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

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1,288 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy Recovery as Adult and Child

  1. If you tonsils are that bad, I wouldn’t cancel the procedure. I am 34 yr old male and just had mine out last November. I was scared too and never had a surgery in my life either. I was very scared but this site helped me through this event. And I will tell you that I am happy so far that I did this. As long as you prepare yourself and stay hydrated, it should go fine. I’m not sure if I got a steroid shot or not, but I know I had fluids and antibiotics during surgery. Also, I wasn’t too bad after 2 weeks but I did end up taking 3 weeks off due to what I do. It may be the same for you and help you out better if you can take it. Do be too scared, I know that’s easy to say, but I was petrified and nervous. Surgery was easy, i didn’t have any complications as I prepared myself for it from this site. Later in December I did get an infection that meds healed up. That was it. Good luck to you and just wanted you to know that I know what you feel and I am happy I did go through with it.

    1. Allie, few more things for you. Yes it will be painful if you don’t take meds like your supposed too. I was prescribed hydro/liquid and it wasn’t doing the trick for me. My doc then gave me Percocet 10/325 which helped much better. Stay on top of your pain killer whatever it is and you should be okay to deal with the little pain that you do feel. Thanks and good luck.

      1. Thank you so much , I will do my best to stay encouraged, I’m going to get it out of the way! I’m on my way to church now and will ask God for a speedy recovery : )

    2. Thank you so much Gary : ) I think I’ll stick with it and maybe request more time off lol

  2. I am EXTERMELY close to cancelling my surgery after reading horror stories. My surgery is scheduled for Tuesday and I’ve never had surgery , I’m so afraid of the pain you guys. I’m a 26 year female with enlarged tonsils and have had strep and tonsillitis since the beginning of feb, and tonsil stones since I was a child. Should I demand a steroid for after surgery? and should I request more than 2 weeks off since I am a prek teacher and I have to repeat myself frequently.

  3. Spelled it wrong. It’s CLO-SYS Alcohol free oral health Rinse. A dentist has written a lot of recommendations in an earlier thread review it, read it and you’ll find a lot of good things that will reduce the pain and swelling.

    1. I had my tonsils out on the March 16th I knew ahead of time I was spending one night in the hospital and that’s been the easiest night I’ve had. I went home Tuesday feeling sore but the pain was tolerable. However Wed night I could barely breath mucus had got so thick I couldn’t get it out of my throat. I went to my ent the next morning and he told me I had an infection and had too be admitted back into the hospital. It was discussing like chunks of cottage cheese were coming out mixed with blood and mucus. Ended up in the hospital for two days getting iv antibiotics I had become dehydrated in just a the one day I was home. I got home this evening and I’m feeling better I even eat some eggs but now I’m experiencing the worst burning sensation around my teeth and my gums feels like there on fire can’t imagine it can get much worse.

  4. So is it normal to choke on saliva and phlegm? And also it’s it normal to have a very swollen uvula?

    1. I am starting Day 5 and have seen very little improvement. I was first taking lycet but could not tolerate and I threw up twice the first night. I have been taking norco since which helps a little. My tongue and uvula are still just as swollen, cant see back of my throat. My ENT said he gave me steroids during the surgery. He did not prescribe me antibiotics. How do you knowif you have an infection? Still cant eat soft foods, eating jello is still painful. I started to have some ear pain since yesterday. I wrap a damp frozen hand towel- after freezing it for 30 minutes- around my neck and jaw. , a few times a day. That feels like heaven! I still cant talk much and have dificulty sleeping with mouth open. Im really not sure i can stand another week of this!

  5. Using ice collared to keep the swelling down. Drink as much Smart water as you can. Take your medications on time
    Don’t miss or skip your medications because you get miserable,. If you like yogurt take a couple teaspoons every few hours it’ll prevent infection on the tongue. Renter mouth with CLOT-sys it kills bacteria and keep your mouth moist.

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