Friday, April 4, 2014

things to know before your child has a tonsilectomy

 the necessities - humidifier, kleenex, water bottle, gatorade bottle, pillows & blankets, puke bowl...
and a get well balloon from a friend.

here is a list of things you may want to know before your son or daughter has a tonsilectomy and/or adenoidectomy...

1) stock up on candles.

you will want to have a yummy-smelling candle burning in your home at all times post surgery in an effort to combat the stench of decomposing flesh that will come out of your child's mouth, permeate everything in its path and linger in the air. disgusting is not a strong enough word to describe the horrific odor. the scent that seemed to work the best was cinnamon.

2) stock up on gatorade and pellet ice (can be purchased at sonic).

the most important thing post surgery is to push fluids. while water is good, gatorade or pedialyte or even juice is a better option because they provide much-needed calories and electrolytes. my boys loved chocolate milk more than anything else because it coated their throat. while chocolate milk probably wasn't as good a choice as gatorade, it was still better than water.

ice chips were a godsend. every morning my boys re-hydrated their dry throats with a cupful of ice pellets. when it hurt them too much to drink anything they were still willing to suck on ice chips.

3) stock up on cold foods and easy to swallow foods.

our favorites were chocolate pudding, yogurt, popsicles, fudgsicles and ice cream. those were our main food groups along with the occasional frosty from wendy's or milkshake from chick-fil-a. eventually the boys graduated to tiny amounts of mac & cheese and pears...but not much else was consumed by them until ten days post surgery.

4) stock up on tylenol and motrin, in multiple flavors.

your child will likely need medicine every three hours throughout the day for ten days. that's a TON of medicine. and taking that much medicine will get old real fast, especially if it hurts to swallow. having medicine in different flavors made it a bit more bearable.

5) be aware that, generally, the older your child is the longer it will take to heal.

graham is 19 months younger than harrison. graham felt better a full two days before harrison did. i believe i was so ignorant about the healing time involved in this surgery because i listened to friends whose kids had a tonsilectomy at age two or age three and they told me their kids recovered quickly. that was not our experience at all. ten days post surgery seemed to be when my boys finally felt better.

6) be aware that, generally, recovery from a tonsilectomy does not get easier each day.

they will have good days and then bad days. don't be surprised if your child is outside playing one day and is screaming in pain the next. the post-op literature suggested that days 3-5 might be the hardest. for us it was days 6-8. they were hell. like no one in our house got any sleep for three days kind of hell. on day 9 graham went with jeremy to see the harlem globetrotters game (in a suite, away from the crowds) while i took harrison to the emergency room because his pain was out of control. good days, then bad days, then good days again.

6) be aware that there is a medicine called "magic mouthwash" and it is a miracle.

magic mouthwash is a compound medicine that contains lidocaine. it is swished in the mouth or gargled and then spit out. it took harrison from an eleven on the pain scale down to a two in less than 30 seconds. it's a very helpful drug for a child who is refusing to drink and/or eat and is at risk of dehydrating.

7) be aware that your child will be prescribed a narcotic.

at first this did not seem to be a big deal. and it wasn't a big deal for graham at all. but for harrison, my sensory superhero, his body reeeeeaaaaallllly liked the narcotic and his body reeeeeeaaaaaalllllllly freaked out when he couldn't have the narcotic anymore. his day of withdrawal from that opiate was absolutely without a doubt the worst day i've ever had with my sweet boy. he was KAH-RAZY! so, if your child has sensory issues, please be advised that any medicine, but especially addictive medicines, might affect him more strongly/adversely than it would a typical child.

8) use a cold water humidifier at all times post surgery, especially if you live in a dry climate.

9) be aware that your child might vomit on the way home from the hospital.

we always save empty plastic containers to recycle as in-the-car puke bowls - yogurt tubs, margarine tubs...we never leave home without them.

10) be prepared that the only thing your child will want to do is lie on the couch (and you won't be able to do much else either).

load your apple tv or dvr with tv shows and movies, stock up on books and ipad games. don't forget to get a few books for yourself!! eventually the boys wanted to play card games and board games which was a welcome break from ALL.THE.TELEVISION!

i think that's all the advice i have to give.

all in all, if i had it to do over again, i would absolutely have both my kids do surgery at the same time. i cannot imagine how difficult it would have been to balance taking care of one recovering child while trying to occupy another healthy/active child. at least this way we have it all over and done...i would not want to do this a second time!

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