Category: health

Adult Tonsillectomy Survival List

tonsil talkTonsillectomies can help with sleep issues, chronic strep throat, tonsillitis and tonsil stones. I got mine out in my late 20s to combat most of those (if you’ve never heard of tonsil stones, they’re even grosser than they sound).

The older you get, the harsher the recovery is from a tonsillectomy. The doctor literally cuts holes in your throat. This makes basic things like breathing and drinking painful, and eating and yawning basically impossible. My ENT said to expect two weeks of bedrest minimum.

I looked at it as cramming all my future sore throats in to two awful weeks. Tonsillectomies make most people think of 8 year olds with ice cream and cartoons. The more I researched it the more scared I became; it’s a rougher recovery for adults and dairy actually coats your throat and makes it even harder to heal!

I prepared as best I could and while it was pretty awful, but I made it through without going back to the ER. Here is my shopping list:

Liquids

  • Water – set a goal, like 16 oz an hour. Keep multiple bottles and pitchers all around you to stay motivated and track your intake
  • More water – GatorAde, VitaminWater, Pedialite all keep it interesting and give you some needed electrolytes
  • Non-citrus juices (citrus stings!)
    • Aloe  – soothing
    • Prune – “moving”
    • Peach – yummy
  • NonDairy Super Drinks – avoid all dairy as it coats your throat awfully. These are good before you take meds to help line your stomach:
    • Ensure Clear
    • Naked Juice Chocolate Banana Protein – lots of calories! Yay!
    • Chocolate Almond Milk – single serve boxes were easy to handle, and felt filling because of protein
  • Veggie Broth – low sodium, as salt is icky on open wounds. Broths are a nice switch from sweet drinks
  • Ginger ale – bubbles were ok after a few days for me
  • Ice chips – I didn’t like cold, but some other bloggers loved sucking on ice chips all day
  • Teas – I didn’t like hot tea, but lukewarm Yogi Tea Throat felt good around day 8 or 9

“Solids”

  • Applesauce
  • Popsicles and frozen treats (non citrus, non dairy) – Sqwincher and organic mango pops were my go-tos, along with chocolate coconut ice “cream”
  • Canned Peaches/Pears/cranberries/beets – starting after day 4 or so
  • Soft scrambled eggs – I managed to get one egg down on day 3
  • Pumpkin “pudding” – a can of pumpkin, a can of coconut milk, mixed together was full of real food nutrition and variety
  • Avocado – super soft and a good source of fat

Nonfood Shopping

  • Personal Humidifier – keep it blowing at your neck
  • Sugar Spoons – the tiny kind used for coffee stirring – sometimes it’s hard to open your mouth at all so a wee spoon makes it easier to get food in!
  • Ice Pack – I ordered a long skinny one from amazon I could wrap around my neck
  • Travel Pillow – my neck was so sensitive that sleeping with it at any angle was painful, I slept basically sitting up so the travel pillow held my head upright for “sleeping”
  • Netflix account – so much time in bed, and the meds made focusing hard. I read some and wrote some, but mainly I rewatched tv shows otherwise I got confused and frustrated with anything new
  • New pjs/etc. – spending a lot of time in comfy clothes, it’s a nice to feel fresh and cozy in new clothes
  • Biotene Mouth Wash – like the tiny spoons, getting a toothbrush in your mouth is hard, and also your breath will smell like rotting scabs. Gross. Some mouthwash has alcohol that stings so Biotin is great because it’s non stingy and helps with dry mouth.
  • Notebook – you’ll probably get multiple prescriptions that can get taken at different intervals. And you’ll get confused because of the pain and the strong medications. I logged every time I took something to not overdose or wait too long before I took my next dose. Also you have nothing else to do so might as well keep yourself busy.
  • White board and dry erase marker – I probably could’ve started talking on day two or three. I wrote notes for 8 days to be extra careful.
  • Bell – goes with the white board; if you need something you don’t want to yell for help!

Medicine

  • Eardrops – I didn’t end up using these but read of people suffering massive ear pain post-surgery
  • Cepacol Lozenges – the “hydra” kind felt very wetting and soothing, and the honey ones were comforting. Actually sucking on cough drops was ouchy, but letting it dissolve on my tongue worked.
  • Tylenol Cold Sore Throat liquid – it’s hard to find adult strength throat meds that are liquid based and not full of other meds that conflict with prescriptions. This works.
  • Emetrol Nausea and Upset Stomach – like ear drops I didn’t actually use this that much, but you’re eating so little and having such harsh meds an upset stomach is likely, and you don’t want to take pills so stocking some liquid stomach meds is smart.

Most Essential

Someone to check on you, make sure you’re following your med sched, mush your avocado, wash your dishes and pat your head.

I hope this helps if you’re about to go under the knife! It’s awful, but in the end I’m happy I did it.

All the links are affiliate links to amazon – it doesn’t affect your price but I get a tiny percentage to help pay for web hosting fees, etc. Thanks!

Colonoscopy 101

I’m in my early 30s, but with a history of colon cancer on both sides of my family and a series of digestive issues my doc recommended a colonoscopy. I took to the internet and got scared by horror stories. Mine wasn’t something I’m hurrying to repeat, but it wasn’t the nightmare I imagined. Here’s my play-by-play:

1 Week Prior: no popcorn

3 Days Prior: cut back on other seeded items (hearty bread, tomatoes, raspberries, etc.) – I ate a kiwi 48 hours before my procedure and I saw a kiwi seed in the toilet right before my procedure, so best to stop all that sooner rather than later.

The Day Before: Only clear liquids. I debated miso soup (I’m a vegetarian so chicken broth or jello weren’t appealing), but didn’t want to have to redo it all so decided to not push it. The entire day I consumed: coffee, tea, ginger ale, root beer, apple juice, lots of bubbly water, lime popsicles and lifesavers. The rule is nothing red/purple and nothing that isn’t a “clear” liquid, meaning it’s got to be very thin.

My appointment was Friday morning, and I took all day Thursday and Friday off. I didn’t start my purging meds until around 4pm, so I technically could’ve gone to work. I’m not sure if I would do a half day in the future. I was really bored at home – normally if I am spending that many hours at home I’m baking or cooking or at least snacking. I think I became extra hungry because I couldn’t indulge in my normal habits. Going to work might’ve distracted me, but I also was having trouble focusing since I was pretty hungry, so maybe staying home was the right choice. I did just cue up the Netflix and read some simple books as I couldn’t really do anything more complicated.

The Prep: my kind was a giant jug of powder I mixed 4 liters of water in to and shook up. I put it in the fridge a few hours before I started drinking it. I set a timer to go off every 15 minutes to keep me accountable to the task of finishing 8 oz that often. I experimented with straws, glassware, mixers and chasers, and nothing really helped. I’m a girl who can drink a lot quickly, but the combination of texture and mental blocks prevented me from downing it as fast as I wanted.

The Evacuation: about half way through the intake process my bowels started with the outtake. I’d read about people spending all day on the toilet, and my experience was frequent but brief. Almost every three minutes I’d get a strong sense of urgency, run to the bathroom and feel like a squirt gun spray out my ass. It would shoot out and I’d feel empty. I’d pat dry, return to my drink only to run back in another few minutes. I’d read about chafing so I went easy on the wiping, and did follow the suggestion of adult baby wipes for soothing/cleaning. I didn’t wet wipe every time, but it was nice to treat my anus while I was ravaging it. (Also, if you use those baby wipes, I don’t care if it says “flushable” – it ain’t. Please don’t flush wet wipes or tampons or anything but bodily waste and tp! #environmentalrant). I’d also read about people shitting out everything they’d ever consumed – mine was almost exclusively a highlighter colored clearish liquid – but I have bowel issues so that’s why I was doing this at 31.

The aftermath: that shit (not actually shit) shot out of me extremely quickly. So much so that there was some blow back. Remember to wipe under the seat and maybe take a nice shower.

Sleeping: I was really nervous I was going to shit the bed. I was so uncomfortable I woke up about every 45 minutes (thanks fitbit!) to run to the toilet. I then had my phone alarm wake me at 4:45am to take the final round. I was pretty empty at this point and had less violent evacuations. I read an engaging book while slurping the end of my slurry. I actually ended up going back to sleep for about an hour before getting up and readying for the procedure.

Day of: what to wear is the biggest question for any new venture in my life. I went with comfy loose layers. I actually packed an extra pair of undies and sweat pants as I was terrified I’d shit myself in the car on the way to the hospital, but I miraculously came away without a stain in my drawers. Also important for this day is the fact that you can’t consume anything at all. I felt so icky I didn’t want to eat anymore, but the no water was pretty awful.

At the hospital: I did a potty dance in the waiting room, but they wanted me to use a specific toilet and led me down endless halls. They said not to flush and not to throw my tp in the toilet. When I came out they inspected the glowing clear liquid and pronounced me ready for action. I got gowned up and given a needle in my arm for the happy meds. The doc came in and asked if I had questions, and then I waited for the room to be ready. I again had to pee out my asshole and so snuck to the toilet and had to wipe left handed due to the IV in my right. Awkward.

Procedure: I got the double feature of colonoscopy and endoscopy. They didn’t put me under but gave me enough loopy meds that I basically blacked out. There was music playing. And a video screen with a throbbing grey orb that must’ve been my colon. I have a vague memory of giving a French pronunciation lecture. Then of a nurse shaking me in a different room and telling me to get dressed. I did not want to get dressed. I laid there. The nurse returned and said for real to get up, and did I want to telephone my ride or should she? In Minnesota it’s a law that you can’t leave a colonoscopy alone. The bf was going to pick me up and I wanted to call him, so I said clearly “muuuhgluuuhfle caaaalll.” The nurse said “ok, you want me to call?” which is not what I meant, but I thought laying still would actually be cooler than using technology or even my mouth again, so I said “mmnyeah.” As she left to call she encouraged me again to dress myself. I thought I could maybe do it so I got up and took off my gown. Hung out naked for a bit and then tried to get dressed without falling over. It was stressful. Once I had clothes on they felt super hot so I sat on chair with my head between my legs for a while. That felt ok, but when I straightened up I decided it’d probably be good to throw up. I stumbled to the garbage and heaved for what felt like 15 minutes. With no solid food and very little liquids, I still managed to heave up a fair amount of bile. The nurse came back and sat me down and told me not to drink or eat for a while. I felt extra super gross. Like I hadn’t eaten in 36 hours or drank in 12 and had just had a camera down my throat and up my butt and gotten drugged. Which is what had happened. The doc came back and asked if I remembered everything we talked about after the procedure. I had absolutely no memory of talking to him at all. He gave me a print out of everything and told me to rest up.

Afterwards: got to my ride and while we had originally planned to go feed me, I just wanted to lay in bed. We went home and napped for about an hour with frequent Gatorade sipping to reinvigorate me. I finally rallied to be taken to the nearby Nepalese buffet where the smells and options encouraged me to fill my colon back up.

I wouldn’t recommend this as a fun use of your PTO. Overall it was unpleasant, but I am glad to have done it. If/when a doctor recommends I get a colonoscopy in the future, I certainly will do it again, and go in knowing I didn’t shit myself the first time.

Best of luck with your procedure (I can’t imagine you read this much unless you’re about to undergo one) and let me know if you have any questions!