My Journey Toward Health

*WARNING* Pictures below may be considered graphic to some readers!

A tonsillectomy being the destination…

Okay, I know it doesn’t sound too serious. Who hasn’t had some kind of issue with their tonsils, right? We’ve all had strep throat at one point in our lives. Trust me, I am fighting my dramatic tendencies in what I say next… it really was that serious for me. My tonsil issues go way way back to the ancient times of the early 2000s. I remember opening my mouth as my father looked inside my tiny throat and said, “Yep, you got your daddy’s tonsils.” Of course, at the time I wasn’t quite sure what that implied, but I would later discover this meant my tonsils were, on a good day, absolutely freaking ginormous — like touching my uvula 24/7 ginormous. Don’t worry, I won’t burden you with a picture… yet. I’ll save that for the good part. 

Anyway, fast forward about 20 years and there I was, in college, absolutely not thriving, because my tonsils were swelling up like nasty little balloons every other week. Of course, every doctor refused to take them out until I was hospitalized with a case of tonsillitis so extreme that my throat would have completely closed and suffocated me had I not been immediately put in a hospital bed to be pumped with steroids and antibiotics all night long. I even missed an exam (insert dramatic gasp here), so you really know I must’ve almost died. 

Fast forward another year and so many tonsillitis and strep incidents later, and there I was, lying in a hospital bed once again, but this time with a true purpose and solution! I have never in my life felt more joy knowing that a part of my body was about to be brutally ripped from me. So, let me set the scene for you: I go to sleep happy thinking about a dream vacation spot as directed by a nurse, and I wake up to this:

Brutal, I know.

Oh and this…

Ever heard of an IV coming out mid-surgery? Me either.

I wish I could describe the pain, but I genuinely have never felt anything like it. They immediately started giving me morphine once I regained consciousness, but it genuinely did not feel any different. I had been dehydrated, so the nurses truly struggled to get an IV in me prior to surgery. And, of course, my IV came out during the procedure, hence the nasty little arm moment shown in the picture above and the (not pictured) IV sticking out of my foot (thank god I wasn’t awake for that). Little did I know this was the least of my problems. 

After a lot more morphine and some liquid Vicodin, I was feeling OK enough to finally go home. Though I couldn’t stop sobbing, I was feeling all right. I was very confused and very tired, but OK. The days to come were my own special version of tonsillectomy hell. Once the scabs formed in my throat, which happened almost immediately, it was game over. I’d love to show you a disgusting picture of this but in all honesty, I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough to even get one.

Instead, here is my throat a few days before surgery for reference.

I didn’t eat for eight days and lost around 15 to 20 pounds. On the eighth day, my doctor prescribed some steroids and I was finally able to eat something. What was the magic food I was able to finally eat, you ask? Spaghetti-O’s. Yep, I ate them in all of their weird, non-spaghetti glory. 

So, my advice to anyone with “tonsil issues” thinking they may want to get the horrible things removed is this: you will know if you truly need them out and when you are at this point the horrific experience of getting them out will genuinely be a massive relief. Mine made me sick 24/7. I was constantly on steroids and antibiotics just to function. I would gladly take on the horrific month of recovery again for the relief I now feel. I had both my adenoids (which according to my doctor were some of the biggest she’d ever seen) as well as my tonsils removed. I feel so much less pressure in my head, I can breathe with no struggle both out of my nose and mouth, I no longer snore, and even if my throat hurts, it feels nothing like it ever did with my tonsils still there. The surgery is completely worth it for those in need. However, you must prepare yourself for an intense pain that only gets better with time and nourishment (which can feel impossible). All in all, I can’t say I miss my tonsils one bit.

Note: Tonsillectomies in adults are vastly different from tonsillectomies in children. No, you are not on an “ice cream” diet. You are on an opioid and water diet.