Tonsillectomy TMI
Tonsillectomy TMI

Tonsillectomy TMI

Just what you want to read during the 3rd Nor’Easter of March 🙂

If you are easily grossed out, please read no further and just know that the tonsillectomy I had in November seems to have cured all my ailments and I’m back to 100% 🙂

tonsillectomy cartoon with gene wilder        why did i get a tonsillectomy cartoon

Soooooooo painful…

My sore throat started 8/8/17.  At some point after my 3rd doctor’s visit my mom suggested I start keeping a record, which was a great idea.  I was able to go back and fill it in from the beginning:

AUGUST 2017:
8/8/17:  low grade sore throat [a 3 out of 10], but throat isn’t red or swollen inside, low level swollen glands on outside of neck, lack of appetite, low grade headache off and on, low grade fever, fatigue [a 7 out of 10].
8/25/17:  saw nurse, strep test negative.

9/5/17:  saw Dr. #1 [a general practitioner].  strep, mono, CMV, & Lyme tests all negative.
9/9/17:  managed to run a 5k mud run with Abbie because we’d been training all year for it, dammit!!!

abbie's daughter claire trying to resurrect me after a 5k mud run

9/10/17:  noticed 3 little pimples/abscesses at the back of my throat [on my palatopharyngeal arch, if you want to get technical].  I took a photo for my records.  The arrow is pointing to the biggest one.  There’s 2 smaller ones beside it:

9/11/17:  Pop & Susie [my in-laws] came to visit.  Susie told me that she’d once had a staph infection in her throat.  I didn’t realize at that point that I did, too!  I did the best I could with all the sight-seeing and shopping during their visit but was sooooooooo exhausted.  However their visit is when I found our awesome cat rug, a definite plus:

hubby and pop relaxing on a bench in rockport, ma       the awesome meow rug i bought in newburyport, ma

9/12/17:  saw Dr. #2 [another general practitioner, didn’t like the first one].  Started 5-day z-pack, forgot to mention abscesses.
9/17/17:  sore throat felt better for a few days [a 1 out of 10].
9/22/17:  sore throat back [a 3 out of 10].  crippling fatigue [a 10 out of 10].  at this point I was working half days when necessary and going to bed right after work and sleeping all weekend.  abscesses still there.
9/28/17:  saw Dr. #3 [an ENT a.k.a. ear/nose/throat specialist] for a much more detailed throat culture.  abscesses could be “telling” [telling of WHAT???]

10/1/17:  Dr. #3’s throat culture came back positive for staph.
10/4/17:  began 7-days of Cipro† [tried Bactrim but was allergic].
10/13/17:  sore throat felt better for a few days [a 1 out of 10].
10/17/17:  sore throat back [a 3 out of 10].  fatigue still bad [a 9 out of 10].  abscesses still there.
10/18/17:  saw Dr. #3 again, started 3-week course of Magic Mouthwash [it’s a real thing, Google it!].  Yummmmmm… lydocaine.
10/25/17:  sore throat felt better for a few days [a 1 out of 10].
10/29/17:  sore throat back [a 3 out of 10].  fatigue still bad [a 9 out of 10].  abscesses still there.

11/1/17:  prescribed lozenges for thrush.  ENT suggested we start thinking about a tonsillectomy.  I’m so mad & frustrated.
11/4/17:  lozenges have had no effect on sore throat, it’s actually gotten a little worse [a 4 out of 10].  fatigue slightly better [a 7 out of 10].  abscesses still there.
11/7/17:  abscesses going away?!?  sore throat still worse [a 4 out of 10], but fatigue slowly getting better [a 6 out of 10].
11/7/17:  saw Dr. #3 again, he did another throat culture to check for rare forms of strep.  He said once the culture comes back, if it’s positive he’ll give me scary antibiotics and then do a tonsillectomy.  Otherwise, he’d like to do a tonsillectomy.
11/9/17:  saw Dr. #2 again for a 2nd opinion.  very scared and frustrated.  he said ENT is just trying to treat everything possible before resorting to surgery.  he agrees a tonsillectomy might be best course of action.  if that doesn’t work, all that’s left is an Infectious Disease Specialist…  YIKES.  he did another strep test [because why not].  came back negative.

That’s the end of my records.  I did not need the scary antibiotics and was scheduled for a tonsillectomy 2 days before Thanksgiving.  It was either that or 2 weeks before Christmas.  And since I was going to Florida for Christmas, I opted for missing Thanksgiving.  In case you’re not sure what tonsils look like [some people aren’t], here’s a pic of my throat the day before surgery, with my tonsils circled in yellow:

The morning of my surgery I was relaxed and ready to go.  Hubby drove me to the medical center 2 towns over where my ENT does his surgery.  The nurse took a picture of us:

And hubby made me laugh by taking snapchat-like photos of me with his smart phone which turned me into all kinds of animals.  These were my favorites:


Thankfully they honored my choice of having the IV stuck into my wrist instead of my hand:

Before my jaw surgery in 2005 they spent 45 very painful minutes trying to start an IV in my hand, even resorting to hot compresses until I finally demanded they do something different.  So instead of going through that again, I asked the nurse to put it in my wrist.  She jammed it right in, which OMG OUCH!  At least during my jaw surgery they numbed it first with a shot… but whatever, it was in and I was happy.  Then they started the happy meds and I was even happier!  I remember yelling “wheeeeeeeee!!!!!” as they rolled me off to the operating room.

Surgery only took 45 minutes.  Hubby was allowed to come back to the recovery room at that point, where I was completely zonked out from the anesthesia:


Not the most flattering pics, but they crack me up!!!!!!!  My jaw surgery in 2005 left me with slight nerve damage in the right side of my face, which I can usually hide with muscle control.  Not so much when I’m groggy!

And here’s where the gross pictures start.

My tonsils:

They agreed to bring them out in a jar so I could see them and take pics 😀

Day 2 and Day 7 after surgery – the nasty holes/scabs in my throat are where my tonsils used to be:


I was warned that Days 5, 6, & 7 would be the most painful.  And boy were they right.  I had been prescribed Oxycontin for my pain, which I took every 4-6 hours.  I was very paranoid of getting hooked on it, even though it was only 5mg [I’ve never been hooked on drugs [or anything else for that matter except maybe Easter candy] and I don’t plan to start now!], so I went as long as possible without taking it.  Every 2 hours I took Motrin.  Swallowing water, let alone pills, was insanely painful.  I crushed most pills into applesauce.  It took 2 sips to swallow one sip of water.  I was told to drink as much water as possible to aid with healing, so I bought this awesome 64oz [2 quart] jug on Amazon [#affiliate] before my surgery which I drank 1½ of daily [a.k.a. 3 quarts]:

At 2am on Night 6 I woke up literally shaking with pain.  I’ve never experienced anything like it.  I had tears running down my cheeks and swallowed both my Oxy and my Motrin, then waited for the pain to go from 10 back down to 7, which was manageable, though very uncomfortable.  The tonsillectomy was more painful than when I popped ligaments in my knee in college, and more painful than my jaw surgery in 2005 where they broke my jaw in 2 places and bolted it back together [skeletal deformity which wasn’t visible on the outside but which gave me many jaw & TMJ issues throughout my childhood and adulthood].

Day 10 and Day 12 after surgery:


Day 10 is when they said the scabs would start falling off the wounds, and it’s a dangerous time because you can start bleeding badly and need to go to the ER right away.  Thankfully I had no complications!

I was out of work for 2 weeks + 1 day.  I spent most of that time in bed with the cats, which wasn’t bad.  Our bedroom is very pretty:

And here was my Thanksgiving dinner:

A bowl of butternut squash and a spoonful of pumpkin pie filling [that stuff tastes WAY better inside a pie!].

It took about 3 months for my energy to come fully back.  There’s a definite gap in the amount of projects I was able to accomplish at home during last Fall and January.  It’s SO NICE to wake up on a weekend and bounce out of bed ready to go.

UPDATE 3/14/17:

I forgot to mention that while most people can eat nice, cold things after a tonsillectomy, I couldn’t tolerate anything hot OR cold.  It sucked!  No ice cream.  No cold water.  I had to drink lukewarm tap water or room temperature water out of my bottle.  A few days after my tonsillectomy I tried making a smoothie with chocolate Carnation Instant Breakfast, cold milk, a banana, and a Tablespoon of peanut butter [the nurse at the hospital taught me that recipe after my jaw surgery in 2005], but the first sip made me scream.  I think the openings at the back of my throat were directly linked to my ear canals.  It felt like ice picks had been jammed into my ears [20 seconds in the microwave made the smoothie drinkable].

† Cipro is SCARY STUFF!  It’s what they give people to treat Anthrax.  it also has huge warnings on it, like: “Fluoroquinolones, including CIPRO, have been associated with an increased risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture in all ages. This adverse reaction most frequently involves the Achilles tendon, and has also been reported in the rotator cuff, the hand, the biceps, the thumb, and other tendons. Tendinitis and tendon rupture can occur within hours or days of starting CIPRO, or as long as several months after completion”  OMFG!!!

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  1. OMG–your tonsils were enormous!! (Mind you, I have no idea how big healthy tonsil are.) And the holes in your throat are incredible! Is that normal? Do they cauterize them, no stitches? I don’t know how you could have swallowed anything. I’m so sorry you had to go through all this, and so glad you are out the other side and feeling good again!

    1. Nine Dark Moons

      thanks, D’Arcy! i think mine were normal sized… no one ever said they were big or had to come out until my 4-month-long sore throat 😛
      I think when they cut them out they are cauterized (that gives me the creeps thinking about it! thankfully i wasn’t awake for that part!). no stitches. my throat was normal as far as after a tonsillectomy – i made the mistake of googling images of tonsillectomy throats right before my surgery and they all looked like mine!
      and thanks 🙂

  2. AnneV

    Your verbal descriptions were fascinating – it’s SO unfair that you had to go through so many weeks of discomfort and fatigue before the surgery. Thank heavens the surgery worked, but, omg – those graphic photos!

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