I had my tonsillectomy on May 18, 2018 and am now on recovery day 9. Overall I think I have had a pretty typical experience, which I will outline below. I feel like there are many horror stories on this site and the web and want to add my fairly average experience (not to say this has been a walk in the park, though…) Overall comments: – Ice pops are your best friend –– load up on these. I even bought some cold brew pops for the morning. Sorbet is also pretty great. – For the first week or so, the best things for me to eat were: yogurt, cottage cheese, scrambled eggs, smoothies (good way to get some veggies), mac & cheese, buttered orzo, oatmeal, mashed potatoes. – Stay hydrated! I drank a ton of Gatorade for the first few days (watered down) but felt like it was going to rot my teeth out. I would probably get the G2 sugar free kind next time. Eventually, I switched to just ice water.
I am almost constantly sipping water. As soon as the back of my throat feels dry, the pain increases, and it can increase your chance of bleeding. Drink, drink, drink. Day by day: Day 1 was one of the easier days. I am not sure if it was the adrenaline, the effects of the anesthesia, the start of the hydrocodone or a combination, but I really had no issues and slept well. I stuck to super soft foods, like pudding, sorbet, ice pops, broth. Day 2 was the first time I really got severely nauseous from the pain meds. I did not end up vomiting, but I learned that I needed to pad my stomach before taking a dose. This was a bit of a catch-22 since it was hard to eat before the pain meds, so my routine was to eat something super soft, like a small yogurt or pudding, about ten minutes before my next dose. About 30 minutes I would then eat a bit more. Day 3 was pretty smooth. I did notice I was constipated from the pain meds, which I was not warned about (!).
I got some Phillips Milk of Magnesia, which solved that problem. Day 4 started okay but I was running low on pain medication. My doctor only gave me 2 1/2 days worth (six 30ml doses max per day), but I was not taking all six doses per day, so I had enough to get me into day 5. I called my ENT and asked for a refill, which he called in. My insurance refused to cover this until day 6… for some reason, they insisted my original prescription should have lasted 5 days. Day 5 was the worst day of my recovery (so far). For one, I was out of pain medication and my tonsil beds were very swollen. One thing I did not expect was the ear pain. It was terrible. I spent most of the day lying down and napping as much as I could. I drank broth and smoothies for my meals. In the middle of the night, I woke up in a cold sweat and was a bit shaky. I was definitely physically dependent on the hydrocodone and was shocked at how quickly that dependency took hold. The next morning I felt depressed and anxious –– be careful with opiates! I wish my doctor would have warned me about this so I could be better prepared. Day 6 I went to the pharmacy and got my refill of hydrocodone.
I then prepared a weaning schedule over the next five days so I would not get physically dependent again. To start, I allowed myself to only have three 30ml doses, which I planned around meals and bedtime. Day 7 was the first day my scabs started to slough off. This was an extremely weird feeling. I would wake up in middle of the night and have to get up an spit the scabs out. If anyone has had post-nasal drip, it sort of feels like that. You have to gently hack it up and spit it out, which was super relieving at first, but sometimes hurts after when the area becomes raw. Day 8 was pretty okay. I woke up a few times throughout the night to spit out scabs and rinse my mouth out. I felt really off most of the morning, but eventually bounced back. I tried to eat some soft meatballs for dinner, which was a bad idea. Even chewing plenty, it really irritated my throat. I had my first bleeding scare. I hacked up some scabs and with it was some bright red blood.
When I looked at my tonsils, the left one had some streaking, so I gargled with ice water for about 15 minutes and it stopped. Definitely scary. Day 9 (today) has been the best day so far. I had a bleed scare at about 4am, but again, just gargled and sipped ice water until it stopped. The swelling in the tonsil beds has gone down significantly and I can start to see the scabs receding slightly. When this happens, the exposed area is super raw though, so eating has been very unpleasant today. Even orzo and mashed potatoes have been rough. I do have a lot more energy and went for a walk today. I even broke out a beer-making kit I got for Christmas and did that to keep my mind occupied. Getting a bit sick of all the TV. Finger crossed the next week goes over well! I will check back at the end of my recovery to recap days 10-beyond. I hope this has been useful! This website has been fantastic and I wish I had discovered it before I got the surgery!