In August of 2017 I bit my bottom lip while eating food, hard. Biting my lip isn’t typically a memorable experience since it happens every-so-often. This bite, however, was a bite that will live in infamy because it’s led to me having surgery twice. And that’s silly, because I’m not sure why it’s even possible to bite one’s lip or tongue. I’ve been chewing food multiple times a day for over three decades now; in almost any other field this such frequency of action would surely result in me being labelled a professional. File this habitual reoccurrence alongside “Why do I occasionally forget to zip up my pants after using the bathroom?” I guess.
To return to the infamous bite, it led to a small bubble that formed on my inner lip. As I have since come to learn, that bubble is called a mucocele, and I ended up having to have surgery to remove it. An oral mucocele is basically a damaged and backed-up salivary gland. Most mucoceles fix themselves on their own. Mine, however, did not, and over time it burst, reformed, and burst again. That process wasn’t exceptionally gross—when it burst it was just saliva coming out, not puss or blood—but the process would qualify as a very good nuisance, and as a result I eventually found myself meeting with an oral surgeon.
Your largest salivary glands are under your tongue. And perhaps you know that, because you’re one of those rare individuals who can spit out saliva from there. You have other major glands in the back of your mouth, but you also have about a thousand minor ones spread out everywhere else. You only need your major glands though. The surgeon told me this and it makes sense, as I have about twenty less salivary glands than I did this time last year, and I’m doing OK. The process of getting those twenty glands out, however, was not fun. Also, when given the option of using either local anesthetic or being knocked out I now think that I chose poorly.
Being a generally curious person, I chose to be awake for the procedure. As it turns out, the surgeon ended up taking out the largest mucocele he had ever seen. He told me this, in the heat of surgery, and I replied, “Aww, I bet you say that to all of your patients.” With my mouth numb and his hands inside it, however, my joke was not understood. Numerous other salivary glands next to the mucocele had to be removed, since they were inflamed-by-association (not a medical term). I had to get re-shot with anesthetic halfway through, and the tissue removed from my lip was over two centimeters wide. So later I had a pretty fat lip and recovery was pretty slow.
“I luh you” was the best I could tell Leah for quite a while. My amazing wife made me tapioca pudding, cooked me dozens upon dozens of eggs, cleaned up my drool, and made me more tapioca pudding. Tapioca is the only pudding there is, as far as I’m concerned (But I love chocolate pudding! –Leah), and surgery was a great excuse to eat as much of it as possible. But to conclude, be careful when chewing your food. Especially since now, in February of 2018, a smaller mucocele has formed on my lip and I just went under the knife again. I luh you, Leah! And I luh you, tapioca pudding! Mucoceles, however… not so much.
–Jeff and Leah
(to be continued)