A few months back, I noticed that my 3 year old, Gracie, was struggling to breathe while she slept. I took a video and showed the pediatrician who recommended I try some Claritin. She thought maybe it was related to allergies. It wasn’t. She really didn’t seem worried, so I stopped thinking about it. But then, a few weeks ago, the kids were at the dentist, and Gracie was snoring while laying on the table…. awake! The dental hygienist asked if she always sounded like that. I said yes. So the dentist came and took a peak and was like “WOWWWW. Her tonsils are HUGE! You should take her to the ENT to have him take a look”. So I did. He was in agreement that they were insanely large and needed to come out. For the record, they were a 4 out of 4 (on their tonsil scale??) and were causing sleep apnea. He said that, considering the size of her tonsils, he wanted to go ahead and remove her adenoids while he was in there. So, we scheduled her surgery!
Last week, we brought her in for her 7:30am appointment. I was a nervous wreck leading up to that point. My sweet little baby… going under anesthesia and being in pain for 2 weeks was too much! But walking in, I felt such a peace! Everyone at the surgery center was so sweet and made her feel so comfortable! Each nurse and doctor came in to introduce themselves. They explained about the sleepy medicine and that she would get to pick her flavor. She walked right in with the nurse and never looked back!
We waited for about 40 minutes before the nurse called us back. She said Gracie was crying, which was normal since she was starting to wake up from anesthesia. She was just saying over and over, “Mommy hold me!”. Which is exactly what I did.
We stayed in recovery for about 30 minutes and headed home. Gracie slept the whole way home. When we got to the house, I set up a spot on the couch with a towel and garbage can. She started crying and said her tummy hurt. The anesthesia made her sick, and she actually threw up from it. After a while, she fell back to sleep. When she woke up, she felt much better and asked for water and a snack. So I gave it to her!
Overall, the surgery and recovery was pretty smooth. I did a lot of preparation beforehand, so I feel like I was somewhat prepared. I know every kid is different, but I feel like I learned a few things that might be helpful to those of you who may go through this someday! So here are my Top 10 Tips to Surviving a Tonsillectomy!
1 – Clean House & Do Laundry Before: I wanted to take this time to really BE with Gracie. I didn’t want to be stressed or preoccupied. I relax better when I’m in a clean space!
2 – Prepare Your Child: I told Gracie that she was getting her tonsils out, but not in a scary way! I wanted her to know what was happening, but I really played up the part that she would get to eat ice-cream for a week! That way she wasn’t surprised, but also wasn’t dwelling on it. I avoided the word “surgery”.
3 – Stock Your Fridge & Freezer: Gracie wasn’t quite up to leaving the house for a few days, so I wanted a variety of options for her to eat. I loaded up on things like applesauce, yogurt pouches, frozen gogurt, COUGH DROPS (seriously a life saver), sherbet, small pasta with chicken broth, peanut butter sandwich (lite on the pb), hot dogs, & mac and cheese. Let your child choose special treats for post-op. SOFT FOODS FOR 2 WEEKS!
4 – Cool Mist Humidifier: The doc recommended a humidifier, because when they sleep, their throats get super dry. I picked THIS ONE. Gracie was obsessed with it and was super excited to fill it up and turn it on at night.
5 – Comfy Clothes & Pull – Up: Gracie is potty trained, but she sleeps with a pull-up on. We brought her in with a pull-up on and kept it on her for most of the day since she was pretty out of it for a while. I’m sure wetting herself would have added to her frustration :o)
6 – Keep Water Close: One of the things to be careful for is dehydration. Luckily all Gracie wanted was water! I kept fresh ice water by her at all times so she could keep drinking!
7 – Prepare Yourself for Coming Home: She slept the whole way home, but then was pretty nauseous. She threw up so we had a garbage can by her side and set her up on the couch (on a towel) with her favorite TV shows while she drifted in and out of sleep.
8 – Tylenol/Motrin: Stock up! You alternate between the two every three hours, even during the night. I would give her a dose and set my alarm for 3 hours so I didn’t forget. I had two post-its with her medicine so I knew which was up next.
9 – Prepare Siblings: Because I knew Gracie would have a lot of attention, I explained to Turner that she was having surgery and she wouldn’t feel well for a few days. I explained that she could only eat soft foods and her throat would hurt, so she was going to have some treats like ice cream and pudding. Of course, he wanted all the treats too! We gave him a treat a day for being such a helpful big brother!
10 – Lots of Snuggles: I took a few days off from work, because I really wanted to BE with Gracie. I didn’t know what to expect, so I wanted the freedom to give her all of my attention. We spent a lot of time snuggling and watching movies. She was extra whiney and quick to cry, so I tried to be patient and remind myself that she wasn’t feeling well.
I hope this is helpful for those of you who are going to go through this! Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. Of course, she’s been uncomfortable, but that’s to be expected. All we can do is make them as comfortable as possible and love them! I was surprised at how quickly she bounced back. Kids are TOUGH! Feel free to share with me anything that has helped you get through too!