Who's lost a salivary gland? Or knows a half-spit?
October 21, 2005 9:07 PM   Subscribe

My SO is getting a salivary gland removed...Feeding and care?

My Gf is having her left salivary gland removed, due to recurring stones within the gland,and swelling, pain, associated with the stones. It's an outpatient surgery, procedure cut externally, lasting about an hour, but she will be under for the procedure. By day two she might be getting hungry, and I gather the tongue may/may not be impaired for a bit. And there will be an exterior drain, just to add the joy. I've no idea how she'll be chewing, or not...even the ENT guy doesn't seem to know. (Not incompetetent, he just says "people react different ways.")
FYI, my GF works for a dentist, and even he seems at a loss as to what to expect.
OK, if not the first couple days...what then?
The stones, in the salivary,were never triggered by a specific food group, spice' or beverage. Actually, these little bastards are the same as apparently cause her kidney stones.
Sorry'bout the extras...how do I feed her?
posted by verytres to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
Sounds like a good excuse for ice cream, Slurpees, and equivalent cold foodstuffs. Keeps your tongue from hurting and keeps you from starving to death- it's a win-win.

3/4 cup of double-strength coffee, brewed then chilled
1 cup (or a bit less) milk
3 Tbs sugar
2-3 Tbs chocolate syrup
About 9-10 ice cubes (from a tray)

Put in blender. Blend thoroughly. Makes two glasses. Bendy straws are best.

If calories are a concern (as in, "not enough"), get some of those diet shakes (Slim-Fast). Yum.
posted by jellicle at 9:25 PM on October 21, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for a good life hint...F* calories during recovery. I just want her happy, and fed reasonably well.
You get a gold star for that recipe ...
posted by verytres at 9:31 PM on October 21, 2005

A friend who went through treatment for throat cancer lost one of his salivary glands via radiation. Cool, easy-to-swallow stuff like smooties/slushees/shakes were definitely what he preferred. I also drank a ton of shakes when I had my jaw broken and re-set late last year, and my favorite shake was basically chocolate ice cream, milk, a packet of carnation instant breakfast powder, and frozen fruit (peaches, raspberries, or cherries) run through the blender.
posted by scody at 9:52 PM on October 21, 2005

Is the surgery a sure thing?

My gf had the exact same problem, and the doctors recommended removing the gland altogether. I had her reconsider the surgery, because it can cause you problems with eating (saliva helps break down your food) and talking. I think it would make one more prone to chronic sore throats too. Just like getting your wisdom teeth removed, there is also the worry of the doctors causing nerve damage that could paralyze a section of your face or who knows what. There are also the risks associated with going under. I don't care if it's even a 1 in 100,000 (I don't know the real numbers here, just saying...) chance of me not waking back up, but it can happen.

In her case, she said she would get the stones only once or twice a year but had been getting them consistently for a long time, and that they normally popped on their own, or came easily with the help of a lemon, sour altoids, or good old fashioned squeezing. So I told her in my opinion, the risk of the surgery isn't worth the benefit, and if you're going to get the surgery to get the gland removed, at least wait to see if you have a problem again, because you can get the surgery done at any time.

The doctors ended up going in and taking out a stone the size of a small tooth, so this one definitely wouldn't have come out on its own. In the process of getting this thing out, the salivary gland was opened wider. The doctors said everytime they have to go in and dig out a stone scar tissue builds up inside the gland and makes the buildup of more stones likely. Still, I told my gf to take a "wait and see" approach, she can always have the surgery if she gets a stone again.

She hasn't had a stone ever since, and thanks me all the time for telling her not to go through with the surgery.

I realize your gf may have a different situation, but if the surgery isn't a sure thing, maybe you want to talk to the doctors about the possibility of widening the gland or maybe you will want to put the surgery off, at least until there is another problem.
posted by banished at 7:35 AM on October 22, 2005

My father lost his salivary glands to surgery and radiation for cancer a few years ago. Yet another vote for milkshakes, ice cream, Slurpees, chocolate pudding, etc.

Afterwards, saliva production didn't come back to normal for him for a long time (if it ever did). What happened to him sounds much more extreme than what your GF will have, but based on his experience, she may have trouble with a dry mouth for a while. Keep plenty of things available to drink - juice, teas, water, water, and water. Also, if her mouth is dry, she may find food kind of tasteless. There wasn't much we could do about that, but Dad avoided really dry foods and couldn't eat bread much at all.

If she does have trouble with dry mouth, she'll have to be extra careful with her teeth, as saliva has a protective function for teeth. Since she's only having one of the glands removed, things probably won't get as bad, though.

I'm very surprised that the ENT guy says he doesn't know, though. How many of these has he done before?
posted by dilettante at 8:19 AM on October 22, 2005

What about the supplement shakes (not the diet shakes mentioned before)? Ensure and the like. They give calories and vitamins necessary and are easy to take.

Otherwise try applesauce, smoothies, pudding, ice cream, broth, jell-o, mashed potatoes, yogurt, cream of wheat, baby food (don't laugh, it works).

As for care for salivary gland surgery, I have no idea. I just have had enough dental work to know what's good to have when you can't chew.
posted by schnee at 6:37 PM on October 22, 2005

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