April 7, 2015

Tonsillectomy: Praying Strep Throat Days are Over

April 7, 2015
This will be one of my longer posts, though I believe it's pretty informational and personally, kinda cool; you've been warned. Also, I wrote it throughout the course of the night, so if there are any mistakes, I apologize. 

Yesterday morning I had a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. Or in layman's terms, I got my tonsils and adenoids out.

Hallelujah, praise Jesus because these bad boys have been the bane of my existence since I began college, but especially so these past few months as I mentioned here

I'm writing this post as both a reminder to myself of "the worst thing [I'll] ever go through," which is what I was told by numerous people prior to my surgery and as another perspective for those out there thinking of getting their tonsils out as an adult. 

The Decision

The last significant bout of strep throat that I ever had was when I was in elementary school. For two years straight, I had it 4 times and each time they told me "one more time and you'll get your tonsils out." Clearly, I never got it "one more time" either of those years.

Thanks be to God that I have been relatively healthy ever since then. Starting college however changed everything. My 1st year in college I had tonsillitis (swollen tonsils), pharyngitis (swollen throat), pharyngotonsillitis (swollen tonsils and throat aka strep throat), and mononucleosis all before Christmas break. My 2nd year consisted of at least 4 significant bouts of strep throat and several minor colds and run ins with tonsillitis. 3rd year was much of the same and this year, I have had strep throat in October, November, January, February and March. 

I alone have probably kept the university health center thriving financially over the past 4 years. 

Going into the medical field - and being sick and tired of being sick and tired - is what really prompted my decision to get my tonsils out. I cannot take care of others if I cannot care of myself and if I cannot be at work due to an illness. So on March 20th, I had a consultation and the decision was made to remove both my tonsils and adenoids. 

Leading Up to The Big Day

Since the day I scheduled the procedure two weeks ago, I have been crazy busy. Busier than I usually am, I should say. Though I had honestly been planning for it by making sure to get my practicum hours finished early, I kind of forgot about all of the school work I had  to complete so that my recovery (or what everyone deemed as "hell") could be as stress-free as possible. This school work included: a book summary that required analysis and comparison of a book to a completely unrelated class, two exams, two quizzes, three papers, a unit project and three final night shifts. I also wanted to work out, have a celebratory "almost graduation" drink, spend time with friends and talk as much as possible so that I didn't feel like I was missing out on so much during my two week recovery period. 

I also picked up all of my medications that I needed for recovery which included Zofran (anti nausea and vomiting med), Solu-medrol (steroid for inflammation) and Hycet (liquid Lortab, aka my pain med). 

The days leading up to my surgery happened to be Easter Weekend and for that, I am beyond grateful. I came back to my parents' house Friday and spent all day with them before going to my sister's house to stay the night for our early morning race the next day (which pictures and details of that will be posted later on this week!). Saturday morning by 5am, my sister, niece and I were on our way to Hampton, Georgia for our race and by 11am, we were heading back home. That afternoon, I tried to take a nap but my brother came home from school (we have the same spring break because we go to the same university, just different campuses) and I couldn't not hang out with him and my parents. That night, I went to Taco Mac to watch the Final Four with some friends since I wouldn't be driving for a little bit and ate nachos... Yes, I had to include the last crunchy food I'd probably eat in what would seem like forever LOL. Easter Sunday was spent with my parents, brother, sister and her kids and it was wonderful. I rode bikes with my niece and nephews, had a great dinner with wonderful conversation, played a game with my brother, and cracked jokes on each other like always. 


I'd been anticipating this surgery for awhile now by counting down the days, but Monday morning arrived much sooner than I had hoped or expected. I had prayed over my surgery several times the night before, so I was not nervous at all for the actual procedure just more so the recovery. Momma brought me to the hospital's outpatient medical campus at 9:30 am, we checked in and not 10 minutes later was I brought back to my room and in a gown being asked a million questions I had already answered. My nurse told Momma the surgery would probably start a little late so at this point, she decided to run to the store and stock the house with some Powerade, applesauce and smoothie ingredients. My IV was started, fluids were hung, and my nurse and I talked about nursing school, what its like to be the patient as a healthcare provider and chocolate cake. Though surgery was scheduled for 11 am, they were running about an hour behind so at 11, I received Versed to help me relax (which I tried to delay as long as possible because I was already calm) and my anesthesiologist came and spoke with me around 11:20 am. My surgeon came in and spoke with me around 11:45 and Momma came back just before I went in for surgery. I thank God that I got to see her lovely face before I went in and tell her I loved her because knowing she was here waiting made me so much more comfortable. My dad also text me that he loved me and a few people text me saying they were praying for me, which meant so much!

The OR

I blew momma a kiss and was wheeled to the OR. There, I transferred myself over to the table, got hooked up to an EKG and was introduced to all of the nurses in the room. My arm was strapped down and the anesthesiologist was paged. I received about 3 meds at once, with the only one I remember being phenergan before the anesthesiologist walked in. He came in singing and told me I'd be drifting off to dreamland in 15 seconds. Last I remember, he asked me why I wasn't singing with him and I responded that the propofal and the oxygen mask being put on my face would make me sound terrible (in addition to the fact that I'm already a terrible singer lol). 

you're welcome to follow on snapchat: ag.13

I entered the OR at 12:27 pm and remember waking up looking for the clock. 2:25 pm. I remember the oxygen mask on my face blowing ridiculously high flow oxygen into my eyeball and not my nose, so I had to hold it down at the top until I was able to have it taken off. Surgery only lasted about an hour and I knew I had another hour and a half in PACU to wake up and stabilize before I could go home. The sweet nurse asked me a few questions, asked my pain level and gave me a Popsicle and crushed ice. She went and got Momma from the waiting room and they chatted over me while I tried to wake myself up. When I later told her my pain increased, she gave me some Dilaudid and once that kicked in, I began to talk with both the nurse and Momma. Finally around 3 pm, I got the EKG leads taken off, my IV fluids disconnected and Momma helped me redress. She was then able to go grab the car while my nurse took out my IV and wheeled me to the car. As she wheeled me out, I remember her telling me that being a patient before being a nurse is actually a great experience for me because now I can better relate and empathize with my patients since I've been a patient. She wished me the best of luck with graduation and my future career and with that, I was on my way home. 

Recovery, Day 1

On the way home, Momma and I decided to stop and get applesauce and saltines (in addition to what we had at home) because the nurse suggested eating something with my pain medication (and after having told my own patients it's best to eat if possible before receiving pain meds, I thought this was a good idea as well). I was able to talk to Momma most of the way home, so I thanked her about a million times for taking me, picking me up and caring for me these next couple of days. While my throat did hurt a little, my swollen uvula made it a bit troublesome to talk and completely impossible to lean back in the seat or bed without feeling like I was going to choke and that was actually my biggest issue for Day 1, in addition to this cough I've had for the past few days. Coughing past a swollen uvula and sore throat is no fun at all. 

Once home, Momma helped me upstairs and into bed. My brother and dad came up to see me while Momma grabbed some juice, my pain meds, 3 saltines, a popsicle and applesauce. I couldn't fall asleep so I turned on the tv and invited my brother to watch Spongebob with me (yes, we are both grown and yes, we still watch and love his show lol). He left to go eat dinner with the family and I let some crackers dissolve into oblivion before being able to swallow the sahara desert of a cracker with some juice. I also drank my medicine and decided that it was the nastiest thing on the planet and started plotting how to make it better since I have to take it every 3 hours. I took the Solu-medrol 2 at a time throughout the night and at one point I had to take zofran because the overachiever in me wanted to be normal and also couldn't stand being isolated upstairs anymore, so I ventured downstairs on my own.... BIG mistake. Momma banned me from doing that for the rest of the night, so when my friend Kelsey came over, Dad let her up and we talked for a few hours (though I probably should've been resting my throat). 

Diet on Day 1
3 popsicles
1 applesauce
15ish saltine crackers 
(probably a bad idea because my throat was the Sahara each time I took a bite)
1 16 oz glass of Powerade
1 16 oz glass of flat sprite
1 32 oz cup of pebble ice (thanks Kels!)
1 8 oz homemade copycat ChickFilA Frozen Lemonade Milkshake

Pain on Day 1
Immediately Post-Op: 3

30-45 minutes after Post-Op: 6

Rest of Day: I honestly don't know because I took my meds every 3 hours so I didn't have to know what pain was lol

Sleep on Day 1
I'm somewhat used to not sleeping for more than 4 hours at a time since I started working night shift, but this is a whole 'nother ball game. I downloaded an app that reminds me when to take my medication in addition to writing it down, and I also set an alarm every 3 hours so that I could catch the pain on the front end rather than the back end. So throughout the night I was only required to get up THREE times: 12:50 am, 3:50 am, and 6:50 am. 

So, please tell me why I got up 7 times. All that orange in the picture below is me awake, and I promise it's not even accurate because if I don't move and am just staring at my phone or the ceiling (which is all I did last night), my UP band thinks I'm sleeping.

Let me just say, after each time I took the Hycet, I couldn't fall back to sleep right away and often stayed awake for at least an entire hour before being able to drift off. Then my bladder was on it's own schedule which of course didn't line up with when I took the medication... all that to say that I really didn't sleep. My friend Mica can tell you as much because we were texting at 4:48 am:

If you made it through this so far, God bless you. You're amazing. I'll keep updating as my recovery continues, though it'll most likely be in chunks and not daily. 
I pray that my strep throat days are over and I know that while recovery may be brutal, it's definitely for the greater good. 
I've heard it gets a lot worse before it gets better, so any prayers and/or advice you have for me are appreciated more than you know!

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