pass the popsicle: a tonsillectomy story.

I’m going to start off with a warning. If you, dear Reader, are considering getting your tonsils removed. Reconsider. I arrived at my decision after an adulthood of constant tonsillitis, strep throat and sinus infections. Each bout requiring days, even weeks of time off work, multiple rounds of antibiotics and general unpleasantness. Just this past November, I spent an entire week consuming nothing but ice cream and soup due to my good friend, Strep. Strep is a dick. Having read and been told that recovering from a tonsillectomy as an adult is no picnic, I thought I understood that it would be rocky, but ultimately worth the week of recovery. Basically just another bad round of Strep, but the LAST round I’d ever experience. Right? Wrong.

Side note: the procedure, Tonsillectomy & Adnoidectomy is also referred to as a T&A. I giggle.

There is a fairly hilarious online community of fellow sufferers who also took the T&A plunge past the ripe age of five. At five, your mom gives you a popsicle and forces you to not play outside for a few days. At thirty, each day of recovery brings new waves of torture. Being able to commiserate with my fellow T&A warriors online this past week, has been comforting. Not in any way, shape or form, comfortable. I’m sitting here, Day 8, an ice pack tucked under my chin, high on Oxy, with lukewarm tea balancing on the couch next to me. Those things make me, also not comfortable, but in marginally less agony. I’d go to sleep, but the moment I stop irrigating my throat, it dries out, bringing on a death rictus to my ears, neck and throat.

The T&A procedure itself, is fairly straightforward. Show up at the surgical center. Answer at least ten times when was the last time you’ve eaten. Answer it again. Get hooked up to the fun juice. Lights out. An hour or so later, wake up with a kind lady handing you ginger ale. Cry. Because you do. Then get driven home to begin!

Each Day is mapped out: what varietal of pain to expect, when the swelling is going to be so bad as to require steroids, bleeding, what the scabs are doing. For some reason, I was under the assumption that I could condense this timeline down to under a week. But no, I’m not special. Days 1-3 were basically a 5 on the pain scale. Sleep, take Oxy, drink water, repeat. Night 3, however, the new fun of waking up with a swollen tree trunk for a neck began. Swollen like not being able to swallow or breathe. Hence, the addition of steroids to the regimen for Days 3-5. Days 4-5 otherwise were quite a breeze. Pain level around a 3 as long as I took the meds every four hours. Day 6, as promised, was the beginning of a brand new level of bad. Because, Days 6-9 the pain ratchets up to levels not helped by pain meds or ice packs or ice chips. Oh yes, and you’re choking on and coughing up scabs nonstop.

Introducing the Scabs. If you are eating, I suggest you stop. On Day 1, I took my iPhone flashlight and took a look in my throat to see the aftermath of the T&A. The battlefield was grim. After your surgeon slices off the goods, they cauterize what looks like the entire back of your throat, leaving behind white, fluffy cauliflower-looking scabs. If you’re a good little patient and avoid anything that that will pull those suckers off prematurely, you can avoid excessive bleeding and a trip to the ER. However, they do need to come off eventually. And it’s gross. Night 7 ranks in the top five worst nights of my life. No sleep, spent hunched over a sink coughing up bits of flesh. Yep.

Right now I’m predicting a return to normalcy by Day 10. Or something like normal. Thus far, I’ve lost five pounds on the popsicle and cracker diet. I’d kill to be able to eat a burger right now. In fact, on Day 1, I started requesting french fries right out of the gate. Any food I have managed to eat, Mom had to come out and prepare for me. Standing is not really a thing I can do at the moment. My skin is sallow and slightly bruised. My voice is still just a squeak. Only managed to take two showers this week. Basically, I’m ragged.

I definitely would not recommend anyone do this unless they have a reliable support system. Thankfully, my parents have been able to bring me ice and cook me two pancakes when I needed it. Also, Sara sent me some badass boutique ice cream through FedEx. Be prepared to set aside at least 10 days to recover. Not absolute bed rest, but pretty close. Even the small things are difficult. I dropped and broke a plate trying to crush up some pain meds in order to force them down. The plate stayed shattered where it fell until the cavalry arrived the next day. This will be the last sore throat I ever have, but man is it a doozy. Pass me another popsicle.


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