Catrina’s Tonsillectomy and Recovery

My journey began September 2017, I had my first ever bout of Step throat aged 34.
What I didn’t know at the time was by June 2018, I’d of had it another 5 times. Needless to say this prompted my GP to refer me to ENT for assessment for tonsillectomy. 
But September 2018 my appointment came through and I was told that if an adult had strep throat/tonsillitis 5-7 times in a year they qualify for surgery.
My tonsils were also scarred and enlarged and they needed to go.
Also having so much time off work wasn’t ideal so I agreed to get the operation. 
The hospital were brilliant and my surgery date was October 25th 2018, which is amazing for the NHS! I did however contract strep throat another time whilst waiting. It was however the last time I’d ever have to shovel down antibiotics, take time off and get thrush! Yes thrush, a secondary complication of constantly antibiotic use! I was sick of it. 
What I didn’t realise and quickly came to learn was that an adult tonsillectomy (I was 35 by now) is supposed to be one of the most painful procedures an adult can have.
I kind of brushed this off and thought ‘it can’t be any worse than tonsillitis’
It’s is.
I am now 5 days post op and I have a few things I would like to share to make someone’s life a little easier than mine has been the last few days. I will use the pain scale 1-10 
1 being pain free and 10 being horrendous.
Day one: the operation! Take comfy clothes and slippers as you will be sleepy and have to hang around the unit for a few hours. The op itself it fine, the usual hospital gown, cannula and count back from 10 situation. You wake up and apart from a little sorness, around a 3. You feel mainly knackered. They pump you full of fluids and diclofenic which is an anti- inflammatory and pain killer. You are also high AF from drugs given under general Anesthesia. The only tip I can give is eat and drink while you can. Also do not let them palm you off with paracetamol and Ibprofen. It won’t come close to killing your pain. I asked for codine which was better but as you will hear on day 5 I added naproxen to this instead of ibprofen and this is a winning combo. Ask for: naproxen 500mg twice a day and 1g paracetamol with 60mg codine 4 times a day. This is the best way to manage the pain when it reaches its horrible peak! If you can get this on day one your life will be so much better. I also had low blood pressure and was very dizzy so needed my partner to help me up and down stairs.
Day 2- pains around a 5/6 it hurt and food was now becoming difficult but I was able to drink to my hearts content and the codine was making me sleep so it wasn’t too bad. It hurts to brush your teeth and to take your tablets – around a 7. But I used Ice packs on my neck and took my meds on time. I noticed they wore off before they were due. But remember I wasn’t on naproxen yet I was taking 400mg ibuprofen 4x per day with the codine and paracetamol and it wasn’t quite holding me. Over all this day was ok but worse than day one! 
Day 3,4 and 5: i woke up on day 3 and cried, the pain was a soild 10, it was also in my ears, head, jaw as well as the throat, the meds’ didn’t touch the pain even though I kept to schedule and took everything on time to the minute. Drinking became agonising, but if you don’t drink you dry out and this hurts an 11/10 so you force the drink down and cry some more.
I slept on and off and managed to eat baby porridge for 7 month old babies. Because if you don’t eat the meds will make you vomit. It’s a terrible cycle of pain. The only thing that got me through was thinking day 4 would be better.
Day 4 was worse. The pain was just not controlled at all and swallowing tablets was like swallowing glass. I cried again and slept on and off too. To add insult to injury I developed stomach cramps as I hadn’t been to the toilet side effect from meds so *top tip* stock up on Macrogol sachets! You can get them over the counter you drink them mixed with water and they will keep you regular. I didn’t do this and I was bloated and nauseous which made eating even harder.
By day 5 I rang my GP and told her I couldn’t do another day like this so she told me to take Naproxen instead, a stronger and longer lasting anti inflammatory med. I would only have to take this twice a day and stick with my usual codine and paracetamol every 4-6 hours. She also gave me the afore mentioned Macrogol sachets and sent me on my way.
I took the naproxen immediately and within an hour I could feel a difference. I drank my Macrogol and slept a wonderful sleep as I was exhausted from the pain of the last few days.
Day 6- (today) I’m a new woman. Pain is back to a 3/4 and it still burns a bird when I swallow, but I can eat and drink fine. My meds are holding me right up until they are due, the pain probably gets to a 4 as they are due. It’s a 3 the rest of the time. I was able to go for a walk and I had a poo! Not whilst out walking obviously ! The fact I have to swallow tablets less times is amazing and because I can actually eat, the nausea has gone. 
Today I have felt like I have just had normal tonsillitis nothing worse. 
Whilst I know I will be challenged once the scabs all fall off and my throat is raw, I also know I have the right meds to deal with it. 
Be assertive about your recovery plan. It’s your body and you cannot function if your at level 10 in pain.
I plan to wean my self off the codine over the next week and eventually just have my naproxen and some paracetamol if needed. I will update how this goes!
Here’s a shopping list of must have buys:
Baby food, it’s nutrious and easy to eat. Your taste buds will not notice as they won’t be working.
Ice- truck loads of it. Pint glass of water half filled with ice and a straw by your side constantly 
Herbal tea- drink it warm not hot! Very soothing.
Ice packs- slap on jaw, neck and head.
Don’t bother with ice cream it caused me to have loads of mucus and I felt like I was drowning because coughing feeling like getting your throat slit and blowing your nose is impossible ! I also couldn’t sneeze which was weird. Still can’t in fact.
Don’t eat spices or drink any acidic fruit juices it hurts like a bitch.
Rice pudding with strawberry jam and served warm- really filling and you can actually taste it a bit.
Ramen noodles are fine
And chicken and sweet corn soup from a Chinise takeaway is amazing !
I also bought face masks and magazines to distract myself and feel better. 
Hot baths are relaxing especially if you place an ice pack on your neck whilst you lie in the bath.
That’s it really. You’ll need someone to look after you the first couple of days as you’ll be be super sleepy. But when you can have a little walk around house and outdoors when your ready, it makes you feel more human.
Hope that helps 🙂


  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. I am 7 days post op and today proved to be more difficult than the day after surgery. I’m relieved and optimistic after reading this story so thanks again.

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