We’ve known Bella needed to have her tonsils and adenoids removed since February. After a long wait to meet with the ENT (May), the surgery was scheduled for yesterday. That means my poor kid has known about a pending surgery for five months. She’s had five months to dread it, five months to chew her nails to bits.
Some things that helped prep her for the surgery were these two books and talking to other kids who’d had their tonsils removed. Also, the promise of ice cream and unlimited screen time.
What didn’t help was the fact that she was around when my tonsils were removed two years ago. Everyone kept telling us adult tonsillectomies were worse, but I kind of wonder if that whole “worse” thing has to do with kids limited abilities to express pain.
But, she had to have her tonsils removed. She caught every bug under the sun last year, and her tonsils were obstructing her airway and causing some major sleep apnea. So two days ago, we had a Bella day, where she was allowed to choose whatever she wanted to eat all day (and she did good. I was half expecting candy and junk food, but she wanted waffles and bananas for breakfast, McDonald’s for lunch, and pizza for dinner. Not super healthy, but not cookies all day either). And had a goodbye tonsil party that night where we watched a Bella movie and had cake to say goodbye. Then yesterday, at 6:30 AM, we arrived at an outpatient facility to have the tonsils removed.
She was pretty upset about not being allowed to have breakfast or water, but the promise of a popsicle after surgery kept her going. I’m glad I brought her leap pad with us, because we were in the waiting room for a good hour filling out paper work and (this was a surprise) paying for the surgery up front. Then they called us back and we spent about another hour meeting with the anesthesiologist, the surgeon, and the nurses. They all asked the exact same questions to make sure we were all on the same page. It was a really subtle safety precaution. We filled out more paperwork, and then Bella got changed into a really cute hospital gown with tigers on it.
They gave her medicine to stop her from salivating and we had the option to give her something to reduce her anxiety before they took her away from us and put her under, but we were warned this would impact her ability to come out from under the anesthesia. She’d be way more out of it and it would be a much bigger deal. Fortunately, this is where the books came in handy. Each kid in the books was given a medicine that made them sleepy and relaxed before they left their parents. Bella assumed the medicine she drank did just that and since it was early in the morning and she was sleepy and no one slept well the night before, she legitimately felt sleepy. So we opted not to go with the other medicine.
It was really hard letting them wheel her bed away. When I got my tonsils out, there was this little kid the next room over screaming for his mommy and daddy. The poor thing was so terrified that I was crying on his behalf. There’s really no worse sound than a terrified child. I kept picturing Bella getting back there without us and flipping out and us just sitting out in the waiting room not knowing. But when I talked to her about it later, she said that everyone was so nice that she never felt scared.
She woke up asking for chocolate and assuring us it didn’t hurt as bad as her throat normally did. Her doctor said her tonsils were pretty inflamed and riddled with tonsil stones, which he was expecting, but he was surprised by the size of her adenoids. Apparently they were much larger than he anticipated.
Bella gave the doctors evil glares when they checked on her, which was surprising since she’d just said they were so nice. Further investigation revealed she’d been promised a popsicle, which had not yet been delivered, and that she’d get to blow up a balloon. But the balloon was’t a real balloon (the thing they breathe into for anesthesia).
We got her a real balloon and a popsicle and all was well.
Then the kid in the next curtain partition over woke up and started screaming. Which had to hurt. So he screamed more. Poor kid was just too little to understand what was happening. His mom was frantically trying to calm him down and the doctors gave him something, but it was really awful to hear, and it stressed Bella out because she’d been fine pain wise but now she was thinking, maybe she should be in pain.
The rest of the day went much better. Bella took her pain medicine and napped until the next dose was due (four hour gaps), at which point we switched to Ibuprofen because her doctor insists it works just as well for managing pain.
By the end of the day, Bella was bored with unlimited screen time, tired of ice cream, and unwilling to try soup or mashed potatoes. She was hungry for real food and very upset she couldn’t get any. I wasn’t too worried because I wasn’t allowed to eat anything on my first day, so she was better off. And since I’d done this before, I knew all the tricks. I had the humidifier ready, the ice collars frozen, the meds spaced out perfectly. Movies and shows and games all picked out. Gatorade with crushed ice and an intimate knowledge of just how much the pain killers sting going down, so she had lots of warning.
It got worse at night, which I was expecting. That’s when all the talking kind of crashed down on her. She didn’t want to take the stinging medicine, but we had ice Gatorade ready to chase it down. Once the medicine kicked in, she went to sleep. We set the alarm for more doses (switching to ibuprofen for the rest of the night), and she slept really well throughout the night.
This morning, she was happy to eat her breakfast. Eggs, banana, and greek yogurt. Chewing doesn’t seem to bug her as much as it did me, so that’s good, but we did wait until her ibuprofen kicked in before feeding her. She’s excited to be able to brush her teeth and enjoy a full day of screen. I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.
For comparison, this is what day one of an adult tonsillectomy looks like.
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