Tonsillectomy: my experience: Part III

Today I am going to share with you the final post of my tonsillectomy experience. You can see part one here and part two here. I’m not going to show you any photographs, but I will be graphic in the information I will give.

I was discharged on Monday after the surgery and took a taxi home – since Markus was at work at the time. I dropped my things home and had to go to the pharmacy to get pain killers. The simple walk (we have a pharmacy 100m from our home) made me extremely weak and I was dripping sweat when I got back home. I thought that was normal, after such a surgery and I should take a bit more care. The next day I went to my GP to get the leave of sickness and for her to take a look at things. Everything looked ok and I was feeling very weak, but didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary. I went back home and laid down. I was sleeping a lot during these first few days and trying to drink as much as I could, even though I couldn’t drink much.

Things took a turn for the worst from one day to the other. My body was probably already giving me signals, which I misinterpreted. The pain got unbearable and what they had prescribed me wasn’t working. They gave me Voltaren, which is not the best thing to take after a surgery of this nature. While at the hospital I had already had problems with pain and they had given me Novalgin drops (Metamizole), so I called the hospital and asked if I could get that at the pharmacy or something else. They told me I could take Novalgin if the Voltaren wasn’t helping, so I went to the pharmacy. However, Novalgin is extremely strong medicine and the pharmacist did not want to sell it to me. After seeing how bad it was, she called my GP, who promptly gave the ok. I went home with 10ml of it. 10ml lasts for about 2 days, because I had to take 20drops every 4h and it was still not enough – I just didn’t want to take to much and endured the pain until I couldn’t anymore. Basically I was never without pain at that stage. 

I went to my GP the next day, desperate for a solution. Luckily, my GP knows I have chronic pain and I’m not one to complain because of a little pain and so she took me serious. She took a look at my throat and everything looked normal, however “normal” in this case meant it was all red and scabby – so you couldn’t actually see anything underneath. She took my temperature and said I was developing a bit of fever – which again, is not unusual for me, since M.E. tends to play with the body’s temperature. I was also dehydrated and my GP realized my body was fighting an infection. 

Long story short, my body thought there was something wrong. This isn’t uncommon when someone suffering with M.E. goes through a surgery like this. Physically everything was ok, there was no infection whatsoever, but my brain was detecting one and acting accordingly. That’s why the pain killers weren’t working and I was only getting worse and worse. She actually was surprised how I didn’t go to her earlier! I was expecting pain after the surgery, but because I’m so used to having constant pain in my body at any given time, I didn’t realize that the pain I was experiencing was uncommon. I kept icing my neck and trying to drink very cold drinks or eat ice-cream – which was being contra productive and making things worse, since the body thought there was an infection, I was actually making it worse. But drinking warm things could end up in bleeding, so you have to eat and drink cold things after a tonsillectomy.

My GP prescribed me a very strong antibiotic and gave me an infusion with vitamins and pain killers to help put me comfortable. The pain killers were very strong, I know when a medicine is strong if I feel nauseous after taking it, but it did not take my pain away. I went home with a prescription for a humongous amount of Novalgin and the antibiotics, which I started taking that evening. The antibiotics were extremely strong and I started noticing differences right the next day. My throat did not feel like it was on fire anymore, but it did still hurt and it was difficult to drink or eat anything. Three days later I was doing much better – the fever was gone and even though the pain was definitely still there, it was manageable and endurable. 

However, my body then decided to rebel against me (or the antibiotics). One of the things they kept telling me in the hospital was that if there was any bleeding whatsoever, I should get into an ambulance and go to the hospital. 1.5 weeks after the surgery, I start having really strong cramps. I thought it was from my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), since that has a mind of its own. But when the next day I go to the toilet and see I’m bleeding “down under”, I get worried. See, I had gotten my period the day after surgery, so I shouldn’t be having it at that time. I currently do not have a gynecologist, because mine retired at the end of last year. So I tried calling two gynecologists I found online, because I didn’t want to run to the hospital just for this, I wanted to know if this was normal or not after such a surgery. The only one I could reach hung the phone on me, saying they weren’t accepting new patients. I went to one near our place – again, I just wanted to know if this could happen after a surgery – and they sent me to the hospital. By then my cramps were extremely painful and I could hardly walk. 

I got to the hospital and had to wait for 5 minutes while the women at the counter were talking about some other colleague. Eventually I interrupted them and said “this is the emergency counter, right? I have an emergency and was sent here”. They sent me to the gynecologist department on the 3rd floor and once I got there the lady wanted to send me back down, because it was after 3pm and they close at 3pm. I think I lost it then, I started crying like a baby and they realized I was really in a lot of pain, so they told me to go pee in a cup, asked me 3 times if I was pregnant and sent me to the waiting area. All through this I was writing Lorna, who was with me through the whole thing and helped me getting through it.

Eventually I get called in, they say my urine tests are normal, ask me 15 times again if I’m pregnant and then proceed to examine me. Everything was ok with my uterus and they said it was probably the antibiotics. Apparently it had “jump started” a new menstruation cycle, which I had no idea could happen. They still took some blood to run tests and sent me home – because they didn’t want me to wait in the hospital because of all the sick people germs. I have t say that it was funny to see the sweet doctor googling M.E. and apologizing for not knowing it. 

It was only in the beginning of last week that I started feeling better. Just as quickly as I got worse, things got better. After taking the antibiotics, by throat started healing very quickly and now there’s only a few scabs in it – which itch like hell when they’re getting off! I’m able to eat almost everything, I just need to make sure I chew everything properly. Don’t get me wrong, it hurts to eat. It hurts to drink and after a while it hurts to speak. Also, I cannot say the strong R’s – which is somewhat of an issue when you’re name starts and ends with a strong R. So I’ve developed a very funny accent, according to Markus. It can take up to 3 months for my throat to get totally and completely healed. I could still be eating soft foods and only ice cream, but I feel that harder foods help the scabs come off – even though it does hurt a bit at times. I advise you to listen to your body and go with what you feel is best for you.

I can tell you from my experience that this was the worst thing I’ve ever gone through (worse than my breast surgery and that was already hard!). However, I am also aware that this is not the usual way things go. You’re not supposed to have so much pain or get a second period after a tonsillectomy. A tonsillectomy is painful, yes, but it is supposed to be bearable with the medication the doctor provides you with. In my case, because I experience pain on a daily basis and have therefore a much higher pain tolerance, I did not realize that there was something wrong with the way I was healing, until I broke down crying at my GP, not understanding why my body wasn’t doing what it’s supposed to. Now I’m pretty much recovered. It still hurts, I still have occasional pain in my ears and sometimes my nose bleeds for a few seconds. Eating is painful, but I can already drink without any problems and can even drink coffee again!

* Please bear in mind this is solely my experience. This is what happened to me and it should be taken into account that every person is different and reacts to any surgery differently. Also, a healthy person will most likely not have the issues I had with it – since I have a chronic illness and my body reacts differently to things 

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