I had been dealing with tonsil stones for years and they had only been getting worse. Every day I would end up hacking them up or squirting them out with the water syringe they gave me a while ago for my wisdom teeth. They are disgusting. I was always self conscious and worried one would come out at the wrong time...on a date, when I'm speaking, ive had it all happen, ugh. I used to look back there with a flashlight up to 20 times per day.
I tried Dr Katz, f*** that con artist. I tried gargling with salt water. I tried nasal irrigation (that actually helped a bit but not enough) I tried new tooth pastes, mouth washes, flossing, tongue scraping, 3X daily brushing, I had amazing oral hygiene and nothing worked. So I said screw it - Tonsillectomy time. I did NOT want to be doing this for the rest of my life. I had images of me in a business suit and before I leave for work trying to gargle these things out...screw that.
2 different doctors, all I said was I had tonsil stones, I told them I was sick of them, I told them I was disgusted, both understood and both approved me for surgery in 1 visit and both would be covered under my insurance so I got to choose my favorite.
Surgery and Recovery: First let me say, was it worth it? YES, YES, YES 100 TIMES THIS WAS WORTH IT FOR ME. I will tell you later in the post the benefits I've noticed so far.
Day of surgery, they knock you out, rip em out, wake you up. TELL YOUR ANESTHESIOLOGIST IF YOU ARE PRONE TO BEING NAUSEOUS!!! I CANT STRESS THIS ENOUGH. The last thing you want to do is throw up right after throat surgery. Pain of the 1st day is surprisingly low. I rated it 3 on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst. This will fool you. You are not in much pain because of the steroid injection they give u during surgery. This wears off soon. Nothing will prepare you for the pain to come I promise.
Day 2: Pain starts increasing. Throat only so far.Pain = 5
Day 3: Pain was terrible. The pain migrated to my ears. The pain was throbbing and will bring you to your knees. Pain = 9
Day 4: Pain was worse. Pain = 10 / 10 Mornings are so bad...so bad. Complete hell. I took 2 percocet and my stomach rejected it. I threw up for 7 hours straight. I couldn't keep liquids down. I took Phenergan and I threw it right back up - Useless anti nausea medication it sucked. I got dehydrated, ended up in the emergency room. In the ER they gave me another steroid injection to calm the pain and they gave me the strongest anti nausea meds they had - these meds were made for cancer patients...they were perfect, a god send, I love the inventor of these.
Day 5: Steroids still in effect Pain = 4
Day 6: Wore off Pain = 9
Day 7: Pain = 10 I wanted it to end...it looked like there was no end it sight. THE PAIN DOES NOT GET GRADUALLY BETTER! DO NOT EXPECT A GRADUAL RECOVERY IT WONT HAPPEN AND YOU WONT NOTICE PROGRESS. IT IS THE WORST RIGHT BEFORE IT GOES AWAY!
Day 8, 9, 10: Pain = 10
Mid day 11: My friend made me laugh, it broke my scab on my left tonsil wound and i spit pieces out, the pain went from pain = 10 worst of any day to pain = 2 within 10 minutes...I was so happy I almost cried.
Days 12 - 14: Gradual recovery, pain is almost non existant, worst problem is my stomach pain from not eating real food just liquids. I felt terrible and nauseous and the taste of the scabs is disgusting.
Day 15 +: Amazing
3 - 5 puddings a day for days 1 - 13. Terrible stomach pain after day 6 from not eating...but I couldn't. I ended up losing 15 pounds and I dropped down to 125lbs...Im trying to gain it back now because that is unhealthy.
I am eating normal foods again after 18 days, chicken, salmon, quesadillas, mmmm tasty haha
I drank over 25 cups of ice water per day. It will help with pain, swelling, reduce risk of bleeding, and keep you hydrated. I pissed almost every 15 minutes lol. After like 5 days water tastes funny and gross because of your scabs...try your best. If you like Gateraide then god bless you because I think it tastes like ass but it will help cover the taste for you. Mix it 50/50 with water so you don't get too much salt.
Don't: cough, clear your throat, sneeze, bend over, exercise, talk too much, lay down flat when you sleep, take advil, pepto bismol, asprin, Vitamin E or anything that will thin blood. DON'T DRINK OR EAT DAIRY! They say eat lots of icecream after tonsils right? They lie: it builds up mucus in your throat and chokes you cause you cant clear your throat and the taste of rotting milk will stay in your thorat for days. IT...IS....GROSS.
Do: Swallow your pills in pudding or yogurt so you don't risk hitting your scabs. Rest a lot. Get someone to help you through recovery.
Benefits I've noticed so far:
The tonsil stones are gone...well DUH!. And guess what? Even when I had 16 day old rotting scabs in my throat...my breath smelled 100X better than when I had tonsils. I mean wow...BIG DIFFERENCE. I remember coming home on the 1st day and just smelling my breath and smiling...it smelled like nothing...what I've always wanted haha. I went 2 days without brushing my teeth after surgery...and my breath still smelled fine.
When I scrape my tongue now...no muscus build up on it and it doesn't smell. I only scrape off saliva...so I stopped...there isnt a purpose for it anymore.
I overall feel better. My tonsils were apparently HUGE the doctor said he was shocked to see how big they were and that I definitely needed them out and he didn't realize how bad it was from the outside.
Was it worth it for me? 2 weeks of absolute hell, terrible pain? Yes. For a life time of good breath and not having to worry constantly about my tonsils, it feels like a relief. The stress I put myself through on a daily basis, the amount of gum and mints I ate, the amount of times I licked my wrist to smell my breath, the amount of time i spent in front of the mirror trying to hack them out, the amount of time I spent using a flash light checking, the sore throats and strep throats, F*** all of that I'm done with it...I will never look back. I am completely satisfied with my decision.
I hope this helps at least 1 person. Lemme know.
I actually wish that as a guest they would let me edit my post because I wrote it at 5am last night and rushed because I was tired and I would like to add more to it. So in the coming days I will probably just post replies with more info. I am extremely glad this was helpful to you bluedog, thank you for replying and letting me know.
The things I would like to add are these (warning: some of it is gross, but it's the truth that I wish I'd known beforehand):
1. Do NOT underestimate the pain level or recovery time. My surgeon had advised me to take two full weeks off of work and I chose to only take 10 days because I thought if I'd gone to school/work with all of those severe sore throats most of my life, I could handle this pain better than most other people. THAT WAS DUMB. There was still so much swelling that I couldn't be understood clearly enough to answer phones or speak to customers in person, so they put me in the back office filing papers, sitting down, with an ice pack on my throat, and about 4 hours into my shift I started vomiting (it comes out your nose when your throat is this swollen, by the way). Needless to say, I took another 5 days off and was recovered well enough for my normal work duties by the time I went back.
2. Food continues to taste funny (like, forever) for some people. For me this was a good thing because I had been a 3 can a day Pepsi drinker and to this day soda pop does not taste good to me anymore. I am sure that my cavity free (at age 29 now) teeth as well as my waistline thank me for this. Also, chocolate tasted horrible for about the first year, but thank God, my taste for that came back to me. I also never used to like or be able to eat spicy stuff and now I just love it. (That may have been due to my chronic sore throats before though.) I have talked to some other people that report similar experiences (with variances on what foods change for each person of course) and others who said that as soon as their throat was healed they went back to eating just like they did before with no noticable difference in the taste of foods.
3. In the 10 years since my tonsillectomy, I have had throat infections and strep throat probably 10-15 times. This sounds sort of bad, but considering it used to be 8-10 times per year, it's a huge improvement. I have pretty severe allergies and constant post-nasal drip even on the strongest allergy meds, plus I work in pharmacy, so I'm constantly exposed to sick people. So, for the people who are considering this surgery to completely eliminate throat related illness, you should know that it won't. It will drastically reduce it, but everyone I know who has had their tonsils out still get the occasional throat infection, just not as often or as painful and difficult to treat.
4. I agree 100% about the dairy! I avoid dairy because it makes my nasal allergies worse anyhow, but the first thing they tried to give me in the hospital was one of those "shakes" that is like a Wendy's Frostie with the fakey flat wooden spoon. It BURNED so bad with the first bite that it brought tears to my eyes (this was on day one, when my pain level had been pretty low previous to that) and I asked the nurse if there was anything else I could possibly have and threw away the rest (I never waste food so that is really saying something). I had attempted a peach frozen yogurt at home on about day 5 and while it didn't burn the way the chocolate did; it mixed with my pain meds and literally curdled in my stomach, causing me to vomit what looked like cottage cheese, and my breath did not improve the rest of that day, even with brushing and gargling the salt water.
5. They make liquid pain medications (tylenol w/ codeine and lortab both come as elixirs, and once your pain level is more tolerable, just buy the OTC children's tylenol or motrin and increase the dose to adult strength); much easier than crushing tablets into pudding or applesauce and easier on your tummy if all you're keeping down is water and ice chips. (Which, by the way, was my experience even though I normally have an iron stomach.)
6. If you live alone, find someone to go stay with for the first 3 days or so. I went home to my parents' house and was really glad that I did. You get weak from not eating real food so it really is all of the energy you have just going to the bathroom and back to bed for the first few days, (because, as mentioned in the original article, drinking seriously about a gallon or so of ice water a day does help recover faster by irrigating those yucky scabs) and you WILL be in a narcotic haze and lose track of how often you've taken meds if you don't have someone helping you.
I would recommend getting the surgery to anyone with chronic tonsilitis, and if your tonsil stones are bad enough that you're to the point of considering surgery, I'm sure it's worth it for you too. Definitely be ready for this to be a difficult surgery though, because as the original post mentioned, it's not the actual surgical pain while you're still in the hospital (like most surgeries) that is worse, it is the LONG recovery time that literally stays at pain level 9-10 for days and days. (And just so you know, if you try to rip off your scabs early because you think it will make the pain go away, it's just like any other scab; it will bleed and grow back and hurt more, there is literally no way to speed up the healing process other than just waiting for your throat to heal and scabs to come out on their own.)
While I'm definitely still quite early on in my recovery (It's 7am on Sunday morning and I had my surgery at 7am on Friday morning), I wanted to share some experiences of what I've found to be the most helpful so far. I have been reading a lot of these forums in the weeks leading up to my tonsillectomy, so naturally I was quite apprehensive, since people tend to have more motivation to post negative/painful experiences.
My primary focus has been to not only eat things that feel good (super cold, etc) but to constantly ask myself if the foods or liquids i'm consuming promote healing. I own a juicer and have been juicing a combination of spinach/celery/cucumber/apples, and then putting into a blender with ice, and adding hemp protein powder. Not only does it feel amazing, but it gives me nutrients that I otherwise wouldn't be able to consume (celery after a tonsillectomy? yikes). One tip would be that if you're not familiar with juicing, to buy one a week in advance so that your stomach can get used to the dense nutrients. Some people report slight nausea when they first start juicing, and the last thing you want to do after a tonsillectomy is induce nausea.
I've been eating a lot of popsicles. They're non-dairy and low in sugar. I got a Jugo Juice smoothie immediately post surgery that had yogourt in it. BIG NO. So much phlegm. Clearing your throat, or even spitting and swallowing are really difficult, so if dairy gives you this type of reaction, there are SO many other options.
For soup, I've been cooking quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) in a rice cooker (great rice alternative, way higher in protein) and mixing it with low sodium organic chicken broth. Once that started to get a little boring, I've been adding humous to that for flavour and protein. Last night, I even went to a local restaurant and had some chicken Pho.
Water, water, water!! My doctor gave great advice regarding this - She said that even if it's painful, the motion of swallowing will actually speed up healing. This may be the painkillers talking, but if you're really having a heck of a time swallowing in the beginning, come up with something that you say to yourself in your head that helps you stay focused. For me i would just think the words "I'm in control, I'm in control, I'm in control" as I was swallowing the liquid - it took away the fear of choking, and gave me something else to focus on.
Get a humidifier. I've found that my mornings have not been too terrible. They're definitely the worst part of the day so far, but if you have a humidifier beside your bed, and a glass of water with pain meds nearby, you're good to go.
I hope that this helps anyone having a rough time with surgery so far. Don't be afraid to reach out to friends to borrow some of these different appliances - I didn't even own a blender or a humidifier, but was lucky to have some friends that did. I already owned a juicer, but I would definitely ask friends if you can borrow theirs! A lot of people buy them with the intention of using them every day, but then they end up collecting dust in their pantry. On the topic of juicing, avoid citrus, and stick to veggies if you can. I predict it'll knock several days off of recovery!
I'll post again as the days progress. Best of luck to everyone.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! :-D
Someone mentioned foods tasting funny.. Everything is a little bit richer, everything is a little different. I don't care for syrup at the moment, very strange. I actually liked carrot cake, something I wouldn't eat before. I might post back again if I find this continues, but I think it might have something to do with that smoky flavor I can't get rid of.
My glands are a bit swollen from the trauma I guess, but a couple hours of cold compress did the trick. A good night's sleep and I'm feelin' pretty great. On the day of the surgery I had a full sandwhich two hours later and went in to work. I wasn't feeling as great towards the end of the day, I think my adrenaline and nerves from the morning carried me. But, I managed down some chicken in the evening, but the rice I made to go with it stung a little. Yesterday, Thanksgiving, I had no trouble except the dry turkey. Peas, bread, mashed potatoes, apple pie, stuffing - no problem. This morning I had some toast from the loaf of bread we baked yesterday, no problem!!
Anyway.. I guess what I'd like to say is that my procedure was super fast and super easy and I am a no-doctor person. I was having all kinds of issues with tonsil stones too and this was DEFINITELY the answer I needed. I recommend this to ANYONE. It was short enough and easy enough for a child to endure and the aftermath has been no more severe than the illness that drove me to do it. Two weeks of recuperation? No thanks. I'm on day 3 and outside of a little bit of a swollen neck and some minor pain swallowing, I feel like normal. I'd do this again.
i found this website very helpful in preparing for recovery:
***edited by moderator*** web addresses not allowed
it gives you tips on what food to eat, what medicine to buy (nasal spray, ear drops etc) and what pain to expect.
"STAGE 1: MODERATE PAIN (Days 1-3, post op), STAGE 2: MODERATE TO SEVERE PAIN (Days 4-9, post op), STAGE 3: MODERATE TO MINOR PAIN AND DISCOMFORT (Day 10 (or thereabouts), post op)"
my pain was pretty much what they had written down, probably because my tonsils were pretty small: DAY1 = 3, DAY2 = 2, DAY3 = 2, DAY 4 = 3, DAY 5 (today) = 6
i was even able to go out with my friends and eat sushi on DAY3
the only problem i've had so far is that my doctor only prescribed me 30 painkiller pills which only lasted me till DAY4 and i had to go to a Walk-in Clinic to get more and ended up getting sick probably from one of the other patients in the waiting room. the Doctor at the Walk-in Clinic said they usually don't prescribe painkillers at Walk-Ins but prescribed me some anyhow once she saw my throat and wondered out loud why my Doctor didn't give me enough. probably to prevent me from getting addicted.
anyways, i'm only on DAY5 and i will definitely be posting some more here and all over the internet to help others who are suffering from tonsil stones and may not know it and those who know and would like to know what to do before, during and after a tonsillectomy. great article btw. it's nice to know there are others like me.