Julia’s Tonsillectomy Journal

I am 27 years old and I had my tonsils and adenoids removed on February 14th. I am on Day 11 and I am pretty much back to normal- only a bit of throat pain (think first days of strep infection). I can eat anything now, even spicy foods but I still have not regained 100% of my taste back so foods are not as pleasing.
If you are considering a tonsillectomy to improve your health- DO IT. Recovery is different for everyone. It can be hellish but it WILL get better. Though, if you had asked me a couple of days ago, I would have said something along the lines of, “DON” FUCKING DO IT, IT’S NOT WORTH IT!” Man, it sure is a ride, a fucking nightmare of a ride, but it is manageable and it does get better.

Here is my story:

Surgery day:  I had been reading tons of tonsillectomy horror stories weeks before my surgery. People say not to do that, but honestly, it prepped me and gave me some good tips. Anyway, my surgeon and anesthesiologist walked me through what they were going to do and then i got my flush of med that made me sleep/relax ASAP. I closed my eyes, a second passed and surgery was done. I woke up with zero pain just a bit of discomfort. I drank some water and the pain went up a bit so the nurse gave me some pain meds and some crackers (I think most foods are okay to eat as long as you chew them and moisten them to mush before you swallow). I think I went back to sleep and then I woke up again, drank more water and was ready to go home. I was feeling pretty normal. I went with my mom and finished shopping for some things I needed. I talked a lot and walked a lot- BIG MISTAKE. I got super nauseous and tired. So we picked up my meds and went home. I got liquid Hydrocodone with Acetaminophen (Vicodin) for pain- could take this every 4-6 hours, Ondansetron (Zofran) for nausea-could take this every 8 hours, and Magic mouthwash to numb throat. About 3 ½ hours after leaving the hospital I started feeling pain. Right on schedule I took my next dose of pain med. I was feeling ok- just feeling a bit of throat pain. I chewed some gum and that seemed to help. At night, I was having so much pain and nothing seemed to ease the pain. The mouthwash did nothing and the pain med only seemed to numb it for a bit. Swallowing was HELL but I kept drinking and pushing as much water as I could. I ate tons of popsicles, pebble ice, sherbet, jello.

Day 1 Post-op
= Pain started worsening. The hydrocodone would only dull the pain like an hour and 30 mins before the bad pain would start up again. I had really bad ear pain, hurt like hell to swallow and my whole body was aching (as if I had done an extreme full body workout). I had TONS of mucus and post nasal drip. I realized that sweet things made this worse and tasted so nasty so I opted for just ice, frozen jello and warm ish chicken broth. Warm felt much better than cold to me. I also tried applesauce and it hurt and tasted nasty to me. I also ate some warm mac n cheese. I woke up at night chocking on my mucus several times. Also, I was told I was snoring really loud. I was taking my pain meds every 2 hours and would use a warm compress around my neck, which helped. I also had a humidifier on 24/7.

Day 2:
More severe pain in the middle of the night. Had to put my alarms to every 2 hours to make sure that I would not miss a dose. I was told not to take any Ibuprofen because it increases your risk of bleeding. So, I was just taking my hydrocodone. It wouldn’t get rid of the pain, just dull it enough, make me sleepy and I’d get an hour or 30 mins of sleep. Pain was TERRIBLE. Ear ache, throat pain, neck pain, nausea, and feverish. Drank chicken broth, water and crackers with pain meds. About the only thing I could stomach was either jello or saltine crackers.

Day 3:
My dumbass overslept and missed a dose! HUGE MISTAKE! Woke up with SEVERE pain. Took my dose and it felt like it took forever to control my pain. I was so sick and tired of my pain med. It tasted so gross, felt like it burned my stomach and made me so nauseous. I was tired, sleepy, nauseous, and my pain was a 10 for the first time. Still pushed liquids, chicken broth, saltines and I also took a hot, steaming shower which made me feel so much better (mentally and physically).

Day4
Called my dr’s office and spoke to a nurse to switch to a different pain med because the hydro was not enough for my pain ( I felt little to no relief and the liquid was just making me so nauseous even though I was taking nausea med). She told me I could take the ibuprofen since it had been enough days and the risk of bleeding had decreased. So I started taking it and it actually helped me more than the hydro! Not surprised since it is an anti-inflammatory med. So I was taking the hydro and then two hours later the ibuprofen. Still eating meds with crackers and tons of water. I also had some vanilla wafers, spaghetti and ramen noodles but couldn’t eat too much since food tasting so fucking nasty, especially sweets!

Day 5: This was the start of my HELL. Woke up with severe pain, even though I was taking my meds religiously. I was also so nauseous. I sucked on a lime to help that. Also, saltines helped curve my nausea better than nausea meds. The clinic had switched me to pills instead of the liquid since it was making me nauseous but they prescribed a lower dose. (My liquid hydro was 7.5 and the pill was 5). The pill did nothing for me. The liquid would at least dull it enough for me to get some sleep or get distracted with other things. Also, the liquid worked faster for me. It took me almost an hour, but I ate a ham sandwich- only a slice of ham and some mayo. Pain was a 10 this day. It was just a terribly painful day with little to no relief.

Day 6: Another painful 10 day. I had to switch back to the nasty liquid hydro because the pills were not really working for me. Had terrible nausea and the scabs had started drying and I could feel them back there. Also, the taste in my mouth and the smell were absolutely DISGUSTING! Nothing tasted like it should and there was an absolutely god awful stench and taste to everything that went into my mouth. I was starving but the taste were enough to make me nauseous enough not to eat. Scabs started to fall off.

Day 7: I could no longer tolerate ice because it hurt too much and water tasted so nasty. So I was using the crystal light packets and it helped. Gatorade burned too much. I had grown accustomed to the pain but the nasty smell and taste made me so frustrated and sad. I was just mentally wasted. I tried to sleep and then noticed a ton of of what I thought was mucus sliding down my throat. Then it tasted metallic and then I realized it was blood. I rushed to sink and gargled iced water for about an hour- it hurt like hell. That stopped the bleeding. But the pain was so bad, I could no longer swallow so I had to get a spit cup. Later in the night, I started bleeding again. This time it was gushing out and I swallowed and vomited so much blood. I tried gargling but it didn’t stop. I went to the ER and it had stopped by the time I got there. They still put some chemical stuff on there to stop the bleeding. This was probably the worst day for me. It was scary, painful and so draining. The feeling of blood gushing like that and being forced to swallow and then vomiting it is just fucking scary and nauseating. I felt like crying, breaking down and I was just so done and tired. I felt so defeated!

Day 8: Painful and feeling so down and spiritless. This shit takes a toll on you physically and mentally. I had to stop taking Ibuprofen because of the bleeding and was back to just hydro every 2 hours. By night though, pain had improved dramatically! I decided to stop the hydro and stick to just acetaminophen. I went to the store and shopped for a bit. Felt tired but better, pooped for the first time this day during my recovery time. I was taking stool softeners every day because pain meds make you constipated. I went to the store and shopped around for a bit. Taste had improved a bit.

Day 9: Was feeling so much better. Was only taking acetaminophen twice a day. Pain was still there but only felt like a mild strep infection. I started eating a bit more food and doing more around the house.
Day 10: Same as day 9.

TIPS:
-Sleep propped up (but a neck pillow, if you can)
-Stool softener (Dulcolax): take it while you are taking your pain meds. If you don’t poop in a week, try some prunes. Those did the job for me but don’t panic. As long as you are still passing gas, everything in your tummy is probably still working fine.
– Use a humidifier or take hot steaming baths twice a day. Even if you are using one, take a nice, hot shower every day or every other day. It helps more than you think. It made me feel clean and so much better.
-Put alarms for every two hours to take your pain meds. Skipping a dose will hurt like hell.
-Set aside a date and time during days 5-9 to have a crying meltdown fest!!!
-Keep a notepad/journal and write/vent everyday. It helps to relieve a lot of negative and sad feelings.
-Chew gum- this helps produce more saliva, and helps the jaw muscles not get clenched during the awful painful times.
-have some one to help you and get a dry erase board or something to communicate
– find good distractions- games on tablet/phone, good movies, etc
-communicate with your dr if your pain meds are not enough
-have some lip balm
Most importantly: DRINK PLENTY OF LIQUIDS, walk around the house when you can, eat when you can, stay on top of your pain med schedule and just try different things. Listen to your body.
For me what worked was: jello, low sodium chicken broth, lukewarm chamomile tea, saltines 24/7, and some ramen noodles at times. I really craved a nice, warm coffee but was too scared to try it.

Good luck to you and know that you are not alone and that IT GETS BETTER!

Your Thoughts?