Things I’ve learnt since my preschooler’s tonsillectomy
My 4.5 year old Little Miss had her tonsils and adenoids removed last week, and we are right in the middle of the recovery period. Recovering from a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy is a bit shit, if I’m honest, with lots of tears (from all concerned) and not a great deal of sleep happening. But hey, what’s new huh? What’s a bit of lost sleep between friends?
I was completely freaked out about the surgery in the lead up, imagining the worst case scenario and every possible complication. Especially the general anaesthetic part. Because MUM. I think my perception was also clouded by the fact that when I had my tonsils out, at the tender age of 28 (!), it was utterly horrendous and has scarred me (literally) for life.
As it turned out, my daughter’s operation was completely routine, and her recovery is proceeding as expected. Well, as the doctors expected, it’s certainly thrown a few curve balls my way.
Here are a few things I’ve learnt since my daughter had a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (or ‘T&A’ as it’s known in the medical circles… *snigger*):
You will collapse in a sobbing heap at some point
I was allowed to ‘suit up’ (in a rather fetching white over-suit that came in One Size Fits the BFG and left me looking like Bay Max from Big Hero Six) and stay by Little Miss’ side as she was wheeled into the surgery and had the gas administered. Being able to stay with your child as they are put to sleep may be comforting for the kid, but it will make mum cry big, fat, ugly tears as soon as she leaves the room.
Kids can wake up from general anaesthetic a bit aggro
Or, in my daughter’s case, ready to punch on. I was sitting patiently (read: neurotically pacing the room) in recovery when a very red-faced nurse came running out saying “Ooh mum, we need you in here, stat,” which didn’t freak me out AT ALL. But rather than the bloodbath my mind immediately leapt to, they just needed my help to settle down my crazy girl who’d woken up ready to fight. I suggest keeping your face away from flailing arms and legs if you don’t want to be in need of a stretcher yourself (and, once again, apologies to the lovely nurse who was left with a very sore nose after Little Miss’ foot connected with it).
Nurses are worth their weight in gold
We had a gorgeous collection of nurses looking after us during our stay. They were so patient and understanding, and really helped to ease my girls’ anxiety. They really are a special breed! I personally could not handle having to deal with that many bodily fluids, especially ones produced by people I’m not related to. I can barely cope with dealing with the bodily fluids of my offspring.
Hospital beds are horrendous
And hospital pull-out sofa-beds are a fucking instrument of torture. Mine was the width of a piece of paper and just as comfortable. Fortunately, the all-night beeping and three hourly bed checks meant there was no sleep happening anyway.
My Little Miss was so excited about the prospect of all-you-can-eat frozen treats leading up to her operation, she was telling all her kindy friends about how lucky she was, and teasing her little brother incessantly about all the ice cream she was going to have. But in reality, all the ice cream, ice blocks and cold sweet delights I stocked the fridge with are still sitting there, frosting over. All she wants is a little bit of yoghurt and the occasional hot (but very cooled, unsalted) chip.
When kids are in pain they may not register it as ‘pain’
My daughter gets cranky when she’s due for her next dose of pain relief. Actually, not just cranky – she can turn into a total psycho. All of a sudden doors are slamming and books are flying across the room. I can’t do anything right and, despite the pain it must cause her throat, she screams and yells with a rage that shakes the walls. She does have some awareness of this – she said the other night, “mum, when I get angry, it’s ‘cos I’m feeling rubbish,” – but she has zero control over it. Bless her crazy little heart.
Even medicine labelled ‘great new flavour’ tastes like shit
Why does medicine still taste so bad? They can do so much with artificial flavouring these days, I can’t believe that kids’ medicine still tastes so bloody horrible. Trying to get an already upset child to swallow something that tastes like poison, when the simple act of swallowing hurts anyway… well, it’s bloody torture is what it is.
The first couple of days after the op Little Miss was quiet, but not in any obvious pain or distress. She was happy to snuggle on the couch and watch tele or read a book. We are now onto day 6, and things are starting to get a little messy. Hourly tantrums and refusing to take her medicine (although who can blame her), and even some night terrors through the night. Apparently days 7 to 10 are the worst, as this is when the healed part of the wound starts to come away, leaving the throat raw and sore again (sorry about the TMI – gross huh?). A little bit of bleeding is not unusual at this stage (a lot of bleeding is something to worry about though so don’t dismiss it, get it checked out).
Two weeks is a fucking long time
Little Miss has to stay home from kindy for two whole weeks, and refrain from activities that would raise her heart rate too much (as it increases the chance of post-op bleeding). Two weeks of being stuck at home with a cranky mum who is trying to get some work done… we’re not even halfway and already I’m tearing my hair out. She insisted she was well enough to go to the Disney on Ice show on the weekend (and I’d paid $200 for the tickets so really didn’t want to have to miss it), but by the end of the show she was exhausted and miserable and I really wish we hadn’t pushed it. The (very bloody expensive) flashing Frozen sceptres we bought have provided hours of entertainment though, so I guess it was worth it.
Until we get to that point, wish us luck.
Have you been through a tonsillectomy with your kids? What was their recovery like? Any tips??