The Light at the End of the Tonsillectomy

18 Jun


It’s been two weeks since The Great Tonsillectomy of 2013, and things are finally looking up.  My throat still hurts, I’m still eating Ramen, and I’m still guzzling liquid Tylenol but oh-my-gosh, I am one happy camper.

I imagine most of my readers are over this whole tonsillectomy business.  You’re probably like, “can we finally get that post about the silent meditation cult you joined in Canada?” or “Lucie, can we get back to the bears and the mice and the hiking partner breakups and makeups and the Confetti Cupcake Pop-Tarts (seriously, who buys those?)?”

Sorry, guys and gals, this post is not for you.

It’s for those other poor souls out there — past and present

who will get a tonsillectomy,

who will spend several miserable days coping,

before breaking down in tears at the dinner table when even butternut squash soup won’t go down,

and who will Google “tonsillectomy recovery” and find this post,

and know that someone else out there has lived through their hell.

I found this gem on my Dad's iPad.

I found this gem on my Dad’s iPad.

Now then.  Getting your tonsils out — as an adult — sucks.  This fact is evidenced by the many entire blogs devoted to the horror of tonsillectomy recovery and the reams and reams of message board chatter on the topic.

The women on these blogs and forums always relate tonsillectomy pain to childbirth.  “I would rather deliver six more babies than go through this again” becomes “I would rather deliver six more 10-lb babies” becomes “I would rather deliver six more 10-lb babies in a Quonset hut than get another tonsillectomy.”

The men are more, umm, well, they get their point across:

“Eat a broken beer bottle and wash it down with battery acid. Feels about the same.”

“Holy fucking balls did that hurt. I would rather amputate my arm with a steak knife.”

“My fucking doctor took out my tonsils and replaced them with razor blades.  And he put a few in my ear.”

“As painful as this shit is, you’d think they were removing the tonsils through the anus.”

They don't call me "Oxy" on the Trail for nothing.

They don’t call me “Oxy” on the Trail for nothing.

In any event, folks, an adult tonsillectomy is no joke.  A few days ago, I was telling people it was the worst experience of my life.  That may be true.  Here is my advice:

  • Drink like a fish – as much as you can, as often as you can.  This is the most important thing.
  • Ice pack your throat.
  • Don’t stick a flashlight in your mouth to “check on things.”  Things are not good.  You will gross and freak yourself out.
  • Covert to the Church of Percocet.  Take your pain meds religiously.  Embrace the narcotic haze.
  • Your chances of bleeding to death are minimal, really.  The stories on the message boards about post-tonsillectomy bleeding are horrific and will scare the living daylight out of you (hello, there is a major artery right there… we’re talking toilets full of blood clots the size of ping pong balls).  However, the odds are way in your favor that you won’t bleed.  You’ll be okay.
  • Gargle with salt water when the scabs start coming off.
  • Eat soft foods until you hate all soft foods.  That taco is not worth it, I swear.
  • Every day, a new problem within your throat region will arise.  It will be incredibly unpleasant, and it will seem like it will never end.  It will.
  • You will need a servant.  Get a concierge bell and download one those text-to-speech apps (select a creepy voice to make your demands).
  • You will repeatedly question getting the surgery in the first place.  This is normal.
  • When someone mentions getting a tonsillectomy as a small child and loving it because they got to eat ice cream for a week — deliver one swift punch to the jaw.

15 Responses to “The Light at the End of the Tonsillectomy”

  1. Fenu June 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    I have a sudden pain in my jaw…wait, yes, both jaws. I apologize for the icecream comment. I had no idea that it would be as bad as it has been for you. Congratulations on surviving.

    • Lucie June 18, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

      Yes, I’m officially tired of ice cream. Never thought that would happen! An upside for sure.

  2. vp June 18, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    The best concierge is called Dad. With middle name Gofer (go for this go for that). Funny how that is omitted.

    • Lucie June 18, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

      Yes, Dad Gofer is the best! I bet he’ll make the cut next time.

  3. katafrass June 18, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    oh man, i’m glad you’re finally feeling better! I’m probably going to have to have my tonsils out at some point (they get infected several times a year), but I’m doing everything I can to avoid it…including giving up cheese (dairy causes them to overproduce mucus *or something* I’m not a doctor, so no clue if that is right, but they are definitely irritated when i eat dairy). Sounds like you’ll be back on the trail before you know it (literally, you may not know it bc of all those oxys you’re chewing :-P)!

    • Lucie June 18, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

      Yes, I’ve heard the dairy thing, too! Good luck with the avoidance program!! The real test will be the test of time — If I’m healthy and sore throat-free from now on out, it will be worth it. Because aside of this horrendous we-can’t-get-it-to-go-away bout, I too have had tonsillitis several times a year for the past… oh, 15 years. I’ll let you know! And if and when you do take the plunge, you will get my unceasing thoughts and prayers! 🙂

  4. Audi June 18, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    Oh my! I just laughed out loud to the point of almost waking B! I promise one day you’ll read this post and it will be humorous. I’m so glad you’re feeling better! I can vouch there are worse things in life. I too didn’t think it could be topped. My c-section was worse seeing as you have to care for a newborn after the whole ordeal. The painkillers were minimal (my choice – they kept offering) because of breast feeding. But it was totally worth it. As was the tonsillectomy. You will feel SO MUCH BETTER! It is a new level of “normal”. How you should have felt before!! You’re almost there!! 🙂

  5. Kristin June 18, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

    Lucie!!!I TOTALLY understand. It’s why I gave you a heads up beforehand. No one told me how bad it was really going to be and even then, I thought “Eh, maybe they’re just wimps”… nope…. not wimps at all. I cried multiple times and I’m generally considered ‘tougher’ when it comes to pain. I’m so glad you are on the mend. It really is worth it. I haven’t gotten a sore throat one time since the surgery now (it’s been about a year and half) and sometimes, my throat feels a little weird for a day or two and I’m told that’s what our equivalent of a sore throat is. It’s laughable after experiencing the full on horrible sore throats you can have before the surgery. You’ll be great and it will absolutely be worth it when months go by and you’re like “Hey, I haven’t been sick in a while”. You go girl!!! The trail will be a piece of cake after that surgery.

  6. Kelsie June 19, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Glad you’re feeling better. I’ve never given it much thought, but I’m suddenly very thankful I had my tonsils out in my teens – thanks for the perspective!

    • Lucie June 19, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

      Lucky ducky! Your parents are smart!!

  7. Amber June 25, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    It’s Amber, a girl you met at the nail salon in Marion VA when you got a pedicure. I’ve been keeping up with all your blog and can’t believe all the crap you’ve been thru. You’re such a trooper!

  8. Lucie June 26, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    Hi Amber!!! So good to hear from you. Yeah, I think I’m due for some easy cruisin’ pretty soon… Hope all’s well with you and in Marion!? If you ever get bored, just hitch out of town and get on the Appalachian Trail, haha!

  9. Georgina September 24, 2013 at 6:37 am #

    Thanks for the great post! I’m currently on day 8, the pain through the day has definitely improved compared to days 5-7 (THE WORST)!!! I was wondering when your earache cleared up? I literally can’t sleep through the night I must have 1-2 hours at max because of this horrific ear ache.

    • Lucie September 24, 2013 at 7:02 am #

      You’re almost there, Georgina! You’ll feel like a new person soon!

      Oh yes, the earache. You have my sympathy! To be honest, it took a number of weeks before my ears felt totally normal again (no popping, etc.) BUT the ache went away by day 10. My doctor didn’t want me to take decongestants for it but suggested I do twice daily sinus rinses. Can’t really say that helped too much, though. In any event, you’re almost there! It’s like all of a sudden, you rapidly get better.


  1. Broken Silence | Lucie on the Lam - September 13, 2013

    […] I recovered from the tonsillectomy, Bojangles and I finished up the very tail end of Virginia, went through West Virginia, Maryland, […]

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