Diary of a Tonsillectomy & Adenoidectomy

The blog post below is an article that I wrote back in 2008. My best friend is about to go through this with her son so I felt like I should put it on my blog not only for her, but for others to view as well. While we were going through the surgery and healing I kept on thinking about how no one told me or warned me exactly what to expect. I wanted to help prepare other parents for what could possibly occur during this process.

Read Below for the diary that I kept during my son’s surgery and healing.

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My son, Cameron, has had issues with snoring and sleep apnea for quite some time. According to the pediatrician and the ear nose and throat specialist, the cause of his issues were enlarged tonsils and adenoids. The ear, nose and throat specialist also felt like removing those would help him with some of the other issues that he was having. Some of those issues were over night bed wetting, and also behavioral issues. I called in and scheduled his surgery with the surgery center. It is an outpatient procedure and usually done in a surgery center not an actual hospital.
The Day Before the Surgery

My son was not allowed to eat or drink anything, including water, after midnight. However, some doctors have different procedures when it comes to that, so make sure you check with your doctor to see what his procedure is regarding food and drink before surgery.

Day 1 – Surgery Day

We arrived at the surgery center at the time requested. However, we had quite a long wait before our surgery. Our doctor was running behind, so we were called back 3 hours after we originally arrived. This was very difficult on my son, he was hungry and thirsty and we could not give him anything to eat or drink. He was also very nervous about the procedure. We kept him busy in the waiting room with games and books. After we were called back tot he pre-op area, we had more waiting to do. The nurse asked us some questions and checked Cameron’s temperature and his vitals. She had him put on a hospital gown and then we waited for the anesthesiologist to come and talk to us. The anesthesiologist explained how they would put Cameron under the anesthesia and asked us the standard questions regarding allergies and reactions to medications, and family history.

Then it was time for Cameron to head back for surgery. They asked Cameron if he wanted to be wheeled into surgery on the bed, but he said he wanted to walk. So my big boy got up and walked with the doctors and nurses back to the surgery room. We watched him walk back and then went back to the waiting room. I got very emotional at this point. All of my nerves and concerns had been held in so I wouldn’t upset my son, and they all came out after he was out of sight. The entire surgery lasted less than an hour. There was a phone in the waiting room and they called us on that phone to tell us when they started. Then a nurse came to get us when Cameron began to come out of the anesthesia.

I had been told by several people that coming out of anesthesia was really one of the worst parts of the surgery. I have to be honest, those stories were right. Nothing really prepared me for seeing my son in that way. He was completely disoriented and scared and drugged up. He was very upset. He didn’t want any of the tubes or needles attached to him, but they had to be. He tried several times to pull them out and we had to try to keep him calm. This was not an easy task because he was still so out of it from the medication. After about 10 minutes of this he fell back asleep. This is totally normal and expected. He slept off a bit more of the medication. One thing I must suggest to any parent going through this is for you to make sure to eat and drink something. I did not eat or drink anything, and it really effected me while in the recovery room. I began to feel dizzy and faint. So don’t forget to take car of yourself during this time. You can’t take care of your child, if you aren’t taking care of yourself.

Cameron woke up again after about another half hour. The nurse gave him some pain medication and had him try to eat a popsicle and drink some juice. He refused the popsicle and juice, but did drink some milk. The doctor let us know that we could choose to give him half doses of his pain medication more often than the full dose. He said that this may be best at first. Make sure you discuss any medication dosing with your physician to see what is best for your situation and condition before modifying any original dosing instructions.

After 1 hour of time in the recovery room, we were allowed to take Cameron home. He slept a lot and didn’t eat or drink much. We did feed him some ice cream and some popsicles. Whatever he would eat we gave it to him. Every time he woke up we tried to get him to drink something. Even if it was only a sip. Swallowing and staying hydrated are both very important in the recovery from this surgery. The more they swallow the quicker it will heal. We made sure to keep pain medication in him, that way he would not be in any pain.

Day 2

Lots of comfort is needed on this day. He still did a lot of sleeping, but was awake more. We were careful to make sure his pain medication was given in the correct dosage and on time to prevent any pain flare ups which would cause him to get upset. We continued to push fluids. He drank juice, water, and ate popsicles. He didn’t want any food, but did attempt to eat some yogurt, ice cream, and pudding. He only ate a few bites, but a few bites is better than nothing. I did attempt to feed him some macaroni and cheese that was not hot, just luke warm, and he couldn’t eat that yet. Make sure you watch for a fever. A fever is expected, however, if it goes above a certain level then you need to contact your doctor. Our doctor didn’t want the fever to get any higher than 101.5.

Day 3

This day was the worst day of the recovery for us. Even though we were pushing fluids, I believe he was on the verge of getting dehydrated. This is a very bad thing at any time but especially when trying to recover from a major procedure such as this one. His fever was very close to the level of having to contact the doctor. He wanted to sleep more than the day before. He was refusing to drink or eat. We really had to force fluids and food on him. We even had to force the medications on him. On this day we began giving him Gatorade to drink instead of just plain water and juice. Since he was only drinking small amounts the water and juice just wasn’t enough to keep him well hydrated. The Gatorade worked like a charm. Continue the pain medication on a regular schedule, and allow as much rest as your child wants.

Day 4

This was the beginning of better days for us. Cameron began to eat some foods. He ate some luke warm macaroni and cheese, among other soft foods. He continued to drink his Gatorade, however, I did have to remind him to drink often. I did not give pain medication on as strict of a schedule. If he was in pain and it was time or past time for medication I would give it to him. However, I waited for him to tell me he was starting to hurt. On this day, we noticed some diarrhea from the antibiotics. If the diarrhea becomes excessive, you may need to contact your doctor.

Day 5

Cameron is feeling much better on this day. He was eating and drinking without any struggle. we were still taking pain medication as needed. However, in the evening on this day his ears began to hurt. This is totally normal, so do not be alarmed by it. The pain from the removal of the tonsils and adenoids will radiate out and cause pain in the ears. This pain was quite bad for my son. However, every child will react differently to this. We had to go back to a strict schedule for the pain medication. Also, I made sure to give food and drink after the pain medication to help prevent further pain. Also, by making sure to offer food and drink while the pain medication was in his system I found that he was able to eat and drink more.

Day 6
Today you need to be prepared for a fall back in the recovery. It is totally normal and our doctor told us to expect it at this time. Stick with the pain medication on a regular schedule. Continue to push the soft foods and fluids. My son would cry because the pain from his ears was so bad. We started to chew gum to help with the pain.

Day 7 – 1 week post surgery

Cameron’s ear pain continued. I called the doctor’s office to find out the results from the culture of the tonsils and adenoids. The results were not in yet.

Day 8

Cameron’s ears are somewhat better. However, we are still having to give pain medication every 4 hours. He is starting to eat more, and is drinking much easier. This is the day that most children are able to return to school. This day fell on a weekend for us, so Cameron is still at home. Now that he is feeling so much better, we have to watch how much physical activity he is doing. There is to be no strenuous physical activity for 2 full weeks post surgery. With my son, I had to keep a close watch on him. I even enlisted his sisters to help me keep him from getting to active.

Day 9

Cameron’s appetite came back completely on this day. He was still experiencing ear pain. I gave him pain medication when necessary.

Day 10

I could have sent my son to school on this day. I chose to keep him home one additional day though. He had still been taking pain medication every 4 hours up until this day. The medication was mainly for the pain in his ears. I kept him home to see if he could go all day without taking any pain medication. He chewed gum to help with the pain when needed. He wanted to eat constantly. I guess he is making up for all of the food that he didn’t eat in the first week of recovery.

Day 11

This is the day that Cameron went back to school. I walked him in and spoke with his teacher. She was already aware that Cameron was having surgery, but I wanted to make sure she was aware of what to do in case something went wrong with Cameron. I sent a note in as well to be on his file just in case. I also made a point to inform the school nurse that he had just had the surgery and what to do in case of an emergency. The main concern was if Cameron had a tonsil bleed. This is not common, but it can happen. If this does happen, you child needs to go immediately to the hospital in an ambulance. However, before you do this, make sure to have the child drink ice water immediately to stop the bleeding. I made sure both his teacher and the school nurse were aware of this, they never needed to do anything though.

Day 12

Cameron’s voice is coming back to normal. The swelling seems to be going down. He still has quite an appetite. If he wanted to eat, I fed him. Even if it wasn’t time for a meal. He had lost some weight during recovery and his body must need to have some additional calories to be hungry so often.

Day 13

His voice continues to sound better. It is still not completely back yet. We returned to the doctor for a follow-up visit. The doctor says he is healing up very well. We discussed the results of the cultures. We were given the OK for all physical activity including gym and recess at school.

It has been over a month since Cameron’s surgery now. He is back to his old self again. His voice never did return to what it sounded like before, however it is similar. We are no longer having any issues with apnea. We are still working on the overnight bed wetting, but it is much better than it was prior to surgery. It was a difficult road to recovery, but it was completely worth it for my child. His health is much better now because of the surgery. I truly hope this article will help anyone whose child is going to have this surgery. I searched for people who had been through this, and wanted more information. It is hard to prepare yourself as a parent for all that comes with the surgery. If either of my other children have to have this done, now I am better prepared. Hopefully you are now too.

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1 Comment

  1. June 7, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Day 9
    Cameron’s appetite came back completely on this day. He was still experiencing ear pain. I gave him pain medication when necessary. why you dont try natural remedy ?


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