Tonsillectomy Recovery as Adult and Child 2019

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.

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1,302 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy Recovery as Adult and Child 2019

  1. I just want to say thank you Greg – reading and re-reading this website got me through my recovery. I’m so glad I was prepared for the pain to get worse before it got better – although I wasn’t quite prepared for how acute this was going to be, at least I knew it was coming.

    My tonsil stones have gone, my jackhammer snoring has (mostly) gone. I’m so happy I did it.

    1. Rachel! Thank you. I’m so glad the site helped you and that you’re doing well. Please stay in touch!

  2. Hello all! I am having a group of ENT surgeries done on July 9th (12 days, eek!) I have yet to find anyone who is having this group of procedure done, and am wondering if any wonderful people out there could help me out on what to expect!

    I started by asking my surgeon to remove my tonsils, as I have a lot of deep crevices and large tonsil stones that are very gross, very painful, and a daily problem. We then started talking about my multiple sinus infections (sinus drainage is causing the tonsil stones) and my inability to sleep due to congestion. All in all I am having my tonsils and adenoids removed, my lower turbinates removed, my deviated septum repaired, and my nostrils widened/reinforced with more cartilage to stop them from collapsing.

    I have been told I will be in bed unable to raise my blood pressure at all for the first two weeks, on a liquid diet. I know I will probably have to deal with nasal splits and packings as well as the mustache bandage. I know I will probably need someone to do most everything for me for a while and that I need to stay away from anything that can cause me to cough/sneeze.

    I’m just freaking out. It’s a lot for one go and I’m looking for any personal accounts of how long it will take before I want to swallow a bullet. Any stories or words of encouragement are appreciated 🙃

    1. Had my surgery June 22, this is July 4th. Do not skip your pain meds. Stay on top of it. Don’t freak if you cough and start bleeding. Try to remain calm, get to a sink and have bottomless ice water immediately to gargle with, the bleeding should stop in about 15 mins. If not call your Dr and his/her instructions. Liquid diet only! No matter how tempted or hungry you get. Be patient. Stay hydrated! Use a straw, seems to make sipping easy, less painful. I’m still recovering but I had just had an abcessed tonsil drained 3 days prior to surgery so that doesn’t speed recovery process.

    2. I am on day 5 post OP tonsillectomy adenoidectomy, septoplasty, turbinate reduction and some bilateral sinus cavity work. I have splints in but no packing. It to say the least has been a painful and rough road but not impossible. My wife said I was really grumpy today but that is because I’m tired and bored. It is hard to sleep with the splints in. I would suggest getting a saline rinse bottle and religiously washing the splints out (it is mind numbing how often you do this). I have gone through 3 gallons of distilled water. Also I found that wetting a tissue and packing in the nose cavity helps at night when you sleep. It sucks because you cant breathe out of your nose, but let’s face it you aren’t going to breathe out of it anyway. I eat sonic ice, pedialyte pops and pedialyte for hydration and I have been on a cream of chicken, cheddar broccoli and egg drop soup diet since day one. I have been able to get up and around each day taking care of my 7 month old daughter and my wife usually goes to the store when I need something. I was terrified of this surgery too but I was definitely preparing myself for the worst. There are some really bad times but also when the meds kick in, you get a sigh of relief. I found that taking 10ML of the liquid hydrocodone every 2 hours worked the best. You will not hold out for 4-6. I verified with my dr and he said it was ok as long as you dont exceed 3000 Mg acetaminophen per day. Take your meds on time and ask for more if you run out. Better to have too much than too little. Dont freak out! You will be just fine.

      1. Thank you for post. I have an upcoming surgery and the thought of it brings on anxiety. Every time I read you’ll be fine; it’s calming. I hope all is well and that you’re having a great recovery.

  3. I also had mine out Monday and my scabs are just starting to lift up… what stage are you in because I feel as though my recovery has taken forever

  4. Recovery day 6.
    I was sitting in bed and I coughed and instant blood everywhere!! I hemorrhaged!! So very scary!! They pumped 500 cc of blood from my stomach and back into the OR for 2 hours while the repaired the bleed and put multiple stitches in.
    Scared me to death. Has this happened to anyone else???

    1. That happened to my son while in recovery. So scary. He’s now on day 6 of recovery and it’s been hell. Hope you’re feeling better.

  5. I just had mine removed on Monday so 5 days ago and I have yet to feel any pain what so ever. Is this normal?

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