I am sick of thinking & talking about my tonsils. It’s all slightly embarrassing. Getting ones tonsils out conjures up images of cute little kids with slightly sad faces that light up with each fresh dish of ice cream. It’s a whole different game for adults. If you are a parent whose child is getting their tonsils out, stop reading. It’s not the same. You’re doing a good thing getting your kid’s tonsils out while they are still young and ever so resilient. This guide is for adult tonsillectomy so don’t freak yourself out by reading any further. Thank you, come again!
I should start by saying I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV so this is just advice from me based on my own recent experience. I am hoping this can be a resource for those who are about to have or love someone who has undergone the removal of those little bags of infected throat blockage. Pleasant.
I felt unprepared for the process, for the pain. Although in retrospect I do remember my doctor saying, “In some ways it’s easier to get shot because you fix the wound and it heals, gets better and better each day. Not so with a tonsillectomy. It progressively feels worse.” He was not lying and yet still I did not feel prepared. Lovely doctor, horrible procedure.
I gave birth to my 2 boys via c-section. I didn’t take any meds post surgery because I was a nut with worry about it in my breastmilk. So I kind of thought I had this. I was most worried about going under with general anesthesia and figured once I came out of that, I was through the rough part. Again, so wrong.
First off, don’t Google. Too late I suppose because here you are. It’s true to say that everyone’s experience is different and that bodies heal differently. I think it’s also true to say that people romanticize or just forget so it wasn’t helpful to me to read people saying, “I was eating barbecued ribs the 3rd day!” or hear people (and by people I mean my dear brother) say, “By the 2nd day I was like screw it, I ate fried and breaded Japanese porkkatsu.” edit to add: My mother reminds me that he got his tonsils out in Thailand and DID stay in the hospital for 4 days after the surgery. Apples and Oranges. I did not eat anything except popsicles for 6 days. If you know me, you are picking up that going without food is unprecedented.
Make sure you have help. I asked my mother to come up rather last minute and am so grateful she was able to be there for me. Some of my most comforting moments were when she brought me a cold cloth (super mom trick that works in any number of circumstances that I happily use with my own kids). She initially booked a ticket, staying a week, but had to extend when it became obvious that I was going to need help beyond day 7. I really think it’s rather inhumane that this is a day surgery. A decision that I think has less to do with patient needs than with insurance but I’m not bitter.
This link was very helpful: Adult Tonsillectomy – Guide for Friends and Family. “Just when you think your loved one is on the mend (and believe me, they’ll think so too!) the scabs start to come off. The pain this causes pretty much pushes the patient to and beyond their pain threshold. The pain is not only in the throat, but in the ears – and is EXTREMELY painful…” So true, so true. This helped my mom give me and my slight bitchiness a break. The visual, for her, of the scabs was enough to allow her to forgive my occasional attitude. Given all with my eyes at this point because I still could not speak. It’s been 2 & 1/2 weeks and my voice is still not back to normal. Another helpful hint – I used a text aloud app on my iphone as a “voice” for a week or so there. It’s hard to be when someone bitches through an artificial electronic voice. “Bring me a another damn popsicle now.”
In terms of food, you’ll definitely be thinking about it. I watched Food Network like a crazy person and drew up an elaborate list of dishes to make when I was able. And last night I crossed off, Palak Paneer and Coriander and Coconut Fish. But in terms of eating post surgery I really didn’t. I threw up Ensure on day 3 so I just went without. If you can keep down something nutritious, you’ll probably heal faster than me. The best tip was given to my mom, via FB, was Cheese Puffs. In addition to getting your tonsils out, I think they kind of break your tongue. I could (still) feel exactly where they clamped down my tongue for the surgery and my poor little guy still feels swollen and sore. Eating was hard. So initially taking tiny little bits of cheese puffs was the answer. Tip – hit the health food store for a huge variety of puffs, including Veggie Booty. It was good to have variety, I think I managed to try 10 or 11 different kinds, rejecting some but happy for the variety at that point. I do not like popsicles, I don’t remember ever liking them but suck them down I did. It helped to have one to get the horrible taste of the medicine down. Oh the horrid taste of the medicine. I am not a big medicine taker, if I can get away with not taking I don’t. But I was swilling this crap down. My hazy life was measured in 6 hour increments. I was not prepared for how blurry it made my vision. I could watch tv, thank goodness but after day 3 and I hit stage 2 of recovery, I could not text, type or read without feeling super nauseous.
The irony of it all is that I am kind of addicted to Slurpees, icees, coolatas, slushys. Whatever you call them, I like them. Kind and loving friends and a family brought me many a cup but they were too too sugary and sugar seemed to irritate my throat as much as citrus. I could do popsicles but that was the sugar level I could take.
In terms of pain – ice. Ice helped tremendously, particularly when the pain went into my ears. Having an ice pack along my throat and ears helped. Stock your freezer. And be on top of the meds, in an effort to take them before it hurts too bad. It’s going to hurt worse when you wake up because you weren’t swallowing while you were asleep. Get a humidifier and set it up near your upright sleeping self. If it doesn’t help, it makes others feel like they are helping by changing the water. Who knows!
This is what I wish someone had done for me: I am taking you firmly by the shoulders, looking you in the eyes and telling you, “This is going to be some intense pain. It will hurt but you will get through it, and somewhere down the line, be glad you did it.” (I’m not there yet myself) Hope it helps.