It’s been a week now since a surgeon sliced off my tonsils and carved out my adenoids, and nobody’s warnings would have sufficed.
A few years ago, I had the surgery scheduled, but the personal insurance plan I had refused to preapprove, so I didn’t do it, even though my otolaryngologist said such surgeries are rarely denied because “no adult would be crazy enough to go through with a tonsillectomy unless he or she really needed it.” His words haunted me but his logic wasn’t compelling enough for me to risk being screwed over by an insurance company (turns out I was right- I spoke with someone there who said they’d probably have claimed it was a preexisting condition). So I waited. When I found out I was being laid off (after a bout of strep and two ear infections this spring), I decided this was the time. So these are the things I knew: The recovery is longer and rougher for adults than for kids. I’d have a sore throat for a while. I’d be eating soft foods for a week or two, then I’d have to avoid spicy stuff and rough edged things, like chips, for a while after that.
What I didn’t know:
That the anesthesia would leave a disgusting taste in the back of my throat for the whole first day.
That my tongue would be numb for hours after the surgery.
That while days one and two would be horrible, they would be deceptively simple compared to days three and four, because that’s when the earaches and migraine-level headaches kick in. (I have since learned that adenoid tissue shrinks by adulthood, but mine did not, and the adenoid removal is what caused the ear/headaches).
That hiccups and sneezes would cause a sharp pain that would radiate to my ears and linger like someone kicked my throat in the crotch. (For the purposes of this imagery, my throat has a boy crotch).
That the idea of “liquid narcotics for pain” sounds like a good plan after tonsillectomy, but in reality, the stuff (percocet) is worst than the worst cough syrup imaginable and stings going down. It stings a lot. And since it’s hard-core, taking it with an empty stomach causes nausea, but the pain prevents consumption. See, it’s a catch 22.
That you don’t really get to eat ice cream all the time. Everyone always you’re lucky that you get to eat ice cream all the time, but the truth is that the ice cream is too cold. In fact, Jell-O is the best thing because it’s cool but not freezing. Alas, Jell-O is not enough to have in the stomach to help with nausea. Luckily, the good people at Glenmark Pharmaceuticals make a knock off of the anti-nausea drug, Zofran (which is still remarkably expensive, btw). The only downfalls: it tastes like hairspray and it causes headaches.
So after several days of nausea and pain, the hunger really kicks in. Some nice people brought me a vanilla shake from Kopp’s, and brought themselves dinner– burgers, fries, and onion rings. And OH MY GOD, those onion rings smelled so amazing to me. I wanted to snatch them all and damn the consequences! Luckily I refrained.
Now it’s been a week– I feel better; the pain is reduced to strep-like sore throat, which is an enormous improvement over “someone cut off living parts of my flesh and sent me home two hours later.” I’m at the point now where I feel well enough to notice that my hair needs to be washed. I’m also well enough to not only mind that the scabs in my throat feel like a giant hairball, but to be really grossed out by the feeling that I have a giant hairball.
I better never get another damn strep or ear infection. And I’ll tell that to the otolaryngologist to his face tomorrow at my follow-up appointment.