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ENT Part 1: of stones and 2nd opinions

“You have a stone in your saliva duct, which will need to be taken out.
I’m free next Monday, shall I schedule you then?”

Back in the late 90’s, I was busy getting my work area ISO9002 certified. Sometime then, I also caught strep throat or some similar type of throat infection. Maybe it was particularly bad, or maybe it wasn’t going away, I don’t remember exactly why, but I actually had to visit an ENT for it.

There I was at this specialist hospital in the Ampang area. I recall that the doc didn’t seem too worried by what he’d seen in relation to the throat, and I suppose he musta prescribed the relevant drugs to get me all better, I don’t remember.

What I do remember is him saying something totally unexpected: “You have a stone in your saliva duct, which will need to be taken out.” A slight pause as he looked at his calendar: “I’m free next Monday, shall I schedule you then?”

Whoa, slow up a little there, doc! A bit too eager to put me under the knife, aren’t ya?

Since this was totally out of the blue, I didn’t quite know how to take the news. ESPECIALLY since the doc was saying that while it would be a simple procedure, the nature of the operation would require my being under GENERAL anesthetic (GA)!

Good thing I was VERY busy with the ISO certification at the time, so I said I’d get back to him later once I figure out when I am free. I did get some sort of imaging done of my head (MRI, maybe?) to pinpoint the stone, for future reference.

Later, I consulted the Readers’ Digest Medical Dictionary: turns out stones in the salivary duct are not uncommon. I suppose they are the forgotten relatives of other, more celebrated stones like that in the kidney? The RDMD didn’t say anything about the stone having to be taken out once found…

How then to determine if the doc was just wanting to generate more income by performing an unnecessary procedure?

So, taking full use of the unlimited medical benefits of my then-employer, got myself another guarantee letter, and went for a second opinion at another specialist hospital, this time in the Bangsar area.

But… silly silly me, I took with me the MRI from the ‘original’ hospital, and bluntly asked Dr #2 if taking out the stone was necessary, then filled him in with the rest of my tale.

Later, I figured if I wanted a REAL second opinion, I should have walked in pretending that I’d noticed a lump at the bottom of my mouth, I wonder what it is; oh doctor it’s not serious is it; maybe an MRI can shed some light on the matter; a stone in the saliva duct doctor I’ve never heard of such a thing, are you sure it’s not serious; will it make any difference if it stays there or will it need to be taken out?

Instead, too late I realized that perhaps the ENT community in KL may not be that large, and Dr #2 didn’t seem to want to contradict what Dr #1 had already said to me.

Never mind,,, you live you learn….

So, I scheduled it such that the ISO certification audit was carried out on a Thursday, kept Friday open for tying up any loose ends arising from the audit, and the following Monday I went under the knife. More on that in Part 2.

Looking back, it’s amusing to see how I scheduled my health (yeah, the stone was certainly not life threatening, but still…..) after work requirements. At the same time, I didn’t seek any recognition for my selflessness; only my clerk knew that I was away on sick leave for almost a week. Typical of me, actually; no wonder I burned out in the end. But, Malays being Malays people being people, what do you think people were saying at the office at my disappearance? Snide remarks about “Wah, take holiday as soon as the audit is over, ah? You so stressed out izzit? It wasn’t that bad, what. Poor you, tak tahan ke?” Yeah, whatever.

Anyways, stay tuned for Part 2: post-op blues!

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