Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Surgery

So, I thought I'd fill you in on my surgery. If you're a bit squeamish about medical stuff, you may not want to read ahead....

I've known for several years that my tonsils were abnormally large, so much so that, when I get sick with an upper respiratory infection, they often touch each other and give me problems breathing and swallowing. I've already been sick four times this year with illnesses related to my tonsils (like Strep Throat). Additionally, there have been a few times I have been so sick that my uvula (that hangy-downy thing in the back of your throat) has become so swollen and long that it has literally rested on the back of my tongue, which also causes problems breathing and swallowing, not to mention creating a gag reflex.

I began developing seasonal allergies in high school, and have asked several doctors and medical professionals over the past 10 years about the possibility of having my tonsils removed...they all said "no". About 9 months ago, when Tricia had her Vocal Cord Surgery, I asked her Duke surgeon, Dr. Scher about my tonsils...he's the first person to tell me that he'd recommend a tonsillectomy. So, I set up an appointment for him to examine me.

Because I've been very certain that I have sleep apnea, and because most insurance companies will not cover an adult tonsillectomy without hard proof that it is needed, Dr. Scher suggested that I go in for a sleep study test, which I did about 4 months ago. Sure enough, I have "severe" sleep apnea...I have partial or total blockage of my airways 90 times/hour when I sleep, which is one of the worst cases any of my doctors have ever seen or heard of. The data shows that I literally get no REM sleep, which explains a lot of things.

Dr. Scher decided that it would be best for me to have a Tonsillectomy and a Uvulopalatophryngoplasty (UPPP). The tonsillectomy should help reduce or illiminate my sleep apnea and should reduce my number of upper repiratory illnesses...the UPPP should help reduce my sleep apnea.

As I mentioned before, this is the first time I've ever been a patient in the hospital. It's also my first surgery, my first IV, my first time under heavy anesthesia, and my first time in a hospital gown...needless to say, having spent so much time at Duke as a caregiver, the entire experience was very surreal.

The surgery lasted about 45 minutes, and they kept me overnight for observation. Because my soft palate and most of the back of my mouth is swollen, I really can't tell a difference in the quality of breathing, yet. Also, my tongue is very swollen (which doesn't always happen with this surgery), so my speach is slurred and swallowing is a little more difficult than it normally would be after this surgery.

We arrived back home from Duke on Tuesday evening around 6. I've been taking pain meds every few hours, along with benedryl (the pain meds make me itch like crazy), which means I'm very, very groggy. I've been able to sleep very well, however, for which I'm thankful. The pain is basically non-existant at this point, except when I swallow...even then, it's very barable. Other than being very tired and groggy, and not being able to swallow unconsciously, everything is going well so far.

I'm allowed to eat whatever I want, but I'm staying away from dairy (which creates thick mucus that is difficult to swallow or cough out), anything that would hurt to swallow (like crackers and chips) and anything acidic or spicy (like OJ and salsa). I've mostly been eating soup, scrambled eggs, apple sauce and a few other things. I'm drinking lots of cold water, and I've got a slushie machine (I'll show you a video of it later). The hardest part of eating is swallowing, especially because they trimmed my palate...

Of course, I've done my research...from what I've read and heard, the first few days are actually a bit easier than days 3-7, which is when the scabs start forming and creating issues. It typically takes an adult about two weeks to really begin feeling better. Young children, in comparison, are often back to their normal selves within a matter of a few days or even hours.

So, I'll be spending a lot of time over the next several days, sipping slushies, blogging, watching movies and finding other ways to keep my mind occupied. Tricia has been a most excellent caregiver so far, and our families have been helping to watch Gwyneth a bit.

Thanks again for your prayers and encouragement! If you see me on facebook, feel free to chat with me to help keep me busy.

Nate

50 comments:

Heather in Texas said...

I had my tonsils out when I was 21 because of multiple episodes of strep throat. I would say I was back to normal by 7-10 days. The first few days were the worst. But I didn't have the other procedure you did. Hope you are feeling better soon!

Holly said...

A friend of mine had a tonsillectomy as an adult and she really suffered afterwards (she really expected it to be like a child's recovery - I'm thinking her surgeon either didn't explain it well or she wasn't listening). I'm glad you are taking your pain meds and letting your wife take care of you.

God bless you and heal you quickly!

Jill said...

I had my tonsils out at 18 and I also would say 7-10 days to feel 'normal'. The scabs are the worst part of the whole ordeal. They don't hurt...it's just weird!

Jill said...

BUT,
it was the best decision I have ever made!

Jill said...

I had my tonsils out at 18 and I also would say 7-10 days to feel 'normal'. The scabs are the worst part of the whole ordeal. They don't hurt...it's just weird!

Mrs. Wilson said...

Talking is a huge strain as well. I'd try talk as little as possible. (Wow, this sounds like a mean comment, but it's not! It's just what I found after mine - if I talked a lot, it hurt A LOT.)

Hope you heal quickly - and enjoy the slushie machine!

I LOVE being tonsil free - I'm sure you will too!

Classy Fab Sarah said...

Maybe it's just me... but I'd get my tonsils out if I could get a slushie machine. I

Actually, I'd do just about anything for a slushie machine. Sounds delicious!

DJones said...

Hope you recover quickly and lots of good ol' REMs!

Love Being a Nonny said...

Also had my tonsils out as an adult. After the recovery, I was very glad I had had it done! Hope you recovery quickly!

Tracy P. said...

Wow--with that kind of sleep issues, this could seriously life-changing. Yea for you!!! Sleep tight.

Devan said...

Glad you are doing well - keeping you in my prayers!

Ellen said...

Bless your heart! I've always heard that a tonsillectomy was much worse for an adult than for a child. Your description makes me glad mine were removed when I was but a child.

WendyCarole said...

Hope you recover quickly.

My daughter had her tonsils removed in her twenties due to continuous strep throats.

She was a lot better after that but recovery was about two weeks.

Andrea Martin said...

Hey Nate,
My prayers and thoughts for a speedy recovery are with you. I've been following your blog for the better part of 2 years now, and I've never left a comment until today. I found your blog through a good friend of mine (Kristi Dirkin, now Kristi MacArdle, we went to HS together). Anyhow, just wanted to say hi, give you something to read while you pass the time, and let you know that I'm praying for you and yours!

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

When I had them done which, scarily, was over 50 years ago, even children were supposed to take 2 weeks to recover. I don't remember feeling worse days 3-7, but then, I was a very little girl then!

Today, I have a sore throat - it must be in sympathy!

Jodi said...

Nate,

That was one of the most delicious posts I have ever read. I'm considering pulling out many of your descriptive phrases for dinner conversation tonight...shame I don't have guests coming over. :)

(All said tongue and cheek, of course)

On a serious note, I hope your healing is quick and as painless as possible. You (and your darling caregiver) are in my prayers.

Jodi

HoundDogMom said...

Nate, glad to hear your surgery went well and you on the road to recovery. When my son was 2 he had is tonsils out because they were the size of an adults and growing. Closing his throat off, he was much younger and came through like a champ. I hear it can be a bear for adults, but sounds like you are a trooper. Sherri

Jennifer said...

I wish you luck with the recovery! I had my tonsils out two years ago, when I was 23. The first few days were the easiest. Days 3-7 were no fun. A bit of advice, eat/drink now while you can. It may hurt too bad tomorrow :( I'll pray that your recovery is speedy and as painless as possible!

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carol said...

Fun to see you posting - glad you can actually eat some food, more than slushies - and hope that 7-10 days out are not terribly much worse than this. Lordy, having REM sleep is really going to be wonderful for you! Tonscillitus as wretched enough but sleep apnea actually dangerous, so its great you did this. You are def. in my prayers but I am def. glad you are home and have Tricia to care for you. Best to you all.

Amy E. said...

Glad you are doing well and I am sure that once you are completely healed you will feel like a whole new person!! Good sleep will do that to ya!!
Praying for a speedy and uncomplicated recovery!!
Enjoy the slushies!!

not up to code said...

How lucky are you to have such a nice friend to give you a slushy machine!

My tonsils and adenoids were removed when I was 5 because they were obstructing my breathing and causing sleep apnea too. I also had a speech impediment that amazing cleared up after the surgery. The theory is the tonsils, infections, and inflammation was interfering with my hearing and once all that was gone, I was able to hear properly and speak properly as a result. That was the end of speech therapy - which wasn't doing any good anyway!

Erika in Philly said...

Nate - I had mine out at age 16 - they touched in the middle too along with my adnoids. Have to say - 9-10 surgeries later - I still remember THAT pain! OUCH - I also remember the yucky breath that came with it.....ew! Best wishes for a smooth recovery - take it easy and be a patient for the first time ever!!

Megan R. said...

The surgeon told me to drink iced tea a lot after the surgery, it helps with the bleeding. It's definitely a rough recovery, I hope you get to feeling better quickly!

Queen Mommy said...

Hope your recovery time is quick and smooth! Both of my twins have had their tonsils out, and even for kids the recovery isn't much fun. When Lily had hers out, she still had her trach and wasn't taking much orally, so she couldn't even have popsicles and such. Nevertheless, she was able to take pain meds via her g-tube, so that helped at least a little bit.

Heather said...

Glad you are doing a little better. At least today you are. Praying for a speedy recovery, lots of REM sleep for you, and yummy slushies.

turtlemama said...

I'm so glad that you were able to get these issues addressed. I hope that you have many good nights of sleep awaiting you in your future.

Love keeping up with you and your lovely family. You are always in our prayers. Glad to hear about all of Gwyneth's new tricks.

Wanda said...

Hang in there! Glad everything went well. Had mine out at 21 and never looked back! If your ears hurt from the swelling I found sleeping in a recliner to be very helpful!

Bridget said...

I'm glad things went well! Feel better soon!

Our life is a bowl of Barry's said...

I sure hope you feel better soon. I, too, have heard that this surgery as an adult, is a bit harder to recoop from. Gee, did the doc let you see your tonsils? One of my boys had his out a couple years ago and they let us see the tonsils....bleck....but interesting. I hope Tricia did OK with you having surgery....I kind of freaked out when my husband had to have knee surgery. it was the first time I'd seen him with an IV or in a hospital gown....I cried one time when they took xrays of his head....I have an overactive imagination! Well, enjoy your popsicles and weird diet for the next little while and feel better soon!

kellyb said...

Hope your UPPP has the same great results my husband had!! Made a world of difference - praying for you and your family as you recover.

mom2joy said...

I've known adults who needed a full three weeks to get back to normal so try take things in stride. I also wanted to say that I totally believe in eating very, salty, easy to chew well, potato chips (or even french fries). Salt is healing.

Shari said...

I have never had my tonsils out, but all three of my boys and husband have. I have been praying for you and will continue. My husband had basically the same surgery you did and after full healing took place there's no sleep apnea at all. His apneic spells were at 71 per hour.

DogsDontPurr said...

I'll be sending good thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery. Hope you feel better soon!

Lesley said...

I am so impressed that you can spell UPPP!! ;-) I had my tonsils out at 21 and it was hard....glad you are doing well.
I met your dad this weekend at the YA reunion. We are moving to NC tomorrow and I hope to come visit your church some weekend...we'll be living in the Pinehurst area.

Angie said...

Be careful with the pain meds if they make you itchy. If you are having an allergic reaction to the meds then they could also cause your airway to swell more (another sign of an allergic reaction). Hope you are on the mend soon!

Angie

aprilmoonflower said...

Sending healing thoughts Nathan. I bet you will feel SO much better in just a couple of weeks! Just think of how good you are going to feel to get good sleep! Hang in there and drink a slushie for me! ;)

mom2LEAA said...

feel better soon. The pictures of Tricia and Gwyneth are wonderful. Tricia looks beautiful and Gwyneth is just so cute and getting so big.

Cindy

Becky in VA said...

Good Morning!

Rest and recover and be a good patient for Tricia!

Love to all!

NuggleMe said...

Good luck and stay ontop of the pain meds. My Dh had his out a few years ago and he agrees that it was a good 2 weeks before the pain started to go way and he started to feel better. DD who had the surgery a couple of months before hand was up and back to normal in 3-4 days. Popsicles were our friend. LOL.

Rachel said...

I'm so glad that the surgery went well, and I'm sure that Tricia was excited to be the caregiver for you this time. Enjoy those slushies -- and you'll have to post some recipes of the new creations that you have made.

Anonymous said...

Like many others who have posted - I had this procedure too minus the UPPP plus adnoidectomy.

This is super gross so beware....one of my tonsils actually had a pocket of infection that wouldn't go away. When I looked in my mouth I could see a black spot and it looked so gross.

I suffered for almost a year before insurance agreed to pay and am thankful they finally decided to pay!

Recovery is no fun - it felt like anything I ate or drank was going up my nose...but I was amazed at how healthy I felt about a month later.

My recovery was a little longer than the 7-14 days. But so worth it when I finally healed!

I didn't realize how worn down I was from being sick all the time.

I am praying that this resolves all of your sleep problems.

Wierd thing - my voice changed. I didn't notice but my friends and family didn't recognize me when I answered the phone for the first few mos.

Call your Dr and get some other pain meds. There are so many available and there is no reason to be itchy on top of everything else you are going through. Could be an allergic reaction as well which can be dangerous.

Speedy Recovery!!!

Heather's Hacienda said...

I am glad you are feeling good. Popsicles were my favorite thing to eat when I had mine out. Just stay away from the red ones. They can mimic the look of blood!!! So jealous you have a slushie machine. Just remember to NOT drink through a straw. It hurts like the dickins. TRUST ME!!!! I had a more complicated surgery and it also changed my voice. I noticed it when I first went back to choir practice at church. I went from singing very high 1st soprano to sing 2nd soprano or even alto! So weird!!
Praying for a smooth recovery for you. Just take it easy and don't rush it. Trust me on that on too!!!

K Storm said...

I sure hope this brings the relief you have been needing. Gotta stay rested and well! I hope the rest of the recovery is smooth. I didn't have trouble with my tonsils until I was 30. I've had strep 2 times this year but they really don't like to do this surgery on adults, do they? We'll see...

Anonymous said...

You act is if no one else has ever had their tonsils taken out...lots of people do...all the time. It's not a HUGE deal...are you looking for pity?

CFHusband said...

@Anonymous

Really? Can you tell me specifically how I "act as if no one else has ever had their tonsils taken out"?

The purpose of this post is to share some medical info about the surgery I had...lots of people do have their tonsils removed, but even more (especially adults) do not. I was given a lot of great, helpful information before my surgery, and I hope that, by chronicling my surgery, I might help others who will have to have the same surgery. I knew nothing about this surgery until recently, and my guess is, a lot of my readers also know little to nothing about it.

And, why would you think I'm looking for pity? I purposely worded this post in a way that would realistically communicate the fact that, so far, the pain and discomfort has not been nearly as bad as I had expected.

Danine said...

Glad everything went so well! Sorry to be absent for so long (things here are hectic!) but as always you are all in our prayers in thoughts daily!

Know you're pain. I my self had my tonsils out late in life. Give it a week and you'll be new again. I would of killed for a slushie machine...GO YOU1

Anonymous said...

I also had severely large tonsils that were removed about a year and a half ago. Whenever I got strep throat I actually wasn't able to breath through my mouth at all. Every doctor that I saw had a strict "not until you've had strep throat 6 times in a year are they coming out" rule. Finally that happened and they referred me to an ENT. I was fine the first day but after that day couldn't really swallow anything or talk for two weeks. Good luck with it - hope the next two weeks pass by fast for you! After that you will be very glad you had it done.

C and H Romenesko said...

Best wishes for a speedy recovery! After years of battling with strep, I finally had my tonsils removed at age 23-right before thanksgiving!!! A few things that helped me....drinking pedialyte/gatorade/slimfast around days 3-6 (to get in some nutrients), then luke warm instant mashed potatoes and super soft mac and cheese. I stayed away from salty food for the first few weeks and don't think I enjoyed a slice of pizza for about 4weeks. I ended up back in the OR about 4 days later for re-cotterizing after the scabs fell off. Quick and easy, no problems.
Speedy recovery to you!
Holly

Discount Black Eyed Peas Tickets said...

yah its nice and looks so cute thanks