After I wrote my last post I had a revelation. Gee. Maybe I should tell my endocrinologist. I mean, I had come to the conclusion that this issue was most likely a direct result of the radioactive iodine. So, really, I should probably let him know.
I sent an email to him and S., his nurse. I was impressed to hear from her just two hours later. She called me at home.
She said that this was fairly common, and that six months after the RAI treatment was about the right time to have an issue with my parotid gland. I told her about going to the dental surgeon. She said that the dentist's advice about ibuprofen and heat was good. And she also said that using lemon drops again would be helpful. The only other thing S. mentioned that I should be doing is called 'milking'. In a hot shower, soak a washcloth, press it up against the area that's sore, and then press in and move the washcloth down toward the jugular. Sort of like the massage I had read about, only a little more specific.
S. also mentioned that if I experienced face swelling or pain to let them know right away. Apparently there is a doctor in town who deals with this sort of thing- his specialty is helping patients who have complications with their salivary glands due to RAI treatment. My first thought was, that's awesome! So many people on the message boards seem to have endocrinologists who are clueless about the side effects, let alone able to refer them to local specialists. But then I realized that we have a specialist in Pittsburgh because it's so common here. So, yea us?
Anyway. It's been several days since I spoke with S. and I have to say that I'm feeling much better. The pain is gone, it just feels like I have a small area close to my ear that's still swollen. The massage and lemon drops seem to be helping a lot, and I'm hopeful that this will completely clear up very, very soon.