Adult Tonsillectomy Recovery – Days 11-14 + Expectations vs. Reality

You can read about the first 10 days of my recovery process here and here.

Post-Op Day 11:

  • Weight: 129.8
  • Pain level (scale of 1-10)/medicine: Up until this point, I had not had much pain at all. That quickly changed last night! I took Tylenol around 9:30 PM, but by the time I went to bed later, I was feeling actual pain (not just the typical discomfort). I felt it severely every time that I swallowed, and it even hurt in my ears. I woke up at 5:30 AM in really intense pain – up to a level 7. I took Ibuprofen and went back to sleep. Thankfully the medicine seemed to take the edge off.
  • What I ate/drank: Chocolate milk, macaroni and cheese, few bites of pudding, and oatmeal. I drank water all day.
  • Activity level: Not all the way back to normal, but definitely the best I’ve been. I showered and got ready for the day this morning and have been able to get anything that I need for myself. I don’t feel as fatigued as I have, and I’m really ready to start incorporating some exercise back in my day.
  • Sleep: I went to bed really late last night – 1 AM! Aaron got home from picking up Turner after 11 PM. Last night at 11 PM was also the time that we were eligible to check in for our upcoming Disney cruise and book our activities. We wanted to make sure that we were able to get one specific activity at the time we wanted, so Aaron and I stayed up on our computers booking our activities and looking at all things cruise related! I was able to sleep until about 5:30 AM until the intense pain woke me up. I put on an eye mask and was able to fall back asleep until Turner woke up around 7:30 AM. Before the surgery, I typically went to sleep around 10 PM every night (or earlier!), so all of these crazy sleep hours are really different for me. I hope I’m able to adjust back to a normal schedule soon.
  • Other thoughts: After 11 nights in Mississippi, my sweet Turner is finally home! I’m thankful that I’m feeling “kinda-sorta” back to normal as far as my energy level and ability to be up and about. I still have pain when talking, so that’s been difficult today, but I’m hopeful my voice will continue to improve every day.

Post-Op Day 12:

  • Weight: 129.9
  • Pain level (scale of 1-10)/medicine: Pain level 2-3 most of the day. Alternated Ibuprofen and Tylenol every 6 hours or so.
  • What I ate/drank: At this point, I feel like I can probably try to eat just about anything (except chips/popcorn/hard foods), but I’m still hesitant because it hurts to swallow. Also, I have to immediately chase most solid food down with a drink because it tends to stick in my throat. Today I had chocolate milk for breakfast, mac and cheese and a tiny bit of beef brisket that was chopped super thin for lunch, a PB&J sandwich for dinner, and tea/water to drink.
  • Activity level: Fairly normal. I was out of the bed all day. I cleaned up around the house and felt like I would have been fine to drive/leave the house if I had needed to.
  • Sleep: I went to sleep around 10:30 PM last night. I woke up around 2 AM and needed medicine, but then was able to go back to sleep until 6:30 AM or so.
  • Other thoughts: I finally worked up the courage to look at my throat with a flashlight today. Gross. I really thought the white scabs were almost gone, but I was wrong! They are most definitely still there.

Post-Op Day 13:

  • Weight: 129.5
  • Pain level (scale of 1-10)/medicine: Still alternating Tylenol and Ibuprofen every 6 hours. Discomfort is constant through the day, but actual pain is never truly severe. It hovers around a level 3-4 after I eat, but then usually goes back to a 1-2. For whatever reason, most pain is usually in the evenings. Also, a lot of my pain is concentrated in the roof of my mouth. I suppose that’s where my adenoids were removed?
  • What I ate/drank: Chocolate milk for breakfast, then chicken wings and french fries for lunch. It’s what my husband was having for lunch so I just had it too! Later I had ice-cream with a fresh peach as a snack. We had breakfast for dinner, and I had a brownie for dessert later in the night. This is the most I’ve eaten in so long! The fresh peach was so good. That was my first fresh food in almost 2 weeks!
  • Activity level: Getting very close to being back to normal. I got up and got ready for the day. I’ve literally been wearing lounge/athletic clothes (shorts and a tank top) for the past 12 days, but today I actually put on real clothes and makeup. I went to the grocery store and later drove to pick my son up from pre-school. (My husband has been taking him and picking him up since he’s been back from Mississippi).
  • Sleep: Finally getting close to normal again. I went to sleep around 10:30 PM. I woke up at 2 AM and had to take a dose of medicine, but I was able to go back to sleep fairly quickly. I woke up at 6:30 AM because I had to make sure our son was at his pre-school early for a computer class, but otherwise I would have slept longer.
  • Other thoughts: Yawning hurts, swallowing food hurts, and I don’t even want to think about how it would feel to sneeze right now. Although I’m feeling much better, I’m still so anxious to get back to normal. I go to the doctor for a follow up appointment tomorrow, and I fully expect that he will clear me to return to work on Monday.

Post-Op Day 14:

  • Weight: 130.0
  • Pain level (scale of 1-10)/medicine: About the same as yesterday. Definitely still uncomfortable to swallow and yawn, but I don’t really feel like I’m in any real “pain.” We’ll just call it a level 1. I alternated Tylenol and Ibuprofen just 2 or 3 times today (about every 8 hours).
  • What I ate/drank:  Pancakes and sausage for breakfast, BBQ pulled pork and mashed potatoes for lunch and dinner. I had ice cream and a fresh peach again for a snack today. I also tried the new White Peach Tea Lemonade from Chick Fil A. It was so good!
  • Activity level: I did the most today BY FAR than I’ve done in the last 2 weeks. I did a lot of things around the house during the morning hours. My follow up appointment with my ENT was in the afternoon, so I drove myself there for that appointment, then came back home and picked up my husband to run some errands. We went to several stores to browse around (we’re redecorating our living room), and then we picked Turner up from school and had a fun family evening at home. Besides the constant discomfort with swallowing, I feel pretty much back to  normal.
  • Sleep: Getting back to normal! I still wake up some during the night, but I’m able to fall back asleep quickly. I did not need any medicine during the night.
  • Other thoughts: I can finally look at the back of my throat with a flashlight and not feel sick. Ha. It still has some of the white scabs where my tonsils once were, but it’s not nearly as thick as it once was. This is gross, but it looks like there’s just a thick coating of sinus drainage back there. I’m ready for that to be gone for good! My ENT said that everything looked perfect and just like he expected it to look at 2 weeks post-op. He said that my throat should be back to normal in another 7-10 days, but I am free to resume daily life/eating as normal. He cleared me to go back to work on Monday.

I read so many blog posts prior to my surgery to get an idea of what to expect during the recovery process. I’ve compiled a list of “Expectations vs. Reality” of my experience. 

Expectation: The pain would be intense/unbearable at times.

Reality: My pain level has not exceeded a level 4-5 (except one night got up to a 7), and those times have been few and far between. Most times, my pain level is around a 2. I used an ice pack one time for maybe half an hour to help ease the pain.

Expectation: I would lose (up to) 10 pounds.

Reality: I lost 3 pounds. This is probably a good thing, as I didn’t really have 10 extra pounds to lose.

Expectation: My throat would be red and raw with a clear incision site from the surgery.

Reality: No, no, no. I knew people talked about having scabs in their throat after surgery, but I did NOT know that the scabs were white and yellow. It literally looked like my throat was covered in cottage cheese. Or maybe toasted marshmallow cream. I can’t even tell you how disgusting it looked. I literally couldn’t look at my throat until very recently because it made me feel nauseous to see it like that.

Expectation: I would be able to take care of myself (i.e. getting my own drinks/medicines) after surgery.

Reality: For the first 7-8 days, I could do VERY LITTLE for myself at all. I depended on my husband for almost everything. I rarely left the bed the first week. I was so weak from not eating and not sleeping that I needed a lot of help.

Expectation: I would constantly eat (Sonic) ice.

Reality: I don’t think I ate any ice at all.

Expectation: I would have horrifically bad breath.

Reality: That just didn’t happen to me. My husband will vouch for me that it was just never bad!

Expectation: Food and drink would taste different/bad.

Reality: Everything tasted normal to me.

Expectation: The recovery process would be a “rollercoaster” with some good days and then some bad days.

Reality: Yes. This was very true! Day 7 was probably the worst day of all for me. It really messes with your mind to think that you’re starting to feel better and then take a drastic nosedive into feeling awful again!

Well, there you have it! If you’re going through the recovery process from a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy, or if you’re planning to have the surgery, just know that you’ll get through it! It certainly was not a pleasant experience by any means, but honestly it was not nearly as bad as I expected it to be. My main recommendation would be NOT to take the prescription pain medicine if you can avoid it. If I could have a “do-over,” I would stick to OTC pain meds to avoid all of the yucky side effects that the Rx medicine gave me the first week. I’m glad to be almost on the other side of recovery and can’t wait to experience life without a sore throat all the time!

3 thoughts on “Adult Tonsillectomy Recovery – Days 11-14 + Expectations vs. Reality

  1. I’m on day 11 of recovery and the pain is very minimal 1-2 most of the day, a simple ice pack for 5 minutes or so would do the trick with pain. For me days 1-9 were the most painful, where pain got up to a 10 easily. Days 1-3 were very difficult for me since unfortunately the pharmacy forgot to make my pain medication and the surgery was on a Friday so the pain had to be manage with tylenol and it relieved the pain for maybe an hour. Mornings are the worst, I couldn’t sleep since my throat would dry up and drinking water to rehydrate was unbreable pain. I’m glad I got the surgery, but there were days that I regretted everything because the pain was so intense for me.


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