My three year-old little girl just had a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A). When I first received the recommendation, I took to Google and read some very harrowing stories about the recovery period that had me trying to talk myself out of the procedure every day leading up to the big day.
When I speak to other moms about the T&A, the first question I get is “what were her symptoms that led to the surgery?” My daughter had ear infections off and on but her ears always healed quickly. Whenever we would go to the pediatrician for these ear infections and post ear infection check ups, the pediatrician we saw that day would always comment on her “huge” tonsils. It was always said as an after-thought, and I never thought much of the comment. At our three-year well visit, our primary pediatrician recommend we see an ENT, just as a precaution.
The ENT conducted a hearing test and looked in my daughter’s ears, quickly declaring the ears healthy. “Yea! No tubes!” my inner voice declared. Then he said the tonsils were abnormally large and proceeded to ask me a series of questions. Yes, she snores. Yes, she is an “active” sleeper. Yes, she often wakes up a little grumpy. Yes, she is a somewhat picky eater. These responses, coupled with her large tonsils and ear infections, led him to recommend a T&A. Despite my anxiety and doubts as a result of way too many Google searches, I decided to defer to the experts and schedule the surgery.
We did not give my daughter very many details of what was about to happen to her. She knew we were going to the doctor to fix her ears. Luckily her only reservation at the surgery center was getting in the hospital bed. The sweet nurse offered to carry her back which saved all of us some tears. The little patient had already been given her “silly juice” so she was pretty relaxed by the time they took her back.
Only 30 minutes later, the ENT was out letting me know that all went well. Her tonsils were enormous and a little infected, confirming that we made the right decision.
The nurse came to get us as soon as my daughter started to wake up. I had read and heard many stories about how tough this part can be, so I thought I had prepared myself. Seeing my sweet girl confused and in so much pain was by far the hardest thing I have gone through so far as a mother.
I tried holding her and rocking her, but she was so agitated. She wanted her IV out of her foot. After that she was better, but it was still tough. I dreaded the days ahead. She got a popsicle (and one for her brother at her insistence) and off we went with our instructions of no activity for 7 days and round the clock meds every 4 hours for 5 days. Hello newborn days!
The first two days were filled with sleep, movies, ice cream, applesauce and yogurt. I was a little tired from getting up during the night, but everything was going extremely well. My son was staying at grandma’s, but his presence was quickly requested by his sister…love the twin bond.
Day 4 was probably the toughest. This is approximately when the scabs start to come off causing a lot of pain in the throat. The breath is also just rancid. I can’t imaging what taste that caused in the mouth.This is also about the time we were told to expect some bleeding, but fortunately never had that issue.
The tough little patient was a trooper. She wasn’t eating or drinking as much days 4 and 5, but still getting enough liquids to avoid dehydration. By day 7, she was back to her old self with me constantly telling her to stop jumping and to take it easy!
I was hesitant to give her the pain medication every four hours for five days, but I honestly believe it helped her recovery. I also gave her Motrin three times a day. After day 5, we reduced the pain medication to half doses and then went to Motrin only for the last two official days of recovery.
Obviously every child is different, and I am by no means writing this from a medical professional perspective. I just wanted to share my experience from one mom to another.
One last recommendation – get a trusted sitter once your little one is on the mend and have a nice dinner with your husband. You will have earned it.
One month post-op, the little girl who would snore and moan during the night sleeps so soundly. She has not complained of any ear or throat pain and wakes up very happy.