Neck Dissection


This is what Dr. Cichon called my procedure in the operating room, a neck dissection. In post-op I told him he needs to change his terminology. Dissection is what you do to frogs in high school biology, and it doesn’t work out so well for the frogs. I should know, I was the top biology student at Sheridan High School, class of 1970. That was back when textbooks were in black and white and Coke came in cans, not grams.

My seventh surgery in the last three years took over six hours. It was a very unpleasant experience coming out of the amnesia after that long. As is my custom, I had before-and-after pictures taken. Guess which is which.

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There’s nothing like a night awake in a hospital bed getting reacquainted with your body, seeing if you can “feel” where the pieces are missing. I couldn’t. I had a small bowl over my left ear and two rubber bulbs the size of racquetballs hanging from drains in my neck. I could see blood collecting in each, which is a good sign.

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The surgeon removed my parotid gland, some nodes and surrounding tissue, including a small piece of my ear lobe. There was enough skin to pull the edges together. Wonderful stuff the epidermis; amazing what can be done with it.

The margins were clear, which means the doctor believes he got all the cancer, but he couldn’t tell what kind it was. Probably not squamous as originally suspected. I’ll get the pathology report on Thursday.

Thanks for the thoughts and prayers.

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2 thoughts on “Neck Dissection

  1. I recently had a biopsy on a tumor on my right side of the neck was told it was parotid gland tumor. Was advised possible warthins tumor. But, was noted that some squamous metaplasia present. After the biopsy the tumor got infected and swelled and became hot. I took antibiotics and shrank back down. A few months later it has gotten bigger and has a bruised feeling when i touch it. I know that surgery is coming soon. Im really scared of this surgery. Can you tell me more about your experience and how did the results of your pathelogy. Hope you are doing well now. Love to talk to you.

  2. Congratulations on getting through another surgery, Mike. “Clear margins” right up there with “You’ve won the lottery” for us.

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