My Tonsil Surgery
Several people through social media have messaged me asking for tips and advice about a tonsillectomy... let's be honest, its a super nerve racking surgery due to all the horror stories out there… so I decided to write this! Positive and encouraging!
All I could find on the internet before my surgery were a bunch of awful stories that made me terrified and a ton of forums where people were just arguing with each other!! So here is something non-scary to read and some tricks to help you recover faster AND recover well! I have given the below advice to several people now and all healed wonderfully! So I hope what worked for me, will work for you too!
I had a tonsillectomy March 14, 2016!
I was terrified! My tonsils were extremely inflamed and infected due to repeat infections my whole life (like most of you reading this)… so I had no choice but to have them removed.
Since I’m a full time professional singer… this was a terrifying thing! But today I am happy I did it. I have had strep throat once since the surgery and it was not nearly as bad as when I had tonsils. I also rarely get sore throats now (knock on wood he he)!
To all the singers out there… Yes my voice did change post-surgery! When I hear myself sing pre-surgery it sounds sort of like I have marbles in the back of my throat! Now my voice sounds more open and full. It took me a while to get used to hearing myself talk and sing post-surgery. But now I believe my voice has changed for the better!
**Note: I did ask the surgeon to use a smaller breathing tube to prevent damage to my vocal chords and I spoke to her minutes before the surgery explaining how important my voice was to me and how she haaaaad to be gentle! This may have helped! So give it a whirl!
Post surgery was the most painful thing in the entire world. If you speak to others who have had the surgery they will tell you the same thing. There will be days where the pain is a 25 out of 10 and you just wanna cry! But as long as you are equipped to deal with the pain and are expecting that pain... you will get through it!
Let me say I did have some bleeding during the heeling process. I woke up in the middle of the night with a super sore stomach... I had been bleeding while I was sleeping and swallowing the blood. GROSS! I sat upright, breathed through my nose and put an ice pack on the back of my neck. Staying calm was key, I kept my heart rate down! I spit the blood out to prevent from feeling more sick. I rinsed my mouth with salt and water and VERY GENTLY gargled. After a while it clotted on its own and I did not need to go back to the hospital!
MY SURGERY TIPS!!!!
Drink so much water. Even if it's painful to swallow! It will help you heal faster! The motion of swallowing actually helps your throat heal… sounds crazy but it’s true! At night, every time you wake up, have a few gulps of water to keep your throat moist!! And I did notice that big gulps were more comfortable to swallow than little sips! SO CHUG… Take several big swallows in a row without stopping! You'll notice that once you get to the third swallow it is more comfortable. Staying hydrated is a huge part of recovering!
When there is a time that swallowing is NOT as painful, chug ice water! For me that time was 45 minutes to an hour after taking my pain meds. Get hydrated and eat when its less painful so that when the pain is bad you don't have to force yourself to swallow.
Senokot (stool softener)… take it everyday as your pain meds and anesthetic are gonna cause severe stomach pain and constipation. You might not believe me now! I wish I started taking this every night on the second day! I didn't start it until Day 10. So just take it to keep yourself regular!
Rinse your mouth with salt and water. Helps with thick mucous and with pain. Gargle once you hit day 3 (will help speed healing, reduce pain and prevent infection). Don’t gargle right away, as you don’t want the cauterization to be negatively effected, as this may cause bleeding!
Your tongue is gonna be sore once the numbing is gone! That's normal! Swish salt and water around your mouth!
Brush your teeth and tongue!!!! Not much tooth paste though! Do it gently and be careful! I started brushing from day 1! I think keeping my mouth clean helped promote healing and helped with thick mucus! Gentle is the key here!!!
Sometimes it's less painful to spit out thick mucous into paper towel/Kleenex rather then swallow it. This was a lifesaver for me, so deeeefinitely do this! Also it helps prevent a sore stomach. I found that swallowing any amount of blood or scab made my stomach turn. So if you feel thick mucous, just spit it out then drink water to rehydrate your throat.
DO NOT COUGH!!!!!! When you feel the need to cough, swallow!!!! Coughing is not only gonna be painful it can cause a scab to come off prematurely and a list of other scary things! So try hard to swallow instead of coughing!!
Sleep with a humidifier by your head. It's a lifesaver!!!! Go buy one before your surgery! I kept mine most of the day too, which kept my bedroom humid, which kept my throat from getting dry!
Ice 24/7! On neck and jaw! Helps with pain and swelling! Seriously right from the get go! Keep a cooler filled with ice packs by your bed at night. Use it whenever you need it! Will help you sleep and prevent you from waking up in excruciating pain! I bought one of the wrap around ice packs with a velcro strap, so I could wrap it around my neck and fall asleep with it there! This helped keep the swelling down!
Peppermint oil has a cooling effect, so you can apply this directly to your neck and throat! It feels amazing!
Chew gum once you get to day 7 or more! It'll promote healing of your jaw muscles, which you'll notice will be super sore!
Hot pack on your stomach when you get sick from the pain meds. I did anything possible not to throw up, as I knew it would not only be painful but dangerous for bleeding. Gravol was a lifesaver!!
Extra Strength Advil! 2 in the AM. 2 in the PM. 2 hours apart from your pain meds. That timing is key!!!! Always 2 hours apart of the T3!! Helps decrease inflammation. Most docs say to avoid Tylenol but Advil is okay! And will seriously help keep swelling down to prevent excruciating pain! I switched to just Advil on Day 10. Only took the pain meds in the middle of the night when I needed them!
BREATHE THROUGH YOUR NOSE! Always be conscious of this! If you get stuffed up use Vicks vapour rub in your nose. Also take a big whiff of the container to help clear your sinus. I did this about twice a day to help prevent getting stuffed up. The second night I was stuffed up and I'll tell you.... It was not only scary, but painful! You feel like you aren't getting enough air and your throat dries out. So calm, deep breathing through your nose is key! Prevent yourself from getting stuffed up! Also, breathing in a whiff of essential oils helps with this, my favorite is peppermint oil!
From day 1 sleep with your head elevated! Even if it hurts your neck just do it! At least 2 pillows while you sleep! This will prevent the insanely painful ear aches which you might have read about… and will help keep swelling down! I slept with like 7 pillows around me so no matter which way I rolled, I was still elevated!
Don't over think the scabs. They will come off when they come off. And if you are brushing your teeth and using salt and water (your mouth is clean and you are promoting healing)... You will not even feel them coming off. Once the scabs fall off you will want to switch to warm stuff. Cold will all of a sudden be uncomfortable, which was strange! Lots of tea! Tea allll day long! Once the scabs come off it'll feel similar to strep throat or tonsillitis!
Sometimes the muscles can get stiff with the use of ice, which I found made it harder to swallow. A warm shower helps loosen everything back up. Open your mouth a little and move your jaw from left to right. And move your tongue around. Gentle movement actually helps decrease pain and promote healing!
****I did not have a warm shower the first few days after the surgery as the heat could potentially trigger bleeding, so keep that in mind!!
Walk!! Walk around the house slowly! Get out of bed during the day, even if it means moving to the couch! Just sit upright and get blood flowing!
I found talking, when I could tolerate it, also helped decrease pain. Which seems like it would cause more pain. But it actually sped up healing for me. Saying the first few sentences each day was painful as hell, but once things warmed up it was more comfortable! So talk as you can tolerate, once you can tolerate it!
I swear by ginger root when I’m sick and I swore by it post surgery too! Peel and slice it up, drop several pieces into boiling water. Let boil for several minutes! Then drink!
Aloe Vera juice will soothe your throat and speed healing! Keep in the fridge and drink a glass multiple times a day! Also, coconut water and Pedialyte are great options to stay hydrated! Avoid Gatorade as the sugar will sting and slow healing!
Nothing sharp or rough! Stick with soft food like listed in the shopping list! Nothing too chunky or thick! And nothing too sugary as sugar will slow down healing (and sting)!
My favourites: Spaghetti cut up in small pieces with butter. Goes down easy and gives you substance! Warm oatmeal also feels amazing… helps coat your throat, which makes life easier!
Some days it'll be hard to swallow even an Ensure. Pour the Ensure into a bowl. Put it the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Once it's hardened, eat it like ice chips or ice cream. It'll basically melt in your mouth!
Sea salt (For gargling)
Gravol (its Canadian! If in the U.S. get Dramamine or something similar)
Extra strength Advil
Senokot (stool softener)
Ice packs (Get a few so you always have one that’s cold, and get one to wrap around your neck that has velcro)
Popsicles (stick with all natural fruit, rather than sugary)
Dairy Queen soft serve vanilla ice cream (was the most tolerable ice cream)
Instant oatmeal (again, plain not sugary)
Ginger root (in the produce section, looks like a large animal cracker haha)
Apple sauce and baby food (warm it up when you eat it, easier to get down)
Any kind of Soup Broth (nothing chunky)
Pedialyte (original flavor, don’t get anything too sugary)
Aloe Vera juice (at Walmart in the pharmacy section or any natural food store)
Ensure or any meal replacement drinks (strawberry Ensure was the most tolerable)
Thanks for reading!!! Good luck!!
The reason this is at the bottom and takes you to another page, is because the photos are gross and not everyone wants to see that!!! Click here if you want to see some post-surgery photos. I took photos to track the healing process and make sure I was healing properly! Seeing these will help you know what to expect! The change in colour (from black to white) is normal!