Monday, November 12, 2007

Having my tonsils removed at age 26

In case you're wondering what it's like to have your tonsils removed as an adult (and several of you have asked me), here's the scoop.

Day 1. The procedure itself was relatively short. I checked into the hospital's surgery center at about 10.30 and was discharged shortly before 1 o'clock. As far as I can remember, the surgery itself started at 11.30 and I was waking up from the anesthesia (speaking Arabic, according to the attending staff) at 12.30.

Immediately after the surgery, before everything swelled up, I was already glad I had done it. I could tell that my throat was going to feel so much better once it was healed.

The rest of the day was kind of a blur. I was on a half-dose of Vicodin most of the time and just slept and swallowed the hours away. Swallowing was quite the chore. I had to work up the courage to do it each time.

Days 2-4. Swallowing, eating, breathing, and talking were very, very painful, even through Vicodin. In fact, talking was actually impossible for me. The problem wasn't that my voice was gone; it was that the movement of my mouth required to produce speech was excruciating. I think the whole house was covered in sticky notes by this point, filled with all the things I was trying to say out loud but couldn't.

Not only was the inside of my mouth sore, but parts of my jaw and lips were in pain, as well. I could hardly open my mouth to "eat" "food," which is what I would call slurping applesauce from a spoon. I lived on applesauce, apple juice, popsicles, and brown rice for these few days. When this is all over, I think I'll stay away from apple-based products for a while.

Day 5. I ventured out of the house for the first time to a low-key dinner at a friend's house and managed to eat some mashed potatoes. In just a few days, I had lost 5 pounds. In other developments, I was able to open my mouth enough to brush my teeth for the first time since the surgery. The pain was still bad, but it was really starting to feel more like strep throat than post-surgery discomfort.

Days 6-8. I woke up on day 6 feeling much better. The major problem now was not necessarily pain, but tightness all through my throat. Also, for some reason I was constantly yawning, which was very uncomfortable. Fortunately, I was able to expand my diet to include instant breakfast and bananas.

Day 9. I was finally able to talk again more than a week after the surgery. I also decided to try to exercise today, and managed to go for a walk, but it turned out to be too much. That night, I started bleeding. I'll spare you the gory details except to say that after a long night, it stopped, and I woke up in the morning with a trickle of dried blood running down from the corner of my mouth. Jeremy said I looked like a vampire.

Days 10-12. This brings us up to date. In many ways, these last couple of days have been the worst because of the bleeding. I had started to eat a more varied diet but now I'm back to applesauce and popsicles. But I have a feeling that tomorrow will be a good day.

In summary:
Total weight lost: about 10 pounds, some of which I'm sure is just water weight.
Total recovery time: about 12 days; probably a couple more to be 100%.
Days I had help, in the form of my mom: 5. I wish it could have been more.
Number of days I thought I would take Vicodin: 0.
Number of days I actually took Vicodin, even though it was just a half dose: 5.
Percentage of people with tonsillectomies who experience bleeding: 10%, apparently.
Movies watched while convalescent: Evita, Eragon, Cars, Little House on the Prairie, Pride & Prejudice, 3.10 to Yuma (the old version), parts of The Fellowship of the Ring, and Gone With the Wind.
Books read: none. Either my head wasn't clear enough or I was just in too much pain.

And finally, the answer to the question, Was it worth it? DEFINITELY. I am very glad I did it, despite all the pain and suffering.

Any other questions?

I'm also curious how my experience compares with that of someone who had their tonsils removed at a much younger (or older, I guess) age. I've heard it's an easier process for children, but maybe that's just because the children forget (or can't express) how painful it was.


Mikael said...

sounds like a great weight loss plan! I will sign up

Amy said...

Hi, I love your blog! I moved away from Tucson just over a year ago and I miss it sometimes, which is how I came across your blog. (I searched for Tucson on technorati).

I had my tonsils out very young - I think about age 6, and I had a really bad time! I lost a ton of weight and still hate jello to this day. I remember feeling nauseous a lot. Because I already didn't weigh much to begin with and then had trouble keeping food down, I ended up on IVs for a while. I think this is really rare, it is probably much easier for most little kids. But not all! Glad you're almost all better.

Eevi said...

You probably didn't even know that I read your blog. I found it on someone else's blog from the ward. Anyways, I got my tonsils removed when I was seven or eight and I had major bleeding problems afterward. I kept bleeding into my mouth and my nose and then I would swallow some of it,then it would make me throw up and my stomach swelled up with all this blood. I ended up in the hospital for few days after my surgery. I think maybe even ICU but I am not sure since I was only seven at the time.

However, I used to snore like a old man when I was just a little girl and now I don't, so i agree with you that it was worth it:)

Bridget said...

Amy, welcome! I feel the same way about applesauce now as you do about Jellow. Ew.

Eevi, maybe someday we can be friends in real life, too! In the meantime, welcome. Your story freaked me out almost as much as my mother-in-law's, which I am wondering if she is going to post here...

Teresa said...

You should see the new 3:10 to Yuma. I thought about it for days afterward.

Bridget said...

Aaaaand for some reason I spelled Jellow wrong. Sorry.

momj said...

When I read you were going to get your tonsils out at your age my first thought was ..."OUCH! its going to hurt BAD!" I got mine out in high school and it was terrible. But it was worth it to STOP getting strep throat every year! I remember my mom bringing me big tupperware plastic cups with the SIPPY LID on into my room with High C drink in it. I felt pampered by that. ( I had an upstairs room, and otherwise my mom rarely came up!) The other thing is that I think I OD'd on ASPERGUM. It deadened the feeling in my throat so nicely that I kept chewing more and more till I started feeling rather...floaty. My friend brought me a milkshake.
All in all, its actually one of the few sick experiences I remember so vividly as a kid. It's the only time I had to go in the hospital. I am glad you are better now! It would have been so much harder being a MOM!

Kelly said...

Thanks for posting that. I might have to go to the doctor about my tonsils. And I'm 30 and really scared about the pain and how much recovery time there is from it!!

Señora H-B said...

I had my tonsils out at 18 and it was excruciating. I hope you're still experiencing the benefits of no longer having those pesky things!


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