Tonsillectomy Diaries

There are many important issues going on in our country right now, issues that I am thinking and praying about and that I would love to blog about, but for now I am going to have to write about what is front of me right here in my own home. Our 5 year-old had her tonsils and adenoids removed on Tuesday, and tubes put in her ears for the first time, so dealing with her recovery has been all-consuming! Below are some of my thoughts, in no particular order, in the hopes that some of you might find this information helpful if you ever find yourselves in a similar situation:

Right before surgery – the team at the hospital was great!

-Day 1 was a breeze for us! Although M was sore and disoriented for the first couple of hours, she still had the benefit of the hospital anesthesia in her system. The first night was also easy – I think that she was so tired from being awake all day that she was able to go back to sleep immediately after taking her medication. Days 2 and 3 have been much tougher. Day 2 was tough because the pain medication had built up enough for her mood to be affected, and the hospital anesthesia was starting to wear off. Night 2 was pretty rough – even the pain meds weren’t doing much good, and she resisted swallowing anything. Day 3, today, has been rough on all fronts. I’m told that it only gets better from here, thank goodness!

-Everyone has told me to stay on top of the pain medication, and I have done my best! We took the heavy-duty meds that the doctor prescribed for the first two days, and have now switched to liquid Tylenol, as recommended by the nurse. I set my phone alarm through the night and gave M her meds every 4 hours, even though I have wanted to let her sleep. What we are trying to avoid is having her wake up in so much pain that she doesn’t want to swallow anything at all, which can quickly become a crisis situation. Pain is a crazy thing!

-The more she drinks, the better. If the throat gets dry, it starts to hurt even more. Cold drinks are the best, and straws are okay as long as the drink is smooth and not thick. Milkshakes or smoothies would have to be eaten with a spoon – a straw would create too much suction.

-The more she eats, the better. She was starving on the first day, and pudding, popsicles, and ice cream got old pretty quickly. We’ve had success with soft pasta, mac & cheese, and slow-cooked scrambled eggs. I’m staying away from anything that could get stuck in her throat (bread, peanut butter, even oatmeal for now), and of course any hard and crunchy foods are off-limits for a couple of weeks. Today she doesn’t seem very interested in eating or drinking, and a friend suggested that this would be a good day for sucking on popsicles. We’ll give it a try!

-Siblings: Day 1 was tough for the siblings, because M seemed to be feeling quite well and they couldn’t understand why she was getting all sorts of special attention and yummy food. Our 8 year-old now feels very badly for his little sister and has been very sweet with her, but the best strategy with the 3 year-old has been to keep her busy with other activities. She is confused about the whole situation and unfortunately, hasn’t been very kind to her older sister, so we’re keeping them separated while she recovers.

-Sleeping: We moved M onto a blow-up mattress in the empty bedroom so that she wouldn’t disturb her siblings’ sleep. I wasn’t willing to deal with two or three crying children in the middle of the night!

Reading in bed

-Distractions: We’ve been coloring, reading stories, watching videos, and playing Chutes and Ladders to pass the time. I need to make a trip to the library for some new videos. As much as I usually prefer to limit screen time, this is the time to let those ideals go for a few days!

-My mom bought one of those reading pillows for M, which has been great for supporting her while she sits up in bed and on the couch. Two weeks is a long time for “no strenuous activity,” so we’re trying to stay as comfortable as possible while resting.

-Before M’s surgery, we made signs together so that if she wasn’t feeling like talking, she could hold up the sign to show us what she needed. We made signs for if she was thirsty, hungry, sleepy, in pain, wanted to read a book or watch a video, etc. She was totally into making the signs but hasn’t used them as much as I thought she would. I still think that it’s a good idea, though.

-The hardest part for me as a mother has been seeing M in pain, and also seeing that the pain and the medication are affecting her mood and her personality. I know from first-hand experience that pain is a terrible thing, and that we aren’t ourselves when we feel constant pain, so I am telling myself that this is temporary and that she will continue to improve with time. It’s still hard, though, and I wish that I could take the pain onto myself so that she would feel herself again!

We would love any prayers that you can send our way, for healing and perseverance. As we begin the celebration of the holy Triduum this evening, I will also be praying for all of you. Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us!

  • Erin

    My now 4.5 year old had his tonsils out at 3. I had friends (including B-mama!) tell me it is so worth it once you get past the first two weeks which are miserable. There were definitely times in the first two weeks I said it wasn’t worth it— the crying the pain, the night wakings, the medication-induced tantrums. I thought we had made a mistake. But, on the other side of the hump things have been much better! He sleeps better, learns better, and has more of a normal schedule (instead of sleeping ALLLLL afternoon!). My Father in law is a dentist and highly recommends removing the tonsils/adenoids if they are causing any sleep or breathing problems. Even though we had our guy’s out at 3, some damage has already been done in creating a pretty good-size overbite due to compensation to open his throat when he breathes at night (that, and still sucking his thumb!….another issue altogether!). As for food, we made a big deal about making smoothies and buying milkshakes.

    Its good to have limited screen-time during “ordinary time” in your family so that you can break the rules during difficult survival-mode times! Don’t feel bad about extra movies and shows right now…its not forever.

  • Erica

    Sweet M!!! I hope she feels better. My nephew had his out a few years ago and was back to his old self in no time. Prayers to you all!

  • Kellie “Red”

    I continue to pray for you and M. You are through the worst, but it does take at least a week or two before their “normal’ personality returns. Gus had his tonsils and adenoids out at 3, and it was a very rough first few days. BUT it was very much worth it.

  • Saoirse

    Oh – there is nothing worse as a Mom than having a little one hurting after surgery. (Although – the second week of keeping them quiet when they feel better comes close!!) My middle guy had his out at 3. He is the absolute WORST patient in the world – he has an extraordinary sense of self pity. My husband teases him that he routinely prays for his future wife – that God create an especially patient woman for him. :-)

    Post surgery -we allowed for way too much screen time. (I think I can still recite the Max and Ruby video he watched continuously for the first week.) We also bought him a little bravery gift. I think at that point it involved Thomas the Tank Engine – but it was a quiet toy and kept him somewhat calm and he played with it for hours. He was very into ice pops – more than anything else. Our ENT recommended making our own – and freezing half water/half juice or smoothie. He said this way he was getting hydrated without too much sugar. I remember hitting Home Goods for very cool ice pop molds.

    It was a hard week or two – but it helped him so much. He finally slept without waking or “snorting” as we called it, and my skinny boy – FINALLY – ate at will and gained 12lbs and grew 3 inches in 6 months. I was kind of shocked with his weight gain – the pediatrician told me this was so common in kids after this surgery. Kids don’t eat the way they should before surgery if they cannot chew and breath at the same time. I felt badly that I always assumed he ate like a bird because he was picky. She said it was only a problem if the child was on the heavy side before surgery. In our case – it was a blessing.

    Prayers for you and your family for healing and strength.

  • Bethany “B-mama”

    Still praying for you all–for peace and contentment following such a little life upheaval. It will all be worth it in the end and you won’t even remember how horrible the recovery was (so much so, you’ll advise all your friends to go with it too! ;) Blessings to you and a blessed Good Friday.


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