When I was a kid, tonsils were whacked out of person at the drop of a hat. Just the other day, a friend laughingly told me of her own tonsillectomy-her brother was going in so the doctor decided they should do all kids in the family at the same time. All three of them went in just because one needed it!
I remember two things about my own tonsillectomy-lying on the operating table and the black mask (much like the ones you see on fighter pilots) being lowered to my face and, the smell of ether. To this day, I have an incredible response to the smell of ether, it just throws me back in time to that operating table! I guess the other thing I remember is, a week after the operation, waking up with a pillow soaked in blood. I don’t remember how I got to the hospital but next thing I was standing over a stainless steel sink and there was a big disgusting mess of lumpy black blood in the sink. Dr. Armstrong had given me something to make me throw up all the blood I’d swallowed then they took me back in to be cauterized. I had had ‘a bleed’. One of the biggest risks of this surgery.
A bleed after tonsillectomy has been fairly common. My friend Ilysa had her own crisis just last year when her adult son had his tonsils out then, on the 8th day, almost bled to death!
When Nicole had her surgery yesterday, they used a fairly new technology for cutting. Called ‘shavers’, the oscillating blades have been trialled in the US with good results, and our own surgeon here has done over 300 tonsillectomies in the last 5 years with zero bleeds! She also had what is a called an ‘intracapsular tonsillectomy’. The capsule of membranes that hold the tonsils against the muscles of the throat is preserved, doing less damage to the throat.
I copied a picture from the literature our doctor gave us. The first diagram show the round tonsils resting on the membrane which is against the muscles of the throat. The second and third diagrams show the traditional and newer types of tonsillectomy.
Yesterday, we got up at 5:00, bundled the kids into their car seats and headed to the University hospital. We got to the day surgery ward at 6 and joined the room full of tired looking people of all ages. By 7, Nicole was dressed in blue, striped hospital jammies and had numbing cream on the backs of both hands in preparation for an I.V.
Ron and Grant stayed behind, as only one person was allowed to come to the O.R. First, the anesthetist and then the surgeon both came to talk briefly with us, I was gowned and presented with the lovely blue cap required to keep my bastard hair from infiltrating the OR, then we walked in together. I just have to take a moment to mention two thing; one, our surgeon, the resident, the anesthetist, all had interesting accents. The doc was an Egyptian, who had lived in the UK for years so his accent was a bizarre thing that almost sounded like my boss (Dutch). The resident was from the London and the anesthetist from Australia. They each had their own interesting accents.
Anyway, I was pretty proud of my little angel as she charmed the socks off everyone. The anesthetist asked her if she wanted to look away while she put the needle in her hand. But no, Nicole wanted to watch, and ask questions, every step of the way. Before long, the milky white liquid was travelling into her hand, I kissed her forehead, and she was out.
After waiting an hour we were asked to come to the recovery room. It was about 9 am. Nicole was just waking up, bleary eyed and swollen. The nurse immediately offered her a popsicle. She tried a bit, then shook her head. I knew what was coming, having seen the pre-vomiting look numerous times in the past! She had one good hurl then slumped back and went to sleep. There followed about 3 hours of dozing and hurling, gravol, saline, and slow sips of water. Ron took Grant home then came back around 2. By then, Nicole had woken up, eaten some jello, drank some water, and wrapped all the nurses around her finger. This girl has a lot of quiet, sweet charm. I think it comes from her Dad!
Finally, it looked like we could home soon. The final IV was given, the doc visited, the papers signed, and we went home.
The last IV had a pretty good anti-inflammatory in it. With the Tylenol and codeine she received, Nicole was feeling well enought to be starving!! She had jello, then shocked us by asking for strawberries. She desperately wanted to try the hamburgers we made then settled for yogurt and more cheese. We got her to bed early and gave her more codeine at our bedtime but she still had a pretty rough night. She woke me up at 2 in terrible pain. I went to bed with her and managed to get enough codeine, water, then Tylenol into her to make it to morning. Ron had to get up for work at 5 so we saw him off then she couldn’t sleep.
Today, she’s in a lot of pain but finally has started to feel like drinking. She just came and put a carton of eggs beside me, along with a beer and said ‘please make me lunch’. That kid cracks me up. I think the beer was a bribe! 🙂
Anyway, Casper has been a great comfort to Nicole. I ask you, who needs a stuffed Teddy Bear when you have a big ol’ pootie!? Good thing he’s allowed on the couch now.