** WARNING: This post contains gross content. Please do not read further if you do not enjoy reading about bodily problems, or seeing vile pictures... Trust me, I took them and I really think they are gross yet the pictures are of my own body. The biggest question that this answers is probably 'should I have my tonsils removed?'.
For the past couple years I have been complaining about having bad breath and constantly having a sore throat in the mornings, but I was often told that it was associated with constipation that I suffered from when I was younger but have since over come this and so I figured that this could not be the reason - more on this at some other time. 🙂
I did a little research on the internet - as we all do lately - about what could possibly be causing the bad breath even though I made a note of brushing my teeth 3 times a day and never forgot to floss or use mouth wash. By the end of most days, my mom would tell me that she could smell my breath even still after all the trouble I was going through every day to keep it away.
The bad breath became really bad about a year ago, after a severe case of tonsillitis and that's when I finally put 2-and-2 together. It probably has something to do with my tonsils - since I still had them in the back of my throat. I asked one of my fellow students at University to have a good look down the back of my throat and she said fine, had a look and said she could see nothing worth noting. The kind of personality I have did not really allow for this answer so I proceeded to go to the bathroom and have a look myself and low and behold, I found a huge white spot on my right tonsil that was hidden away really well.
Even though I thought that this was really gross, I just opted to pull it out and see what would happen. My breath improved dramatically, but this was only temporary. After a few months I was pulling at least 1 tonsil stone out of my tonsils every day - an annoying part of my daily routine, I think more so to my mother and boyfriend because I would cough every time I touched my tonsils.
I read on the internet that you should use a salt water mouth wash to help dislodge the stones and get rid of the bacteria that actually causes them to form, but this did not work for me and so I finally decided - after 2 years of bad breath - to go and get a doctor's advice. In the back of my mind I was truly hoping that he would say 'yes we will remove them' but I had little hope after reading about so many other experiences where 4 years down the line and other people's doctors still refuse to remove the tonsils.
From what I read about chronic tonsillitis and tonsils stones is that once you get it, the problem will never go away until you completely remove the tonsils - and I must say that a life time of bad breath was NOT on the table for me - I was going to beg and pled for the Doctor to remove them. Tonsil Stones (Tonsilloliths) are formed when debris and mucous and often food pieces that get caught in the nooks and crannies of the tonsils and then that all calcifies. I would often find a piece of jungle oats from my morning breakfast caught in the largest of the crannies which was practically the last straw for me.
I made a booking to see an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist and had to wait a week and a bit to see him but the wait was worth it. When I saw him I had explained all the things that had been troubling me, and when he had a look inside my mouth he said that we will have to remove them - no begging, and no pleading. I swear to you that I saw this halo around his head the moment he said that. I was very worried that he would tell me that he could do nothing for me. Apparently - he said - that if my tonsils were in a position where I could grab them and squeeze, that all the stones would come popping out. So there were more stones in my tonsils where I couldn't get to and that's why brushing my teeth so frequently was doing nothing at all. No amount of cleaning helps with the bad breath caused from the bacteria in the tonsils.
15 days later was the day of surgery... I had to be in the hospital by 6am which is, luckily, no strange time to me because I usually gym early. Before the surgery I was so super happy that the day had finally come and that I was getting rid of these suckers... no more bad breath for Tyla. I do think, now, that I was very naive about the pain that I would be in. I have a high pain threshold and cannot imagine what other people actually go through.
Below is a picture of me before the surgery. I was telling my dad and my grandmother about the sexy panties that I had to put on because they didn't allow nylon underwear on in theatre.
I eat... a lot... I have often been told that I eat way to much for what my figure actually depicts and in a way I always take that as a compliment. Before going in, I was repeatedly told by the nurses that I must not stop eating and that chewing is very important. Yeah, yeah, trust me I will keep eating is all I thought, because I cannot go a day without any form of food.
The picture below is as I was wheeled in after the surgery (which only takes 15 minutes). It is very blurry, sorry. 🙂
When I came out of surgery, I was told to swallow by the nurses that helped me out of my anestethic induced sleep, and oh my goodness... The pain was incredible. How in the hell was I going to eat anything feeling like I did. I was wheeled back to the ward and my food was ordered - but gone are the days of jelly, custard, ice cream and a packet of crisps so I was told by my friends and family that had their tonsils removed a number of years ago. No, I received a toasted chicken mayo, a packet of crisps, and a can of coke and I was instructed that I would not be discharged until I ate it all. The old me was like please, I can finish this in like 5 minutes. Haha oh how wrong I was. The new me could barely open my mouth to take a bite and the pain of anything passing the back of my throat was so agonising that I immediately stopped eating.
It took me 3 hours to get through only half of the food and eventually I was discharged any ways.
Before the operation, my Doctor had informed me that I would only need to take 5 days off of work, which had me really happy that the healing time was that fast. I am now on day 3 and I still feel like I am going to die from the pain when I near the end of my 6 hour pain tablet period. My tummy is constantly rumbling loudly because I can't eat as much as what I would usually do or as frequently as what I usually do. I will start eating and think oh wow, and then my throat gets so sore and so tired that I have to stop and all I want to do at the moment is dive in to a juicy burger or some ribs, or even slurp on some pasta.
**WARNING: The next picture is really nasty and of the inside of my mouth. This picture was taken 2 days after the surgery and you can see the scabs at the back of my mouth. They are really nasty and it helps me see why I am actually in so much pain when I swallow.
The healing takes time though, and I cannot wait to share the rest of my experience.
This next picture was take a week and 3 days after the surgery. As you can see the white stuff (yellow stuff) has started falling off and I am now able to talk comfortably, and opening my mouth to take the picture was 10 times easier.
Below is a list of things that I have learned from my experience so far, it has only been 3 days but it is seriously a work in progress.
12 Things that no one tells you before, during and after having your tonsils removed:
1. It is not worth it in the beginning... really... IT IS NOT. People only tell you about how they are feeling now that they have had their tonsils out for a number of years. No one tells you about the pain that they go through immediately after surgery or during the healing process.
2. Keep chewing. As difficult as what this sounds at the time of your operation, you need to exercise the exposed muscles in the back of your throat. For the first few days, I could not chew anything and so I just made sure that I opened and closed my mouth. The point of the exercise was to get my mouth open as wide as possible. By day 3 I was chewing gum at any time that I could, this took over the mouth exercises. The problem with the chewing gum is that it creates saliva and the need to swallow becomes unavoidable and more frequent and I don't recommend the chewing gum unless you have taken your pain killers or reached the stage - like I have - where the swallowing isn't too painful anymore.
3. You are not meant to cough, or sneeze, or blow your nose. Note that if you are like me, and dairy gives you phlegm or you have some serious allergies then I suggest you avoid them at all costs. Coughing is the most painful thing ever after having tonsils removed - apart from yawning, which you should try avoid as well - and it can cause haemorrhaging and bleeding which could land you back in the hospital, and trying to get phlegm out of your throat when all your muscles are in agony is far beyond impossible - it cannot be done, I have tried. Sneezing and blowing your nose will change the pressure in the back of your throat and will also cause haemorrhaging and bleeding - so it is imperative that you don't do this. Rather take a sinus tablet that will help dry out your sinuses for the duration of your healing, and even taking an allergy tablet will help with this.
4. If you cannot get solids down, make sure you keep up with your water and any form of sugary liquids - someone I know suggested coconut water. Your body is going to need the energy, trust me. For the first 3 days, I was so drained of my energy and started dehydrating because I was not consuming anything that I almost landed myself back in the hospital on a drip. Very bad thing! I could not risk my health because I could not get solids down like the Doctor had said, I would rather have got something down my throat than nothing at all. After day 3 when I realised that trying to eat solids was not working for me, I opted for soups, and jelly, and water because the coke burned my throat way too much. When I moved on to solids, I ate peas and things that were soft to chew. There is no law that says you must eat solids from day 1, it is only a recommendation and can be followed at your own free will.
5. Swallowing will be your best friend even if it doesn't feel that way. I have never ever noticed how much I actually need to swallow until I had this operation - I thought that my wisdom teeth were bad, but this is so much worse. Swallowing helps get the muscles strong again, and also helps to keep the hole where your tonsils once were moist. It is a very bad thing to have happen if they go dry - the scabs will crack and there will be a lot of bleeding, and your healing time will lengthen. Note: swallowing is very painful and very uncomfortable that I almost wanted to keep a spit bucket next to my bed for when saliva builds up but it took all my strength not to do this because I cannot bare the thought of having to go back into the hospital because of bleeding in the back of my throat.
6. You might start snoring during your healing process. I have never ever snored (according to my boyfriend) until the day after the operation. He found it so intriguing that he decided to record me snoring, and it was surprisingly loud. I have read that this is only temporary even if it does last a month after the operation, and I truly hope that it is - otherwise it is just the price that my boyfriend will have to pay for my sanity and fresh smelling breath. 🙂
7. Don't force yourself to talk. You will loose your voice, almost everyone does. If you have met someone that could talk from the moment they woke up after the operation all the way through the healing process, they deserve a noddy badge - I have yet to meet someone like that. I was able to talk for the first 10 minutes after my operation and then BAM it hit me. I just couldn't muster up any words. It was just too painful and even when it wasn't the words just didn't seem to come out. For this reason I developed a system to alert the people looking after me when I needed something. It was no use trying to shout through the house to my boyfriend if I needed help because it was too painful, so I decided to knock on anything and everything - this was my way of calling him. I knocked on doors, windows, cupboards, counter tops, the bath and all things that were hollow and he was generally able to work out what I needed help with based on my poor signing. For the times where I needed to explain a little bit more, I always had a little note pad with me and a pen so that I could write down what I needed to tell him.
8. Sleep is not your worst enemy! I read on a blog where someone had said that sleep was something that they did not want to do because when they woke up in the morning their mouth was so stiff that all the chewing they had done the day before was for nothing. Sleep is a good thing, it is something that you need! It is the best time for your body (throat) to heal itself, there is no better time. The chewing exercise is good for you and highly recommended, but it is silly to give up on sleep because you fear that you will wake up in the morning with a stiff mouth. It takes time and progress. If this happens to you, and you experience a stiff mouth just chew some more until you can open it again. Every morning, you will see that you are either less stiff or that you can get rid of the stiffness faster. I wake up in the morning with a stiff mouth and my tongue is always swollen but I got over it and just chewed on my soft foods until I could actually open my mouth. Do not stop sleeping, please!
Think about it like this, when you go to the gym and go ALL OUT on an exercise that you would never actually do, you will certainly be stiff the next morning won't you? But the more you work at it and the stronger you make yourself, the easier the exercise becomes. Your tonsils are no different in this situation. They have been burned out of your mouth, your mouth has been severely strained and now you are working at it to make it stronger... It is going to be STIFF, but you actually just need to keep working through it.
9. Be patient and take your medication. Everyone's healing time is very different. I read on someones blog that by day 23 they were still feeling as bad as what they were on day 1, but here I am on day 3 starting to write out this post. I have been bed ridden for the past couple of days but that is clearly how long I needed before I had the strength to face the pain in my throat. My Doctor told me that I would be fine after just 4 days, but I am not sure I see that happening. I have made sure that I keep up with all my tablets especially the one given to me for pain. That special 'Schedule 5' tablet has been my best friend so far and I take it every 6 hours so that swallowing is made easier and I can now get more solid food stuffs down my throat without being in too much pain. I was given an antibiotic to stop infection in the back of my mouth and suppositories in case I could not swallow anything - this is one of the reasons I forced food stuffs down my throat because I was not going the suppository route.
10. Brushing your teeth is mighty difficult for the first few days. I cannot get to the back of my tongue because it is just too swollen to stick out and brush, and getting to the back teeth (molars) is also very difficult because I actually cannot brush too harshly near the back of my mouth as it gets too sore. Trust me when I say that this gets easier... I'm a serious brusher... religious about the times I brush and so this was very difficult for me to deal with. I went to bed without brushing my teeth on the first 2 nights but it was virtually impossible.
11. Take things easy. Don't just rush back into your old routine, even if you think that you are fine to do so. Even if you are one of those lucky people who are able to go back to work almost immediately, it is not recommended. Also, do things slowly (you will most likely not be able to move quickly any ways). Don't turn your head to quickly, don't run around doing chores and strenuous things, and avoid exercising to harshly for the first couple of weeks - avoid things that will make your neck tense up.
12. The last thing that no one ever tells you is that the white scabbing in the back of your throat will cause some seriously nasty bad breath - this is where not being able to brush properly really got me. I did this operation to rid myself of the bad breath, and the moment that I realised that it was back, I tell you, I was in tears - painful ones at that because the back of my throat was so sore. I thought that it was there to stay and that all this pain was a waste of my time and energy but thankfully it does disappear slowly but surely. Mine was terrible when the scabbing formed (the afternoon of the operation) and it slowly got better as the days progressed - all according to my boyfriend. 🙂
Good luck with your operation or recovery (which ever stage you are at... you will get through it... I promise)
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