Sunday, September 13, 2015

tonsillectomy recovery time (aka: the seeming eternity)

It'll be two weeks on Tuesday that our children had their tonsils and adenoids removed; and I would be remiss to not capture what this experience has been like for us.


Interestingly enough, I'd had my tonsils and adenoids removed when I was ten-years-old and had just started fifth grade, also.  I remember waking up from surgery and crying for my mother, and my mother - who was working at the time, was not there. But my Aunt Grace - who looks very much like my mother was there - and so the nurse put my Auntie in front of me and said, "Here she is, Dear."  

And I howled ... because as much as I love my Aunt Grace - I knew that she wasn't my mother. That is one of the few things I remember of the situation.  I also remember that I spent two or three nights in the hospital, because back in the "olden" days, tonsillectomies were in-patient.  

So the children had their tonsils out on Tuesday morning and we took them home on Tuesday afternoon.   The doctor told us that they'd likely miss one full week of school, and would need to have limited activities for two weeks.  (Note, our Virginia doctor told us that they'd need to miss TWO full weeks of school, so we were hopeful that perhaps they heal faster the closer you get to the equator.)  

The doctor also told us that they'll be very sore the first few days, and then seem to improve, until the scabs fall off around Day 7, and then they'll have a "dip" and seem to relapse.

But then they'll rebound and continue to improve.  

The day prior to their surgery,  I had filled their prescriptions for lidocaine lollipops, Tylenol with codeine, and Zofran (to offset any upset from the codeine).   We had an abundance of popsicles, ice cream, Jell-O, juices, and straws on hand.  I felt we were as prepared as we could possibly be.

The doctor told us Tuesday would be a mellow day; somewhat of a "honeymoon" because the kids would still have morphine in their system from the procedure.  Sure enough Tuesday afternoon, albeit groggy, they seemed fine; nibbling ice cream and contemplating the movies they'd watch during their recovery time.

Wednesday, was still pretty mellow.  No significant pain; although we stayed on our pain medication very religiously administering it every six hours, round the clock.

Thursday, was much the same as Wednesday.  I started to taper off the Tylenol with codeine, and introduce straight liquid Tylenol because I'd rather not give the children narcotics unless they ABSOLUTELY need them.  Responsible parenting; right here.  Also, I was sure the worst was behind us. What little did I know.

Friday, William started to complain of a headache, neck and jaw pain.  This continues to amplify throughout the day.  I'm still administering plain old liquid Tylenol every four hours.

Saturday, William continues to complain with increased intensity; Carolyn seems to be doing OK and Charlie and I wonder if it's because girls have a higher threshold for pain? The doctor calls and tells me that we have a window of opportunity to begin alternating Tylenol with Motrin until Sunday afternoon, because their scabs will not fall off until likely Monday - and so I won't be able to give them an anticoagulant within 24 hours of those scabs coming off, because of an increased risk of bleeding. BUT, by giving them Motrin - an anti-inflammatory - that could help with their neck pain.  Liquid Motrin is introduced every eight hours.  The only thing that makes him feel better is a bubble bath.


Sunday morning at 2 AM, William is awake screaming from the pain.  I get the Worst Mother of the Year Award because I had promised him that I would turn the baby monitor on that I just found during our move, so if he needed anything, I'd be there in a jiffy.  While I did turn the monitor on in HIS room, I neglected to turn it on in OUR room.  And so it is, he woke up and called for me - for several minutes to no avail - before climbing out of his bunk bed and navigating through the dark house to find me.  It was awful, awful, awful and I wound up sleeping with him on the couch.

Monday, William is miserable - all day.  Tylenol with codeine has been reinitiated every six hours.  Sometimes, we can't even make it the full six hours.  Carolyn is starting to go downhill fast, too.  She sleeps on the couch next to her brother.  We think this has to be the "dip" the doctor referred to, and the scabs must be coming off.  I'd like to look in their mouths, but their post-surgical breath is so outrageously bad, I'd pass out cold if they breathed on me.  I innocently ask Charlie to look and in doing so, also collect my Worst Wife of the Year Award.

There's no way they're returning to school on Tuesday. 

Tuesday, William continues to be miserable.  To the point that he will at random times, cry uncontrollably.  He's drinking more than 80 ounces a day, so is sufficiently hydrated - we're also religiously administering medicine, but it's awful.  He sits with an ice pack on his neck and sucks ice chips.  By Tuesday afternoon, Carolyn is a wreck.  Both kids sleep on the couch again.


Wednesday, both children are up in the middle of the night, crippled with pain.  I'm delirious from sleep deprivation, it feels like I have newborns again.   I'm beginning to question if this procedure was the right thing to do.  I'm beginning to question my own existence and which way is up.

Thursday, pain - pain - pain.  Lots of crying.  Both children are miserable. So am I. This isn't the relapse or "dip" I'd envisioned ... they've absolutely bottomed out.  

Friday, ever so slight improvement for William. He doesn't cry as much.  Carolyn is miserable and Charlie has called in for a refill of her lidocaine lollipop.  By Friday evening she is feeling slightly better, but now her ears are hurting.


Saturday, continued improvement for William; Carolyn maybe slight improvement, but still breaks down in to tears from the pain.  William is back on liquid Tylenol; Carolyn is still on Tylenol with codeine.

Sunday, William has finally turned a corner.  Carolyn is doing better, but still cries every so often from the pain of a sore throat and ears.  She is also back on liquid Tylenol.  Henry, the awesome little brother that he is, tries to lessen their pain by reading aloud. His book today was "Ben Hur."  The kids said it didn't help.  He got them popsicles, instead.


Tomorrow, William will be returning to school; I'm still not sure about Carolyn.

It's safe to say that TWO WEEKS is at base case, the recovery time needed for a tonsillectomy. Anything less than that, I'd suggest that you have super-human powers and are somewhat immune to pain.  Like the young boy in the hospital room next to me in 1981 when I had my tonsils removed ... he had a hankering for Cap'n Crunch following his procedure - and they actually brought it to him.

Yep, I remember that, too.