So, I meant to post this in April, but it’s better I did not, as I’ve needed a bit of distance on this one not to make it a crazy person post, and honestly it still might be.
On April 20th, I had a UPPP and tonsillectomy. I don’t recommend getting a tonsillectomy as an adult. At all. That being said, I’d do it again.
This post is about my experience thus far, and you may want to stop here. Also, it’s REALLY long (I mean REALLY!!). And probably has typos I haven’t found yet because it’s too damn long.
Still reading? Let’s begin!
I have sleep apnea. For those of you with sleep apnea, my last sleep study number was 109.
CPAP was not working for me, despite a year of trying off and on. I could tolerate the CPAP up until the full pressure came on (so around 45 minutes, an hour if I was pushing and trying really hard to not give up) and then it was just a mess of coughing and sputtering and misery. Additionally, along with the usual adjustment crap of a sore chest and face acne and blah blah blah, I’d start getting sick almost every time I went back to trying CPAP. It got really old really fast. The trying to use it during the day when relaxed tricks didn’t work, aromatherapy didn’t work, it got to the point where just thinking about CPAP stressed me out and kept me awake all night.
Shmoo was having none of this. He loves me, he wants to have a long life with me, and me dying of sleep apnea induced heart failure or complications thereof were not something he was going to tolerate, so I went to the ENT.
I love my ENT. He’s a practical man who has innately understood how to communicate effectively with me, which I’ve found is a rare thing with doctors, so I am totally going to keep him. (If you live near me and need an ENT recommendation, hit me up, I’m happy to pass along his info.) Even without looking at my sleep study (but I did tell him it was bad and that the records would confirm it when he requested them….) he told me what my options were if I wasn’t going to do CPAP and didn’t try to talk me into or out of my choices. He was upfront about how absolutely shitty it is to have a tonsillectomy at 40, how much pain I was going to be in, and negotiated effectively with me about how much time I was going to need off afterwards. (He was totally right too!)
The procedures I had done were a UPPP and Tonsillectomy. So basically, he removed some of the turbinates (or nasal concha according to google) in my nose, my adenoids, a good chuck of my soft palette including my uvula, and my ginormous tonsils. This is normally done as outpatient. Because I have sleep apnea, and apnea patients are prone to bleed and have more issues after this surgery, I got a one night stay in the hospital as well.
And here’s how it went down as I remember it…
I showed up at the hospital on Monday morning April 20, at 7:30 AM. My surgery was scheduled for 8:40. I got to put on a fabulous hospital gown and sit on a stretcher while they prepped me. I got an IV. They took my blood pressure and it was stupid high. People came and talked to me and wandered off. My IV had to be changed because it was the wrong kind because I was staying over-night. The girl did it in a hurry because the surgery team was waiting to haul me off. They popped some shit into my IV with warning to kiss my people bye quick, because I wasn’t going to remember anything else after this. I don’t remember shmoo kissing me on the forehead and leaving.
I woke up at some point later hearing people talk around me. I did not open my eyes, so everything was black, but they were talking about my blood-pressure and how stupid high it was and how it needed to go down. I am almost positive this was after the surgery, but I wouldn’t put money on it. I was pretty out of my head. I woke up in recovery and opened my eyes to see family there waiting on me to come around. I told them my blood pressure was a thing and dosed back off. Then I’d wake up, and doze back off. This went on for a while, possibly several hours.
Around noon? or so, maybe later, they got me to my hospital room. I was very happy about this new hospital bed because the stretcher was making my butt sore.
I remember being asked about my pain levels a few times. I know I answered 7 once. Then 4 or 5. Then I remember another 7. Then it was evening, and I was more alert. I started eating ice to help numb my throat. I tried an orange sherbert but it was too thick so I went back to ice. I got pissed off at the hospital gown and no one answering if I could take it off, so I took matters into my own hands and changed into shorts and a tank top I had brought with me. This made going to pee with all my attached accoutrement SO MUCH EASIER. Wrestling with that huge (because I am a fatty) hospital gown was a fucking disaster when trying to pee and not piss off the IV monitor.
When the night nurse came on, I asked her if my IV was supposed to hurt. She said it was not, and that meant she’d need to remove it but she needed to put a new one in first before removing the old one, but first she’d try flushing the one that hurt. It didn’t flush. It turns out, that fucker was bent. So IV number 3 was put in, and IV number 2 removed. And then, because my blood-pressure was still an issue and she really couldn’t see why (I looked comfortable and relaxed, I wasn’t distressed, etc etc), they gave me additional pain meds, and took me off of the IV. An hour later, my blood pressure was fine.
During this time I also had a heart monitor on a finger, and some compression sleeve things on my calves that were supposed to simulate walking around and prevent blood clots which they were incredibly worried about for whatever reason. I took the compression sleeves off after a while because I found them irritating and stupid, and they interfered with me going to pee, which I had to do constantly from all the IV fluids and the ice I was consuming. When the night nurse came in and found me standing up stretching my calves by doing lunges and walking around dragging my IV pole around, she agreed it was fine to quit doing those if I really wanted to, and I did. She also brought me orange jello and it was FUCKING DELICIOUS. It had a flavor and slid right down my throat without bothering it. It was heaven. As it turns out, I was also supposed to be on some oxygen cone thing on my face, and should have been all along but had removed it when I got transferred to the room. So I cooperated and put that back on since I didn’t have an IV drip anymore and finally went to sleep around 3 AM. Poor shmoo slept on the little couch in the room.
The next day I finally got cut loose to go home, the only hiccup being that my doc had done the paperwork already the previous day so while we thought we were waiting on something, we were not. We finally got that sorted and I got the hell out of there around noon. My doc had thoughtfully prescribed my meds the week before so I got them filled before the surgery and they were at home waiting on me. I promptly took them and slept, eating/drinking only cold, icy things or cool things for several days. That whole week is basically one day in my memory. Then there was the weekend, which I also mostly slept through, and then I did a week of WFH. That Friday (May 1st) I had my post-op follow up and was cut lose to go back to work, start eating more things, but no orange juice, no scratchy dry foods like chips, and no gym for another week. (My healing was a bit slower than it should have been, but we expected this due to my arthritis issues.)
The next Monday saw me back in the office, but not talking as much or as loudly as normal, and then early Wednesday morning(day 15) I had some bleeding that I could not get stopped, and had to call the ENT office’s emergency line. My doc was the one on call (thank goodness!) and he had me go on in, because apparently bleeding at day 15 just isn’t common and he wanted to go ahead and cauterize.
So 6 hours and 3 IVs later, that’s what had happened. I remember a bit more about the 2nd surgery, and while it wasn’t a horror story, I am still a bit too close to it to want to rehash it here. (As of writing this, it was only 5 days ago, so… yeah.)
I went home and both shmoo and I slept it off. When leaving the hospital Wednesday morning, I really thought I’d be back at work the next day. I was an idiot. Thursday morning I quickly saw I was fucked because just the thought of trying to get dressed was overwhelming, and called in. I slept the rest the day. I think I spent a total of 6 hours awake on that Thursday, and had no trouble sleeping that night. The overall result of the 2nd surgery was that I had to be careful with foods again for a few days, and it extending my no heavy lifting and gym time for 2 more weeks.
It was a lot of pain, and a lot of discomfort.
I am still tired/weakened, but I can tell I am getting better each day.
I have no uvula (it will grow back/be replaced by my soft palette at some point).
While I have found that anesthesia and common post surgery meds don’t cause me problems, it appears that IVs do not get along with me at all. That’s ok, I don’t like them much either.
If you’ve made it this far, you either really interested in this experience or you are thinking about having this surgery as an adult, so I want to list some observations and food tips below that might be found helpful.
It was totally worth it. It might not be for you, but for me it was, despite all the shit I’ve talked about above.
The day of the surgery, even with all the internal swelling from said surgery, I could already breathe better through my nose. I immediately saw an improvement in my snoring and most likely my apnea (I’ll do a study again in 3 months, so this is all anecdotal right now). Before, if you slept in our house, you heard me snore. Now, you have to be in the same room, and that’s IF I am snoring. I am still so fucking tired all the time, and odd things trigger coughing fits right now, which hurt. Yawning hurts like a bitch. Sneezing is surprisingly not the most painful thing. In fact, it’s a bit easier post surgery than it was before. I still sneeze super fast and hard, but it doesn’t seem to be tearing out of me near as much.
1. Sleep in a recliner. Seriously, if you don’t have one, beg/borrow/steal one before this surgery, you are going to want it. I am still sleeping in it half the time now. It really makes a huge difference to be sleeping more upright and a huge stack of pillows just doesn’t help you do this as effectively.
2. Listen to your doctor when he tells you it’s going to suck, be painful, and be much harder to recover than you think. He’s telling you the truth. Take your meds on time. Set timers if you have to, even for the middle of the night. It’s much easier and more effective to stay ahead of your pain level than to get stuck behind it.
3. Foodwise, have some things prepared for post surgery.
Be sure you have access to ice chips/crushed ice.
Buy a shit-ton of popsicles. I bought about 5 boxes of the Outshine fruit ones. I have one box left right now. (You don’t want ice cream. I was told that modern ice creams are too thick so they just irritate your throat instead. Also dairy makes your mucous thicker, and that was something I personally did not want.)
Go ahead and make up some jello. Several different flavors.
Coconut Water. shmoo picked some up for me just because, and it was wonderful for the first week.
Instant mashed potatoes. Get a few bags/packs, and then mix them up with extra water when you are ready for something not straight liquid. I also added jarred gravy for flavor and extra fluid.
I got a juicer, but it was too strong/thick that first week, so it didn’t work like I planned. I also did gazpacho around day 5, and that was pretty good because I was still on cold only foods.
Humidifier. I had a cool mist one, but I ended up buying a warm vapor/mist one week 2. The cool mist bothered my throat week 2 and just agitated me.
Lots of tea varieties that you really really like.
-Week two when the scabs started coming off, my throat was a lot more raw and cold things stopped being OK.
-Coconut water also burned my throat for several days around that time, and I had quit eating again.
I lived on luke-warm tea and a shit ton of honey for about 3 days that second week.
Once warm is ok, I found taking a hot shower helped with my throat pain levels substantially. Specifically if I had just woken up. In the mornings I’d wake up, take my meds, start tea, and then go take a steamy shower and let the warm water hit on my throat on all sides and breathe the steam in deep. HUGE DIFFERENCE.
This list is of course not comprehensive. You might have different instructions than I did, and you’ll probably heal differently.
I was told liquid diet the first week, so I ate jello, popsicles, italian ices, coconut water, and beef consume/broths (once I was ok with any heat in my food, which took almost all of that first week). Then very soft foods were ok as time went on, but I was not supposed to eat things that encouraged my scabs to fall off. I’ve heard that other people are told to do horrible things like eat dry toast and potato chips. I think I would have killed someone about that sort of shit.
4. Timeline wise… Day 1 hurts. Day 2 is a little better, but you are going to hurt for several days and it will suck balls. Seriously. Then you’ll start getting better, and then your scabs start falling off (day 5-6-7) and it’s super fucking painful all over again, then it’ll be better, and you can likely come off your pain meds.
5. Try not to freak out about the shit you go read on the internet for what other people are experiencing for the same day you are on. Everyone’s experience is different and generally the only people who post on those forums are horror stories. People who have good experiences don’t generally stop to bitch about it on the internet, they just go on about their lives.
6. Don’t think you are going to do jack shit while recovering. You won’t. You are going to sleep. You might try to watch TV, or read, or futz around on you-tube or whatever, but you won’t, you’ll just fall asleep in the middle of whatever you thought you were going to do. It’s probably for the best, so don’t fight it, you need sleep to heal, so sleep.
Also, don’t think you are going to be able to recover from this surgery and do something important like watch your kids (if you have them). That’s not going to happen unless you just like to make your life a living hell. It’s not good for you, or the kids. Don’t do it.
7. Finally, set up someone to be your communications agent. Let everyone know before-hand that X person is who any information will be coming from and that’s who all questions should be sent to, because you aren’t going to give one flying fuck what anyone has to say or what they want to know, you are just going to be resentful that these people who care about you won’t leave you the fuck alone for a few fucking days and FUCK THEM YOU JUST WANT SOME SLEEP AND PEACE.
I know this sounds hostile, but seriously. You’ll be drugged, in pain, and cranky as all get out. Make it easier on yourself and everyone who cares for you by appointing the poor bastard who is going to be around you most as your communications agent, and let them deal with all that while you rest. (I totally did this for my second/emergency surgery and don’t regret it a bit. I wish I had thought to do it for the first one.)
And that’s all I got. Personally, I feel this is more than enough, so I am stopping now.