Tonsillectomy Adventures Part 2 + Survival Guide

I took my taper of Prednisone and I was nauseous and hungry at the same time. Anyone who’s been on steroids ever will tell you that it probably the worst combinations of side effects there is. The Prednisone took down the swelling a fair bit, but my tonsils were so destroyed from being sick for so long that they never completely shrank back down. Also so everyone is aware of the time frame, it has now been a couple months since this all started.

My throat hurt so bad at this point that a week or so before my appointment with the new ENT, I actually went to the ER and they gave me Tramadol so I could eat a little more and function. But even with my Tramadol, eating was still a chore. My diet mainly consisted of different kinds of baby food/snacks and popsicles. I lost about ten or fifteen pounds throughout this whole ordeal. And I know it probably sounds dumb that I actually resorted to eating baby food, but it felt like I had broken glass stuck in my throat constantly.

The day of my surgery I was allowed to drink water up to three hours before my surgery. I thought this was kind of odd, I’ve had four other surgeries and for all of those I was NPO after midnight. But I guess there’s no point in over thinking it now, I didn’t aspirate anything and I didn’t die.

We got there easily and all the pre op paperwork was all the same general things they asked me about my health on this computer health file that I had to fill out. It was things like what are your medical conditions, have you had surgeries before and so on. All of the people there were really nice and it was a really nice surgery center, though I don’t remember the name of it.

After I got taken back with my parents, I changed into my gown and gave them pee for their drug and pregnancy test. I went and got into my bed and the nurse sorted out my pre op medications, all of which tasted absolutely horrible. The liquid stomach medication I had to take was supposed to be green apple flavor; it was not green apple flavor.  The nurse also put in my IV line and started my fluids.

The anesthesiologist came in and talked to me and asked if I had any concerns, my chest felt a little tight at the time. He listened to my lungs and agreed that I was wheezing a little and ordered me a Albuterol treatment. I was looking at the other nurse that was giving me my equipment for my breathing treatment my original nurse slipped something in my IV. I know she did because everything got really fuzzy and bright around the edges of my vision. We had to wait a little bit extra for me to finish my breathing treatment and then they wheeled me back into the operating room. I crawled onto the surgical table and a nurse took my glasses from me. I was sitting up and the nurses were saying something about my tattoos I have on my back and that’s the last thing I remember.

And I’m sorry if anyone who reads this is a post op nurse, please don’t be offended.

I will never understand post op nurses; I actually find them to be rather scary. They talk really loud and shake you a little, and to me suddenly being bombarded by nurses is scary. I didn’t have my glasses on, so all I can see are giant fuzzy shapes coming at me with stethoscopes and thermometers. They started to ask me how my pain was, if I remembered where I was and if I could breath okay. I tried to tell them that my chest felt tight again, but I couldn’t figure out how to talk so I just pointed to my chest and they figured out what I was trying to tell them. They called the anesthesiologist and he ordered me another breathing treatment. While waiting for that the nurses put several syringes full of medicine in my mouth, it was quite awkward at first because I couldn’t figure out how to swallow.

Basically fresh out of post op, once you’re coherent enough to answer their questions, it’s going to feel like you’re trying to talk around a massive lump in your throat. It feels odd, like your throat muscles and vocal cords are just stuck. When you try to talk it’s extremely likely that you’re going to sound like you just had a dental procedure.

We waited a little while longer and my breathing treatment came and I had three nurses watching me like hawks I’m pretty sure. I couldn’t see their faces very well, but I could feel them watching me. When I came to the end of my breathing treatment they brought me a blue Gatorade slushy with a spoon. I’m going to warn you guys, if you get a tonsillectomy your sense of taste is going to be really weird. You’ll be able to taste things it’ll just be like if you had a cold and you nose was stuffed up.

After I was mainly coherent with all my meds and vitals sorted away and slushy in hand I got to get in this really big rolling recliner. That thing was pretty comfortable, kind of wish I had one in my apartment. The nurses rolled me into a little cubicle where I waited for my doctor and my parents. And between the time it took for everyone to gather into my room the nurses must’ve asked how my pain was twenty times or more.

And talking was one hell of a dilemma; no one could understand me for the most part except for my mom. And my dad could kind of understand me but he’s a hit or miss half the time anyway. It was honestly like I was speaking a foreign language and she was an interpreter. Nurses kept filing in and out of my room like little ants to see how my pain was, if I wanted another slushy and to take my vitals. Obviously my parents had to sign my discharge forms from the surgery center because it was unsound for me to do it myself.

I ended up having several prescriptions, all of which were liquid medications so they’d be easier for me to take, but all of them tasted really awful. So be prepared your newly sense of dulled taste will not save you from the bad taste of medication. I ended up having hydrocodone syrup, steroid syrup, magic mouthwash and Odansetron pills. Though by far the worst tasting thing was the steroid syrup. I’ve also heard that people also get prescribed antibiotics sometimes just to be safe, but for me it’s completely contradictory because of my numerous allergies. I also heard that the numbing effect of the magic mouthwash is supposed to last longer than half an hour. So don’t take all my experiences with medications to heart.

The healing process was long and a bit difficult; I’d have good days and bad days. Some days I could shower, other days I’d sleep for twelve hours trying to recover from the shower I took the day before. It gets pretty hard on you; you never get to sleep for any extended period of time. I was waking up once with an alarm every hour to remind myself to drink to prevent the scabs in my throat from drying out. But that also doesn’t count the four other times I woke up because I just felt so uncomfortable.

I started off eating nothing but yogurt popsicles, but I eventually progressed to popsicles and a little bit of baby food. I progressively worked my way up to eating a whole container of baby food, then baby food for every meal, then a little bit of potato soup for my meals. It takes awhile for your body to become “awake” again after surgery. And you aren’t going to want to eat, it hurt and it took a long time for me to eat. Though I also had my mom staring holes into me until I ate my whole container of baby food.

And after about a week or so post op that’s when the real fun begins. That’s when your scabs start falling off, it’s going to feel like day one post op all over again. Those scabs hurt and I mean really hurt, like you’re holding a habanero in the back of your throat for days on end. Eat lots of cold things, pudding, and ice cream or applesauce. Just if it’s cold eat it try to keep your throat as cold and numb as possible. But once you get over this hump, you’re home free and you might be able to take a smaller amount of your pain medication. Trust me guys there is light at the end of the tunnel.

A Tonsillectomy Survival Guide

·      Get as much sleep as you can, plan naps after meals, after pain med or after magic mouthwash. Though you should wake up at least once an hour to drink a cup of water. If those scabs dry out you are in for a world of pain.

·      Have plenty of shows in your Netflix Queue to watch because sleeping is going to be difficult. Plus with the altered sleep schedule, you’ll be awake at two in the morning eating popsicles like that’s a normal thing.

·      Just because you feel good a few days post op, trust me you are probably not okay and you’re going to burn yourself out.

·      Keep a tight medication schedule! This is super important, it’s easier to keep your pain under control if you take your pain meds before your throat really hurts. Just because it doesn’t hurt when your next pain med dose rolls around, doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt forty minutes from now when your body has burned through every bit of pain medication in your system.

·      Unless contradicted, I recommend overlapping the ends of your pain meds. Take your pain meds maybe ten minutes or so before the last dose is supposed to wear off.

·      Let others help you, I know that’s hard for those of us who are chronically ill but sometimes you might just need help.

·      Don’t wait to get your post op groceries, get them when you are still able to make the decision on things you want to eat. For example I picked out every container of baby food I wanted, there are a lot of flavors.

·      Check to see if the surgery center or hospital that you’re going to has a pharmacy nearby. Usually if there is they will tend to fill medications faster because they know that you’re a post op patient or the family member of one.

·      Get some light reading, if you don’t want to watch tv catch up on that book you’ve been meaning to finish.

·      Do not  let your scabs get dry! It’s so painful if you do, always have something to drink in hand. Eat some ice chips or something, anything to prevent those scabs from getting dry.

·      Invest in a little dry erase board, this will help you communicate and keep track of medication times.

·      Eat some sort of protein supplement or eggs when you are able to, this will help your body heal.

·      Make sure to stock up on all of your favorite drinks that won’t hurt your throat. Be careful if you buy juice; make sure it isn’t too acidic. Don’t drink any sort of soda because it is going to hurt. If you want pop that badly, open it up and set it out so it can get a little flat.

·      And don’t forget the ice cream! J


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