give me any pain. It was just a small, hard lump that I could roll around between my teeth. It felt like a frozen pea, or kernel of corn embedded inside the flesh of my tongue.
Perhaps it was fear of knowing what it was (or could be), or perhaps it was just ignorance, but I didn’t tell anyone about it for nearly a month. I figured it was a swollen something or other and would simply sort itself out. As it turns out, not so much. In fact, it slowly started to grow and discolor. It was obvious that I needed to have it looked at.
I bolted out of work at 10am for a visit with my primary. By 1pm, I had met with three doctors (two surgeons) and was scheduled for the “first available” surgery at the hospital. Needless to say I’m a little overwhelmed by it all. I mean, I’ve never needed any sort of surgery beyond my wisdom teeth, and now I was to have a section of my tongue removed as soon as possible. Eff that. I mean, I thought for sure he would tell me to put ice on it, take some Advil, and stop being such a baby.
Everything is happening so fast now, and I’m still a little freaked out by the whole thing. Actually, I’m a lot freaked out (as you can probably imagine). Talking with the doctor didn’t help much either. He talked at me in matter-of-fact, professional tones and used phrases like “probably benign,” and “remove the surrounding tongue tissue,” and best of all – “be aware, tongue procedures are among the bloodiest.” It felt like a joke – until I signed the paper giving him permission to operate on me and remove the necessary tissue.
Now I have twelve days to think about all this. Crap. To ponder laying in that hospital room, starting to feel groggy from meds, and that seeping knowledge that I was about to have some of tongue removed. Or better yet, waking up from the drug-induced slumber only to feel a swelling in my mouth, and the cold realization that I am to now deal with this until it heals. How does one eat, drink, swallow or talk with stitches or staples down their tongue? I’m praying the meds are good.
Now it is important to state that I am well aware that way, way worse things that can happen to a person. In fact, at the end of the day, if this event is all that comes of said “lump” – I’m fine with that. It’s just the reality of it all that is killing me. I’ve never heard the phrase “probably benign” from a doctor when talking about me. Only then to hear him say “but we can’t be certain until we operate and do some tests.”
Twelve days… tick… tock…