History/Why I’m having the surgery:
I have had recurring throat infections that have become much more frequent in recent years. I have visited a doctor for a sore throat at least 14 times in 2017 and early 2018. In most cases my strep test comes back negative, I’m diagnosed with a viral infection, and typically given an antibiotic (even though it’s viral and not bacterial). It’s has been quite discouraging to be sick so often for no apparent reason.
I generally feel “run-down” and tired since my body is almost constantly fighting off an infection. I’ve discussed the issue with my primary care doctor at length, and he was hesitant to recommend a tonsillectomy since it’s risky and the antibiotics tend to work well for me. However, I finally decided to visit with an ENT for more information. I am SO glad that I did! My ENT advised that my tonsils are basically trapping bacteria and viruses as opposed to filtering those bad things out. The only way to prevent this from reoccurring is to remove the tonsils. I was definitely on board!
Pre-Op Thoughts/Fears – I’m writing this part the evening before my procedure. Since I’ve never had surgery, I’m fairly nervous. I know it’s a routine procedure, but I’m really more worried about the recovery. My surgeon told me to prepare for a full two week recovery period with varying levels of pain. I’ve prepared as much as I know how to, but I’m sure the recovery will be a day-by-day process. I thought I would want to eat as much as possible tonight since I’ve got to fast tomorrow and won’t be able to eat much over the next few weeks, but I really don’t even have an appetite right now. Must be the nerves!
Post-Op: The surgery started at 9:20 AM took only 20 minutes. I was confused when I woke up from the anesthesia, and kept telling the nurse that I thought I was at home. Ha. Aaron and the nurses took great care of me in the recovery room. I was shocked at how little pain that I was in. That was due to the anesthesia and the numbing medicine that my surgeon used in my throat. I was in recovery for about 1.5 hours and then went home before lunchtime.
- Weight: 133.0
- Pain level (1-10 scale)/medicine:Very tolerable pain. Around a level 2-3 for most of the day, but then increased to around a level 4 as the day went on. All medicines are liquid. I was given morphine during surgery. After I returned home, I started taking hydrocodone* every 6 hours and with doses of children’s ibuprofen in-between. *I haven’t had hydrocodone in about 12 years because it makes me itch severely. My ENT and I discussed giving it a try in recovery to see if the itching would be tolerable. I definitely itched from head to toe, but taking a couple of doses of Benadryl throughout has helped control it. As far as any other medicines, I also tried a numbing lollipop once, but I never felt like I needed it. My ENT prescribed these in case I wasn’t able to handle the hydrocodone, and we had to get them at a compound pharmacy. Finally, I wore a Transderm Scop patch behind my ear to prevent nausea after the surgery.
- What I ate/drank: Around 30 ounces of water, half of a Powerade slush from Sonic, 3 small cups of Jell-O and a few small bites each of applesauce and mashed potatoes. I definitely preferred the Jell-O, as it went down my throat the easiest.
- Activity level: Slim to none. I was in bed all day after the surgery. Between the combination of the hydrocodone and Benadryl, I was quite woozy, so it was safer just to stay in bed.
- Sleep: This has been my biggest area of concern. I was not able to sleep more than an hour or so (at best) on Day 1, even during the night. I would catch myself falling asleep for little cat naps, but even with the doses of Benadryl, I was not able to get good, solid rest.
- Other thoughts: I have been surprised that my pain level wasn’t higher on Day 1. I only had pain when I swallowed or talked at length. I kept a cool-mist humidifier by my bed to help prevent dry mouth, which is common to have when wearing the patch. My voice is funny and I found myself preferring to point at things that I need or just text Aaron. Toward the end of the day, my ears started to feel stopped up.
Post-Op Day 1:
- Weight: 133.8 (I was surprised that my weight went up considering I barely ate anything yesterday. Perhaps its from all of the fluids I received?)
- Pain level/medicine: Very tolerable today. Fluctuating between levels 1-3. I’m taking hydrocodone every 6 hours, and adding in doses of Ibuprofen in between. I think sticking to a strict schedule with my medicine has really helped me to not have severe pain. I’m still taking Benadryl to help with the itching.
- What I ate/drank: Lots of room temperature water, some of a Powerade slush from Sonic, Jell-O, and about a half cup of Rita’s Italian Ice. (SO GOOD!) I attempted to eat a sweet potato that Aaron mashed to be super smooth, but it just wouldn’t go down without sticking to my throat. Not pleasant. I’m starting to have a bit more trouble swallowing. It feels like food/water are close to going up my nose. I think that must be the holes where my adenoids once were.
- Activity level: Very little. I’m able to walk around the house and get things that I need, but I’ve mostly just been in the bed. The most activity I had today was taking a shower. I’m just not taking in very many calories, so my energy level is very low.
- Sleep: Still not great. I only slept about 3.5 hours overnight. I’ve been able to take short naps today. I think subconsciously I’m worried about sleeping too long and letting my throat get dry, so I’m constantly waking up to drink water.
- Other thoughts: I’m shocked at how little pain I’m really in. Swallowing and talking are a bit difficult at times, but I’m truly not in much pain like I expected to be. My biggest problem today has been the side effect of itching from the pain medicines. My ears have felt a little stopped up again today. I feel like I have stitches in my throat, even though I know I don’t. I’m guessing what I’m feeling are the scabs forming. I finally worked up the courage to look down my throat in the mirror. #ewww #sogross
Post-Op Day 2:
- Weight: 133.2
- Pain level/medicine: Even though it feels like I’m taking SO MUCH medicine, I’m very strict on sticking to the schedule and not missing a dose because I feel like it truly is helping to control my pain. I take hydrocodone at 8 AM, 2 PM, 8 PM and 2 AM. I usually take Benadryl with 2 of those doses to help with the itching. I take children’s liquid ibuprofen at 5 AM, 11 AM, 5 PM, and 11 PM. Today I had to take one Zofran pill because I felt a sudden wave of nausea, but thankfully it was short lived. My pain level has been around a 3 today.
- What I ate/drank: Jell-O, Rita’s Italian Ice, Gatorade, and a few bites of vanilla ice-cream. For dinner I managed to sip on some Campbell’s Chicken and Stars soup that was barely warm. It’s the best thing I’ve had so far.
- Activity level: Very little again today. Still no energy. I managed to take a nice, hot bath with some eucalyptus bath salts and that helped to make me feel better.
- Sleep: I fell asleep for the night last night around 10 PM. Aaron woke me up at 11 PM for a dose of medicine, then I woke up to an alarm at 2 AM for my next medicine. After that, I struggled to fall back asleep and just dozed on and off for hours. My next dose of medicine was at 5 AM, and I never fell back asleep after that.
- Other thoughts: The itching from the pain medicine is intense! I must have asked Aaron to scratch my back 100 times! He has been an amazing caregiver. I’ve barely had to do anything for myself because he’s taking such good care of me. Besides Aaron, the humidifier has been my other best friend! My ears have felt stopped up again today. I’m also missing my sweet Turner so much. I’ve been getting reports from Mississippi that he’s having a blast, though!
Post-Op Day 3:
- Weight: 133.0
- Pain level/medicine: Same as day 3, except now I’ve added in a steroid in the morning to help with swelling. I also had to take a Zofran in the middle of the night and another is the evening due to brief waves of nausea.
- What I ate/drank: Small amounts of Jell-O, Gatorade, Italian ice, Bluebell vanilla ice-cream, and a tiny bit of chicken noodle soup from Chick-Fil-A. I was able to eat a few bites of the noodles and veggies, but I felt like they got hung in my throat so I just mainly stuck to the broth. I tried chocolate pudding, but that didn’t work.
- Activity level: Very little. I took a shower and washed all of the dry shampoo out of my hair from the last few days. 🙂 I was able to stand long enough to dry my hair and throw a few curls in it so I felt more like myself. Otherwise, I’ve just been in bed as close to my humidifier as humanly possible.
- Sleep: Thankfully I got a decent night of rest last night. I fell asleep around 10:30 PM. Aaron woke me up at 11 PM to take Ibuprofen and Benadryl, but I fell right back asleep. My alarm went off at 2 AM for more pain medicine. I fell back asleep until my alarm went off at 5 AM for my next dose of medicine. After that, I was finally able to fall asleep again until 7 AM.
- Other thoughts: It has been very difficult to talk today, so I have been communicating with Aaron by typing on my phone or laptop. The roof of my mouth is really sore. I can’t bring myself to look in my mouth, but Aaron said that it’s really bruised. My ears feel stopped up today and I’m a bit discouraged when I think about how long I’m going to be feeling like this. Here’s hoping it’s not a full 2 weeks. I’m ready to have some energy back because I am still very weak. Taking all these medicines with very little food has not been easy on my stomach.
Post-Op Day 4:
- Weight: 132.1
- Pain level/medicine: I was in a fair amount of pain when I woke up. Around a level 4. Medicine has been the same as the previous days, except I’ve lowered my dose of ibuprofen by half, and I’m only taking Benadryl once a day. Having so much medicine on a basically empty stomach has not been fun, so I’m trying to cut back on any medicine that I can. I got nauseous during the afternoon and had to take another Zofran.
- What I ate/drank: A few bites of applesauce (stuck to my throat), a pink drink from Starbucks, water, cup of chocolate milk, and gatorade. I tried a fruit/veggie smoothie, but it burned my throat so I only took a few sips. I drank some creamy chicken soup through a straw and it was so good! That was my first real meal in days. I also managed to eat a few bites of super soft mac and cheese for dinner. It was nice to have “real” food, but I think I’m already paying for it. My throat feels really sore from having to work harder to swallow.
- Activity level: I got out of bed to get my own drink a couple of times, but otherwise, I have been in the bed 95% of the time. I’m still super weak and have basically no energy. I managed to take a shower, but that drained me!
- Sleep: I had a really rough night of sleep last night. Apparently I’m living in opposite world where the medicines that are supposed to make me sleepy actually keep me awake! I probably slept a total of 3 hours last night (at best), and I haven’t been able to nap today. I’m hoping for a good night’s sleep tonight. I’m in desperate need.
- Other thoughts: My ENT said that the recovery would be a roller coaster of good days and bad days. Today has defintely been a bad day for me. I keep reminding myself of why I had the surgery in the first place. If I can get on the other side of recovery, I think it’s going to be the greatest thing ever to never have another tonsil infection! I’ll post another update in a few days. Hopefully the next one will be more positive!
Post-Op Day 5:
- Weight: 132.0
- Pain level (scale of 1-10)/medicine: I still have not been in too much actual pain, which is really surprising to me. Today has not been over a level 3. I decreased my doses of Ibuprofen and hydrocodone by half during the night, and I did feel a bit more pain than usual early this morning. I resumed my normal medicine schedule during the day today (see previous post for more details). I had to take another Zofran today because I felt nauseous when I took my first dose of medicine.
- What I ate/drank: Water, chocolate milk, creamy chicken soup (no noodles), Italian ice, gatorade, and a couple of bites of really runny mashed potatoes. Those did not go down my throat well and caused pain because I had to swallow harder to get them down.
- Activity level: Still very little. This has been one of the most frustrating parts. I didn’t expect to be jogging the neighborhood or anything like that, but I am discouraged that I rarely have the energy to even get out of the bed. Even sitting in bed with the laptop can be exhausting.
- Sleep: Fairly terrible! For whatever reason, I am not able to sleep for more than an hour or two each night. It must be the combination of all the medicines, but my brain is constantly going 100 miles per hour, and I can’t get any rest. It doesn’t help that the pain medicine still makes me itch severely, making it hard to get comfortable. Last night I was up multiple times every single hour. I try not to turn on the TV or watch anything on my phone. Instead, I listened to podcasts, and listened to the Bible app read several chapters out loud. Sometimes it helps to have background noise to lull me back to sleep, so I’ve been trying various things to see what works.
- Other thoughts: I read so many blogs and talked to so many people before my surgery to try to get prepared for what to expect in recovery. I can’t believe how different my recovery process has been than most others! If you’re planning to have this surgery, just know that your experience may be very different than what you read.