Tonsillectomy Recovery as Adult and Child

Planning and Recovering From Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy

Let’s start with my own tonsillectomy recovery story. 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.

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.

“This is temporary. You WILL feel better. Hang in there and stay hydrated!” -Greg Tooke

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 recovery 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 tonsillectomy recovery is longer and more painful. He was right about that!

Deciding to get a Tonsillectomy

Tonsillectomy Recovery Tips
Recovery tips for tonsillectomy patients and families

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 tonsillectomy recovery 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. Streaming movies and television shows were my friends. 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 tonsillectomy recovery tips with you that I learned from my tonsillectomy experience and years of coaching others through tonsillectomy and recovery. More about tonsillectomy…read more

Scroll Down to Add Your Comments

1,281 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy Recovery as Adult and Child

  1. Is it okay that on the first day I am eating noodles? I’m not in that much pain, but I know that the worst will come. It seems like some of the noodles are getting stuck where the scab is trying to form…

  2. Last night was my day 11 and I woke up choking on blood. The on call doctor said I didn’t have to go in since it stopped and I live very close to a hospital Incase it does start again. All day I’ve just been thinking about how I think it’s going to start again. I’m terrified. If it starts and I have to go in for them to cauterize it then I have to go threw all this again.

    1. I’m 25F Surgery was on 11/30/17

  3. 33/f had the surgery 11/30/17…So I guess I’m on day 5 in recovery…I’ve had a few speedbumps of pain…I’m taking liquid hydrocodone and acetaminophen and also children’s Tylenol staggered every 6 hours. Day 1 and 2 weren’t terrible I tried to drink as much as possible. Mind you I had a lot of ice chips and vitamin water. Cold helps so far. I also tried eating very watery and cool cream of wheat …that wasn’t so bad. Day 3 and 4 I couldn’t really eat much, but I tried to stay as hydrated as possible. Now it is day 5 into 6 and my right side of my face is throbbing, it feels like I’ve bitten my tongue and it burns slightly. Ice packs helped a lot the other days but not so much right now…Almost time for another dose of medication…woohoo. That’s definitely something you want to keep track of even set alarms. I noticed the longer I went without medication especially while I slept the more it hurt. I was able to at least get some scrambled eggs down today!!! I had an extreme case of antibiotic resist strep and tonsillitis prior to surgery that put me in the hospital and also have a history of upper respiratory issues since I was a kid …so there will definitely be a light at the end of this bumpy road.

    Good luck and fast healing to all!!!

  4. I’m currently on day 7 and just been discharged from hospital as I had a major bleed last night and vomitted 4 bowls of blood. They talked of a second surgery but luckily this morning said if I could eat without bleeding I can go home. However they told me it is possible it will happen again, I’m petrified as I really don’t want a second surgery nor do I want to bleed like that again!

    1. Forgot to mention my background, female 20 years of age. Also I don’t mean to scare anyone I’m just looking for reassurance. Any one had any similar experiences?

      1. I don’t think I had it as bad as yours but last night I had a major bleed and spat out maybe a cup of blood before it stopped by eating a popsicle. I’m terrified as well, I’m on day 11 I thought it would be done by now.

  5. So I am currently on Day 6 of my recovery and it’s not actually that bad but what an eventful journey it has been! I am 17, I just can not wait for this to end. I know that in the long run I will benefit from having my tonsils removed as I was prone to get tonsillitis and once ended up in hospital with it, also when the surgeon took my tonsils out I was told that they were very infected so I think I made the right decision. I have read through all the comments and was really scared about what I was going to experience but touch wood I am not actually in that much pain with my throat it’s more with my ears but I have found a solution, I know you may think that it wouldn’t work but if you get olive oil and drop a few drops in your ear and then add a cotton ball you can not feel the pain anymore! I only wish I would of tried this earlier! Unfortunately I have been sick this morning but I think that was from being put on a stronger pain relief which I will stop taking and will continue to just take paracetamol and ibuprofen but thanks to putting the cotton balls in my ears i was not in that much pain when throwing up or eating/drinking either. You have just got to try and remain positive and think that it will all be worth it even though it doesn’t seem like it now. I was told to just eat normal as it will help my throat recover better so that is what I have been doing, especially fruit as it will help you recover better. If you drink ice cold water before you eat and when you are about to swallow it makes it more bearable. My Scabs have started to fall off abit on one side and I have spat a little bit of blood out but the important thing is to stay calm . I am hoping to stay out the night on my recovery day 10 so fingers crossed I will be fine! The only thing I can’t cope with is the horrible taste that’s in my mouth! Any suggestions on how to calm it down? I’ve been constantly brushing my teeth and chewing gum but that does not seem to be helping.

    1. Do you have thrush? I got thrush about 8-10 days into my recovery and it affected the way food tasted for me.

    2. I had my tonsils removed 2 days ago. They told me I had an abscess in the throat too (which was expected) but I’m more concerned about the yellow/white stuff I have where my tonsils would of been? I understand this is scar tissue and can be ‘good bacteria’ but there seems to be a lot of it and it’s spreading across my uvula, making it large and inflamed. I’m really worried about it becoming infected, are there any tell tale signs of infection or how people felt? I’m 18 years old and it was my first ever ‘major’ surgery so I apologise if I’m over reacting, I just want everything to run smoothly!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.