Tonsillectomy Recovery Part 2: Sonic ice, Kanye, and mouth meat

After my tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy on June 2, I thought I was doing pretty well for the first couple days...I had no idea what I was in for. Things went downhill very quickly and intensely.

Day 3...
This is when the pain started to get pretty serious but also when the drugs really started to get to me. I've been feeling so spaced out and weird and unable to focus on anything or even keep my eyes open for too long. My body aches from lying in bed. I get dizzy and shaky when I stand but I’m so anxious and restless.

As time goes on I am able to open my mouth less and less. My tongue feels so huge and swollen. I was able to talk pretty normally the first 2 days and was eating popsicles and crushed ice but today I can’t open my mouth enough to even do that.

Day 4...
is the worst as far as pain and side effects from all the medications. I don’t feel like I will ever function normally again. I’m far from being able to eat but my stomach is hurting from being empty for days. Some Instant Breakfast powder mixed with cashew milk is the closest I can get to food. I’m trying to take in at least a couple hundred calories each day because I know my body needs the energy to heal but that’s tough when ice is your main food group.

The best advice I got from another blogger was to buy bags of ice from the fast food restaurant Sonic. They’re known for having tiny little pellets of ice which are the perfect size for eating out of a cup with a spoon & it's so weirdly popular that they sell it by the pound. Sonic ice is my only lifeline now.

Day 5...
I’m trying to cut back on the drugs that are making me feel so crazy but the pain is still too bad. Florida is also in the path of a tropical storm by now, so at least I have a new relaxing soundtrack to my days. I love listening to the pounding rain, as long as the power doesn’t go out, I’m good. I managed to eat some applesauce today which counts as a victory in my new reality, so yay me. Today was quite a bit better than yesterday and I'm hoping this is the turning point.

Day 6... (Warning for gross content)
Well, a turning point for sure. The wee hours of my 6th day turned out to be probably the worst experience of my life. I woke up coughing around 3am. It was annoying and painful and something that hadn't really happened before. I was too early for another dose of pain meds so I sipped some cold water and read an article on my phone about Kanye West to relax and hopefully go back to sleep for a bit.

I coughed again and this time it felt strange, wet and warm. I shuffled to the bathroom to spit a ton of bright red blood in the sink. I'd been warned I could bleed a bit but this seemed...
Then sudddenly I was coughing like crazy, blood started spattering out everywhere. So much blood I couldn't imagine where it was all coming from. I managed to get the toilet open just before I started totally vomiting what looked like gallons of blood into it. I panicked completely.

I had lost all control over my body and this was it. I'd be found the next morning dead and pale in my bathroom, covered in blood, an article about Kanye still open on my phone. My phone which I had left 6 feet away in my bed. I had to gather everything I had to get up and grab my phone so I could alert my parents, asleep on the other side of the house, that I was dying. By the time I managed this, my walls and floor were decorated like a cheap Halloween haunted house. Within about 10 minutes I was wrapped in towels and loaded into the car to make the thankfully very short 3 mile drive to the ER. The tropical storm was already passing through but the rain was minimal and the hospital was quiet.

After a very frustrating time trying to communicate with the nurses who didn't seem to understand why I was crying ("it's just blood!") but really needed to know the exact dates of my last period before they could do anything for me. The blood was still coming up, but even worse, the very large blood clot that had formed in my wound had detached partially and was hanging out of my mouth like a fatty piece of meat that wouldn't go away. I couldn't spit it or pull it out because it was still well-attached to the back of my throat somewhere and hurt quite a bit. This made the whole experience more disgusting and made talking more difficult.

It was hard to make them understand that I'd had surgery 5 days ago which is why I am in so much pain and when I say that I cannot open my mouth any more than that, i'm not being belligerent, I just physically am unable to do that just yet. They had to go through their entire hospital checklist of asking me to list every medication I take and do I smoke and how often do I drink alcohol and is there family history of heart disease and...

"I see you are allergic to sulfas, anything else?"
"Nope, that's it"
"How about latex?"
"No"
"What about tapes and adhesives?"
"No am I not allergic to anything"
"Ok good but are you allergic to zofran?"
"No, nothing"

Oh god and it just went on.
I had returned to the very same hospital where I had gotten my surgery just days prior. They already had my medical records, they knew that I'm not allergic to latex and I don't smoke and I'm not pregnant and the fact that I had to sit there covered in blood-vomit, chewing on my own blood clot*, barely coherent, and answer those questions again before anyone could do a thing to help me was the most blood-boiling experience. My parents were with me but could only watch helplessly.

Eventually they gave me anti-nausea drugs (after finally finding a good vein in my arm when stabbing the back of my hand 6 times didn't work out) and suctioned all the blood out (super fun fact, the mouth clot got cut out with scissors because it wouldn't detach) and had me gargle with ice water to halt the bleeding. It turned out to not be as much blood as it looked, and my labs turned out fine, I didn't need a transfusion, so I just went home.

It was certainly the scariest thing that has ever happened to me though. Seeing that amount of blood come out of your own body is shocking and disturbing and it's hard to imagine you can be totally fine after something like that. I'm understanding now why it was so difficult to find a doctor willing to do this procedure on someone my age. Unless you desperately need it to cure some severe sleep apnea, you're better off sucking it up and dealing with the monthly tonsillitis rather than suffering through this particular kind of hell.

I was going to make this just an ongoing post with each day summarized then post it at the end of 10 days, but I know people are wondering what happened to me last night, so this will go up today and if anything else notable happens, I'll write a part 3 later.

*Pretty sure my forthcoming memoir is going to be titled "Chewing on My Own Blood Clot"


See Part 1, Part 3, and Part 4 for the rest of the story.