Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tales of a tonsillectomy...


Many of you know me personally and know that I recently had a tonsillectomy in my middle 30's. I wouldn't normally post something like this, but since I know some of you have said you wanted to see how I did before scheduling your own, I decided to post my tale.

Where to begin... I was nervous, oh so nervous, the night before surgery and couldn't sleep. The last time you are allowed to drink or eat anything is 12. Nothing may be ingested after that time- except small sips (itty bitty) of water if needed. You are allowed to brush your teeth. Since my surgery wasn't scheduled until 10 the next morning, I decided I would eat my heart out from 10:30 - 11:30. What did I choose??? A big bowl of ice cream and huge glass of water. Some indulgence, huh?

The day of surgery, everything went great. I was nervous, but the nurses helped as did the receptionist who became a dear friend and constantly checked on me. She was my little angel through this. The doctor came and asked if I had questions. I had one: Do I have to do this? The answer was, of course, no. Considering I had been giving strep to my little one all year, I figured even though to the doctor the answer is yes, for me, the answer is no.

Waking up from surgery, I was soooo stinking thirsty. I was elated to have ice chips to suck on. I couldn't get enough of them. I went through 3 glasses of them and 2 glasses of water. I was at the hospital a total of 6 hours for my 15 minute surgery. Good times. Soon, it was time to go home.

Mind you, hubby was not with me as his grandmother had passed and the funeral was the day of my surgery. My step dad and nephew took good care of me until hubby arrived.

When I got home, I needed help walking up stairs and settled in to bed comfortably. I was even brought a special treat - banana popsicles! YUM!!!!! I was given water. The nurses said that it's best to swallow as much as possible for proper healing, so down went anything that would go easily.

I learned that I couldn't have anything red- so glad everything I bought was red. UGH! Go figure. I didn't care though. Honestly, I had banana popsicles and water. What more do you want... until, of course, your stomach starts grumbling.... asking for a burger.... or a steak.... or quesadilla... or enchiladas (all of the foods I have yet to eat- as of Saturday 1/14).

Day 2 was good as well. I actually felt like I only had a sore throat and as long as I had jello, Mrs. Grass noodle soup, and water, I was good. A friend dropped off a humidifier to me (per doctor recommendations and now mine) and I told her it was easy peasy. I didn't know day 3 would make me think otherwise.

No lie- Day 3,5-7 and 9 were the worst. Day 3 forget it. I couldn't do a doggone thing. I hated swallowing, but continued because I didn't want to dehydrate and I just kept thinking swallowing = healing. Repeat that 10x in your head and you have my coping mechanism for that day. Day 4 I was able to eat some great soup a relative made for me upon my request. Day 5-7 just like day 3. Then came day 8... glorious day 8... I felt fantastic! I did a little cleaning and got out of my room for most of the day. It felt good.... only to make me realize on day 9 I overdid it. Up until day 8, I couldn't handle dairy products, but day 8 let me enjoy a small scoop of ice cream. (ELATED! I must be getting better!) Day 9: I felt okay enough to drop a paper to the doctor's office. I drove the 1.5 miles there only to get super weak and feel light headed walking into his office. I immediately headed home (after a DQ stop which was on the way home).

Day 10 I started to eat more foods. I added mashed potatoes to the diet. That was joy! Pure joy! Now, on Day 17, I feel really well. I have some scabs in my throat still, but they are almost 100% gone. The fear of hemorraging is diminished because the scabs are almost gone, which means I get to try to eat more food. Last night, I had an omelette with ham, onions, peppers, and of course, ooey gooey cheese with fried potatoes as a side. It felt so good to eat out at a restaurant and not get soup or macaroni and cheese off the kids menu.

Things I experienced that I wasn't aware of:

1. The need for pain meds every 4 hours for a minimum of 6 days straight. I moved to 6-8 hours on Day 7. Day 9, I had taken it once. I am not a medicine taker. I hate pain meds and meds in general. I was amazed at the amount of pain I was in if I was late for a dose. If you do this, take the meds!! The doctors give them for a reason- so I learned.

2. You don't sleep. Yep. I slept a total of 1 hour for every 4. Literally, sleep an hour, up the next 3. Take meds. Sleep an hour, up the next 3. Repeat cycle for 6-7 days.

3. Depression. Holy cow!! I didn't realize that I would be so depressed. I was just a mess mentally, emotionally, and physically. I don't like to depend on people to help because I have a control issue. I can do it by myself because I'm capable.... Not when you have surgery! I was more dependent with this surgery than with my C-section. I felt selfish and helpless requesting someone to bring me something- putting my needs before their own. This set in around day 5.

4. Loss of weight. I lost 13 pounds in 7 days. While that's a good thing, it's not done the healthy way, so the minute you start to eat again, the weight comes back on- unless of course you want to stick with a liquid diet. Sorry. That's not for me. I'm a meat and potatoes kinda gal.

What did I eat:

1. Jello- lots and lots of good old jello

2. popsicles

3. broth

4. Mrs. Grass noodles/Lipton noodle soup

5. Sweet potatoes - boiled until mushy with butter and cinnamon.

6. Scrambled eggs.

All of this was through day 7.

After day 7, I added baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, oatmeal and green beans. Today, I'm eating toast and bread again. I'm afraid to try my favorite veggie chips, pretzels or popcorn yet. I'll talk with the doctor about that this week.

What you should know:

1. This isn't easy, but it's not the end of the world (even though it feels like it at times).

2. It's frustrating not being able to eat and hearing your stomach grumble and growl. I really gained a new appreciation for those who go without food due to financial hardship or lack of availablility.

3. Every person has a different pain tolerance and threshold for what they can withstand. Your experience may be different.

4. Supposedly, you are to be healthier afterward. I can't really say much about this yet. From the forum I read to get through this, it does make you healthier.

5. Take at least the full 2 weeks off work. You will not be able to talk for long periods of time- shoot, sometimes one word hurts like heck and you are done for the day. I took 2 weeks and a day (I was to go back on Friday then get a 3 day weekend). I took the extra day as I'm a teacher and the doctor told me long stretches of talking will not be good and possibly 3 weeks would be better. This was all arranged prior to surgery.

6. Have a lot of books/magazine to read and an outlet (FB, blogging, something). Don't forget sudoku or word searches/crossword puzzles, words with friends, etc.

7. Have a pen/pencil, white board or notebook handy for communicating. Yes, I did need to do this.

8. Don't think you'll be eating ice cream the whole time. I didn't eat ice cream until Day 8.

9. Lastly, the older you are the worse it is. Please, if you're considering it, don't wait. I can't imagine how it would have been if I were older.

10. Oh! Find a sitter for your children for at least the first week. Also, freeze meals for them to eat.

I hope this is somewhat helpful. For more information, go to the Tonsillectomy Recovery Forum. I found lots of advice and help there... as well as a place to grumble or encourage others. :)

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