I last wrote about my tonsillectomy procedure (read here if you missed it), so now I want to share about my recovery process. Since there are several different aspects, I will break it down into different categories.
First I want to start by saying that everyone recovers differently from an adult tonsillectomy. The doctor will tell you that it will feel like you have a really sore throat for 7-10 days, however I’ve heard many stories of people saying it took longer or they had complications, like bleeding and coughing up blood. Luckily my experience was closer to what the doctor said and I am very thankful for that.
I was on Tylenol-Codeine (take every 6 hours) and an antibiotic (take twice a day). With a tonsillectomy one should get these in liquid form, which brought me back to my childhood. While the Tylenol didn’t taste very good, the antibiotic was the pink liquid that tastes like really sugary bubble gum. I loved that stuff as a kid and I still love it. Whenever I took it I told Chris I was having my dessert. I was disappointed when it ran out.
I think this was the hardest part of recovering for me, not because I had a hard time eating, but because I was really bored with my choices. The doctor told me to be on a cold, soft diet and to stay away from acidic foods, like certain fruits and tomatoes. Also, while a lot of people said to eat ice cream, the same amount of people told me not to because it builds up mucous in your throat and trying to clear that mucous could be painful.
At the beginning my diet consisted of Jello, Italian Ice, and cold pasta. While I was told the anesthesia and medicine could curb my appetite, it definitely did not, so this diet was really hard for me because I frequently found myself hungry. After day 2 I started eating a lot of hard boiled egg whites because I needed protein in my body instead of sugar and carbs. I also added mashed potatoes, Mac and Cheese, and eventually lukewarm soups. If my throat felt weird after eating, I would cool it down with a mango Italian ice. I started eating ice cream on day 4 because I was feeling pretty good and I had my first real meal on day 6. While my first meal felt fine, I was still very cautious until my follow up appointment on day 10. My overall advice: eat and drink regularly. The more you use your throat the better.
Sleeping was difficult the first two nights because I wasn’t sure the best way to sleep, so I would wake up a lot. I originally thought I should sleep on my back (like in the hospital bed), but I soon realized that my saliva would start going down my throat and I would wake up coughing which did not feel good. I also woke up a lot the first night because it hurt and I was anxious for it to reach 4am so I could take my next dose of medicine. Sometimes I would wake up coughing because my throat felt dry and I was wishing I had my leaky moisture mask on. This would also happen when I was awake, but it’s more disturbing to wake up coughing.
Eventually I figured out that sleeping on my side and stomach was the best. After the second night I slept fine. I also slept a lot! While I did not take naps during the day, I would sleep 10-12 hours at night. I’m not sure if that was from tiredness from the procedure or because I love to sleep. Either way I was fine with it. Chris even had fun with it by waking me up with the Gronk. I don’t know why, but whenever the magazine was in sight I felt like he was starring at me with his “sexy” necklace and I felt uncomfortable. So Chris and I have kept it to hide around the house for each other and he saw this as a perfect opportunity.
My only expectation was that it would hurt. Because I had read/heard a lot of horror stories of adult tonsillectomies, I was prepared for a more painful experience than I had. While I think I have a high pain tolerance, I knew bleeding and coughing up blood was possible. Plus, it’s really hard to imagine what something will feel like that you’ve never experienced before. I would say personally that having mono hurt more than getting my tonsils out.
While I knew my throat would hurt, I was really surprised how much my tongue hurt. Sometimes my tongue hurt more than my throat. I think it was from the doctor moving it around during the surgery. It caused my tongue to be raw and cut in certain places. My tongue was swollen for about 3 days after the surgery. Luckily Chris liked the way it made me talk because I would slur my speech and talk softly… I think he liked it because my sassy tone never came out.
My brother’s girlfriend got her tonsils out a few months before me and she told me not to look at my scars, which totally made me want to. With a tonsillectomy your incisions are cauterized. I expected my throat to look dark purple, but it was white! That was quite shocking. It looked like my throat was completely covered in tonsil stones (luckily that was not the case) and when the white stuff started falling off it also felt like tonsil stones. Kinda gross, but it didn’t feel completely abnormal to me. I would say my throat looked normal around day 10.
Did it fix the problem?
Yes and no. Yes because I can no longer get tonsils stones. However, this weekend we discovered that I can still get bad breath (same smell as having tonsil stones though not as strong) after eating ice cream, though it went away by the next day, whereas the tonsil stone smell would linger until they fell out. I cried after Chris told me. Not because I was mad at him, but because I thought getting my tonsils out would solve all these problems and I was disappointed that it didn’t. After doing more research we found that I am either lactose intolerance (least likely) or that the oral microbes in my mouth digest the protein in ice cream and let off a pungent sulfurous smell deep in my throat (most likely). And while the fix might seem simple (dental hygiene), Chris noticed this after I flossed, brushed my teeth, used my tongue scrapper, and used mouthwash. So while I looked forward to getting my tonsils out so I could freely eat ice cream, at this point it looks like it’s something I still need to avoid, which is frustrating.
So that is the gist of my recovery process. The only thing that hurts occasionally is yawning. I didn’t yawn much the first week (probably because I slept half the day), but the second week yawning really hurt because my throat was tight. While it hurt I tried to yawn a lot to stretch it out. Plus, when you start telling people that it hurts to yawn, you start thinking about it and then need to yawn. Don’t you feeling like yawning right now? Because I do.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section and I will try to answer them soon.
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Thanks for reading and for caring about my tonsillectomy. I appreciate everyone who prayed for me, checked on me, or did something special.