MY COBLATION TONSILLECTOMY STORY AT AGE 24
Hello everyone, going through the same thing as me… I was quite late in posting my experience but I wanted to heal completely first. You know I wanted to qualify first to give advice. .LOL Today is the 25th post op day and I’m fine like a racehorse 🙂 (Well, except few minor issues). To begin with, I’m a 24 year old female, medical student and had first bout of acute tonsillitis in autumn of 2013 when I was 21 years old. Then I had about 4 cases of sore throat in 2015 and maybe 2 or 3 in 2016. I was delaying the surgery due to tight schedule with college and exams but I knew I had to finally put my weapon down. So in May 2017 I decided to go through surgery and met my ENT doc. I got my tonsils removed on morning of 8 June 2017 via Endoscopic powered Coblation Tonsillectomy. I had grade III tonsillar hypertrophy and chronic tonsillitis. I went there with empty stomach, no food no water. To be honest I was dying to be on operation table because it was around 35 degree Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and I was very thirsty. So after finishing some paperwork I went to operation theater and got under anesthesia. I wasn’t scared at all and I didn’t feel any anxiety because I didn’t consider it any big deal. After first 2 breaths I was feeling drowsy and I don’t remember what my anesthetist was telling me. I lost consciousness after two more breaths. Then I remember being asked by doctors to open my eyes. I was wondering if everything was over or did I just wake up in the middle of surgery. I don’t recall everything clearly but
I have a vague memory of being shifted from OT to recovery room. And I uttered only 4 words “pain pain” and “nausea nausea”. I was given an injection for pain while nausea subsided on its own. After that it took me around one and half hour to become fully alert. I was feeling rawness in my throat and pain on swallowing saliva. And i recalled lyrics of my favorite songs to check if i was fully oriented, LOL. I was tired of being in bed for so long. I was feeling thirsty so I asked my mom for water and I was so so wrong on assuming that I could gulp it down like before. At first attempt I felt like drowning with that sip. So then I took very small sips. Then it hit me, that I had to relearn whole swallowing thing again. Afterwards, I ate 3 scoops of ice cream which seemed to soothe my raw throat and then I was discharged from hospital in the evening. On reaching home I ate ice cream again because I had to take medicines. I was given an antibiotic tablet (cefuroxime and linezolid) and it was 1.1g and I had to take half dose of it thrice in day.. Damn it was so big and had such a bad taste that I couldn’t even crush it. For pain I was given aceclofenac plus paracetamol to be taken twice a day for first 4 days. And I was given one multivit and one tablet of enzymes plus one lozenge. I was also advised to gargle with povidone iodine solution thrice a day. I did not experience any incidence of nausea or vomiting due to anaesthesia. Nor did I feel very tired after surgery. First night was kind of okay with manageable pain with painkillers and I slept on my left lateral side with 2 pillows under my head. Here’s my post op account day by day… Day 1 I woke up with dry throat and pain. My tongue was totally swollen. It was very hard to brush my teeth due to difficulty in opening mouth. I was on total voice rest for the whole next week. It was hard to swallow even saliva. I ate only ice cream on day 1 that too before taking meds. Never take meds on empty stomach. Never. Day 2 I woke up like day 1 with pain on swallowing.
I ate custard and ice cream 3 times. Pain was increasing gradually. Tongue was still swollen and it was hard to brush. I had a tough time gargling so i gargled only once a day. Day 3 And the nightmare begins. In morning I woke up with pain in my throat and ears. I ate same as on day 2. Although I tried to eat mashed boiled potatoes but it tasted so bad that I made a resolution never to eat them again in future. Pain worsened gradually by night and I had tough time taking meds. Tried to eat pasta but couldn’t. Everything had started tasting very bad like a weird metallic taste.
Day 4 I woke up with excruciating pain in whole of throat and ears. I couldn’t sleep for more than 6 hours at night due to pain. It was very difficult to take meds. It took me around 15 mins to eat a very small bowl of custard. I visited my ent doc on the evening. He examined my throat and made me view my whole throat on the screen. There was thick white deposit all over in the back of my throat. He said that this will remain for a week and then will lessen on its own. My painkiller dose was halved and antibiotic dose remained the same. Pain was bearable till 7 pm. But my pain became unbearable as the night arrived. Painkiller stopped working and I went to bed in excruciating pain. It was a disgusting experience. Day 5 I label this day as the worst day of my life. When I woke up I felt like I had ingested live yellow wasps (similar as yellow jackets) and they are now avenging the death of all those wasps that i had to kill in my whole lifetime to save myself from being bitten. The pain was equivalent to sting of 15 yellow wasps in whole throat and ears and the intensity of pain kept on increasing as the day passed by. I had the worst ear ache of my life. Pain was more in left ear. It didn’t lessen even by a single degree the whole day. Although i have high pain threshold, on pain scale it was about 8.5/10. Never felt so much pain in my whole life. Ate very less custard.. few spoons that too before taking meds. And taking meds was very difficult. It was impossible to swallow and i couldn’t gargle too. Following my daily pain pattern, pain worsened in the evening when I tried to eat lukewarm pulse soup so that i could take meds. Pain became 9/10 and I couldn’t ingest more than 2 spoons.
I was dying of hunger but i couldn’t eat or drink anything. I lay in bed frustrated and tried to cry for a minute to ease off pain. But it was like hitting nail on my foot. Crying clenched throat muscles and worsened the pain. Painkiller felt like a placebo. It didn’t work at all. I had made a plan to not take midday naps so that in night when I hit the bed; sleep overpowers the pain. Pain worsened in night and was totally frustrated with myself that why the hell did I went for this surgery. At night I used to sleep beside my mum as i felt less pain when I was with her (totally psychological effect). I was wondering why my nerves don’t tire after transmitting constant pain signals for 3 days.
I kept on playing John Mayer’s “Heart of life” in my head to stay positive. Day 6 Surprisingly pain had decreased when I woke up. I was also able to open my mouth to a great degree than before. Pain decreased as the day progressed and I was able to eat some good food. And I also drank half a cup of lukewarm milk with two biscuits. I was happy that I ate at least half of meal after 7 days. My mood was uplifted and I was feeling good. I didn’t feel any pain at rest the whole day and little pain on swallowing. I made the most of this day and drank many glasses of water to quench my week long thirst. But this day was an illusion. The worst was yet to come.
Pain returned at night. Day 7 Similar to day 5. Only the pain pattern had changed. Drinking water felt like I was ingesting sharp shards of broken glass and they seemed to tear off my throat. This was the day I ate and drank very less. For whole day I couldn’t drink more than 3 glasses of water. And I was back to eating ice cream. I felt very bad on this day. I was misled by the pain free period on day 6. Scabs were falling off and taking meds was a nightmare. I can’t even explain how I managed to ingest those tablets. I hated especially that antibiotic which I had to halve in order to take it. Its raw edges were cherry on top of cake for the pain. The intensity of pain made me wish that it would’ve been much better if I had died on the operation table under anesthesia so that I didn’t have to go through all this. I still get goose bumps on thinking about this day. I was so much hungry and dehydrated but I was helpless. Painkillers were like total joke. I was apprehensive that I might have to be taken to hospital to give I.V. fluids because I wasn’t drinking anything. As always night was worse. I used to hit bed when I was drunk in sleep and I could sleep for at least 5 hours. The only good thing that happened this day was that Coldplay released a new song and I found it much better than their last two albums and it made me feel better for some time.
Day 8 Pain was less than previous day but still it was unbearable. I was losing all hope. I was feeling that I’ll never get better. Sharp pain was still there. I was able to eat custard. I had grown sick of eating ice cream all week long. Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t get any phlegm due to milk present in ice cream and custard. My pain always had a diurnal pattern except on day 4, 5 and 7. It was like a vampire which was scared of sun. It decreased by the time sun came up and increased by the sunset. It reached peak at midnight. So I used to sleep before midnight and wake up early. I never faced issues like extreme throat dryness in order to use any sort of humidifier. It’s because I live in India and it was pre monsoon season (pre rainy season). Humidity was already present in the air. But the temperature increased day my day increasing the discomfort. Summer is the worst season in India. I used to open calendar and mark the maximum days I could feel pain and discomfort . I had set the limit at 14 days. Day 9 Pain was still there. More so, while swallowing. It was the last dose of antibiotic which made me happy. I had to take 15 tablets of it after surgery. And I took it in halves. Each halve had sharp edges which tore my throat every time I took it. Imagine 30 such tearing. So bad. My painkillers were also about to end this day. But since I felt they had become a joke so I had no problem staying without them. On happy note: I had started speaking.
Day 10 Pain was still there but it was becoming bearable. And I switched to normal soft food. I had developed aversion to custard and ice cream by now. And I could drink water so it made me happy. I could speak although I didn’t speak for more than few minutes because it made my throat hurt. Day 11 Felt better than day 10. Pain was only at night and early morning. I told you that it was like a vampire. I had a white deposit on my whole tongue. Maybe it was oral thrush. Day 12 I visited ENT doc in the evening. He gave me multivit’s and lozenges for next days and for oral thrush I was given a mouth paint. The scabs were mostly gone and throat was pinkish. Day 13 on wards. I became better by each passing day. Although i still haven’t eaten any spicy food by day 25 and I don’t speak for more than 5 mins. And I still cannot taste my favorite cookies. I hope it’ll return in few days. I am feeling much better and my advice is that this surgery is really worth it. Miscellaneous I spent much of time by reading other people’s accounts on tonsillectomy on this website and I felt better on reading positive notes. I am really grateful to have stumbled across this website. I’m a big music buff but due to eat aches I couldn’t listen to any music to calm call my nerves. I didn’t experience any bleeding and there was no incident of any scab falling off and coming in my mouth. I was on total bland diet. The more early you introduce textured food the better but they should be bland. You can try to eat small pieces of soft white bread since day 3. No spices, no citrus or acidic food. Totally abstain from them otherwise they’ll burn. Get ready to eat a lot of ice cream. Eat or drink only cold stuff in 1st week. If you’re keen on having bland soup it should be lukewarm, not hot and should not contain tomato. Drink ice cold clear liquids. Plain water is best. You will need to rest for at least 10 days. So manage your schedule according to that. You wouldn’t be able to think about anything else other than pain so better watch something on laptop or TV to keep yourself busy or if you can manage to read a book what’s better than that!!!!! On a side note: you’ll probably lose weight. I already had thin built and didn’t possess any spare fat to lose, LOL.
I will regain most of lost weight gradually as I return to my normal diet. My personal advice: if you have to go through it, then heck; go through it. Sure you’ll become mad by the end of first week but it’s worth it if you have those big tonsils in your throat which become inflamed at the smallest trigger. Keep yourself busy in other thoughts so that you forget about pain for a while. It’s surely tough time ahead but it is bound to pass like every other obstacle in life. And keep your spirits high. And one more thing, you can’t go through all this without your mom; so call her as soon as possible 🙂 Wish you all a speedy recovery. All the best. With regards, Jay.