Tell me how to prepare for a tonsillectomy

I’ll be getting my tonsils out in a few weeks. Any advice on how I should prepare for the surgery & recovery?

(Yes, I’ll also be having pre-op meetings with the medical staff, and will get the official advice from them.)

  1. buy popsicles and/or ice cream
  2. rent movies that are interesting enough to take your mind off your throat but won’t make you laugh out loud, which could hurt
  3. buy more popsicles and/or ice cream

(of course, this is based off my own tonsillectomy experience, which was at age 6. back then, ice cream was my answer to everything. but I do seem to remember it actually helping after the surgery.)

good luck!

Stock up on things like Gatorade, apple sauce, chicken broth, yogurt without lumps of whatever in it, Jello (make it before going in - you will not feel like making it post-op) and map out the nearest Jamba Juice or whatever smoothie shop is nearby for when you’re feeling able to leave the house - probably around the third day post-op. And yes - ice cream and popsicles. Have it all ready to go in the fridge or freezer. You will have no inclination to prepare anything - even moving a bottle of water from the cabinet to the fridge will seem unthinkable. Speaking of water - staying hydrated is very important and will be challenging during those times when it hurts to swallow anything. Keep drinking - you don’t want to add constipation to your list of pains.

No orange or grapefruit juice and no carbonated drinks. The juices are acidic and will sting, and the bubbles in pop will be irritating. Try to avoid anything red - the color will mask any bleeding or inflammation.

Unplug the phones. The less you talk, the better.

Expect to feel like a complete wrung-out wreck for several days. When I had my tonsils out at about age 22, I had an overnight hospital stay, and I think I pretty much stayed in bed for the next two days. Strangely, just as you think it’s all better, somewhere around Day 5, you’re going to be be absolutely miserable for a while once the scabs start to come off.

Unfortunately, tonsillectomy is one of those weird things that’s relatively minor in kids but it’s surprisingly hard on adults. Plan to be out of work at least a week, and probably as much as two weeks. You’ll probably have really bad stinky breath for about a week. (Betcha the doctor didn’t think to mention that! :D)

If you’re easily grossed out, don’t look. For the first week or so, your throat will look like it’s been set on fire and charred.

Stock up on flan, pudding, jell-o and creme brulee as well.

I never thought it was possible to make my 10yo self get tired of flan and ice cream, but after four weeks I was mighty sick of them!

I had my tonsils removed a couple of years ago (at 28) and was told to eat rough, coarse, scratchy foods, I’m afraid. The idea is to slough off the scabs and encourage the healing process - and they enforced this policy strictly, the morning after my op I was made to eat at least 1 slice of toast before they would discharge me (oh, how I wish I was making this up!)

After that, I was in far too much pain for the first 10 days or so to do much more than sleep and cry pathetically (yeah, I’m a wuss), so eating wasn’t so much of an issue. The only things that helped were codeine, and gargling with soluble aspirin in between doses, so I’d recommend stocking up on them.

On the plus side, since then I’ve gone from getting severe tonsillitis on a monthly basis to not really getting sore throats at all, so it was definitely worth it. Good luck!

Prepare? First…whatever level of pain they tell you you’ll experience, multiply it by 10. IT HURTS. A LOT.

The first two days…I had to force myself to drink water. I dreaded every sip. Yes, it hurt that much.

Oh…and they give you pain pills that are so big that there’s no fuckin’ way in hell you want to swallow them. If you can get liquid painkillers, go for it.

It gets better in a few days, but be prepared to feel like shit for what seems like an eternity.

Good luck.

I believe that’s been SOP for years in the UK and certainly was my experience maybe 22 years ago when I had mine out.

It’s not nice and it hurts like fuck, but it is supposed to make you heal quicker. I’d been looking forward to the jelly and ice cream though.

For the OP: Practice throwing your voice. For the first few days, you’ll be speaking like a ventriloquist because it’ll really, really hurt to open your mouth.

Gee, now I’m looking forward to it even more!

Regarding ice cream: Any problems with the texture? I’d be afraid it would be kind of gloopy and sticky and coat your throat.

And how long did you need someone else to look after you? I’m a bachelor who lives alone, so I need to estimate how many favors from friends I’ll need to call in.

(Thanks for the info, BTW)

I had them out at 21 - the pain wasn’t too bad initially, (I recall going out for Turkish food in the first couple of days, with one hell of a Kathleen Turner voice!) but I remember being in tears trying to eat sausages at around day 9 (as the nerve endings begin to reform). So take the painkillers!

The other thing I have not seen mentioned is the smell… There was for me a distinctly distasteful rotting flesh smell it is hard to ignore, as the scabs form and heal.

As to the process, they gave me drugs before the general - as I recall, good drugs, I was singing Oklahoma on the way to the theatre! Dry dry throat on recovery, and the feeling that I was swallowing my tongue, which I assume was just due to a lot of swelling. I only spent a night in the hospital, and woudn’t have needed more.

I’m the only one in my family that still has any tonsils.

My wife got hers out a couple years ago, she was 32. She was usually got strep at least once a year and had a general sore throat through most of the fall, winter and spring. Since the removal, she has been much better. She hasn’t had strep since and only gets sore throats from post nasal drip that chap her throat.

But the 2 weeks following the operation was hell, for both her and me.

We had all the ice cream, jello, pudding, Italian ice, juice, gatorade, chicken broth and water all ready to go. It wasn’t part of our original plan, but we also had flexible ice packs from a previous knee surgery, that were invaluable. She would wrap them around her throat to reduce any swelling. You might want to look into that as well. Also, get a kitchen timer or something so you know when you can take your next dose of medicine.

Fortunately, she was given the liquid codeine. She had to stay in the hospital until she was able to drink a sip of water (no toast).

The next two weeks she spent in bed in a codeine haze. She had to wait 4 hours between doses. This is where the kitchen timer became useful. For the last hour or so, she would watch that timer and wait for it to go off so she could get her next dose. If we slept through the alarm, she would usually wake up thrashing about, in too much pain to even scream.

The pain progressively got better every day until about the 4th or 5th day when everything went to hell again and you had to start back as square one. She was doing so much codeine that she was actually hallucinating. But the hallucinations were better than the intense pain. Even still she would constantly whimper in pain.

Now, she says it was worth it and would do it again in a heartbeat.

A few months later, both my boys (then aged 4 and 6) got theirs removed, too. My older son had pouches in his tonsils where food would get caught and rot. The kids as school called him Stinkbomb because his breath was so foul.

My younger son had tonsils that almost touched without any infection. The ENT doc was worried that if they swelled up with strep or anything, he might not be able to breathe. We decided to get his done at the same time so that we wouldn’t get into any emergency situations with it.

They recovered MUCH faster than my wife. In less than a week they were up and about. My youngest was a little trooper and refused to cry. However, he also refused to drink. His throat got dry and cracked and he started bleeding pretty good. He ended up back in the hospital because of it. So keep drinking. No matter how bad it hurts.

I don’t mean to scare you or anything, but I think its better that you are prepared.

Mashed potatoes will be your best friend, along with all the foods mentioned above.

You might throw up here and there, it won’t be fun. Above all, just swallow. Swallow, swallow, swallow. Yes, it will hurt like hell, but it will help you in the long run. When I got mine out at 10 I did everything I could to keep from swallowing and it took twice as long as expected to heal up. It will hurt terribly for a little bit, but it’s definitely worth never having tonsillitis ever again.

I suffer from hellacious and constant tonsil stones, and have been considering a voluntary tonsillectomy for a while. This thread, however, has convinced me that it’s. just. not. worth. it. I guess I can live with shit breath and digging them out with a q-tip…

Yes. It sucks. By FAR the worst pain I have ever experienced. And scary as hell…I felt soooooooooo sick starting around day three. I lost 15 pounds. Nights were pure terror (although, I had a deviated septum fixed at the same time, which I do NOT recommend–that should be a separate surgery).

But I don’t get sick any more. No more sore throats.

For the OP: yeah, eat relatively rough foods. You do want those scabs to slough off, but they don’t form for a week, so soft foods until then.

If you are on liquid vicodin, you HAVE to drink TONS of water. And it will hurt, fucking A, it will fucking hurt. But do it.

I got nauseated on day 3…and my brain associated it with the vicodin. I recommend you take the vicodin (if that’s what you get) until it runs out. I quit on day three, and basically went the next two weeks with no pain relief. Bad idea.

You will feel fine until day 3. But…Take it easy. Either have someone there to take care of you, or make up a week’s worth of food before the surgery. You must get rest.

Expect to feel like a combination of the WORST flu you ever had on top of the WORST hangover you ever had. Again, it doesn’t start until later, and that’s the scary part. You don’t get better…you keep getting worse. Every day. But after two weeks, it will turn around.

My number one recommendation? Keep a flashlight nearby and show EVERYone your throat. Then they’ll stop nagging at you for being a wuss about the pain. If they see your throat they’ll be traumatized forever, and you’ll get a nice warm glow.

Oh, and when you see your entire back palate gone? Don’t worry…it grows back.

And post a daily update. You’d be surprised how far a little cyber support can go. You can search for my desperate pleas from August of 2007 :slight_smile:

Some time after I had mine out, I wandered over to the shop where I worked because I was going stir crazy, I wanted my paycheck and because a few blocks walk seemed like it would be a good idea. A little fresh air, change of scenery and all that.

Ricky wanted to see, so I obliged. I looks and recoils in terror at the sight of my charred throat. He gasped and cried “They took your screamer!”

As for the palate growing back - it’s not supposed to, but sometimes, they do re-appear. My operation was a TAUPPP - tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, and uvulo-palato pharyngoplasty, all with the double intent of relieving sleep apnea and snoring, and to eliminate the several times a year bouts of tonsillitis.

The tonsils have not grown back, but my body did figure out how to snore again after a year or two. :frowning:

I am going to support what others said but also contradict some of it. I had four surgeries in one: uvulaplasty, tonsils out, adenoids out, and a deviated septum corrected at the same time. My surgeon told me that it was the worst pain I would ever experience. It was bad all right but they gave me a prescription for oxycontin. I was out of work for two weeks but I could eat many foods by day three and I was mostly mobile and functional by day four.

I don’t know if it was the drugs, the skill of the surgeon, a high pain tolerance, or just the fact that they scared me as badly as they could before the surgeries. I have had worse pain before like the time my knee got completely impaled by a nail and the time that I accidentally chopped the same knee with an ax.

I wish my doctor had emphasized how bad it could be. I remember researching the 'net and discovering that it was supposed to be much worse than what I was told. It scared me sooo bad.

And it turned out to be exactly what I read.

Is it survivable? Oh, hell yes. For me…it was VERY worth it. But I do think some doctors try to minimalize the expectations.

And, of course, everyone’s mileage is gong to vary.

Stock up on as much Jell-O, pudding, popsicles and ice-cream as you can – try to diversify on what you get so you don’t get bored with the same things.

My tonsillectomy experience was uneventful; I went home after the operation, but it’s different for everyone, I guess.

I had mine out when I was 25. The best advise I can give you is make sure you have lots of liquid percocet. If you are getting close to the weekend, be sure you get a new prescription filled before that. The doctors cannot call in a script for percocet, and the vicodin did nothing for me. Take it even if you don’t think you need it. If you ‘get behind’ the pain you’re screwed. You think you’re getting better, then somewhere around day 6-8 you begin to wish for death. After you hit the 14 day mark you should start to feel improvement.
I got good at holding ice cubes in the back of my throat just by tilting by head back and letting the ice slide down the back of the throat and rest there. It provides a little relief.
If you start bleeding profusely, stay calm. It will stop. Have someone drive you to the closest emergency room immediately.
I know this all sounds horrible. It is. Don’t let the doctors fool you. On the other hand, once I got through all of that ordeal I couldn’t believe how much better I felt. I had apparently had a constant infection for years and years, which never went away until after the surgery, and I hadn’t even realized it. It is worth it, but you bet your ass it sucks!


Happy place…I’m in my happy place…
Ohhhh crap. The doctor said that people usually recover in about a week. But this has the potential to be…not fun. Shit shit shit.

(Why yes, I am a coward, thankyouverymuch.)

Thanks for the input.

Liquid drugs. I repeat: liquid drugs. Don’t settle for less (unless it’s a patch! Do they do that??).