Monday, June 21, 2010

Tonsillectomy and Taste

I forgot to mention how my sense of taste has been totally distorted since the surgery! I think this is fairly common, and I've read it can take several months to restore everything back to normal. But for now, some of my favorite things are kind of repulsive. Like, for instance, one of my favorite beers! I almost gagged after drinking it. And then I had a pulled pork salad from Mucho Gusto today (which I get everytime I go, and I love it), and it was pretty horrible. Not everything is different, just some things. It's interesting, and kind of sad.

Tonsillectomy - Days 10-12 (On the Mend)

Day Ten
I FINALLY started to feel better on Friday! I could even tell a difference in my mood; it was great. I was still eating lame food, but I just felt looser in my throat. Also, I knew I had coughed up a lot of scab, so that meant they were well on their way to coming off! Because I talked so much at work during the day, I went out with a friend to a movie that night. Everytime I DID talk, it felt pretty sore. It was nice to have a good reason to get the giant blue raspberry icee though!

Day Eleven
Saturday was a good day. I woke up and wasn't in too much pain, so I waited to take painkillers until just before I ate! It worked out nicely. I made strawberry pancakes for brunch, and they were delicious. It was nice to eat something flavorful and yummy. Then I made some chips for a cookout I was going to that night. I was sure to take some Lortab before I ate at the cookout, so I was able to eat half a hamburger (!!), snow peas, brownies, and my chips. It was quite the awesome feast, though admittedly the hamburger was a bit painful going down. Then I talked way too much (of course!) for my throat. I was hurting, so when I got home I took an Oxy.

Day Twelve
Another good day! I was able to take painkillers only before eating, and I went to book club, where I talked minimally because my throat was still sore. But I got a mexican scramble, and that was tasty. I had leftover pancake mix, so I made pancakes for dinner. Those were fairly painless. Anyway, I was pretty excited about my progress! I feel almost totally healed. It still hurts like hell to yawn. After Day 14, I'll be able to workout again, so I'm really looking forward to that!

Friday, June 18, 2010

what it feels like

Lately I've been thinking about Luna a lot. She appears in practically every dream I have, and often she is the centerpiece of the dream. I think about her when I'm awake, and I'm still in shock that she's gone. I knew coming to terms with her absence would take a very long time, and I don't think I'm close.

But I've noticed that when I think about her, I feel a sensation all over my body. It's not just that I have a hole in my heart or my soul where she used to be; it feels as though every single cell that makes up my being is a bit empty. I can feel it in my skin, I can feel it inside my chest cavity, I can feel it in my head, and I can feel it in the blood that runs through me. It also feels like I'm reaching for something that's not there.

I know I sound crazy. And I know a lot of people think it's ridiculous to have this much difficulty grieving the loss of a pet, but that's sad to me that those people have missed out on the amazing bond and friendship that I had with Luna.

Tonsillectomy - Day 9 (Progress!)

My vow of silence for the day seemed to work well. I didn't experience any incredibly agonizing pain (but I definitely did have some intense pain...). Talking was next to impossible anyway. For lunch I ordered some mac and cheese, and I managed to eat some of that. Then in the afternoon, I kept clearing my throat/coughing up stuff -- including some blood, but just a minimal amount. After a call to the doctor's office, I was pleased with her assumption that my scabs are finally coming off. She told me to gargle ice cold water and keep an eye on it. Since then I have continued coughing up/clearing out some pink colored mucusy stuff. More scab coming off! I have monitored the progress with a flashlight and a mirror, and I'm seeing more and more new flesh in the back of my mouth. This is very exciting for me, as this means I'm healing. The pain of Day 8 is a thing of the past! I'm looking to the future now :-)

I made mashed potatoes tonight, and those hurt like hell to eat. Then I went to a friend's to play Scrabble (she beat me by 54 points, DEVASTATING), and I probably talked more than I should have. For some reason I'm wide awake right now -- this medicine really messes with me. I'm looking forward to a restful weekend.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tonsillectomy - Day 8 addendum

I would just like to say that last night I experienced the WORST pain yet. First of all, I couldn't eat the smoothie -- it hurt entirely too much. Then, later I was laying on my right side watching the show on my laptop when a horrible, searing pain started in the bottom/right corner of my throat. I couldn't see it by looking in a mirror, so I don't know what the hell was going on. It's been pretty tight feeling in that area, and it felt like a tiny gnome was pouring acid and lemon juice on my throat while another tiny gnome was gleefully sawing away at my flesh. Again, tears sprang to my eyes as I clutched my throat and just...waited. It went away a few minutes later, but it came back a couple of hours of later. I'm not sure what the deal was. I'm guessing a scab was coming off?

At any rate, it further confirmed my theory that I strained my throat too much yesterday with all of the talking. Silence for Thursday.

A side note: It's kind of frustrating the lack of patience/understanding people around me have. Some people are SO SHOCKED that I'm, not only NOT completely healed, but feeling worse. It's really annoying to have to explain to people several times that there are SCABS in the BACK OF MY THROAT and that they have to PEEL and FALL off. Believe me, if I was feeling better, I'd be eating. I'd be talking. I'd be laughing. Being able to do all of that far outweighs any pity I might feel from people who think I should be better but am not.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tonsillectomy - Days 7 and 8

Day Seven
WORST DAY YET. Immense pain upon waking up. I couldn't move my head, and I had tons of drainage to cough up. Coughing is horrible, by the way. You're not really supposed to do it... I headed into work anyway, although I was beginning to see why most people take off around 10 days from work. Despite Oxycodone and Lortab, I continued to hurt during the day. I couldn't eat my leftover spaghettios. It was difficult to drink. At one point I tried to swallow the spaghettios, and the pain was so bad, I started to cry. I was mostly just stunned by the burning, hacksaw feeling in my throat; tears were inevitable. I had also developed thrush on my tongue (gross, I know, but I'm trying to be honest here). I called the doc's office about the thrush, and then moved up my Lortab dose. Shortly thereafter, I became incredibly sick to my stomach. Sooo I left work, went home, and took the first anti-nausea pill. Then I fell asleep. and slept. and slept.

I woke up at 7:22 with sunlight pouring into my window. Naturally, I freaked out and thought I needed to get the heck out of bed and get ready for work. Lo and behold it was 7:22 PM. I headed to the pharmacy to get my Diflucan for the thrush, and I bought some Vitamin Water to get SOME nutrients. I took some more Lortab and examined my dining options. Finally I decided on finishing a half-eaten peanut butter cookie after sufficiently soaking it in milk. Then I took an Oxy, watched The West Wing on my computer, researched music, and fell asleep around midnight.

Day Eight (today)
I woke up with less drainage, so I was feeling kind of optimistic for the day. I was sure to stay medicated, so the morning was fairly tolerable at work. We had our staff meeting, which involved a lot of talking on my part. We also happened to be celebrating a coworker's 20th anniversary with our organization (!!), so we had ordered pizza. I took a Lortab dose, and prepared to chow down. I successfully ate a couple of pieces of pizza!! Even though I could only eat the topping and softest bread part (the bottom and crust were far too crunchy), it was still a major victory for me. However, her lemon-poppyseed cake with raspberry topping was a NO GO! It hurt. Then I just went into the office and tried to stay awake/do work despite pain meds. I came home, still feeling relatively okay and took a nap. When I woke up, I had an extremely tight, pulling, burning sensation in the back of my mouth that worsened every time I tried to speak. I think I overdid it at work with the pizza/excessive talking. So I've made myself a strawberry-banana-peach-apple juice smoothie, and I'm trying to eat that. The numbing effect is nice. Looks like the rest of the night I'll be watching The West Wing and floating on Oxycodone.

And I have taken a vow of silence for tomorrow. Still waiting for my scabs to fall off!! How long does that normally take?!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I had a tonsillectomy last Wednesday (June 9, 2010), and it has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. As lame as it sounds, it's been hard to turn to friends and family for support as none of them have had a tonsillectomy as an adult and thus don't know what it's like. What HAS been helpful are the plethora of online blogs I've found by other adults who have experienced it, sharing their details. By looking at their patterns of pain and recovery, I have been able to see what is normal, what isn't, and what I can still expect. As such, I thought I'd dedicate this post and the next couple of posts to sharing the (sometimes REALLY gross) details of my recovery. My MOST IMPORTANT piece of advice is to KEEP TRACK of when you take your pain meds. I am horrible at keeping track of time, so this was essential for me to avoid an overdose.

Tuesday, The Day Before:
I did all of my shopping today. I purchased a gallon of sherbet, two bags of ice, 2 boxes of popsicles, a set of popsicle molds (and made Throat Comfort Tea popsicles), 3 boxes of Jello, liquid Tylenol 500 mg, applesauce, and apple juice. I also set up an account with the local pharmacy with my ID and insurance card so picking up the meds the next day would be easier. I stayed up late doing work, but I was sure not to eat after midnight. I probably should have had more water than I did though, to get an early start on hydration.

Day One:
I checked in for surgery at 7 am. Since I am living in Oregon alone, I asked a good, RELIABLE friend to pick me up after I was done with post-surgery recovery. I'm a pretty chipper person in uncomfortable situations, and this was no different. Making jokes with the hospital staff helped alleviate any nervousness I had. I was actually relieved to be there alone and not deal with anyone else. I napped for awhile after changing into my gown, then two separate nurses came in to ask me a set of questions, set up my IV, and give me lots of warm towels. The anesthesiologist came in to check on some things, then I met with the doctor briefly and asked her to phone my mother after surgery. She checked my tonsils again to make sure they were still the size of Texas, and shortly thereafter I was wheeled into the operating room.

I was elated to see all women staff: the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the 2 nurses. I told them this made me happy, and as I was drifting off into my medical stupor, we made jokes about me dreaming of cabana boys serving me margaritas as I lay in my hammock. I liked the staff a lot.

When I woke up I was being wheeled from somewhere (op room?) to the first recovery room. I felt like I wanted to cry. Post-anesthesia depressive feelings are pretty normal, and I reminded myself of that. Still, I felt really sad and like the world was falling apart. Then I had some serious issues with post-nasal drip, a problem which would continue to plague me throughout my recovery. I was given ice chips and warm blankets. I rated my pain level at 4-5. I remained quiet and just tried to eat ice. Then I was wheeled into a second recovery room, where I was given an orange popsicle and water. Here I started to talk more, and I was told 3 times to stop talking :-). I was also convinced there was something stuck on the inside of my cheek, but it just turned out to be some extended cauterization I was feeling. It was unnerving. They gave me my first dose of Lortab, which was disgusting, but then I fell into a glorious sleep.

I woke up, took a stroll around the recovery floor with a strapping young CNA, and then my friend showed up to take me home. I was mostly feeling woozy and like I had just finished a marathon workout. My throat was sore, but nothing like what I expected. When my friend went to pick up my meds (we had to drop the prescriptions off), she also picked up three 32 0z bottles of gatorade for me, which was a good call! I rested for a bit, talked on the phone for a bit, and even ate some macaroni and cheese. I was feeling surprisingly great. I tried to stay hydrated, but I know I didn't drink as much as I should have. Still, I went to the bathroom a lot because of the IV fluids. I decided to sleep on the couch that night to stay upright.

Day Two
I woke up around 7 or 8 in a world of hurt on Thursday morning. I quickly took some pain meds, and felt better. I napped. I ate some leftover mac and cheese with little problem. I took more meds, I napped some more. I stayed on the couch most of the day. I ate some sherbet, but that ended up making me feel nauseated. I played on Facebook and all day. My pain level was around 5 throughout the day. The biggest problem I had was with drainage. I don't know if it was due to allergies or what, because I haven't read much on the interwebz about other people's problem with this, but it has been a problem with me. Between trying to blow my nose and get stuff out through my mouth, the drainage has been a problem. I slept on the couch again to try and keep this to a minimum. I said about 8 words all day.

Day Three
Friday was pretty much a replay of Thursday. I was beginning to feel VERY isolated. I cleaned out the fridge, washed some dishes, actually took a shower, and just tried to get myself active a little bit. It hurt to talk. I decided to sleep in my own bed upstairs that night. I kept my Oxycodone pill-taking to a minimum for various reasons. I didn't want to run out in case I REALLY needed them later, and I have a tendency to like substances that aren't good for you (like green bean casserole, porter beer, and jerk boys), so I wanted as little of that in my system as possible. However, it is important to note that even with the pain meds, it's STILL going to hurt. It never went away completely for me. The Lortab does give me a bit of a stomachache though -- not enough to warrant using the anti-nausea pills the doc prescribed me, but it's there. Today I made jello, ate a lot of popsicles, and ate some leftover green bean casserole. I ran out of mac and cheese. I tried some beef broth, but that burned, even at room temperature. I did not try that again.

Day Four
Saturday's weather forecast was pretty glorious, so I decided to suck it up and get OUT OF THE HOUSE. I woke up feeling pretty crummy, but powered through it, thanks to Lortab. I took the bus downtown, visited my friend at the Saturday market, bought some Cousin Jack's Pasties, and decided to get a smoothie and walk home. The doctor had explicity told me to not exert myself AT ALL, but I figured I lovely noon-time walk home in 75 degree weather would be ok. It was -- until I had to go up a steep hill. My throat, both the inside and outside, was throbbing by the time I got home (I stopped to get 3 boxes of Mac n Cheese), so I took an Oxycodone. Then I just sat outside reading and soaking up the sun. I ended up falling asleep. I felt better and less isolated. However, before my surgery I had anticipated my need for a non-talking social activity, so I asked 3 friends to come over and play Scrabble with me. All of them backed out. One had severe allergies (and in Eugene, it gets pretty bad), so I'm not pissed at her, but I was (am) pretty put off with my other friends. Anyway, I ended up just napping/reading/watching shows on my computer the rest of the evening.

Day Five
Sunday was almost a repeat of Saturday. I was feeling more pain each day though. I read outside for the first part of the day, then a friend invited me over for some BBQ. I optimistically headed over to eat the ribs he prepared, but I simply could not. It was good to spend time with someone, although I overdid the talking. By the time I got home, I was in a lot of pain, so I took some Lortab about an hour sooner than allowed. Then that night I doubled up on Lortab and Oxycodone. I woke up early the next morning and had to take more Lortab. I could blame the excessive talking, but the pain was beginning to be seemingly unbearable. I had planned to go to work Monday, and I was hellbent on following that plan. The pain started to move to my ears as well, like I had read about. It hurt to turn my head, and it felt like the weird, deep pain I had experienced many times before with my tonsils, just with more intensity and with longer lengths. The actual wounds themselves seemed to be preparing for the scabs to come off; they have a tight, burning feeling.

Day Six
Monday was not great, and actually it was probably the worst so far. As I said earlier, I had to take quite a bit of pain meds during the night. I woke up for work early, but then passed out cause of the meds, and ended up being late. It was okay though. I took an Oxy around 11 am and tried to eat, because we were going to a fire station for lunch (which I absolutely could not eat) and a tour (long story). I couldn't eat my mac and cheese, but I could do the Jello. Most of my coworkers are fairly quiet, and I just couldn't sit there with the firemen and not have a conversation going, so I talked WAY too much today. WAY too much. I'm paying for it. Once we finally got back at 4, I left the office, came home, took Lortab, and enjoyed a 4 hour nap. Then I woke up, went to get some Spaghettios and a cookie for dinner and took more Lortab before eating. The Spaghettios were a hit! I was worried they'd be too acidic, but I'm pretty sure at this point anything will burn. I took an Oxy before going to bed, but I woke up at midnight (3 hours later) still in pain, so I took some Lortab. That's something I've learned -- the Oxy doesn't REALLY help me with pain. It might keep the worst of it at bay, or relax my muscles, but the real painkiller is the Lortab.

We'll see how tomorrow is. Sorry for the long post and the rambling! Here's a short breakdown though:

1. The pain DOES gradually worsen, at least in my case. I'm just waiting for the scabs to slough off.
2. Stay hydrated.
3. For the love of God, don't talk. This has been the hardest part for me. It's not so much that I'm a nervous talker (okay, I am), but I am good at keeping social situations light and fun, and when I'm not able to do that I feel the weight of the world (dramatic much?). BUT DON'T TALK.
4. Keep track of your medication times.
5. Get plenty of rest.
6. Find reliable people to help you remain sane.
7. Burping lot.
8. Don't try to gargle. Just don't.

More tomorrow or the next day...