February 8, 2011

Post Op – Tonsillectomy Days 1-7

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , at 6:00 pm by Jenn

Having my tonsils out at 41 wasn’t something that I’d ever planned on doing but it was time.  I had been dealing with small, pockety tonsils all my life.  It wasn’t bad all the time, but in the recent years as my allergies became worse they became more and more high maintenance and quite frankly I was tired of dealing with them.

If you have pockety tonsils, then you feel my pain.  If you don’t have pocket tonsils then you are VERY lucky.  All the crap that  normally goes down your throat with normal tonsils collects in the tonsil pockets and let’s just say that this isn’t so pleasant.  The smell is horrible.  Discharging the “gunk” from the pockets isn’t pleasant either, especially if you have a gag reflex.  The constant gargling, mouthwash, breathmints, etc. becomes part of the daily routine, but it is a HUGE pain in the ass and quite frankly can be a major embarrassment.

Several months ago I started researching these tonsil pockets and what could be done about them….the answer.  Nothing.  There is no fix.  The only cure is having the tonsils removed.  One visit to the ENT and mentioning the tonsil “crypts” as they are called and that was it.  The doctor agreed that I was a candidate for tonsillectomy.  I asked some questions and then came home to think about it.

The thing that I found hardest to believe was that I would need a 10 day recovery – 10 days off from work.  For tonsils.  What ever happened to ice cream and popsicles?  I guess those days are gone.

Today, as I type this I am 7 days post op.  I am eating soft foods but there is still a lot of major throat discomfort.  It isn’t really pain at this point.  The closest thing I can liken it to is major strep throat….the kind where it hurts to swallow your own spit.  Of course this feels good compared to what it felt like a few days ago.  Here’s a little recap of the previous post op days.

Day 1 – surgery at 8:15, home by 12:30.  Hubby went to get prescriptions filled.  Was drinking ginger ale with crushed iced immediately after surgery while still at the hosptial.   Pain meds round the clock – every 6 hours, with antibiotic at night.   Clear liquids for dinner – jello and chicken broth for dinner.  Hydration is key.  Pains meds on an empty stomach caused nausea, but there was no vomiting.  Waking up every two hours throughout the night to drink something.  Pain well controlled with pain meds but the time between hours 5 and 6 was rough.  Clear liquid nutrition supplements 2 times per day – Resource Fruit Beverage (protein needed for healing).  Surgical site raw with scabs formed at cauterization sites.

Day 2 – I actually felt pretty good.  I was talking with no problem.  The pain was there but tolerable with the pain meds.  Used magic mouthwash (get a prescription for this from your doctor – there are many formulas – mine was lidocaine, benadryl and Maalox) after eating as this was the most painful time.  Clear liquids for most of the day.  Chicken and Stars for lunch.  Pudding and mac/cheese for dinner.  Still drinking LOTS of liquids.  Clear liquid nutrition supplements 2 times per day – Resource Fruit Beverage.  White scab forming and covering surgical site.  epiglottis is inflamed.  This feels strange when I swallow.  Magic mouthwash will hopefully help reduce the swelling.

Day 3 – Feeling a bit worse.  Pain is a little more severe.  Pain meds still helping.  Magic mouthwash still immediately following meals.  Clears and full liquids work best.  Had some mashed potatoes with gravy for lunch.  Tried a scrambled egg for dinner….the small bits got stuck at the back of my throat.  This wasn’t so pleasant.   Sent hubby for ice cream sundae and milkshake.  AHHHH.  Pain in both ears.  This in normal but I think this hurts worse than the throat.

Day 4 – Pain meds round the clock.  Diet pretty much the same.  Soup for dinner.  Made a grilled cheese sandwich too…wishful thinking….gave it to hubby.  The nights are the hardest.  I started sleeping on the couch midway through the night.  Sleeping too long lets the throat get too dry.  It’s best to wake up every 2 hours (by alarm) and drink something.  Any longer than this is uncomfortable and you risk getting dried out and bleeding.  Ear pain is still there.  Uncomfortable.  Doesn’t go away with pain meds.

Day 5 – Feeling a lot better but really tired from getting up every 2 hours for the past several days.  Sister and nephew came over bearing Root beer float fixings!  Good stuff.  I had 3 that day.  Superbowl Sunday – meatballs…ate three of them.  Regretted it later.  Magic mouthwash came in very handy.  Made cabbage rolls.  Nice and soft, served with mashed potatoes.  Still drinking lots of fluids.  Goal 2 liters daily.  Scabs are still there. Epiglottis isn’t as swollen.  Kind of looks normal.  Back of tongue is a little swollen still.

Day 6 – I needed food.  Made savory bread pudding which was AWESOME.  Nice and soft.  Weaning off pain meds.  Tapering down to every 8 hours instead of every 6.   Still drinking but probably not enough.  Feeling kind of dry.  Saliva is thick and hard to swallow.  Drinking more should help to thin this down and make it easier to swallow.

Day 7 – Trying to drink more liquids today.  Bread pudding for lunch.  Plan to have cabbage rolls for dinner.  Walked the dog today.  Pain meds every 12 hours today.  Tolerable pain.  Ear pain is lessening.

So far, it really hasn’t been so bad and I should be on the upswing now.  The ear pain has been the hardest for me.  I don’t do well with pain that can’t be controlled.  This isn’t really PAINFUL either, it’s more annoying because it doesn’t go away.  Heat feels good.  Drinking plenty of liquids is definitely the key to lessen throat pain.  I requested magic mouthwash from my MD.  She usually doesn’t give it but was willing to try it.  I think it helps most if you take it after eating.  The throat is raw and aggravated at that point.  It’s a lifesaver as far as it works immediately and keeps you numb for a while.  In combination with the pain meds I think it helped my recovery.



  1. Ginger said,

    I feel so bad for you. Glad its almost over and you’ll be done with your tonsils and all the years of trouble they have brought you for good. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Wooohoooo~!

    Thanks so much Ginger. I am looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel and hope there is a glass of red wine there waiting for me next week!

  2. Jen D said,

    My goodness Jenn…what a time of it. I am so glad you are on the upswing. Who would have known this procedure was so painful as an adult!? You’ll be drinking something Chilean, or Napa soon! 🙂

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Milton Schultz, Tim Flickinjer. Tim Flickinjer said: Post Op – Tonsillectomy Days 1-7 « Learning to Walk in Stilettos: Discharging the “gunk” from the pockets isn't … http://bit.ly/eJTDTR […]

  4. courtney said,

    Could you give an update of how it all went for you? I am 10 days post op myself and still have some scabs that are lingering on both sides.

    The scabs will linger for another week or so….at least mine did. I was back to work and off all pain meds by day 10. I did get a really dry throat during the day. I do a lot of talking at work so in the evenings I was a little sore but it was not painful. The scabs were completely gone by Monday the following week.

  5. Courtney said,

    Thank you for your reply! I now on day 12 (night 12 actually) and still have what looks like thin layers of white on both sides. I do still have some pain, but it is quite minimal at present time. If I talk a lot though, it aggravates it. I have not really pushed myself to talk a great deal at this point, but noticed this morning, my voice was starting to sound more like myself. One problem I seem to be having is with what I feel is thrush. I have had a few little splotches on my inner cheeks and roof of mouth that appear to be thrush, but when I inquired with the ENT’s nurse, she told me to eat yogurt for the pro-biotics. I have been doing that, but it really hasn’t helped just yet. I think I will call back on Monday to ask if I need to do anything else.

  6. nithanial said,

    I have figured out that when I have ear pain turning on bath water as warm as i can stand it and laying in it putting my hands under my head so that my nose is the only thing above water to breath relieves this massive pressure like I’m coming down off a high hill and ear pain fixed for like 7 hours I end up with a lot of baths but not as Mich pain and I get cleaner.. I am on day 4 of recovery it sucks but the worst part is waking up and sneezzing I do that everytime I wake ul for some reason like 5 times In a row so I run to my pain killers and sit there until its better

  7. Jenn said,

    Sorry that your pain is so severe. The sneezing is pretty painful. Wishing you a speedy, recovery!

  8. Japie said,

    It’s really bad to get you tonsils removed at 34. Short summery.
    Op day, not to bad just headache.
    Had lays sald chips biltong and a lot of coke, pain not to bad.
    Feld bad the hole day just kept to my pain killers and listen to what the docker said. Eat eat and drink coke and eat chappies …a lot keep your mouth muchels bussy. Did’nt sleep that night sour trought realy sour.
    Wishing this was all over…..but still a long way to go.

    Can any one tell me when do you feel 100%???

    I was feeling better and returned to work around day 10.

  9. kidus said,

    I am at day 4 after getting my tonsils removed ,which have made my life horrible as long as I can remember I am recovering very well I am just tired of sleeping all day long I just wanna go out but my doctor says I need bed rest ,I see some white thing on my throat doc says it will come off after i use some kinda mixture he gave me , other than that Its worth it wish u all a happy recovery stay strong.

    Thank you.

  10. Avril Thomson said,

    Day 7 for me today, and I’m also down to pain meds twice a day. Feels likeI turned a corner last night. I think Day 6 was the most painful for me, so glad to be on the other side of it. Looking forward to eating a decent meal though!
    Thanks for the post – I’m 39 and it’s good to hear from someone pretty similar to me.

    You are welcome. Hope you have completely recovered by now.

  11. Jann said,

    Thank you for posting this blog. It was day for day exactly how my recovery has been. I’m at day 5 now and just waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  12. LC said,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I got home a few hours ago from my tonsillectomy…same issue you had. I’m looking forward to full recovery. Thanks for the tip on Resource Fruit Beverage – I hadn’t heard of it before and was getting concerned about nutrition.

    There is also a clear liquid beverage by the makers of Ensure. Either one will serve the purpose.

  13. Heather said,

    Extremely helpful! Thanks so much.

    You are welcome. Glad you found it helpful!

  14. Haley said,

    I am 24 years old and had my tonsils removed yesterday-so far my experience in the last 2 days has mirrored yours. I read so many horror stories and I know that there are still going to be some rough days ahead. As with anything, anytime someone has a terrible experience they are the ones that have the most to say. I am so glad to know you felt pretty good around day 10. I took 2 weeks off of work and I am just laying low. You are exactly right about hydration and managing the pain meds-it keeps the pain at a bearable level. Yes it is uncomfortable but no worse than a bad tonsillitis or case of strep. Thank you for sharing your experiences-gives me some hope! Heres to a smooth-quickish recovery! Wish more people with similar experiences would share!

    Glad sharing my experience helped you through your recovery.

  15. Victor H said,

    Thanks for posting your experience! It is giving me hope that the pain will be over soon. I’m at the end of day 3 post op and this is the worst pain and nausea (from the pain meds) that i’ve ever felt. Seems like it’s a tradeoff, do i want to have throat pain and no nausea or nausea and no throat pain.

    I’m sure you are healed up by now. Hope your pain was short lived.

  16. Mimi4 said,

    On Day 4 & the saving grace for me has been sipping Aloe Juice (Health Food Store) every hour at night time! No ear pain, throat pain is definitely more tolerable than I ever imagined & I have not eaten ANY dairy, so no phlegm or stomach upset;) i expected the worst from all the horror stories online but I came up w a plan before the surgery & I must say it is working flawlessly!!

    I’m a firm believe in educating yourself prior to surgery and having a plan for healing!

  17. Mimi4 said,

    Oh & I was told carbonated beverages & sauces, salt & spices irritate the surgery site & make the throat more raw! Ive stayed away from all of that & I have not experienced half the pain & irritation others are experiencing.

  18. Tamsin said,

    Thank you for this! It was really useful for me.
    I am a 30 yr old female who, as of today, is on day 7 post opp … your series of days of recovery was quiet similar to mine.
    Today I have not needed to rely on strong pain killers too much … just took some light ones during the day to take a bit of the edge off.
    I have been living off ice water, very cold sprite, baby food, creamed/pudding rice, and mac and cheese for dinner (later in the recovery process) Ive never experienced pain like this before and I would have to say days 4 5 and 6 were the worst for me. But after today I finally start to feel like I am on the mend. My throat is still slightly painful … and there is still (what I assume to be) scabbing. Every time I swallow I feel like something is stuck in my throat … I guess thats the tissue which is scabbing over. It’s annoying but I’m hoping it will pass soon. Ive been trying to keep up with my fluids … but the past 2 days I have been getting a REALLY dry throat which sends my throat into these almost spasm type coughing fits which is horrible and tears my throat up.

    I am hoping I have gotten over the worst of it now and that by the end of next week I will start to feel human again. 🙂

    Glad this info was helpful to you. Happy Healing.

  19. Sarah SF said,

    Thx for sharing this – I am also 41 and am considering a tonsillectomy. I have the same issues with the ‘crypts,’ but what’s really driving it is the multiple bouts of strep throat over the past six months, including two in the last month. Seeing an ENT soon to discuss. Glad to hear your play-by-play and that you were feeling a good bit better after a week.

    I only had strep one time…thankfully. I was in Belarus at the time and wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

  20. Brenda said,

    I am 35 and I am on day 2 of my tonsillectomy I also had tonsil stones the disgusting smelly embarrassing things. I was really scared to get this done but I am on day 2 and I feel pretty good, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I didn’t get strep throat with it, it was just really annoying and I became tired of the constant buy mouthwash that didn’t help and mints that lasted for literally 5 minutes. I have no regrets, and don’t let people scare you, it’s not that bad.

  21. Sy said,

    Hi – I am 20 years old and had my tonsillectomy on the 5th July. This is day 5 and I just feel as if the pain has become worse. My ears hurt so much and sleep is my worse enemy. Today I have decided not to eat at all and just stick to liquids. The thought of having to swallow anything is horrifying! During the night I wake up with coughing fits I don’t know if this would be because prior to the op I was a frequent smoker. Im gonna put it down to me being a complete softy and having no pain fresh hold whatsoever. I still can’t talk and I feel like the painkillers just aren’t working anymore. I am going to get some more advise from my doctor and hope that I have gotten over the worse of it!

  22. Timika Noble (26) said,

    I had my tonsils removed a week a go Saturday… My experience has pretty much mirrored yours. I was guven some strong painkillers through my cannula when I woke up from the operation and was let home 5/6 hours after surgery, before whicg I managed to eat a sandwich and talk lots. However, when I woke up on Sunday morning, the pain was very much present. I have been alternating between ibuprofen, paracetamol and codeine for the pain, diclofenic for the swelling. I have been drinking ice cold water regularly, but find I have very thick saliva too. The ear pain has been the worst and I even asked my mum to get me some small bump cold compresses, that you would use for first aid on children. I have been holding them under my ears and on them, these have helped.
    Today is day 6, almost 4pm (England) and I haven’t taken any pain meds for 6-ish hours. I don’t feel like I need to yet either.
    I do have a questionfor people though, when did you start drinking hot drinks after your op? I miss coffee and would give anything to have a cup…
    Thank you for sharing your experiences! I am glad I am not alone in finding it really quite painful! Just glad I won’t suffer with tonsillitis again.

  23. Ellen said,

    I’m seeing an ENT tomorrow. My second time in 2 1/2 months with super huge kissing tonsils, (yes, they’re crypty) and white stuff on them, plus huge swollen lymph nodes and sinus pain.

    The words “tonsillectomy” came up today. Praying the doctor doesn’t say that tomorrow. But reading all of this made me feel a little better. Than you!

  24. kim pritchard said,

    Day 5 of my recovery and not been a pleasant one although I know will be worth it. Never felt pain like this before paracetamol and ibuprofen stopped working day 4 so doctor prescribe tramadol which has knocked me about a little but better p a in relief. Day 6 post open tomorrow and hoping I will turn a corner as just so exhausted and tired. Kim aged 41

  25. Rachael said,

    Day 3 post op, most painful yet. Painkillers every 4 hrs and counting. Can’t wait til the pain and swelling goes away. Bored of sitting around.

  26. Abi said,

    I am currently on day three, and there is no way I could imagine anything as thick as pudding, mashed potatoes, or cabbage rolls at the moment. I’m still on pain meds every four hours, and by the time the third hour hits I’m counting the minutes until I can get some relief. I did get the magic mouthwash, but whenever I try it the swelling prevents it from getting to the back of my throat, so I just end up with a numb tongue. I’m still on popsicles, ice water, and sherbet, although I did try some cold vegetable broth last night. Even cold tomato soup seems like it would be too thick. What I wouldn’t do for some Mac & cheese right now, I’m so hungry.

  27. Monica novotny said,

    Thanks for your article about learning to walk in stilettos. Getting a tonsillectomy at 41. I am 45, I had the exact same issue called cryptic tonsils. Yes, you described it perfectly. I’m post-op day early morning of day 7. Talk about pain! 2 pain pills every 6hrs, doesn’t really cover that last 1-2 hours. Wish I had known about the magic mouthwash!!! May even still try to get some!

  28. TK said,

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for posting this…I’m 28 and, including day of surgery as day 1, am on night 3. I was given liquid oxy to take every 3 hours, which REALLY makes sleep interesting (aka I am barely getting any, and when I do I wake up an hour after I was supposed to take my next dose so I’m in a lot of pain. My ears are driving me insane, and all I want to do is go to sleep with my cpap on (I have obstructive sleep apnea on top of enlarged and cryptic tonsils) and sleep through even just one single night. I was concerned that what I was going through wasn’t normal with the whole painkillers not helping the ears much but now I know it’s just an annoyance that I’ll have to deal with. Just gotta keep telling myself that this will all be worth it in the end. Who knows, maybe I’ll get to give away my cpap. Thank you again, you have put my mind at ease, I think I’ll try for at least 2 hours of sleep tonight…

  29. deanna walker said,


  30. Logan Weekley said,

    Did you cough a lot but it just wouldn’t come out BC I’m currently at well since its 1:09 day 7 and I have this deep cough and it sounds so nasty and thick stuff comes into my throat by wont let me spit it out and it blocks me from breathing does that happen?

  31. Of all the terrible stories I read, this was the first one I actually relate to.
    I’m 24 and got a tonsillectomy on Friday. It ended at 10:30 a.m. Today is Thursday 5:10 a.m. I have been eating solid food through the hurt and burn. Drinking 2 myprodols every 6 hours and 1 augmentin every 12 hours. Here and there I spray andolax into my throat. The pain has been about the same as yours, not so bad as other people. I also don’t have ear pain. I should be glad, but I still feel pretty unhappy about the pain I feel and not having to eat what I want. I’ve been eating eggs with bread and salt and vinegar and chicken cooked with salt and vinegar. Yesterday I ate fish also with salt and vinegar. Jelly burns… Coke, ice-cream, jogurt, apple juice,etc burns… I eat custard and weetbix too. Everything I eat has to be cold and with ice in and ice water on the side. I don’t know if my scabs have started to fall off, it still looks as white as the day I got the surgery. And I’m nauseous and dizzy all the time. I got surgery for my deviated septum at the same time. It’s hard to breathe with only one half open nostril and my throat hurts when breathing through the mouth. Once or twice daily I spray the sea salt water spray into my nose. Wonder when I will get better. The doctor booked me off until next week Tuesday when I have my follow-up. I’m scared for the part of the scabs falling off and paining all over again.

  32. iuelaist said,

    Wow. Thank you for sharing. I had tonsil stones due to the pockets on my tonsils. I was one of the unlucky ones. I suffered from it for years and finally at 36 decided to take them out. I am on day 12 today and my recovery was really not bad at all. The worst part was the dry throat at night which hurt more than during the day. I am keeping daily track of my progress as well with pictures. If you are interested it’s here: https://allabouttonsillectomy.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/tonsillectomy-daily-recovery

  33. Jenn said,

    Thank you for your interest in my blog!

  34. Jenn said,

    I’m so sorry that you were experiencing such discomfort. I’m sure by now your problem has resolved. I did not experience these symptoms during my recovery.

  35. Jenn said,

    Glad you found some comfort from reading this post.

  36. Jenn said,

    Magic mouthwash really is the key.

  37. Jenn said,

    Thank you for reading my blog. Hope your recovery was fairly quick.

  38. Jenn said,

    Thank you for your interest in my blog. Sorry your experience was so painful.

  39. Jenn said,

    Yes – all true. These items are most likely to irritate the throat.

  40. Jenn said,

    I agree that having a plan going in is the best strategy!

  41. Kate said,

    This is the most useful post I’ve read about post-op recovery so far! I’m 18 and currently on day 4, today has been my worst day so far and I am in agony! Hoping that like you, I will start to feel a little better over the next day or two, thanks for sharing your experience!</p

    Good luck! Wishing you a speedy recovery!

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