Tonsillectomy Recovery – Here’s What to Expect



What You Need to Know About Tonsillectomy and Recovery

I wasn’t always this healthy. As a kid I ingested more penicillin than a corporate-raised chicken. I was in the doctor’s office several times each year with a sore throat. As the doctor or nurse peered into my mouth, the reaction was always the same: “Whoa, those are some big tonsils!” The diagnosis was usually tonsillitis, or strep throat. As the doctor wrote the prescription, he’d explain that years ago, tonsils like mine would have been removed, but, “these days,” we try to hang onto them. “These days,” were the 1970’s. I guess the tonsillectomy pendulum had swung back from the days when kids got their tonsils out because their brother was getting his out.

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Aunt Kate’s reassurance helped, but I still wrote out some just-in-case instructions for my brother and hid them in my closet. I sheepishly told him where they were, just in case.

Tonsillectomy Recovery Forum___________________________________________________________________

As an adult I continued to suffer from frequent bouts of tonsillitis. It seemed that I caught every bug that passed through my house or workplace. I guess those big ugly tonsils were a nice home for those nasties. It wasn’t until my 40’s that I also became aware that I suffered from something called, Obstructive Sleep Apnea -a condition in which a person stops breathing while asleep. I snored often and would awake abruptly, gulping in big breaths. I felt tired most days. After raising four babies, I had come to accept fatigue as a normal part of life! One day at a routine physical my doctor remarked about the number of episodes of strep throat and tonsillitis I’d had. We also talked about the sleep problems. While he didn’t formally diagnose obstructive sleep apnea, he suspected that I had it. He recommended a tonsillectomy, because of all the tonsil problems I’d had. As a bonus, I might find relief from the sleep apnea as well. If not, I’d undergo a sleep study. Forty four years old and father of four boys and a doctor finally said it: Those tonsils are doing you more harm than good! As much as I hated those tonsils, I was terrified at the thought of going under the knife. I started reading about tonsillectomy on the internet and talking to friends. That didn’t help. “My cousin knew a guy who got a tonsillectomy and bled to death.” “At your age, tonsillectomy is dangerous.” When I met with the ear, nose and throat specialist, (an otolaryngologist), he told me that the risks are the same for an adult undergoing tonsillectomy surgery as for a child, but the recovery is longer and more painful. He was right about that!

Deciding to get a Tonsillectomy

I scheduled the surgery for the day after Thanksgiving. A traditional day of feasting in the United States. If it was to be my last meal, I planned to make it a good one! As it turned out, I was so nervous and scared that I could hardly eat on that day. I was recently divorced and had shared placement of my four boys. So many people counted on me that I began to question my decision. What if I died on the table? How reckless to leave behind a family, simply to avoid frequent tonsillitis? My aunt, a registered nurse reassured me about how simple the surgery was, and how far anesthesiology had come. I had nothing to worry about. Aunt Kate’s reassurance helped, but I still wrote out some just-in-case instructions for my brother and hid them in my closet. I sheepishly told him where they were, just in case.

______________________________________________________________________________ “My tonsils were like a 400 pound gorilla on my back. I don’t miss them at all. Ever.” -from the forum ________________________________________________________________________________ 
I took a week off from work, asked my ex wife to take care of the boys that week, and asked my uncle to drive me to and from the hospital. (a requirement with anesthesia) That was about all the preparation I did. I was about to learn a lot!
  Surgery went fine. I awoke in recovery with a serving of Jell-o in front of me. (“Jelly,” to my British friends) The nurse said that I had to finish it before I could check out. I swallowed it with great relish. It was divine! I called my uncle and we were out of there. I felt ok. I told him thanks and not to worry. I’d be fine. I believed this. Aside from a couple visits, I spent the next ten days alone in misery. The pain set in after about 24 hours. Sleeping became my worst enemy. I’d wake up with my mouth dried out and my throat on fire. Oh my God. I was not prepared for this! I ran out of Popsicle’s on day three. I ran out of pain medicine on day five. The pain peaked on day seven. I broke down and cried in front of my brother on day eight- a combination of pain, drug induced depression, and sleep deprivation. Since then, I’ve read thousands of similar accounts on the tonsillectomy forum I created. It didn’t have to be so hard. If I’d known what I do now, I could have done so much to make my tonsillectomy recovery better. I hope to reach as many people as I can to help guide them through the tunnel. It has been my passion and taught me more about compassion and the amazing strength of the human spirit than any other life experience. When you shine a light for others, you also light your own path. In the pages at follow, I’ll share with you what I learned from my tonsillectomy experience and years of coaching others through tonsillectomy and recovery. More about tonsillectomy…read more

 Together we are stronger. Please share your questions, advice, fears, and concerns in the comment section below.

Did I start a new country band? Yes, yes I did.  Are we called Big Liquor?  Yes, yes we are.  Have a look see:

La Crosse area live country music rock band

Big Liquor Outlaw Country Band

220 comments on “Tonsillectomy Recovery – Here’s What to Expect
  1. Ernie says:

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  2. Angel says:

    Not sure if anyone on here can help me with this one…

    What does a doctor do when they DIDNT GET ALL THE TONSIL TISSUE IN THE FIRST PLACE?!

    I had my tonsils removed on October 8. This forum helped get me through the worst pain of my life!

    Before I was fully recovered, I ended up with bronchitis. As I have finally gotten through the last of that, something keeps tickling my throat and causing me to cough. I knew there was a residual “flap” on the right side where my worst swollen, tonsil stone filled tonsil had been. I even went back to the doc with this when I got diagnosed with bronchitis. She said she had to cut the tissue off somewhere and that’s the result. I thought it was just inflamed from all my hacking.

    Fast forward to tonight. I feel something back there. I’m coughing and have some sinus goo going on. I’m used to that part. I finally look back there with a flash light (something I thought I wouldn’t ever have to do again) and if I flatten my tongue, I can see it- A TONSIL STONE PEEKING OUT OF A LITTLE TINY POCKET! That nub, as I call it, sticks out and annoys me worse than my tonsil did! If she could get the left side clear and smooth, why not the right side?! I have such a bad gag reflex and I have literally been coughing since October 27. SO UPSET RIGHT NOW!!!!

    Has anyone ever heard of a doc that didn’t get all the tissue in the first place and admitting it so I don’t gave to foot the bill again?! I’m a teacher and I’ve already missed almost a month of work this year for this once. But I can’t stand this feeling and I can’t keep coughing and clearing my throat!

    I’ve heard of tissue growing back and having it done again, but never this!

  3. Chuck says:

    Kristen is providing sound advice. Drink ice water and I mean as cold as it gets before it become solid. As for pill, I used a pill grinder and mixed the ground pills in with two teaspoons of yogurt because that is all the food my throat could handle. Yogurt will prevent a Thrust infection so it is good to eat some. Other foods I had were applesauce, eggs mashed up and…..basically anything soft. I didn’t attempt to eat in any whole grains until my scabs fell off and that started around day 8 till day 12. You have to be careful because if too much of the scab comes off too soon you’ll end up back in there Emergency Room to have the Doc’s stop the bleeding and be start like day one again. IMHO, it’s much better eat soft foods, and hydrate as much as you can tolerate, that will help. After seeing my Doc on a follow up appointment he said he knew how hard it is to swallow; however, because I was drinking a gallon of ice water a day it helped the healing process. Popsicle are fantastic and will help your throat feel better especially during days 5 to 10. Keep an ice collar on when every you can.

  4. Kirsten says:

    Well first things first. Eating solid foods like a sandwhich post op and your early in your recovery your causing yourself problems.
    You should be on a liquid diet or at the very most soft foods like pudding pablum meal replacments or other things like that. You need to be nice to your throat not punish it. Pick up popsicles that you can fit in your mouth and keep topped up on your pain. Place an ice pack on the outside of your neck as well to help reduce any swelling.

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