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.