I am still recovering from having one of my tonsil’s out two weeks ago. Having your tonsils out at any age is not great, but at my age it’s really not good, despite being able to eat a lot of ice-cream and I have subsequently heard that an adult tonsillectomy is quite a big deal so I’ve added some information at the bottom about what you need to know. My daughter has accused me of totally milking the situation and has taken to eye-rolling every time I mention the pain, so I appear to have totally used up all my sympathy tokens now and it’s back to normal from tomorrow as I head back into work. It’s been painful, but not that painful. It’s taking longer than I thought to get rid of the sore throat, but it’s manageable. Especially with the drugs.
Basically when I had tonsillitis back in January, the doctor said that if my tonsil didn’t go down after a few weeks then I should go back to see my GP because I had one unfeasibly large tonsil – 5 times bigger than the other one and I couldn’t be sure how long I’d had it. He sent me to a specialist ENT surgeon who said that the only way to be sure it was nothing sinister was to do a biopsy and on that basis they might as well remove the whole thing. She said “if you were my sister, I would advise you to get it removed, despite there is a one in 10 (that’s high!) risk of haemorrhaging and on rare occasions you might need another operation or a blood transfusion”. Great. Fun.
So I went away to think about it and get some other opinions. My brother, the doctor of course immediately flagged up that “yes, get it
out, we need to rule out lymphoma”. LYMPHOMA?? Who said anything about a lymphoma? What even is it? 24 hours of Googling later and I was fully terrified obviously. I had nearly all the symptoms and was clearly dying. Actually the only symptom I would have quite liked, but clearly didn’t have was weight loss.
The surgeon recommended that I get it done within the month and so my only available option was to book myself in for Friday 13th July – because of course no one else was going to risk an operation on that day. The only other free date was two days before my son’s 18th birthday and I wasn’t going to miss out on all his fun. “How do they do the op?” asked one of my more intelligent friends, “is it keyhole surgery?” KEYHOLE??? When there is a bloody great cakehole access to it? I don’t think so.
In preparation for not being able to go out, I bought all the tonsil food required and Cointreau seemed like maybe a good idea too:-
I was worried about the operation naturally, but friends rallied round and took me to hospital, staying with me until just before I had to go to theatre, keeping me amused. Here she has my disposable pants on her head:-
Post the op I should never have listened to my children – “go for as much morphine as possible mum, it’s really fun, just say it still hurts when you come round and they’ll up your dose.” So I irresponsibly did that just a little bit and then ate a sandwich and some ice-cream and was promptly sick. My daughter came to visit me and watched me being given liquid Calpol, my regression to a five year old child complete. She stayed to keep me company and then other friends picked me up the next morning to bring me home which was a relief, because hospitals during our heatwave were bloody hot and uncomfortable. I have had a lovely stream of visitors and flowers during the two weeks I have been at home, having to avoid public places and I’ve read a lot of magazines and books and fully got engrossed in Love Island!
Some lovely presents to help cheer me up:-
This has generally been my position for the last two weeks – I should have asked for a neck lift at the same time:-
Lots of lovely flowers in da house:-
I’m still on strong painkillers as it takes a long time to heal and swallowing is of course painful. It honestly looks disgusting (so best not to look or show anyone) and you can’t believe it’s ever going to heal given it’s in your mouth and constantly wet so can’t form a scab. On the upside, as it’s an internal open wound you can shower and bath as normal and toss and turn in your bed with gay abandon. They keep talking about sluff or slough, not sure how you’d spell it and how you have to eat scrapey things to clear the stuff and bacteria – with children these days they give them Dorritos on day one. I tried Twiglets and then immediately regretted it. Why do that to myself? It’s too painful. I have been eating toast, but admittedly chewing it until it’s a soggy mess before swallowing and the surgeon’s advice was “just try to eat as normally as possible.” But trust me, there are things to be avoided to start with that are surprisingly stingy and painful. The pain is meant to peak on around Day 5 and then slowly improve over the next few days, but mine is still painful two weeks later – I suspect it’s coz I iz old, so I basically stayed in bed for the first week and just pottered around the house enjoying a bit of time and space to recalibrate my life.
I’m not sure what it’s meant to look like at this stage, there is surprisingly little follow up from the surgeon so I don’t really know whether my progression is normal or not. I have to go and see her a month after my op for a follow up, but that’s it. Oh and of course she called me with the results of the biopsy and all good – I don’t have cancer, I have reactive lymphoid tissue – responding to a localised infection that has now been removed. My brother Dr was delighted to hear the news, but followed it up with “oh, well, so you basically had a totally pointless operation”. NOT REALLY. It’s only not pointless if I had lymphoma which I’m very glad I don’t have and because it was so unfeasibly large it was causing breathing and swallowing issues so GOOD I’VE HAD IT REMOVED SURELY?
Annoyingly I haven’t lost any weight because despite the fact that you don’t want to eat, you have to in order to take the strong painkillers as they need to be taken during or after food in order to protect your stomach.
So here are some of my top tips for eating and drinking:-
Whatever you do keep taking the drugs regularly – as that will keep you topped up and the pain to a minimum
Gargle with salt water
Suck ice cubes
Drink sips of iced water through the day constantly to try and keep bacteria away and very soothing
Drink fizzy drinks (champagne included!)
Eat toast with Manuka honey
Bio yoghurt drinks to balance out the antibiotics
Lemon, ginger and honey is lovely to drink
If it’s really painful drink everything through a straw as you can direct it to the back of your throat more
Later maybe adding a bit of whiskey for a hot toddy to sooth the throat? (sure not recommended by dr’s especially if you’re on codeine too)
Cornflakes – quite good if your feeling brave to help clear the throat, but if not you can leave them until they’re really soggy and don’t hurt at all
Try and eat Twiglets or marmite
Eat bananas – surprisingly stingy
Eat grapes – ditto
Drink orange juice
Chocolate not great
Pasta sauces/tomatoes too stingy
And for anyone else going through it – good luck! I feel your pain.