Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tonsillectomy- My Recovery Story


Why a tonsillectomy?

As a teenager/young adult I often got strep throat a few times each winter. Then when I got mono when I was 22ish my tonsils grew to an enormous size and never went back down. Since then I've dealt with reoccurring episodes of tonsillitis, strep, laryngitis, bad sore throat etc. In March I met with my ENT and he agreed that a tonsillectomy was indeed in my best interest. I decided to have the surgery over spring break and then took an additional two days off from work the following week (my doctor recommended 10 days). My mom came up for the week to help out with the kids and my husband took a week of leave. Below are my daily post of my recovery. I found a lot of blogs helpful in preparing for my tonsillectomy. I would like to think that I have a rather high pain tolerance, I really don't have the job where I can take 2 weeks of leave (Special Ed teacher) , I have small children, and my husband is a shift worker in the Army. With that said I hope someone out there can relate and finds this helpful :) 

Surgery Day- Tuesday April 7th

So I had to report to the surgical center at 6:30 am on Tuesday April 7th. Prep included a urine sample, an IV, basic vitals etc. I met with my ENT and Anesthesiology and shortly after 7am I was saying my goodbyes to my husband as they wheeled me to the OR. I told my husband "see you on the other side" which apparently freaked out the medical staff. I clearly meant the other side of the facility which was the recovery area lol.  About 15 minutes later the doctor met with my husband and told him everything went well. 15 minutes after that my husband joined me in the recovery room and 15 minutes after that I was getting in the car and leaving. As I am typing this it has been about 2 hours since the procedure. It feels like I have a really bad sore throat BUT I am not in any real pain. On a scale 1-10 I would say a 3.

Things I had ready to go after surgery:
  • 3 reusable ice packs
  • 1 refillable ice pack
  • Humidifier
  • Gum
  • Pellet Ice from Sonic/medium cooler
  • A variety of Italian ice, icees, Popsicles, and sherbet cups in my freezer
  • Stool softener
Update 9:38pm- Thanks to another blogger we stopped by Sonics and got 3 bags of their pellet ice AND a strawberry slushy for me after leaving the surgical center lol. Next we picked up my meds from the pharmacy and got home around 10 am ish. I was pretty good until 1pm. I think at that point the anesthesia began to wear off as I became hot, nauseous, and had a horrible headache. Originally I thought it was the pain meds so I neglected to take any. I ended up giving in and taking it (Diaudid) and flowing it with Promethazine for nauseous. Things got better after that. My hubby ran out and got me some Wonton Soup which I let cool for like 20 mins.....it gave the crunchy noodles time to get soggy. For the rest of the afternoon I tried to take naps, but really couldn't drift off good for fear of my throat drying out. I would sit up often to sip water. I also did salt water gargles about 8 times today. Throughout the day I iced my neck/ears and chewed gum periodically. I will give an update tomorrow morning on how tonight goes :-/

Day 2- Wednesday April 8th

Last night went very well. I slept for 2-3 hour intervals waking up to take meds, drink, gargle and to change the ice pack on my throat.  I took pain meds around 11:30 pm. I am really trying to space them out as my doctor only gave me 35 pills. I moved my Humidifier so that it blew directly on my face lol and I had a freeze pop around 1am. I woke up for good around 8:20am. I took an ibuprofen and did a salt water gargle. Afterwards I fixed me a breakfast of eggs, grits, and a slice of toast (yes, I still have my normal appetite...for now). Right now it is 9:35am and my pain is a 2 on a scale of 10. It honestly only bothers me when I swallow. I am still keeping myself hydrated with water and I'm chewing gum. I've read horror stories about how day 2 is the turn for the worst with recovery. I feel so good that I find that hard to believe but I am anticipating it. I feel so good that I feel I could actually make the gym.....clearly I'm not though :)

Update: 5:30pm- So today has continued to be a pretty good day. I can't really say I've been in "pain" but more of an extreme soreness of my tongue, throat, and ears. The soreness is even worse when I swallow. I would give this dull soreness a 4 on a scale of 10. I've continued with my salt water gargles, sipping water, chewing gum, my humidifier etc. I've only taken pain meds twice today and ibuprofen twice. I am still taking my 10 day course of antibiotics. I ate some wonton soup for lunch and a few icees here and there. I am actually dreading eating something for dinner bc my mouth is so sore. It's like all the muscles have been over worked or something. I'm currently icing my ears and my throat with ice paks and a wrap.

Day 3- Thursday April 9th

So last night I had to sleep sitting up as my uvula is so swollen it is hard to breathe laying down. I was very tired and lethargic as the evening continued. I woke up around 3:00 am
with the dreaded ear pain everyone talks about (5 out of 10) . So far the worst pain I've experienced. I decided to take some pain meds and ice my ears. Today I start my steroid....apparently I take them only 3 times during my recovery. I really hope it reduces some of the swelling.  I'm up in pain and the rest of my family is sound asleep :'(. I really don't have an appetite.....I'm eating an Italian ice right now just to soothe my throat. That in itself is very painful to get through.

Update 2:30pm- the first half of my day I was very dizzy, nauseous, and tired. I couldn't sit up for long periods of time without feeling sick. I did manage to get down a little broccoli & cheddar soup around lunch time. Little naps helped me feel better. I honestly think I felt this way from the back to back pain meds I had early this morning. As a result I think I'm going to lay off them and keep Ibuprofen in my system. My ear pain and throat pain have reduced since this morning. My husband purchased me some throat spary and stool softeners this morning. Both have done their job! I'm feeling so good that I am planning to head to the store this evening then have some froyo :)

Update 8pm- Froyo was a huge mistake.....it hurt my throat and now I am paying for it :(


Day 4- Friday April 10th

So I got a 4 hour stretch of sleep last night. I was pretty excited about that. I did awake to some pretty moderate ear pain though. I took some more ibuprofen and iced my ears. Day 4 and 5 have been apparently the turn for the worst on most tonsillectomy blogs. I keep hoping that I will miss this stage completely. Last night eating was a very daunting task as my mouth and tongue are so sore. So I decided to make a waffle this morning......and it appears it isn't going that well. It hurts like hell to chew let alone swallow *sigh*. I read that heat will help with the ear pain. So I've wrapped a heating pad around my ears with an ACE bandage lol......the heat feels great! I sent my husband to Dunkin Donuts to get me an iced coffee....I figured sipping would go better than chewing! Curious to see how the rest of the day goes. I must admit I'm pretty nervous about when my scabs fall off :-/

Update 3:50pm- Okay so today has been the worst pain wise. An 8 on a scale of 10. Heat works for a while but nothing takes it away. I broke down and took a half a dose of my pain meds just now. I thought I would feel better after a nap but I don't. Honestly I've been in bed all day and when I walk around for too long the pain is unbearable. I even cried a little today while my husband tried to console me. The thought of food hurts and all I keep thinking is that day 5 can't be this bad :(

Day 5- Saturday April 11th

Last night continued to be horrible. I took my pain meds back to back every 3-4 hours with ibuprofen in between. I applied heat to my ears continously. It is 2:30 am and I just woke up to take my next dose of pain meds......the ear pain I woke up to is like a 9 on a scale of 10. It appears today will indeed be a repeat of yesterday :( I honestly didn't think this recovery was gonna hit me like this. I thought I was strong and would have a relatively easy/speedy recovery. No need to continually repeat how much pain I am in. Just know I'm hurting bad and I'm starting to worry about being ready to go back to work Wed. I need a miracle to happen :-(

Update 8:00pm- Today has been rough. I only left my bed to use the bathroom, get ice packs, or use the bathroom. I was very loopy most of the day bc I resorted to taking my pain meds continuously. I will say around 6:30pm my husband brought me some warm pita bread and after that life turned around for me. I had also taken a pain killer around 5pm so idk which caused my turn around. Of course my throat hurts when I swallow but I have no ear pain. I hope this continues into the night and into day 6. This evening is giving me hope!

Day 6th- Sunday April 12th

I woke up at 3:30am to use the bathroom and I felt pretty good. Mild throat pain when I swallow but no real ear pain. This was the same last evening until I fell asleep. Could I have past the peak of pain? I feel as though Jesus himself touched me and healed me at some point while I slept lol. I haven't had pain meds sice yesterday afternoon, but I went ahead a just took some ibuprofen incase I started feeling bad. My daily pic does look as if I've been losing scabs and an uvula is no longer "really" swollen. I haven't choked a scab or coughed one up like other bloggers wrote. They are just slowly and quietly leaving :). I do think it is more painful to eat with the scabs coming off. Everything burns even ice water!

Update 1:05pm- My mom left heading back to NC today mid morning. Both of my girls cried and she was crying too lol. After that we went by Lowe's to get some materials to prep our flower beds for planting next week or so. I came home thinking I was going to be able to assist my husband and 30 minutes into it I was light headed. I thought food would make it better but I didn't make it through 1/4 of my chicken slovakia sandwich when I threw in the towel (this is something I can usually down in less than 5 minutes). So I went back to bed and iced my throat and put a heating pad on my ears.  That evening we had beef stew, mashed potatoes, and cabbage for dinner. In order for me to eat any of it I had to numb my throat with a throat antiseptic. I love food and I never imagine how one day I wouldn't be able to eat food bc it hurts lol. Overall, today has still been so much better.....I just think I over did it bc I felt better.

Day 7- Monday April 13th

So I woke up at 12am with my throat on fire. Apparently, I hadn't drank any water since like early evening and it had dried out. It was really painful and the dreaded ear pain is back. I take this to be that my scabs are continuing to fall off. I'm still off my pain meds so I'm taking ibuprofen as needed for pain. I think I may call my doctor to rule out that I have thrush. My tongue still hurts and has a white film on it. Anyway, all of my colleagues head back to work today after spring break. I still have 2 days to recover and then I'm back with them. I can already tell you I probably won't be 100% to go back but I'm going anyway. 

Update 11:30am- So I was correct......I have oral thrush as a side effect of the antibiotics I am on. My doctor prescribed me an anti fungal lozenge I have to slowly dissolve in my mouth for 15-20 minutes 5 times a day for 7 days! Eek! This nasty case of thrush probably explains why my tongue hurts sometimes more than my throat. Anyway, overall I feel pretty good. I was able to eat a mcmuffin and hashbrown from McDonald's this morning. It was uncomfortable and it took like 20 minutes but I got it down. I'm feeling more confident about returning to work on Wednesday now, although I may still consider taking a half a day.

Update 6:07pm- So I decided to do yet another update. This afternoon I was tired of laying in bed all day so I walked to pick up my daughter from daycare (only about 30 minutes both ways). Clearly, my body wasn't ready for this as when I got back home my throat instantly started hurting and I was back in bed icing it. After this I looked to my husband with tears in my eyes and told him I felt sorry for myself. Every time I feel that I am getting "better" I end up taking a step backwards. Of course I knew this was major surgery and that I knew my body would need to recovery properly, but honestly I've never been this set back by a procedure. I am also 4 months into losing weight, eating healthier, and going to the gym and now I am just sitting on my butt. My experience has caused me to reconsider having my 11 year old daughter's tonsil removed this summer. I honestly don't want her spending a few weeks of her summer vacation feeling like I currently feel. When she is an adult and her tonsil still bother her she can decide herself to have them removed. Here's to another night of icing my throat, ibuprofen, heating pads on my hears, and waking often to sip water. Tomorrow is my last full day of recovery before I go to work, maybe miracle will occur......just maybe.

Day 8- Tuesday April 14th


Last night was pretty bad. My throat and ears hurt all night and I didn't get much sleep. I think that the medicine treating my thrush is making me nauseous too! I'm honestly over feeling bad and I hate telling people I still don't feel well when they ask how I am doing. I feel like a big baby! I slept in til 7:30 am which worries me because I need to leave my house by 6am tomorrow morning for work. Today is my last full day home and I've been up working on some paperwork. For some reason I am really tired so I think I am about to lay down for a bit and then pick back up later. I haven't had much of an appetite this morning so I neglected to eat anything for breakfast. I'm not in a ton of pain but I really feel like shit. My doctor was correct when he said I needed 10 days off from work. Of course I thought I was superwoman and figured I could go back sooner. Blah! 

Update 3:18pm- Today has been a real drag. I managed a mid morning nap, finished my paperwork, ate lunch, and was back in bed. I still feel horrible......my mouth, tounge, throat, ears, and head all hurt. I went with my husband grocery shopping  (usually my chore) and it was so freaking draining. He is putting away all the groceries as I sit on my phone typing this. My plan is to go to bed super early tonight so that I can have all my energy for work in the morning. I'm taking leave around 12pm and I have a follow-up appointment with my doctor at 3pm. I hope day 9 turns things around for me.

Day 9- Wednesday April 15th 

It's  5:17 am and I just got up for work. I slept pretty well last night minus throat and ear discomfort. Today I take my final dose of  steroids. I think knowing I am coming home mid day will help me get through the morning. I'll give an update a little later once I get home.
Update 6:40pm- I really don't want to jinx myself BUT today was a great day. My throat magically stopped "hurting" for some odd reason.......I mean I had a burger for lunch. I will say I had a horrible migraine headache that wouldn't go away today. It started around 10 am and with ibuprofen, Excedrin migraine, and added caffeine through the day I still have it at almost 7pm. With my migraines I am extremely sensitive to sound and light. I ended up putting cotton in my ears to alleviate so of the discomfort.  Don't get it twisted (I'm not complaining) bc today was heaven compared to the hell I experienced the last few days. As far as work went......I made it. Very happy I went into it knowing I would take a half a day. In a perfect world and a different career (I teach) I would have stayed out the rest of the week and returned on "day 14" which would have been Monday. I'm definitely not telling my ENT that I neglected to stay out of work for the full 10 days when I go for my 4 week follow-up :-/.   Anyway, tomorrow will be a full day back for me and I hope all goes well. I followed up with my doctor regarding my thrush today and it is slowly clearing up. I still have 5 more days left with my medication.

Day 10- Thursday April 16th

Woke up with some throat and ear discomfort. I wouldn't call it pain.....just extremely uncomfortable. Not sure how last evening everything was fine and now this morning it's a problem again. I'm sure my ears will be super sensitive again today and I will need to plug them with cotton. I already took ibuprofen about 45 minutes ago in hopes that it will kick in and help me get dressed and out the door this morning.

Update 5:30pm- Eating dinner tonight was extremely painful.....food and water bother burned my throat. I honestly feel like crap. At work today I noticed that my throat/tongue (idk which) would begin to swell and I would lose my voice when it was time for my next dose of ibuprofen. I guess it reduces the swelling and manages the pain which then affects my voice??? I don't exactly know how or why BUT that is my observation lol. 

Day 11- Friday April 17th

Last night was HORRIBLE! My ears and throat hurt all night long. I know it is probably because I used my voice at school the last two days. This morning was rough also. I woke up around 4:30am and took my dose of ibuprofen. Chewing and swallowing continue to be painful and slow. I've been eating normal food for the last few days bc even soft foods burn my throat. I figured I should at least eat what I want if everything is going to hurt :-/. One thing I really didn't expect with this recovery was the lack of energy I would have. I've felt really tired the last few days and really wished I could stop what I was doing and take a nap. I guess that is the reason all doctors recommend that you take a good 2 weeks off from work.

Days 12 & 13- Saturday and Sunday

So I woke on day 12 with the normal sore throat and achy ears.It appears my tongue is back to it's normal color......so I assume I am finally free of thrush!  It is still was uncomfortable to eat breakfast as chewing and swallowing both still hurt. I'm not sure what the heck they did to my tongue during surgery, but I am starting to think it will never be normal again lol. Anyway, after sitting on my but for almost 2 weeks I did decided to return to my dance aerobics class at the gym on Day 12. I will admit I did not have the energy or enthusiasm that I usually do during my workout, but I finished the class (and burned 656 calories). This I believe was the turning point in my recovery. The rest of day 12 went great. My voice was 95% back, I didn't have to take ibuprofen, and I really felt great. I also got the BEST sleep ever (well since my surgery) that night. I didn't wake up with a burning throat and I didn't have to sleep elevated. Day 13 (Sunday) was even better!! I went to the gym this morning for my weight lifting class and ran several errands. It really just feels like I have a really sore throat and eating still isn't the most pleasant task. Tomorrow will be Day 14 and will start my first full week of work post op. 

In Conclusion........(lol)

Whatever you do make sure you take a FULL 2 weeks off from work!!!! I thought I was superwoman and honestly thought I would be okay to return on Day 9. Although I did return (half a day) I wish I had listened to my doctor and taken the leave he suggested.  This surgery is tough on your body and requires a lot to ensure that you completely recover. Thankfully, I didn't have any major complications accompanied by trips to the ER. If I could got back in time I would have never started taking my prescription pain medication. My doctor did instruct my husband to have me start off with ibuprofen and if I couldn't take the pain to use the pain medication as a last resort. Of course I didn't listen and ended up sick and constipated as a result of taking it. After a few days I noticed that my pain level was no different on the pain meds than it was on ibuprofen.

I think I still have several days of this sore throat ahead of me, but I know that it will be all well worth it once I am fully recovered. I hope my blog post helps anyone preparing or in the midst of a tonsillectomy! I MADE IT!!!!