Emily’s Tonsillectomy Recovery Day by Day

tonsillectomy tips
Read about other people's experience with tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy

Hello everyone! I figured I would post some words of encouragement for others!
I am 21 years old and currently on day 8 of my recovery (this is including my surgery day, I was out of the hospital by 12 in the afternoon).

I was a little nervous going into the hospital, because this was my first surgery other than my wisdom teeth, and those don’t really count. Everyone at the hospital was WONDERFUL, so if you’re reading this before your surgery try not to worry because it is not as bad as your mind convinces you it will be! I barely remember my time in the hospital. All I remember is being checked in and getting my IV, sitting and chatting with my mother and my fiancé before they took me in. My doctor and anesthesiologist came in and talked to me. They finally wheeled me back into the OR, gave me some drugs to “relax” me and that is basically all I remember.

I woke up in a decent amount of pain, nothing terrible because I was so messed up from the drugs they gave me. I just remember feeling terribly nauseous. The other thing I remember, VERY CLEARLY, is my newfound inability to swallow. It was the most disturbing thing of waking up, honestly. I didn’t so much care at that point, because like I said, I was on some heavy drugs. I remember wondering if this is how my throat was going to feel forever. It felt like I had something just caught in there. It was also almost impossible to talk and very very uncomfortable to do so. My nurse brought me a Popsicle and ended up giving me some medicine for my nausea and then sprung me! They wheeled me out to the car and I took a nap on my fiancé while my mother drove us home.

Fast forward to being home, I get into bed and ended up throwing up due to the heavy medication I was on. After that I felt LOADS better. I drank some water and put an ice pack on my neck and drifted off. That’s all I remember from day 1, that and my wonderful fiancé bringing me lots of gifts to cheer me up.

Day 2, holy pain. I was definitely starting to feel it. Luckily, the medicine they gave me worked wonders and I wasn’t in too much pain unless I swallowed. I watched a TON of Full House on Hulu and actually finished all of the seasons during the first few days of my recovery.

Day 3, the pain was reaaaaally starting to set in. I at some jello and that felt wonderful. I tried to eat ice cream which ended up being a terrible mistake due to all of the nasty mucus in my throat. DO NOT EAT ICE CREAM OR PUDDING, it just adds to all of the mucus you already have and makes it impossible to swallow or sleep. The mucus at this point was probably the worst thing for me. It was so uncomfortable.
Day 4 was pretty similar to day 3, lots of Netflix and Hulu and more jello. I started to add different foods to my diet (kraft easy Mac, chicken ramen noodle broth, scrambled eggs.) I found those things the easiest to get down even though they hurt like hell. Everything I ate or drank hurt like hell, actually. Medicine was still a life saver!

Day 5 and 6 were basically the same, my pain was probably the worst these two days. It’s hard to tell when the pain was the worst because, for me, all of the days blurred together.

Day 7 and day 8 I felt a tad bit better. I’m not debilitated by the pain anymore, but it’s definitely still there. The worst part about the pain these days were that it was more of a stinging pain than an ache. I also had pretty severe ear pain these days which SUCKED. Every time I swallowed it felt like I was swallowing shards of glass. It was hard to even drink water. This was due to my scabs starting to come off. I figured out that hot things felt loads better on my throat than cold things did!
The most important things when you are going through this are:

1. To drink, and drink WATER.
2.Take your medicine exactly when you are supposed to because that’s the only thing that kept me sane. The medicine probably will make you constipated, as it did with me, but I plan I taking a laxative tonight to try to help my poor stomach out a bit.
3. Eat. Even if it hurts. EAT. It will help you heal faster.
4. Don’t talk! As much as you want to, don’t do it. It is a terrible idea. I am just starting to talk again on day 8 and it still hurts like a bitch and I still sound absolutely ridiculous.
5. Don’t worry about the scabs. If you’re like me, you worry about literally EVERYTHING. I was so scared about my scabs, about bleeding, etc. and honestly it’s not that bad. You will have a terrible taste in your mouth and smell in your nose, it’s just the scabs! And if you start to feel something caught down your throat on the later days, it’s your scabs starting to fall off so do not worry! I bled a tiny bit on the 5th day, because I yawned, but it went away after taking a sip of cold water.
6. After your 4th day, get out of bed and start moving! Take a walk around your house or the block. Get some fresh air, go for a drive! This will help you out a ton.
7. If you start getting depressed, try not to worry. I have been dealing with depression since day 5/6. I have read that this is completely normal and it WILL go away. Just try to hang in there!
8. DO NOT TAKE NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen. From what I have read from other people, it causes bleeding in a lot of them. My doctor told me absolutely no NSAIDS for 10 days after my surgery. Just take the pain meds you were prescribed!
9. SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP. If you have to, set an alarm to wake up every hour to take a sip of water otherwise your throat will dry out and it will hurt a ton, or it could even cause you to bleed. The key is to keep your throat wet at all times. I found that sleeping was the only time I felt any relief. It’s completely fine to sleep your recovery away for the first 5 days, but make sure you sleep sitting up! Even though your back kills you, you don’t feel like you’re choking on your own throat/ mucus.
10. Find a good surgeon! My doctor was WONDERFUL. He was so personable, had a great sense of humor, and just made me feel entirely comforable/confident in his abilities as a surgeon. I’ve had a pretty basic recovery (still extremely painful, but haven’t had an serious issues yet, knock on wood) I 10/10 believe it’s because of my wonderful surgeon!

Overall, this was probably the worst experience of my entire life so far. I spent a week thinking my life was over, that I was never going to get better and I regretted the surgery 100%. Now that I’m almost in the clear, I will tell you it is probably worth it and I don’t regret it as much. I had terrible tonsil stones, chronic throat pain, and enlarged lymph nodes due to my tonsils and I am so happy to never have to deal with that again once I recover! I had no idea it was going to be this painful, even though my surgeon told me it was going to be hell. I thought, “Hey, it can’t be that bad!” WELL, it was! So go into your surgery knowing that this will be the worst 2 weeks- 1 month of your life and there will be no surprises! Good luck to all of you, and remember even when you feel at your worst, it WILL get better. Trust me!

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