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 ran across this website when searching for more information about tonsillectomy, I had my surgery done last Friday (Nov 1st); I’m 30 years old and I was getting sick a lot then it became a pattern of getting sick EVERY 2 WEEKS, the doctors decided to get my tonsils out, now I’m in recovery but I’m very scared and in a lot of pain, today is my second day after surgery.

    I try to keep my self hydrated at all times with ice-cold water and some times I place an ice pack behind my head, I have some chest pain from time to time and the medication prescribed makes my stomach upset and I get very dizzy (hydrocodone acetaminophen 7.5 325) I’m not going to take it anymore since it’s not working for me, I will just use Tylenol for now because I’m also scared of using Advil due to blood thinning.

    what can you advise for me? thanks in advance!

  2. Thanks Greg, his youth isn’t on my side for the stroppy pain related anger! I’m hoping we start to see an improvement from tomorrow/Thursday

    1. Haha. Oh boy. 😉 well just remember that this is temporary. Hang in there!

  3. My son (14) had his tonsils out last Tuesday, I’m guessing as the pain is worse today that’s because the scabs are starting to come off. He’s doing really well though with his eating and drinking and sleeping (drug induced no doubt!). When did it all just get better for you?

    1. Hi Rebecca. Thanks for posting. Hope all is well with you and your son. For me days 7-8 were the worst. Things slowly improved from then on. His youth is in his favor. Hopefully your son will start feeling like himself very soon. Take care

  4. Hello, I had my tonsils taken out, last week, as they had grown back. I am 63 yo. I was told by my surgeon it would hurt. He wouldnt wish this surgery on his worst enemy.
    The liquid hydrocodien, was a dream, after about 5 days, it felt as though, it was sticking to my throat. I agree, with the last writer, It felt as tho it was on fire. Nothing would relieve the pain. I had to go back to the surgeon, I was told I had become dehydrated, that was making it harder to heal, hence harder to swallow, I was stuck in a cycle of pain. The IV helped immensely and I am drinking as much water as possible.
    Good luck

    1. Thanks for sharing Lori- what a ride, eh? Hope you’re feeling better!

  5. I am 35 years old going in to have my tonsils removed in two weeks extremely nervous about the pain that I might not be able to tolerate it. When does the pain Peak? What pain medication do they give in liquid form? Thanks in advance! I wish I had them removed when I was a child 🙁

    1. Hi Mary! For me the peak was day 7 or 8. I got my meds in liquid form. I’d recommend it! Good luck. Stay hydrated!!

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