My Tonsillectomy Experience
Many of you might have noticed that within the last handful of months I have put a larger focus on fashion and minimized the amount of health/fitness content. Today, I'm finally explaining why.
*Disclaimer- The purpose of this post is not to make anyone pity or feel bad for me. Everyone goes through tough times, and I choose to share my story for anyone out there who might be going through something similar. If you're sensitive to any talk that is medical or illness-related, I suggest choosing a different post. Thanks!*
So bare with me for a little because I'm going to start at the very beginning. If you have trouble reading super-long posts, I highlighted all the most important points!
When I was younger, since as long as I can remember, I have always dealt with getting sick a lot and having what I thought was a weak immune system. I missed a lot of school in back in my elementary days due to strep throat and other illnesses, in middle school I was diagnosed with mono, and then in high school I was diagnosed with Lyme's disease, which also happened to turn into a bad infection. I also had a 3-week bout of a mycoplasma infection which turned into walking pneumonia, so safe to say I've had my fair share of illnesses in the past.
Then I got to college. My freshman year I got sick a pretty normal amount, but then sophomore year rolled around, and I was living in a sorority house with 75 girls. I had gotten case after case after case of strep throat, and in between that, I was getting other viruses and infections. I was missing class, infecting others around me, and constantly living in fear wondering when the next case would strike. My family and I decided it would be a good idea to see an Ear Nose and Throat doctor to get an opinion on what to do while I was at school. Simply stated, the ENT told me I was the perfect candidate to get my tonsils out, and basically if I wanted the problem to go away, surgery was my only option.
Upon returning home for the summer, I was unable to intern or live away in the city due to being under the watchful eye of my doctors and parents constantly. I visited another ENT who suggested the same thing as the first one, and he also tested me to see if I was a strep carrier which would give more reason to take them out. I thankfully tested negative, but those results also left us pretty confused of why I was catching it so many times. but I still wasn't convinced. On top of that, I was on a streak for a couple months where I was strep-free! So I went back to school in the fall, antibiotics on hand at all times, hoping I wouldn't have to deal with another case of strep throat again.
Not to my surprise, I got it again. And again, and again. Before I knew it, I had reached 9 times within less than a full year, and on top of that, the strep virus had become resistant to almost ALL antibiotics out there, and in addition I also found out I was allergic to one of them (shoutout to a full body of hives). This forced me to have to take stronger and stronger medications which wreak havoc on the immune system, and can cause lots of damage to the gut and liver. On top of that, after taking a full course of the medications that did work, I was still testing positive for strep.
This was not ideal.
This fall, I flew back and forth between my school in Indiana and my home in New Jersey many times to visit more ENT's and an Immune System Doctor/Allergist. He was extremely thorough, and thankfully, my immune system results were above average, scoring an 83%, and I had no allergies. This basically left me back at square one, at the ENT, and at this point practically throwing myself onto the operating table.
And so on December 21, I FINALLY got them out. And here we are!
People warned me that it would be the most painful experience of my life, that it was "worse than childbirth" and that I would basically feel like crap the whole time. Honestly, it's painful. VERY painful. But I had expected that, and I was so sick of being sick that to me it was completely worth the 2 weeks of discomfort.
So for anyone getting tonsil surgery or thinking about it, here's the low-down on each day...
This day was honestly not very bad. Aside from the actual surgery, I was numb afterwards so I didn't feel any pain and was able to talk pretty normally. The only suggestion I have pre-surgery is to ask the anesthesiologist for anti-nausea medicine before they put you under. This was my third surgery and I have asked for it every time, and never have thrown up or felt sick after. And this is directed to everyone, whether you tend to get nauseous or not, it's just better to play it safe, in my opinion.
These were probably the most painful/uncomfortable days, and also when I started the pain medication (oxycodone). Day 3-5 I was also put on a steroid for the swelling. I was barely able to speak and had to basically write everything in the notes on my phone if I needed to communicate. Two things that have been super annoying during my recovery have been the nights & the phlegm. I was constantly (and still am) spitting up lots of phlegm and it's pretty gross to say the least. During the night for some reason all my symptoms get worse so during the first 4 nights I had my mom sleep with me so that she could bring me ice/water/pain pills if I needed it.
Days 5 & 6
The symptoms during these two days started to calm down and the scabs on my throat started to fall off. I didn't wanna gross anyone out with photos, but basically the scabs just look like a white covering all over your throat where your tonsils used to be.
This isn't super common, but for me during day 7 I was in the most excruciating pain ever. I think this is because I had a lot of scabbing falling off throughout this day.
These days were pretty uneventful. I was still very tired and worn down but I was starting to feel better in my throat. On the other hand, on day 11 I began to get bad ear/neck/head pain which is normal and caused by the swelling. I also believe I was taking the pain medication for maybe 10 days.
Finally, starting on day 12, I started to feel like myself again. Each day I would get more energy and was able to run small errands. The only complications I continue to have today (day 16) is a bit of throat pain, but mostly a lot of phlegm and still pretty awful neck, shoulder, and ear pain. I've just been treating it with Tylenol and Advil. I think it is normal from the last of the scabs falling off, but if it doesn't clear up by tomorrow I'm going to give my doctor a call and make sure everything's ok.
UPDATE: Turns out I had a severe nose and throat infection, which is not so common. So make sure if you experience those symptoms you give your doctor a call ASAP!
One last thing I HAVE to mention is the bad breath. I was warned many times by my doctor that my breath would be vile- he's hilarious and had me laughing even right before the surgery. He was 100% correct. Because of the scabs and the bacteria, post-tonsil surgery breath is probably the worst thing you'll ever smell.
Honestly, going into this surgery I was in a desperate state. I had heard people on Youtube saying that the surgery was so painful that they regretted ever having it done, but if you are as desperate as I was to feel better, you won't feel that way. The amount of absolute hell I have gone through not only within the past year but throughout my life when it's come to getting sick has made every ounce of pain completely worth it for me. I am so excited and relieved to be able to put this behind me, and to finally start to feel like myself again. I felt trapped inside my body for years because I never knew when the next illness would strike. I know that only time will tell, but I have a gut feeling that I'm finally free from the years and years of struggles.
If you made it this far, thank you SO MUCH for hearing my story. If you happen to live in NJ or the east coast and would like the names of the doctors I saw, feel free to contact me HERE!