This resource is brilliant. Thanks to this I knew before I underwent the operation that there is a point when the pain changes and gets worse (for me days 6-8).
[Editor’s Note: Thanks Katy!]
Katy’s Tonsillectomy Story:
I’m a 39 year old woman in the UK who’s had chronic tonsillitis for about 4 years – basically I had one big bout which kind of broke my tonsils. They’ve been enlarged and prone to infection ever since. I’ve also snored for a few years and occasionally felt as if my airways were obstructed. This was initially diagnosed as probably being reflux.
I finally managed to get a GP to refer me to a specialist at the end of last year. I didn’t have reflux. What I did have was larger than usual tonsils, a couple of fluid retention cysts that were badly positioned, and a nodule on my vocal cords (very common). I had my tonsils out 9 days ago.
The operation was fine – I went in as a day patient, was given a little morphine when I woke up (my throat was quite sore and that’s what they gave me when I said so but it wasn’t the sort of terrible pain that you would usually associate with morphine). They gave me an omelette to eat and sent me home with paracetamol, ibuprofen and dihydrocodeine to take if I needed it. All of these medicines can be taken together.
Tonsillectomy Diet – UK Win?
In the UK we’re advised not to change our diets post tonsillectomy op – the more textured foods you can eat (crackers, cereal, crisps, toast) the better as it promotes healing and also helps with pain. We’re advised not to try things like ice cream or other creamy/milky foods as it irritates the throat. I ate toast and cereal from the start and I was never in what I would call unmanageable pain.
During Days 1-5 the pain was a kind of scratchy, hot pain which improved when I ate textured food – I guess that was because of scars and scabs forming, the textured food desensitised it. I didn’t have any day where I had nothing but liquids or soft foods, although I didn’t eat as much as I usually do. I had to leave tea and coffee to get lukewarm before I could drink it and I couldn’t eat anything with spices or herbs or (argh) citrus in it as they made my throat feel burny. The thing that made my throat feel best was water. Sitting in the bath was lovely as well as the steam moistens the throat.
Days 6-8: the pain changed and was a bit worse, but it was still bearable. It felt less scratchy and more as if my throat was bruised. My ears and jaw were very sore. Swallowing hurt on a muscular level without painkillers. I’d managed without the codeine for days 1-5 but I took it before I went to bed on days 6 and 7, mainly because of the ear pain. I didn’t take it on day 8 as by the evening I was feeling a lot better.
Day 9: everything is much better. I feel much more normal. I haven’t taken a painkiller yet today and I don’t think I’ll need the codeine. The scabs have disappeared from all but the bottom of the tonsil beds so my mouth is no longer yellowy-grey. I can brush my teeth without discomfort. My uvula is still swollen but not to the point where it’s lying on the back of my tongue (ugh).
Everyone’s different and I know that some people really struggle with the recovery. It looks as if some people were advised or decided to stick with liquids and soft foods for the first few days – obviously everyone has to follow their doctor’s advice, but I would really recommend forcing down some toast or similar at least once a day if your doctor says that’s ok. It’s not very painful if you chew it properly before swallowing and it definitely eased the pain for me. I wasn’t well enough to do a full day’s work or anything but I have been able to walk the dog every day, for example, and we’ve had friends to stay who I’ve been able to cook for.
For me the most discomfort was just that everything was swollen. It was sometimes quite hard to swallow properly and I had to go to the sink and spit a couple of times, which I’ve never had to do (and hate doing). Sneezing wasn’t much fun and I found that my nose ran a bit more. I hated not being able to speak (but that was more the vocal cord thing than anything else).
The operation is 100% worth it. My throat feels so much better and apparently I’ve not snored since the operation – I had assumed it would be worse because all the tissues were so swollen but my husband assures me I haven’t snored.
Can I just add that I’ve added my story to give people hope that the recovery will be manageable, but it’s not intended to make anyone who’s struggling feel like they’re not trying hard enough or doing it wrong – everyone is different and some people will be hit harder than others.
Best of luck to everyone who undergoes this procedure!