After years of bugging doctors with recurring outbreaks of tonsillitis and almost constant tonsil stones a doctor finally sent me to a specialist.
Lo and behold, they were beyond repair and a tonsillectomy was well overdue.
In the run up to my procedure I did some internet research, and found that most posts were either saying ‘tonsillectomies are really easy to recover from’ or were ‘a tonsillectomy is the worst thing you will ever do’ horror stories, neither of which were at all helpful!
With this in mind, I’ve decided to write a blog about my personal experience for anyone who is going to undergo the operation with some friendly advice.
As I’d never had surgery before, I was pretty nervous. I’d only had gas anaesthetic at the dentist and wasn’t a big fan! However, going under was easy and the morphine-type-painkiller they gave me before was bliss!
I came around after about an hour, I had lots of painkillers injected and didn’t feel any pain.
I was having an outpatient’s procedure, which meant going home after 6 hours from coming round. While in the hospital I ate a sandwich which was very difficult. It took me around 30 minutes and I had to have lots of water to make it go down!
For me, it wasn’t painful but it was just difficult, it was like I had forgotten how to swallow and couldn’t make my mouth do anything! Eating stayed like this for a few days.
The first few days-
The first couple of days I had someone stay home with me to help with making food etc. and making sure I was OK.
I was given Tramadol, Paracetmol and antibiotics to take regularly and also Ibuprofen to be taken after meals. In the UK, we are advised to eat a normal pre-tonsillectomy diet. According to my doctors, the saliva produced whilst eating is what helps your throat to heal. It also helps your recovery just by using your throat.
I was advised that only eating ‘soft’ foods could also make the risk of infection greater, so even though it was really difficult I persisted in eating normal foods.
I would also say remember to drink lots! Even if it is painful it is much better than to be dehydrated which will slow your recovery right down. I drank sugary squash which was easy to drink and gave me some energy.
I had my operation on Friday, and the Saturday, Sunday and Monday after I felt tired and my face was swollen but I wasn’t in too much pain.
The pain came on Tuesday and Wednesday. I was in agony with earache and eating was almost impossible, I cried during every meal! It was manageable with a higher dosage of Tramadol and I have quite a low pain threshold though so for other people it might not have been so bad.
I found that chewing gum helped my earache. Earache is a common tonsillectomy side-effect, the pain from your throat radiates in your ears.
I would stress that even though you feel awful and the pain is bad- keep eating as best you can! It will help your recovery immensely in the long run.
You will also get a strange white coating on your throat, it’s nothing to worry about and will disappear as you continue to eat.
By the next Friday, one week after my operation, I had finished my Tramadol and antibiotics and was feeling lots better in myself. I managed to do some walking that weekend in the countryside but stayed away from crowds so I didn’t risk catching any colds etc.
I just found the days very boring, make sure you have some box sets and some books or magazines to take your mind off things! Make sure you take your pain killers too, even if you don’t feel like you need them, especially at night to help you sleep.
The second week-
During the second week I gradually built up my energy again, and reduced the amount of painkillers I was taking every day. Some people relapse and have more pain in the second week but I was fine.
I ate lots of vegetables, complex carbs, salads, protein and fruit.
I went back to work after two weeks and was a little bit tired at first but soon got back into things.
Six weeks later-
My throat has healed fine and my consultant has signed me off. The only lasting annoyance from the operation has been my sense of taste. The procedure can damage your taste buds and they can take a few months to heal, so sweet food sometimes tastes really bad for me.
I think this differs for everyone though, of course.
Overall, I think that if you are suffering from tonsil related problems and you have the choice to have a tonsillectomy then go for it. The pain was bad for a few days and it’s not a nice or easy thing to go through, but then neither is tonsillitis and you’ll never suffer from it ever again!
Bleeding is a risk, and can be very scary, serious and dangerous, but it only occurs in one in twenty tonsillectomy patients.
I think that people who have a bad time with the operation are far more likely to share their experiences on the internet and I’d just like to say that the majority of people have an OK time recovering and that they also believe that the outcome is worth it.