Tonsillectomy 101 :: Tonsil Removal Guide for Moms

Hearing the word “tonsillectomy” come from your doctor’s mouth is never a good thing. Maybe it’s just the season, but it seems like many of our school friends are now preparing for this common surgery. As a parent, I had so many questions about the procedure, the recovery, and how I could prepare my child. Hopefully, this tonsil removal guide for moms will help you and your child feel more comfortable!

My daughter had a combination surgery – tonsils, adenoids, and turbinate – all removed, stripped, gone in the same procedure.  I was happy for the all-in-one, but it’s still daunting.

Tonsillectomy 101 :: Tonsil Removal Guide for Moms

As a nine-year-old, there were a lot of questions from my daughter. I did my best to answer the ones that I could, and I wrote down the others so that we could have the answers before the “big day.” It’s so important that your child feels comfortable with everything that is going to happen. As a mom, I was apprehensive enough for the both of us. I didn’t need an apprehensive child too.

Piper’s list of things she needed to know was important to her. So, let’s tackle these questions first – and as always, check with your doctor to see what your surgery center policy is.

  1. Can I take a stuffed animal/lovey in with me? Piper has a favorite blanket that she has slept with since she was a baby. She was allowed to have it with her. I would guess that they took it away after she was sedated, but as far as she knows it was with her the entire time, and that’s good enough for me!
  2. Will I be able to watch TV when I get home? Load up your DVR with shows and movies. Gather codes for Redbox rentals! There will be a lot of downtime. Piper didn’t feel well enough to read or play on her electronics. Dosing in and out of a movie was about all she could do.
  3. What does the medicine taste like? I’m sure that this varies, but the medicine that we had was pretty nasty tasting. However, the dosage was small. So it was quick. And we always followed up with a yummy popsicle.
  4. Does the IV hurt? This was probably the biggest question. We hit the jackpot on this, so definitely ask your physician. For Piper, she was given gas to put her under, THEN they put in the IV. I can’t imagine a better scenario for a child {or heck, even for me!}.

Now that we have the patient questions taken care of, what about mom’s questions? Here are the 3 that I was most concerned with and also get asked most often by parents that are preparing to take care of a post-surgery child.

  1. How long are they “down”? Piper had her tonsils, adenoids, and turbinates done all at the same time. But, the tonsils were definitely the biggy of the three as far as recovery. Our doctor told us that she would be out of school for a week with an additional week of heavy restriction {no PE, no sports, no outdoor play, etc.}. We opted to have the surgery done the week before Spring Break so that she only missed a week of school and had some built-in downtime over the holiday. Piper had some slight complications, but I really felt that she could not have returned to school until 11 days after surgery. It was quite a bit more than I anticipated.
  2. How is the pain? All is good until the anesthesia wears off, so don’t be fooled by a chirpy patient on the car ride home. The first 3 days are the worst. It hurts to swallow, and the pain medication is oral. But, be diligent and push through. Realize that it’s all temporary. Even though Piper was older than some kids that have this done {at age 9} – be ready for lots of cuddling, rocking, and soothing. Lots of encouragement that all will be okay soon enough.
  3. Can I have some food ideas? We can’t live off of popsicles! Popsicles and frozen ice drinks {Sonic slushes, frozen lemonades, etc.} are really wonderful for the first few days. After that, you can graduate into a milkshake and pudding, but the creaminess of those foods is really hard to swallow at first – especially before the stitches dissolve. Piper lost quite a bit of weight in the time that she either wasn’t eating {because it hurt to swallow} or was just living on frozen ice. When we did add back food, we really needed to make it high in calorie and fat content. Losing 12 pounds when you only weigh 60 pounds is HUGE! We made milkshakes with Vitamin D milk, French toast with real cream, and fettuccine with Alfredo sauce.  All of these were hits with Piper.

Finally, don’t be afraid to call your doctor after you leave. You know your child, and if you ever feel like something just isn’t right – pick up the phone. Although it’s a common procedure, it’s not common in your household! Follow your gut … and good luck!

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