Saturday, March 25, 2017

My adult tonsillectomy experience - a positive perspective

To cut the long story short my tonsils needed to come out ever since I was a child and I never grew out of having constant issues with them. So in my late 20's I saw two ENT specialists and decided to go on a public hospital waiting list as the issue wasn't too pressing. After three years I got the letter and a phone call and my surgery was booked three weeks later.

That gave me enough time to arrange some time off work (I was told to have two weeks but I was back on day 12) and also prepare for the surgery. A both ENTs informed me that there will be quite a bit of pain so I have decided to read some stories on the internet. In retrospect I don't think it was a great idea as most of the stories were of people complaining and describing it as the most agonizing experience and wished they never had it done. Let me tell you it wasn't too bad.

Day 1.
My surgery was scheduled for 12 but got moved to 2 and hospital sent me an SMS so I would get there a bit later. After a bit of paperwork and waiting i was given this nice blanket with heat packs and wheeled in into pre-op room where doctors and nurses explained to me what was going to happen. They put a cannula into my hand and wheeled me into the operating room. I wiggled my way onto the operating table and suddenly felt very relaxed and told anesthetist and I feel sleepy already. Next think I knew they woke me up and told me that my surgery went well. Then they wheeled me into my ward that I shared with four other people but we had curtains for privacy. I was very drowsy but had a bad night sleep because they kept waking me up to check my blood pressure etc. I also got given some regular pain killers. My tongue felt a but swollen and numb and my throat was a bit numb too. Very mild pain even though they took two big pieces of the tissue at the back of my throat. In the morning I finished all my breakfast and got sent home with some strong pain killers. I was well looked after and happy with how everything went at the hospital.

Day 2-4.
Plenty of naps and rest time. I was taking my pain killers every four hours (alternating between Panadol and Nurofen) even in the middle of the night. My throat looked quite raw but I was trying to keep my fluid intake up and eat as normally as I could. Anything salty or acidic was a no-no and I found that ice-cream or anything frozen didn't feel good. Lots of warm tea and nothing sticky either. My mother in law brought me some mashed potatoes and chicken soup and it went down well. On day two my uvula was very swollen and I couldn't sleep on my bak as it was blocking my airway so I had to be proped up with few pillows. Also I would get very unpleasant taste esp. after the sleep. I think it was mainly due to food getting trapped in the crevices of the wounds. I found the solution - gently rinsing the area with either water or Peroxyl mouthwash using blunt curved tip syringe.

It would aim the liquid exactly where I needed it to go but you have to be careful not to damage the delicate tissue. Also I was mute most of the time and communicated via messaging or nodding. I must also say that I had some swelling under my jaw and it didn't look very flattering.

Day 5-8.
As expected the pain intensified and I got referred pain into my jaw and ears. It was time to take some strong pain killed (Endone) to keep it under control. Long ice pack also helped a lot. I got one from the pharmacy and used a scarf to hold it next under my jaw. Eating would usually trigger the pain so I would try to take strong pain killers before I had a meal (it would take me ages to finish anything). The pain wasn't constant and I would distract myself with movies and games. Plus lots of love from family, friends and kittens. I got some bleeding couple of times too but luckily it stopped otherwise it would be another emergency hospital visit.

Day 9-12.
Pain got a lot more manageable and I was back on my usual pain killer schedule (I made a little 2 week plan for it and wrote exact times and the type of meds plus any notes). Still couldn't speak properly and my taste was funny but overall was healing well and as planned. I also skipped my pain killers one night and woke up in pain so lesson was learned. Stayed on pain killers for two and a half weeks.

I am now four weeks post-op and almost back to normal. The swelling and pain are gone and the back of my throat is almost normal. Did my first gym session today and been eating pretty much anything.

The positives
  • I can breathe a lot better and can feel more air going into my lungs even when I breathe through my nose.
  • Running felt a lot easier today due to improved breathing even after a long break
  • My breath is nice and fresh all the time. 
  • I have lost 4 kgs and can fit into a lot of my old "skinny" clothes so feel much happier about my body.
  • I've got more defined jaw line as my tonsils were permanently enlarged before and would slightly bulge out.
  • I am glad that they are gone and I won't have to worry about getting tonsillitis and other nasty issues associated with it ever again!

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