What You Might Expect Before, During and After a Tonsillectomy

(Warning- this post is long. I wrote a little each day so that if we are ever in this scenario again with the other kiddos, I would know what to expect. AND, this is for those of you who may experience this yourselves! It’s kind-of nice to have at least an idea of what might be ahead, even though every child is different.)

Before our daughter’s tonsil and adenoid surgery, I was one big ball of nerves. It was our first experience with anesthesia and after hearing some horror stories, I was quite nervous about the recovery process as well.

So, I researched the heck out of the procedure and methods for ensuring the best recovery. (Thank you Angela and Krystin for answering my hundreds of questions!) So, if you ever find yourself in the same predicament, then this post is for you!

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We were extremely lucky in that Gwyn’s good friend also had her tonsils out on the very same day, only thirty minutes after Gwyn. Since they were able to talk about it beforehand and even experience some of this together, it gave them courage to have a buddy going through the same thing with.

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I held it together pretty well until the nurse came into our room to take Gwyn away. And then the tears started streaming. I hid them from Gwyn, though, so as to not scare her, but as soon as the nurse took her hand and walked her back, I just couldn’t help it. She looked so little!

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The whole procedure only took about thirty minutes, and then they needed a little time to wake her up, so it was about forty-five to sixty minutes until I was able to see her again. Right after the procedure, our Sweet Gwyn did not want to wake up and was quite sleepy. She didn’t want much to do with the water or popsicle offered to her. Instead, the poor little thing threw up.  I was told this is quite normal, as the anesthesia can cause nausea, and I too remember throwing up when I had mine removed at sixteen. But looking at my sweet little girl all cuddled up in that chair just about broke me. I did not like seeing this at all. So, prepare yourselves!

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Also, be sure to take home your little bucket, because once discharged, she threw up again in the car, but luckily right into her bucket. So, I pulled over, dumped “the goods” in the bushes, and we were on our way! Sonic was on the way home, so we first stopped there to get a slushee and a bag of their ice, because BEST ICE EVER.

But by the time the slushee was ready, she was fast asleep.

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And I did what any parent would do when their child is not looking, and I helped myself to a few sips. :) JUST A FEW! I know. How could I drink my poor child’s slushee? Just know that I DID get a rather large one and I didn’t want it to go to waste…

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Once home, she had a wonderfully cozy little spot set up for her on the couch, and this is where she had as many popsicles, yogurts, suckers, drinks, puddings, and so on as she wanted. At one point she even asked for some summer sausage that her dad was eating, and since her doctor gave the okay to eat whatever she wanted, I told her to go for it. Our doctor said the sooner she could eat solids, the faster she would heal.  So, she had about three big slices. The absolute most important thing you can do is to keep that throat moist, (I cringe at typing that word) so I was game with whatever she wanted to make that happen. And as a note, those Sonic slushees stay slushee-like for hours! She finished it by the end of the day and it was STILL in true-form.

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Gwyn was a very lucky girl in that she was well loved-on during this process. She was gifted activities to stay occupied with, animals to cuddle, flowers to smell, games to play, movies to watch and so on. (Thank you Grandma, Grandpa, Grammie, Poppie, and the Fritz family!) We all felt very loved! The boys also stayed with Grammie and Poppie during this so that we could just focus on Gwyn which was a HUGE help. HUGE. (Thanks again, you two!)

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From what the doctor told me, as well as from the advice from friends, I was informed of how important it is to stay on top of the medications given. So every three hours, like clockwork, that is what we did. Even during the night.

We had Gwyn sleep in our room so that we would be close if anything happened and so that giving the medication would be easier. I also read that running a humidifier helped the throat at night, so I had one of those going as well.

From what I was told and read, the first two days might seem pretty great. Like, “this isn’t so bad at all!” And for us, this held true.

We watched movies, did crafts, made Jello jigglers, played games and thoroughly enjoyed one another’s company. I got Gwyn a little cow bell (more cow bell!) to ring if she needed me when I wasn’t in the room, and she thought this was the best thing ever. So much so that even when I was sitting right next to her, which was most of the time, she would still ring the bell before asking for something. I played along, acting as her butler, because my main goal was to make it fun and to keep her constantly eating/drinking something that would soothe her throat. She even ate some things with a little more substance like tomato soup, macaroni and cheese and watermelon balls. Gwyn even went so far as to say these were the best two days of her life. Ha! :)

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We tried making insect/animal keychains, and this was my poor lady bug.

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It looked like it got squashed.

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(There’s that Sonic slushee!)

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On day 3- It is around this day that her throat was starting to scab, so be prepared to see big white scabs in the back of the throat. It really looks quite awful.

I have discovered the hardest part for us about this whole process is getting Gwyn to take her medicine in the middle of the night. Because she isn’t constantly drinking water like she is during the day, her throat hurts when I wake her up and so getting her to drink the little bit of medicine is a struggle. I try everything I can think of to get her to take it, and have discovered giving her one of these little “prizes” (Less than $4 little surprise toys) to open the next day helps. And I said helps, take note.

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Gwyn woke up nauseous, had a little headache and her throat was a little sore. After eating half a yogurt and a popsicle, she threw up. She laid low on the couch for a while, and I continued to cater to her. She didn’t want anything to eat for a while, so instead I fed her ice chips (the ones from Sonic!).  Eventually she told me she was starving and she put down an entire bowl of hearty chicken noodle soup. Later that day, I made her turkey dogs in a blanket and she put down three! She also ate various popsicles, yogurts and pudding throughout the day.

While she was laying low, though, I did manage to tackle a project I have been wanting to do since we moved in; paint our fireplace! I was a little nervous about how it would turn out about half-way through but once I saw the finished product I fell in love! ( Before and Afters and tutorial coming soon.)

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Gwyn then got a little visit from some friends which perked her right up (Thank you Gabriella, Madeleine and Ali!) and thanks to them we had a new movie to watch together; Brave.

Day 4 Gwyn woke up feeling great! I was anticipating the worst but still optimistic, and she just woke up rockin’ it.  She didn’t want much breakfast, but did eat a little bit of waffle and half a popsicle. A friend came by for a little visit and dropped off a get-well gift (Thank you, Ava!) and this made her feel so good. A little lunch of macaroni and mashed potatoes and then her friend who also got her tonsils out the same day came over to watch a movie with her (The Parent Trap! One of my faves!) and this was just so great. I mean how awesome to have a buddy going through the same thing with?

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Day 5– The night before was not a good one. Gwyn woke up in pain, and it took a long time to get her to take her meds as it hurt to swallow it. It was so crushing to see her like this. She woke up in the morning not feeling her best, but nothing like the night before. She was mostly quiet and said her throat hurt a little bit. We made pancakes, and she only took a few bites before saying they hurt too much to eat. I then made her a smoothie and she ended up turning that down, too.

I kept on her about drinking water and eating things to soothe her throat, and for the better part of the day we were pretty still. She did seem to go back to her normal self, but at times, especially when she was due for medicine soon, she would complain of a hurting throat. Cuddling is what she preferred to do.

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Day 6- The night before this day was also NO BUENO. I tried not waking her up every three hours for her meds to see how she would do. Well, she woke up at 11:30 pm hurting, so I tried until 12ish to give her her medicine, but to no avail. She woke up again at 3:30ish and I FINALLY got her to take her meds at 4:15. And it was a battle, I tell you. Long. Night. Gwyn slept in until 9 am, but I was still up at 7 to pump. Thus, tired mama. During the day, though, she felt pretty good, and I started backing off her meds a little bit. She ate a little more; things like yogurt, a soft granola bar, macaroni and hot dogs, popsicles, and hard boiled eggs.

 

Day 7– This day marked one week since her surgery and we were in the home stretch! I could just feel it! The night before was the first night back in her own bed. She woke up once at 4:45 and had her medicine by 5:00, with no fight! I did bribe her with being able to sleep with me and suddenly the medicine went down the hatch. She woke up feeling good, so I didn’t give her any medicine. Franklin, (our 9 month old) on the other hand, woke up a few times throughout the night, and he was pretty much up right after I got Gwyn back to bed. He was pretty fussy most of the day, so this made for a VERY long and tiring day. I again only gave Gwyn medicine when she asked for it this day, which was only a couple of times. She still ate pretty soft foods throughout the day, though. We have been having a lot of fun spending so much time together, and this night we made a snake before bed using these Bunchems. Have you heard of these things? They’re a big hit in our house and actually a great deal right now.

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Day 8– Gwyn woke up once on this night with shooting ear pain. Once she took the medicine, after some coercing, she slept soundly and I actually had to wake her up at 8:15 am to take Franklin to the doctor since he was up quite a bit in the night. (Turns out he had an ear infection, poor baby.) Gwyn’s ear hurt again in the morning, but the doctor took a peek in her ear as well and all looked well. So, it’s just part of the healing process. Other than that, the day went well. She was sore a bit, but nothing major.

Day 9- Gwyn was still experiencing some ear pain, and after talking with the throat doctor I have learned that it’s not really ear pain, but connected with the throat even though it feels like it’s in her ears. She reassured me this is all normal and that it should subside soon. Other than that she was doing really well! Not completely eating as she normally does, but getting close.

Day 10- HALLELUJAH! Gwyn didn’t wake up at all on this night and was doing so well! She was not completely healed but she wasn’t experiencing much pain or discomfort. She was starting to eat more and more of the foods she used to.

Day 11– Gwyn didn’t need medicine at all on this day or the night before, and didn’t complain once of anything hurting her, so I think on this day we were officially healed! She also ate her whole dinner, which included flautas, and didn’t comment once of pain. So there you have it, we are over this! WAHOO!

Overall I would say this experience went better than anticipated. The nights were the worst in getting her to take her medicine, but she really seemed to do okay during the day. I didn’t want to push her too hard, though, so she skipped two weeks of soccer practice and I limited her physical activity as instructed.

Below are some food ideas in case you are looking for some options if going through the same thing. Almost all of these were suggested either my friends, the doctor, or I read about them online. I didn’t know what to expect so I got everything suggested to me as I didn’t want to wish I had something I didn’t.

Popsicles – non acidic- Gwyn’s favorite were these Outshine fruit and veggie popsicles.

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Yogurts- I bought the kind she normally does not get to eat in order to keep it fun for her. She also really liked frozen Gogurts.

Pudding- both chocolate and vanilla

Jello- we made Jello Jigglers and I found this brand, which is all-natural.

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Suckers (We got Dum-dums) these keep them swallowing and are something I never would have thought of. Thanks, Angela!

Gum- Also a great way to get a lot of swallowing in. I got Bubble Tape and she was THRILLED. She had never had it before and felt quite cool. Again, thanks, Angela!

Ice cream- surprisingly, she didn’t want much of this! I even got her fave, Neopolitan

Tum E Yummies/Capri Suns- Gwyn didn’t want these at all, but I know others whose kiddos drank these right up.

Gatorades- Again, Gwyn didn’t want these at all, but these were recommended over and over.

Mashed potatoes- Gwyn really liked these

Macaroni and cheese- This was also something she was able to easily eat and enjoy

Soups- Chicken noodle was her favorite

Carnation Breakfast Essentials- Because these are like a little meal in a bottle, these allowed for Gwyn to get a little more nutrients, and she did enjoy a few of these.

Also, I got Gwyn a special new water cup with a straw to easily drink from, and she liked this. Keep this by their bedside each night as well.

There you have it! Our entire experience with getting Gwyn’s tonsils and adenoids removed. If you have any questions, let me know! I will do my best to help you out! It takes a village!

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Jillian had hers out last summer- same thing. Day 10- game changer. Woke up and did a cartwheel, we were like- she’s back!! She had the “ear pain” as well. Glad you got it done! Knock on wood- she’s been healthy ever since!

  2. Aww, that’s rough for a little kid to go through–although from what I’ve heard, the recovery is easier on kids than it is on adults who have to get their tonsils out. My uncle had such a bad recovery and couldn’t really eat for so long he lost a lot of weight during the healing process. Glad she’s feeling back to her normal self!

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