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My tonsils: two little clumps of lymphoid tissue that caused me a lot of grief.

Posted Aug 14 2009 6:48pm

But they are gone now! Did I ever mention that I had a tonsillectomy when I was 16 years old? I don’t really have anything to write about today so i thought I would tell you the story of the year i had my tonsils out.

OK, well first let me tell you that the year i was 16 (grade 11) was the year my asthma started to get a lot worse. The initial incident involved me going to camp and getting a little too close to some horses. I had an asthma attack on a hike that left me breathless for weeks after. Another story for another time. That year I also a pneumonia in December that had me in the hospital.

Anyway, my tonsils. They were huge. Massive! And I had something called chronic cryptic tonsillitis, which meant my tonsils were full of little holes. Bacteria and other nasties got caught in there and then my whole throat would get infected. I was sick nearly every other week and I was chronically tired. This combined with my breathing issues meant that I was a pretty worn out girl. I was doing well in school, even though I missed a lot, but I didn’t have energy for much else.

I finally got in to see an ENT and he took one look in my throat and said he would take them out. I saw him for maybe one minute but I was just happy to know that I was going to have  a way to feel better. The surgeon was pretty gruff and my mom didn’t have the best feeling about him but I wasn’t too fussed about it.

My surgery took place over spring break (what a rip off!). I got to the hospital early in the morning. I met the anesthesiologist in pre-op and he had me have a neb just for preventative measures. He was nice and on the ball and I felt pretty good about him. My last memory before conking out is of him getting an IV in the crook of my elbow and counting to three. Fast forward to approximately one hour later: I’m somewhere between dreamland and the land of the living.

I can hear a female voice calling my name, but I’m in no hurry to answer. My body feels very very heavy. I can also feel some sort of urgency inside my chest cavity, like something is very wrong, but at the same time my conscious brain is saying “meh”. I can hear that I’m absolutely gasping and sucking air, but somehow it doesn’t register with me that it is me making those noises and that this is bad. The voice that has been calling my name all that time (how much time? 30 seconds? 10 minutes?) suddenly gets harsher and barks “Danielle!”. I lazily decide that this is reason enough to wake up and my brain switches on. It’s at this very moment that I realize what is going on. I’m not breathing. I can feel it throughout my body. My head kills and that cold wave of shock races to my fingertips and toes. 2 nurses and a doctor are with me and I’m being wheeled somewhere. There’s a mask on my face, I realize. Now I start to consciously work to breathe, arcing my body on the bed. It feels terrible, and I have no idea where I am or where I’m going or how much time has passed.

I’m wheeled into surgical ICU. WTF? The nurse is on the wall phone to the day surgery unit, bla bla status asthmaticus. WOah lady! The anesthesiologist is still with me and is the one telling me what the heck is happening. He says that I stopped breathing (or failed to start breathing on my own) when they extubated me and that my asthma is currently out of control (ok, duh). I’m on continuous nebs, apparently. Oy. I’m incredibly clamped up and it’s not getting in, and I’m stuck on CPAP. HELL. My body begins to relax and I conk out again. I dunno what happened here but I woke up later.

My mama came to see me a few minutes later, and I was off ventilation and onto the paeds ward by (late) bedtime. So much for DAY SURGERY! Note: this was not the children’s hospital that I had come to know and sort-of love. At this point, I was not liking the adult hospital.

The surgeon came around in the morning and said he had never seen anything like that and that he never has problems with asthma patients. Um, sorry? I didn’t mean to? That was the last time I saw him. A nice paediatrician took over, but he didn’t let me go home that day. Or the next for that matter. My lungs were so noisy that I was sent for Xrays. No pneumonia thankfully, just post-surgical gurgle-wheezes.

Gah! All this for a tonsillectomy? Was it really worth it? On day 4 I got to go home. In the hospital, I was so sick from the asthma attack and also probably very drugged and I forgot all about my tonsils, I didn’t feel any pain while I was there. The nurses kept giving me these delicious honeydew popsicles thinking my throat must be agony. When I got home though, man was I in pain. On day 7, I finally went to see my doctor just to check in, who discovered I had massive abscesses where my tonsils used to be. Somewhere in the mix I acquired a yucky infection. Kaibosh the amoxicillin and bring out the clavulin. Unfortunately, clavulin makes me break out into a burning rash.

Again, WTF? I think that everything that could have gone wrong with this surgery did go wrong. Well, I suppose that the surgeon could have dropped a scalpel down my throat, or cut out my tongue by accident.

2 weeks later I went back to school and my energy started to come back although I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had a brick strapped to my chest. It literally took me until summer to start breathing easier.

All this can be summarized by what my MedicAlert bracelet now says:


Caution with General Anesthetics

Allergic: Clavulin

(I personally think that “caution” is a bit of a gentle term. I would personally put “avoid at all costs!”) I hope my appendix never craps out on me or I’m screwed.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged: Asthma, asthma attack, childhood, doctors, hospital, lungs
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