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Tonsil and Adenoid Surgery

Yep. My five-year-old had her tonsil and adenoid surgery on March 19th.
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We are nearing the end of week one, in a two-week recovery.

Our doctor recommended two weeks to let it heal completely, and keep my child away from outside germs, and infections that could complicate healing.

My five-year-old daughter has been a mouth breather for a while. She is not very good about sleeping through the night. She’s always been a light sleeper. When she gets a cold, they tend to linger. She has never had strep throat. There have been times while she’s sleeping that there is some gasping, as if she can’t seem to get the air into her passages. I’d been concerned about this, but wasn’t sure if it was just snoring. I didn’t think it was abnormal. Apparently, snoring is not a sign of normal sleep. Snoring is usually the first sign that something is obstructing the airways when you sleep.

My mother noticed the mouth breathing and suggested I go see our ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) doctor. The same doctor that helped my older daughter with tubes in her ears for all the ear infections. Our doctor walked in, asked my five-year-old to open her mouth and instantly said, “she needs to have her tonsils and adenoids out.” My head spun. So I asked the doctor what they looked like. He showed me. I saw large tonsils that were about a centimeter apart, if that, when my daughter opened her mouth. So then I asked what the tonsils should look like. He had my older daughter open her mouth. It was like an empty cavern. That visual made it easy to see why the tonsils needed to come out.

What purpose do tonsils and adenoids serve? Tonsils and adenoids are generally the first level of defense for the immune system in young children. By the time kids are 3-6 years of age, the tonsils/adenoids lose their effectiveness, especially if the kids often get strep throat, and frequent infections. The tonsils are at the back of the throat, and adenoids are behind the nose. My daughter’s adenoids, and tonsils were too large, and were affecting her breathing.

My daughter was very worried that she wouldn’t be able to talk. She was worried about how I would know if she was hungry, and how her sister would know she wanted to play. Playing is a big deal for my five-year-old.

I had been warned by mothers that have gone through this with their kids that my daughter would be lethargic, that the Tylenol with codeine would wipe them out. They warned me that my kid would be miserable. I was told that if I didn’t practice tough love with the unappealing pain medicine, that my daughter could get dehydrated if she didn’t get enough fluids, due to soreness in her throat. In fact, I was told that some kids have been taken to the ER because of dehydration.

Our daughter had a lingering cold; stuffy nose, runny  nose, cough, but no fever. So they said she could still have the surgery. The nurse did advise us that for the next several days not to have her blow her nose. They didn’t want the newly cauterized wound to bleed. I was warned that in the first 24 hours it’s normal for the kids to throw up a small amount of blood, but after 24 hours, to rush to the ER. I was also warned that the kids might complain of ear pain, as the sinus areas are all pretty well connected. There was a lot I was warned about.

With all this information, I truly was, planning for, and expecting the worst.

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When my daughter woke up from surgery, she was in tears. She was miserable. I expected that. On the ride home, she was moaning, and crying, and in general feeling rotten. My husband told her we’d stop at Target, and he’d run out to get her some surprises. She and I waited in the car, and he bought her three princess toys. She has been playing with them all week. Pure genius on his part.

Once we got home I was planning on giving her a few ice lollies, antibiotics, and her pain meds, and then put her down for a nap. Turns out, after we got home, had ice lollies, and meds she was happy, and wanted to get in the bath with her new dolls. So she did. It sort of blew my mind when I heard her singing in the tub with the dolls. She was happy, and full of energy. Naturally, I waited for the shoe to drop. I waited 48 hours for the shoe to drop. She even got angry with me for making her take a nap that first day. I don’t call her Miss. Spitfire for nothing.

On the third day, however, her body could not sustain the energy she has normally. She was more lethargic, and clingy. Her appetite was bored of the yogurt, pudding, soup, and other soft options. She ate, but with less enthusiasm. She actually stopped her Tylenol with codeine. She said it didn’t hurt. This made me wonder if other kids get tired on the pain meds, and mine gets that shot of adrenaline.

Right now, in addition to recovering from the surgery, my daughter is also trying to get over her cold. So the sleeping at night is still not good. Her nose is stuffy, so she’s breathing through her mouth, and snoring. I’m hoping that once the cold leaves, she’ll be able to get some good sleeping in.

It’s never fun to have your child go through a medical procedure requiring anesthesia. I’d been reading articles about the procedure, and speaking with other parents. There’s something about knowing people who have had the experience, that makes the anticipation, less stressful.

This has been her diet so far.

  • Gatorade
  • Water
  • Ice lollies (otter pops)
  • Soup
  • Annie’s mac and cheese
  • Canned peaches
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Spinach and cheese raviolis
  • Applesauce
  • Chocolate pudding
  • Yogurt (drinkable and Greek)
  • Soft bread
  • Oatmeal

My daughter is thoroughly bored with all these foods as we near the end of our first week. Any suggestions? Of course, she just wants some pizza.

Have your kids had this procedure? What was your experience? What wisdom, advice do you have?


ps. I write how I feel about her surgery, here. Prayer works.


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