What to expect following adult tonsillectomy & adenoidectomy? thread.
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Backstory Even as a child I have always had large tonsils. Doctors and nurses who looked in my throat always commented on their large size--"Whoa, those are some big tonsils! You ever thought about having them out?" Because I had never had trouble with them I did not consider it. A sore throat caused by post-nasal drip was always the first sign that I was developing a cold, but other than that my tonsils and throat did not bother me.
In March of this year, I developed tonsillitis for the first time. My tonsils were swollen, deep red in color, and were covered in white blobs of pus. I was lethargic, feverish, had no appetite, and just generally felt really lousy. I was worried that it was mono, so I went to see my internist. She checked my glands (which were so swollen you could see them bulging through my neck) and looked in my throat. She ordered blood work to rule out mono and prescribed me a Z-pack (azithromycin). Within 24 hours of starting the Z-pack, I felt relief with no side effects. By the end of the prescription, I felt 100 percent better and my tonsils were clear, and back to a healthy pink color. The blood work confirmed that I did not have mono.
About six weeks later, I woke up one morning to feel the telltale fullness in my throat again and when I looked in the mirror, I saw the beginnings of the white spots again. My doctor called a Z-pack into my pharmacy. The Z-pack did not work as magically as it had before. My infection cleared up, but not with the same efficacy as the first time.
About eight weeks after that, I developed tonsillitis again! Same routine: Wake up to the fullness and white spots, call doctor on way to work for Z-pack. This time, the Z-pack did not work nearly as well: Even when I finished the prescription, my tonsils were still swollen and flecked with white spots, and I developed some nasty side effects (the antibiotic wiped out all the good flora in my digestive tract and I developed a yeast infection. So hot, right?).
By now, it's mid-August, and guess what happens again? The fullness, the white spots, the call for a prescription. This time, I tell her about the side effects and I ask for something other than a Z-pack. My doctor prescribes 10 days of Levaquin, which was much gentler, but did not relieve the infection with the same oomph as the azithromycin.
At this point, I realize I'm going to be knocked flat every 6-8 weeks by raging tonsillitis (my tonsils had enlarged to the point where they touched, my right ear was constantly in pain, and I snored like a buzzsaw), or I'm going to DO SOMETHING about this. I look up an ENT approved by my health insurance, who just so happens to be available for a consultation that week.
My surgeon meets with me. I bring my mother for moral support and a long list of questions. My surgeon sits me down in the chair in his exam room, has me open my mouth, takes one look in my throat, and says with a bit of fiendish glee, "I know what I'm gonna do with those!" He's really a nice guy, though!
He decides he will do a tonsillectomy and will deal with my adenoids once he can visualize them--my tonsils are so huge he can't see them. He uses the dissection and cautery ("I use a Bovie," he says) method. It's the most painful, he says, but the most effective, particularly for someone who has chronic tonsillitis.
He asks, "So what do you know about having your tonsils out as an adult?" I've done my research. "That it hurts A LOT?" "Yup. The pain is excruciating. You're going to be really uncomfortable. You're not going to like me very much. But you're never going to have to worry about this again."
After I meet with the surgeon, I schedule my surgery for September 18.
Day of surgery
I arrive at the hospital with my parents at 7 am. I was told I could take my daily medicines (birth control pill, antidepressant, and one 5 mg Valium prescribed by my ENT) with a sip of water that morning. I check in for surgery, pay my $50 copay, and am taken to the pre-op prep area. I change into a paper gown and the IV "ringer" comes to give me my IV (I have told everyone who will listen that I'm a difficult stick). She gets my IV in with minimal discomfort (I had prepared the backs of my hands with EMLA numbing cream), though about five minutes later, I feel faint. My nurse and the IV ringer rush in, give me oxygen in my nose, and prop my feet above my head. I feel better.
Every person who comes to check on me checks my ID bracelet, and asks me my name, my birthdate, and what I'm going to have done that morning. It gets to the point where I begin to recite the facts before they can ask.
My parents come back at this point and keep me company. They are with me while the anesthesiologist asks me a bunch of questions and runs through his checklist, which I sign off on, and my ENT comes to say hello and tell me that everything is going to be fine. The Valium I had taken that morning must be working, because I say to him, "Let's get this party started!" A short while later, the anesthesiologist's assistant comes in with a syringe full of Versed. She tells me, "Put your party hat [the fluffy little surgical mob cap] on!" gives me the Versed in my IV and I instantly feel more relaxed. She tells me to say goodbye to my parents, and she wheels me off to my operating room.
In the OR, my surgeon is there filling out paperwork. The anesthesiologist's assistant gives me another syringe full of Versed, and I feel like I've had three martinis at once. Soooooo relaxed. A surgical assistant puts the heart monitor stickies on my chest, and another assistant puts the blood pressure cuff on me and bundles my arm tightly to my side. The last thing I remember is having an oxygen mask over my mouth and nose and being told to take some deep breaths.
Post-op stage 1
I come to in the post-op area. My nurse scoots over to my side, introduces herself, and asks me how I'm feeling. My throat feels raw, but my tongue feels worse. It feels hugely swollen, like it's been shot with novocaine 50 times. She tells me I did really well and that my blood pressure is good. I ask if I can have something to sleep and she says no, but that she'll give me some morphine to relieve the pain in my tongue. I doze a bit.
I don't know what I did to get released from Stage 1, but before they take me to Stage 2, I ask if I can go to the bathroom. My nurse says, "I bet you want to go--you've had two liters already!" She helps me out of bed and shuffles me to the bathroom. She sits me down on the can and steps out. I do my thing, wash my hands, and my nurse helps me over to a large wheeled recliner and covers me in warmed blankets. (At one point, she also asks me, "What did you do to your hair? It looks great. Nobody's hair looks that good when they come out of surgery." I love her.)
Post-op stage 2
As my Stage 1 nurse wheels me over to the Stage 2 area, I find I can talk a little. "I want one of these chairs to watch football in," I joke. My first nurse is with me again in Stage 2. She asks me what I'd like to drink and I ask for a cup of water and a cup of ice chips. She brings me both and gives me the end of my syringe of morphine--10 mg in all. My tongue is still intensely painful. She brings me a cup of water ice and tells me to get to eating it--I won't be released until I drink and eat. I start by putting an ice chip on my tongue and letting it melt, then another. A tiny spoonful of water ice, letting it melt, then another. She asks me if I'd like my parents to come back, and I ask her to send them back in about 15 minutes. I doze until my mother arrives; my father has taken my prescriptions to the pharmacy and gone home to prep the house for when I come home.
My mother stays with me while I choke down more ice chips and water ice. The pain is not in my throat but in my tongue. I feel if I try to sip the water, it'll drool out the sides of my mouth. My mother tells me my surgeon met with her after my operation and told her that everything went well. He mentioned that because of the size of my mouth, he had to use a bigger retractor than usual on my tongue and that my tongue would be very painful.
The nurse asks me how my pain is from 1 to 10. I'm at a 7, so she tells me she'll give me a pain pill crushed up in a bit of applesauce. I'm thinking now that I should've just tried to choke down the pill with water, because the Percoset and applesauce sludge I had to eat was horribly bitter. Eventually, I get the applesauce down, and I doze a little. While I'm awake, my mom and I chat about the other patients in the post-op area--who had a tonsillectomy, who had their wisdom teeth out, who had cataract surgery. My pain eventually recedes to a 4, and I eat more water ice.
Finally, my nurse looks at her watch, looks at me, and says, "You've been here forever! Do you want to get out of here? I bet you do! Let's let you go home." She removes my IV, helps me to the bathroom again, and lets me get dressed. I'm still pretty groggy, so my mom signs the discharge paperwork for me, and the transport guy wheels me down to the car in a wheelchair.
Stay tuned for part 2: What happens once I get home!
Also, I used to be a serious runner and I was really fit, but now we've started a business, I have 2 children, running has been put on the back burner, and I am consequently putting on weight.
Every now and then I try to get back into running. Every time I go out for a run I love it and remember why I was so into it, but I'll wake up the next day with swollen tonsils and either get strep or a cold. It seems that it drags down my immune system (this is a well known effect of cardiovascular exercise), and I reckon without these stupid tonsils I'd have a better chance of getting back into running. About 5 days ago I bit the bullet and went out for a 4 mile run. Next morning I couldn't swallow and it felt exactly like the beginning of strep' so I went to the doctor and he prescribed me penicillin even although I told him that I was not sure If I had it or not and I would know by the next day for sure (I am so good at self diagnosis by now that the doctor trusts me to know whether I need them or not - fortunately this time it was not strep' so I did not start the course, but at least I now have the penicillin for the next time).
I am totally sick of this. I've read all of these threads about the op' and the post op' pain. I do not care one bit how painful it is - these things are coming out. If the doctor won't do it, I'll do it myself with a sharp knife :D
As far as the recovery from this surgery goes, every horror story you will find will have some shred of thruth to it.
Is it worst the older you are? yes, but what's old?
Is this recovery painful? yes at about day # 3 the real fun begins.
Will you loose sleep? yes and some will sleep all the time (depends on your meds).
Will you loose weight? oh yes, I lost 20 pounds in about 10 days.
Will you be able to eat? not much, and not what you use too. But please eat what you can. Believe it or not, it helps in the long run.
Why is everyone telling you to drink? The single most important function that will aid you in this recovery is fluids (H2O, Gatoraid). It serves SO many purposes. Mainly it keeps you hydrated - which will keep you from runinng a fever. It also (like food) excercies those throat muscles which has just had hell wrought on them.
I know, I know it HURTS SO BAD to swallow, but please do. Small sips at first as often as you can.
It's best to eat and drink about 30 to 60 minutes (depending how fast your pain meds work) after your medication.
Are the dreaded scabs disgusting? Oh yeah. But again, eating and drinking helps 'move' these along.
Why does my ear hurt? more then likely it has nothing to do with your ear, but the nerve that is proximal to where your surgeon dug out your Tonsils. It sends a signal to your brain that says you have the worst ear ache you have ever experienced. Warm most compress on the site helps. Also if you massage firmly where your jaw mandibles join it helps. Oh, and gum, chew - chew chew.
A special note about gum. It also serves mulitple functions. One: of course it helps out with the ear pain, two: it helps you form saliva wich will keep that area moist and promote healing.
Will you loose a sense of taste? probably. I had problems with Grape flavors. Oh, they just killed me! And salt.
Avoid dairy. You already have enough gunk back in the back of your throat, if you want more - eat dairy products, it will promote MORE mucus.
I know it might not seem that this road will never end, it will. For me about about day # 10 things really started looking up.
At post op day # 16 and I completly healed? No. I still have a moderate soar throat, but I can eat what I want and no longer take any meds.
So hang in there and drink - drink - drink.
Today's date is 11/30/08, and I had my tonsillectomy on 11/11/08.
So we're almost at the three-week mark!!
I always kind of knew I would end up getting my tonsils taken out. My first (memorable) bout of strep/tonsillitis was around the age of 11, and since it was not a recurring problem, I was given a shot of Penicillin and I got better. However, as the years progressed and I got a little older, my parents and I noticed that I was getting sore throats like crazy. In fact, "sore throat" was pretty much the only thing that happened to me in my teenage years. If I was sick, it was a sore throat. Never any of this "stomache flu" nonsense. It was a sore throat or it was nothing. Finally, in November of 2007, the pain from my strep was so bad that I was prescribed Vicodin. We knew then that this was pretty serious. Even with a bout this bad, however, it took until November of this year to actually decide to go through with the procedure.
The nights leading up to the procedure were a bit anxiety-ridden. I am somewhat of an anxious person to begin with. So I searched just a little bit on how the procedure was done, and checked out my ENT's website for post-op instructions. I felt a little silly when everything was worded like "Give your child ice cream..",etc. Here I am, nineteen years of age, and I'm having a procedure that is mainly for four-year-olds (little did I know then!).
I didn't look too much into it, thank goodness, or else I would have been sobbing when they wheeled me in.
Needless to say, I grew more anxious as I saw the children in the waiting room (yes, ALL children, 6 and under) disappear into the Surgery Center, knowing that my fate was identical to theirs.
The nurse was great. I couldn't believe how quickly she prepped me for surgery. I'm usually pretty nervous about the IV they have to put in, not because of the pain(what pain?) but because the thought of a tube in my vein is a little bit much to handle. I digress.
I hugged my dad and my boyfriend, who both accompanied me to the surgery center, and the last thing I remember is the BURNING in my arm as they injected the anesthesia.
Fast forward about 20 minutes. I wake up, instantly relieved that I had survived the procedure.
AND HERE IS WHERE IT ALL GETS GOOD.
While many of you can remember specific days, and getting better/worse, I cannot reach into my mind and separate the days that I remember. It's all a blur.
I just remember 1-10 as being the worst days that you could imagine.
TV only distracts you for so long...
I lost about 13 lbs in all. Actually, it got to a point where I had lost 20, but of course you fluctuate. I couldn't (still can't) eat all my favorites.
I longed for a painless yawn or drink of water. My uvula...well, it was HUGE. There are things that I will NEVER take for granted again.
All I can say is,
it gets better.
Painfully slowly...but surely.
I'm eating more, sleeping better, etc.
TO EVERYONE WHO IS IN WHAT I LIKE TO CALL THE "HELL" STAGE, HANG IN THERE. IT'LL BE OK
(and careful with those painkillers, Hydrocodone really hurt my stomach/digestive system)
lots of love,
Two things I don't think anyone's pointed out:
1) If you are getting your tonsils out - you are used to some level of pain in your throat - and often. So, you need to think about that in terms of putting the post op pain in. I can honesly say that the pain has yet to exceed my worst sore throat of the last few years - granted I am medicated like no one's business and that it is lasting 6 days as opposed to 3 or so. Point is - its not a 7 day natural childbirth. Just expect to do nothing... take your meds and curl up. That's about all you're good for.
2) My largest problem was the "little punching bag" in my throat - my uvula. It its usually the size of a dime - post up it was a (round) quarter. And it was the consistency of hard jello. So, every second that I was not paying attention, I would literally gag on the thing. I could move it around by shaking my head. This was especially not cool when trying to sleep. And this just is what it is; just a discomfort, and it went away by day 2 or 3.
So, I'm at day 6 like I said - and feel pretty good. Any dairy I took in caused crazy mucas, so ice cream was out of the picture - even sherbet. Anyways - they were too cold. I found split pea soup to the be best - as it would work its way down on its own... so everyone is different but that worked for me. Oh, and cream of wheat.
In a nutshell - if you are old, and your (trusted) dr. recommends it - just do it. Its never going to be easier, just get a time when you can drop out and miss 7-10 days. Turn off the phone - get everyone on IM, and just pass the time. Oh, and don't count on cable movies... I never realized they were so bad ;-)
TA: December 15, 2008
Starting Weight: 158lbs
Week 1 Weight: 147lbs
At 17 I got mono. This caused my tonsils to swell up real big and never go back to normal. I had recurring throat infections about 3 times a year since, one at the start of every season. It was either soreness without white stinky spoltches, or white stinky splotches without soreness. I occasionally tested positive for strep, but most of the time it would go away on its own after a week without antibiotic treatment. However this year, it came in July, August, and September, so I decided to finally do something about it. Also, knowing graduation was coming up soon, I wanted to make sure I had everything taken care of before I got booted off my Mom's health insurance.
I had seen my primary care physician and the doctors at my university's health center, both of which did not offer any explanations for why this was happening so often. Between September and December I had two more bouts of stinkly splotch version, one of which lasted 2 weeks. My breath would smell so bad, to the point where people were noticeably keeping away. One night, a guy I really liked actually tried to kiss me, but I had to turn him down because I didn't want him to smell my breath. This is when I decided I was not going to spend another moment not doing something about this. I wasn't about to surrender my early 20s to some stupid tonsil problem. I went into the health center again and asked for an ENT covered under my insurance.
The first ENT I saw, I went in expecting to get what I wanted. I told him I wanted to get rid of my tonsils because I had a lot of infections and had bad breath. Before I even opened my mouth, he immediately shut down any hopes of having a tonsillectomy. He said that I needed more documented cases of infection in order to be considered. He went on about the procedure being too painful and dangerous for adults. As an alternative, he suggested that I gargle 2 times a day with a special solution, and that I pay careful attention to rinse my mouth out after I ate, every time I ate. I asked him how long I'd have to do this, and he said for the rest of my life. After expressing to him that I'd rather the surgery, he said he wouldn't do it. He had obviously dealt with some difficult patients, and I felt like he was using his personal bias against effectively treating me. So I immediately sought out another specialist. This time, I came prepared with notes. I had researched reasons for getting tonsillectomies, and made sure to emphasize the points that would guarantee it would get done. However, the doc I saw seemed to be less afraid of her patients, and actually looked in my mouth before making a decision. Within 7 minutes she scheduled the operation. It turned out I had tonsil crypts which allows for food to get stuck and create bacteria. This bacteria would constantly battle with my white blood cells, which is why I had the stinky splotches. The reason why it was happening so often so suddenly was because I had recently turned 21 and started drinking alcohol... excessively. At that rate, it severely weakens the immune system and was doing a lot of damage. Also, my tonsils were so big that they were causing my sleep apnea (diagnosed by an ex, not a sleep study). After having them removed, not only would I enjoy being 21 again, but I would actually sleep better too. The benefits of the surgery turned out to really weigh in over any amount of pain. I was ready to go.
Day 1/2 - The pain was pretty manageable. In fact I was pretty disappointed that my doctor was talking so much trash. I was drinking water sipping soups just fine. What I couldn't do was sleep. There was this ball of phlegm caught behind my massive uvula that I could not manage to cough out, and I would constantly struggle inhale and exhale over it pretty much all day and night.
Day 3-5 - The percocet I was on made me extremely nauseous. I needed it to stay awake and to sleep, and I was at 2 pills every 3 hours. Taking this much, I couldn't bare to eat. This, along with a lack of real sleep, made me very irritable. Everything bothered me. I did a lot of angry text-messaging to people for not being around, yet when they came I was hostile with them and eventually kicked them out. I even cursed myself out for getting my sleeves wet while washing my face. I was truly out of control. Along with the irritability, my brain felt like it was always vibrating, my face was numb on the right side, and around day 5 the earaches started to kick in. Also, my eyes and nose wouldn't stop running. It was bad, I really thought it couldn't get any worse.
Day 6 - It got worse. I had vomited twice. The first time was after a single bite of food. It was comprised mostly of that bite of food, water, stomach acid, and scabs. The second time, I thought about what I vomited the first time for a bit too long, and threw up again. At that point, I decided to stop the medication and clench through the pain. I managed to have a tootsie-pop and a triangle of pita bread. However, the food scratched my throat and the pain was unbearable enough to start the drugs again.
Day 7 - Still having trouble sleeping. The razor blade feeling is starting to happen. Right now I'm up watching an infomercial about Prostate health. I'm also still very hungry and I can't remember the last time I pooped. I'm alone and cold.
I know it's gonna be worth it. I would have done it earlier if I knew it had to be done. I just wish this was easier. And I really hope I'm well before Christmas dinner.
To rank everything from most horrible to less horrible:
3. Missing the Taste of Food/Hunger
4. Taste of Scab
5. Taste of Percocet solute
6. Lack of Sleep
first Surgery: December 15, 2008
Starting weight: 205
Current weight: 171
Before I got my tonsils and adnoids out i got a septoplasty and had tubes put in my ears(thought that recovery was bad). Aside from the constant nose bleeds it was a cakewalk compared to having my tonsils out.
I got my tonsils out on new years eve. I was in the hospital at 6:30 in the morning and home by 11 that morning. After i first woke up the pain was bearable, i was able to eat a popcicle at the hospital before i went home. Drank lots of water. That next morning after all of the numbing wore off i got the full effect of the pain you are talking about. I have hardly been able to drink water. and I havent eaten since the night before my operation. all ive had is chicken broth. The not being able to talk part sucks sometimes but just arm yourself with a note pad and a pencil and get ready for alot of movies.
I can say that the pain sucks but in the long run it is so work it. If you have to get it done then just get it done and get it over with.
BTW i have been drooling like crazy, has anyone else had this problem?
I took the advice I got from doing all of this reading and got my meds already - and in liquid form! I don't know how anyone in their right mind would accept a pill as a pain killer when they are having surgery on their throat. Why do they even prescribe that stuff? I have 4 bottles: 1. Roxicet - pain, 2. Hydrocodone - pain, 3. Promethazine - nausea + vomiting, 4. an antibiotic that's sitting in the refrigerator right now.
I had back surgery 4 years ago and I remember it being pretty darn painful even with all the meds I was taking, but I can tell you it was so worth it and I'd do that surgery over again in a heartbeat. I just have a feeling this will be worse. I'm going to try not to think about it again as I'm going to try to zone out and fool myself for the next 24 hours into thinking I'm just going for a little doctor visit. We'll see how that mind trick works.
I wish you all the best who are suffering right now. I'll be right there with you on Tuesday. Maybe I'll be that guy who comes back and says, "hey I just got out of surgery and I'm eating a bag of peanuts right now, what's up with you people?" LOL Yeah...or maybe not. Peace.
Try to have someone check on you several times through the night. my girlfriend told me several times id lay down and the snot would run down the back of my throat and gag me. since you are getting it all done at once id advise you to sit in a chair and sleep upright at first.
when you take your Roxicet it will be kind of think to swallow, i found it helpful to measure mine out in a dose cup thentop it off with warm water and mix it to thin it out.
I was able to eat today. mostly mushy food. Eggs mixed with stove top stuffing and ketchup is awesome. Do NOT eat doritosor any other kind of chip haha i tried and it felt like shattered glass was slowly sliding down my neck