Coblation Tonsillectomy Post-Op Information

(Not really written so much for my regular readers, but for folks looking on post-op information.  Before my surgery, I searched high and low for something like this and found nothing.  So here’s hoping that I can help someone else!)

So most of you know that I had a tonsillectomy last Wednesday.  I had heard many, many horror stories and had been putting it off for years because of all the hullabaloo(yes, I just used the word hullabaloo…face it, it’s a fun word to say!).

Luckily during the time between when I should have gotten it done and when I actually got it done, a new procedure had been developed and perfected.  Also luckily, one of our friends from medical school completed her ENT residency and was more than happy to take me on as a patient.  (Thanks, Melanie!)

So my wicked-smaht friend suggested that we use the new technology and do a coblation tonsillectomy instead of the traditional method.    She warned me that it was really going to hurt, and made me promise that I wouldn’t hold it against her.

And after all the crazy-wild “you’re not gonna die, but wish you were dead” stories that I got from most people, and after Melanie’s warning…I was plain out scared.  Well, not so much scared as petrified; completely mortified that the pain was going to be so bad that I couldn’t tolerate it.  As a matter of fact, I was planning on just making sure I was drugged up enough that I slept through most of the pain.

But, only 12 hours after my surgery, I’m feeling great!  It hurts, of course, but nothing like that round of strep in January that tried to kill me.  I’m taking my antibiotics(liquid) and keeping a low-dose of (liquid) pain meds in my system.  (Why tempt fate by letting that run out unnecessarily?)  But since I’ve gotten out of the hospital, I haven’t thrown up or taken any anti-nausea medications.  (For me, that’s an amazing feat!)

I have also heard that somewhere around Day 3 to 5, it really hits you.  Here’s to hoping “they” are wrong, just like “they” were wrong about how intense the initial pain would be.  Also, most of the info I got was from people who’d had the traditional cut’em out surgery.  Even after looking online for more info on post-op pain, I found very few personal accounts.  (There are plenty of stats out there but stats, after all, are really just numbers.)

So…here’s my running diary of my coblation tonsillectomy.
Each day you’ll see a pain rating.  It is based on this scale.

Surgery Day(Wed):
Pain Rating: 5

  • Reported to hospital around 5:45AM, hungry and cold.
    (I’m not a morning person.  I’m even less of a morning person if I can’t eat.)
  • Got all the paperwork completed and changed into a gown.
  • In the OR “holding tank” by around 7.
  • Happy meds….lalala…remember nothing.
  • Vaguely remember Melanie coming to me in post-op and telling me that it was a good thing I got them out.
  • The good Dr. Seybt goes in to talk to Marshall and my parents.  Tell them that my tonsils were absolutely disgusting and she doesn’t often see tonsils with that much scar tissue on them.
  • A bumpy ride from the recovery room to my room leaves me a bit motion sick and I throw up.
    It hurts, but I still have a good bit of anesthesia helping me out, so it doesn’t hurt too much.
  • The anti-nausea medication makes me sleepy, and doesn’t help my nausea all that much.
  • After throwing up a few more times, I ended up trying to sleep it off.
  • I finally brave getting dressed and leave the hospital.
  • I sleep most of the day until around 6pm.
  • By now I’ve had a couple of popcicles, a pudding cup and some ice cream.
  • Marshall and Jesse eat Chick-fil-A, which is just mean, and I sneak one piece.
    It goes down fairly easily, but I know better than to push my luck too much.
  • I’m not talking too much, but trying to drink.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
    (I don’t think I’ve ever peed so much in my life!)
  • Still not much pain, just wondering when the other shoe’s gonna fall, since all I’ve ever heard were horror stories.
  • Can’t seem to sleep now because I slept so much today.

Day 1 Post-Op(Thurs):
Pain Rating: 3 for throat, 6 for body

  • Woke up feeling like I’d been hit by a mack truck.  Not my throat, mind you, but my oh-so-stiff body.
    I feel like the surgical staff must have made me do some crazy yoga during my surgery.
    There’s no other way to explain this soreness.
  • Realize that the soreness is actually from when I threw up.  I threw up hard and used every muscle in my body.
  • Throat doesn’t hurt all that much, but keeping the pain meds going steadily.

Day 2 Post-Op(Fri):
Pain Rating: 3 for throat, 4 for body

  • Kept pain meds going fairly steadily.
  • Even when pain meds ran out, I didn’t feel horrible.
  • Felt good enough to go to the store and buy a notebook.
  • Kept liquids and popsicles going non-stop.
  • Foods for today: scrambled eggs, soft part of hashbrown casserole, grits, jello, pudding

Day 3 Post-Op(Sat):
Pain Rating: 3

  • Mostly same as Friday.
  • Tried to do too much on Saturday morning and ended up getting nauseous.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!!!
  • Food for today: oatmeal, chicken and stars soup

Day 4 Post-op(Sun):
Pain Rating:  3

  • Had problems with nausea on and off all day long.
  • Slept a lot today.
  • Pain not so bad, but nausea was overwhelming at times.
  • Inner ear pain is worse than throat pain, but even it isn’t so bad.
  • Could ear pain possibly contributing to nausea?
  • Ear pain is, I think, coming from the fact that the scab came off the right side.
  • I think I have have had some throat bleeding that went down into my stomach, causing the nausea.
  • Food for today: oatmeal, pasta with cheese sauce

Day 5 Post-op(Mon):
Pain Rating: 5, 6-7 when pain meds wear off

  • Even with pain meds, I don’t feel like talking today.
  • I haven’t been drinking like I should so that’s probably contributing to the problem.
  • I’m starving, but nothing tastes good.
  • If it tastes good, I probably can’t eat it.
  • Tried to eat vegetable soup, but the tomato base was too acidic.
  • On the up side, I’ve lost 7 pounds since Wednesday.
  • Food for today: grits, fresh fruit popcicles, ice

Day 6 Post-op(Tues):
Pain Rating: 6-7

  • Coughed a good bit last night, so my throat is raw.
  • Throat feels more swollen today than before.
  • Scabs on on left side fell off sometime last night.
  • Felt good enough to go get my hair done, but by the time I got back home I was exhausted.  From sitting in a chair.  Ridiculous.
  • So yeah…BIG DEAL.  Sitting in my bed doing nothing.  Realize that I think my nose is bleeding.  Actually, no…it’s my throat and there’s A LOT of blood in my mouth.  And by a lot, I mean about 200 cc’s(which is, ya know, about the size of one of those little milk cartons you used to get at school).
  • Called my husband, who rushed home.  He called my doc. We all three discussed it.
  • Conventional wisdom says rush back to the OR and re-cauterize the bleeder.  But there are a lot of docs who say if it’s just one bleeder, see if you can stop it before going back under anesthesia.
  • Got it stopped relatively quickly and was super-cognizant about whether I was bleeding at all.
  • Even more insistent on staying hydrated.
  • No more bleeding and SO very thankful I didn’t have to go back to the OR!

Day 7 Post-Op(Wed):
Pain Rating: 4, even without pain meds

  • Went with my dad to the kid’s school for a little while, and it wore me slap out!
  • Took a long, long nap and forgot to take my antibiotic.  :-(
  • Swallowing easier, throat feels much better but any activity leaves me exhausted.
  • Although I’ve lost 10 pounds in a week, I don’t suggest this diet.  I’m starving.
  • I am sick sick sick of jello, pudding, soup and other “smooth” foods…but I’m afraid that I have at least 3 more days of  a “smooth” diet.

So my big words of wisdom:
Just take your pain meds on a schedule.  Don’t do it p.r.n.

And BUY PLASTIC SPOONS! Sure, you’ll look at your silverware drawer and think, “I have tons of spoons!”  But when you use nothing but spoons for days on end, you run out faster than you think.

I’ve been told that I can resume picking up my children  after 2 weeks, and that I can try to sing after 4 weeks.

I’ll try to remember to come and update on this post after that (so that all the info will be in one place)!

9 Responses to Coblation Tonsillectomy Post-Op Information
  1. Sarah
    March 3, 2010 | 9:11 pm

    Dang girl! Continuing to send good thoughts your way!!!!

  2. Liz Sanders
    March 3, 2010 | 10:22 pm

    i love that you kept a diary of how it made you feel, and that you were so strong through it all. i will still send prayers and good vibes your way for a speedy recovery, even though it sounds like you are doing pretty good

  3. Aleasha
    March 4, 2010 | 12:02 pm

    Thanks for the info. Sorry you had to go through this. All of this information is fantastic for me and my family though. Thanks again!! Hope you continue to heal quickly!

  4. domestic extraordinaire
    March 4, 2010 | 3:54 pm

    okay, that was a lot of blood. I mean I knew you had bled a lot, but I was crazy scared.

    Keep hydrated and I know you will help someone out there that is going to be getting this done.

  5. MommaLionessMichele
    March 4, 2010 | 5:37 pm

    Poor Bridget! It sounds awful to me, but you are being a tough cookie about it! Hope you keep resting and gaining your energy back. Take care xoxo
    Sending healing thoughts from NY!

  6. sam
    April 17, 2011 | 10:50 am

    i loved reading your diary.I had a coblation tonsillectomy here in the uk, on tuesday just gone and i wish id never bothered.Today is day 6 and its been the hardest so far.If I eat anything it stings but I have been eating pretty normally until today.We are told not to eat jelly or icecream or smooth foods we are told to eat toast or rough stuff to get rid of any debris that might be hanging around.luckily as yet i havnt had any bleeding and we only get given pain killers no antibiotics.
    How long did it take for you to fully recover as Im a singer and I need to knwo roughly when i can try singing again.

    regards

    sam

  7. Bianca
    November 26, 2011 | 5:22 pm

    Hey! Can’t really remember what I googled, but it took me to your post-op diary. I’m glad I’m not the only one not being in too much pain post-op. I was horrified before the surgery thanks to all the I’m on my 5th day after the traditional “cut em out”-surgery, but I’m in so much less pain than expected. I’ve been reading all this forums and blogs with people that are about to die. This is nothing compared to all the throat infections I’ve had :) – I’m on painkillers and it’s pretty sore in the morning, but that’s it. – And the best advise I got was to drink as much as I could. At least 2 liters a day! :) Thanks for making it a little bit less scary for people out there. I wish I’d found your diary before my surgery!

    Bianca