Road to Recovery- Pt. 1

So the dreaded day finally arrived. I’ve been resisting the idea of getting my tonsils removed for quite some time now, but considering that I’d gotten chronic tonsillitis five times over the past two years, I decided it was time to bite the bullet (so to speak). In January I went to see the surgeon, and we scheduled the surgery for March 24th (yesterday).

Mom came up to stay with me and take me to the hospital. Monday evening we drove around Boston, and I got to show her BU’s campus, and the building where I’ll be spending the majority of my next two years. We poked around the neighborhood for a little while, tried not to hit parked cars while maneuvering amidst the cramped streets, and even did a drive-by of the apartment building I’m really interested in. Once we’d exhausted the sightseeing, we headed back to JP and drove over to the Alchemist for my ‘last meal.’ I was joking that the choice of locale for dinner would be really important, because I wouldn’t be able to eat anything normal for quite some time. Honestly, I’d probably have preferred Indian food, but I thought it might not sit in my stomach too well.

We each had a lovely meal at the Alchemist– asparagus, mashed potatoes, and steak tips for me, and pesto penne with chicken for Mom. A few glasses of wine later and our bellies full, we went home, watched some NCIS and Law & Order, and went to sleep early.

I’m one of those people who, if I know I need to be awake for something in particular, will wake up every hour to check the time, even if I know there is an alarm set. So after going to bed around 10, I woke up every hour until 4:45 AM. My alarm was set for 5:10, but I couldn’t get back to sleep so I just got up and started getting ready. The hospital recommends that you wear loose, comfortable clothing, so I pulled on some sweats, a t-shirt and my sweatshirt. We did a last-minute rundown of everything we needed to take with us, and then we drove over to the Brigham. At that hour there was practically no traffic (unheard of!) so we made it well in advance of our 6 AM scheduled arrival.

Once we reached the Day Surgery waiting area, I checked in and then settled in to wait. Right around this time, I started getting very nervous. I’ve never had any surgery before except for my wisdom teeth, and I will definitely admit to thinking how bad it would be if I were to just jump up and declare that I didn’t want to have my surgery anymore…. “I’m keeping my tonsils with me! These little gobs of bacteria aren’t going anywhere, buddy!” … but no, I meekly sat and waited until my name was called, and then followed the nurse to the pre-op prep room.

I was led to a small corner of the room, which was partitioned into roughly 10 changing and waiting areas, complete with hospital beds, IV drips, and computer monitors. The nurse gave me two plastic bags for my clothes, a hospital gown, and orders to strip completely. I also got a pair of beige totes to keep my feet warm. I disrobed, packed everything off, and settled down to wait with Mom. It was pretty busy, with tons of people coming in and out! Matt the anesthesiologist came by to inform me how that would happen, and I was visited by two other nurses to confirm my medical history and schedule procedure. I was also visited by Jeff, the surgical assistant, and my surgeon Dr. Saxon. At this point I was reassured by everyone and how nice they were, but I was definitely getting more and more nervous. As I was hooked up to the IV, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if the anesthesia didn’t work and I was still awake as they started to cut into me… or what would happen if I didn’t wake up… or what if I had an unknown reaction to the anesthesia and something went terribly wrong…

But before I could properly allow these fears to run rampant, I was given a cap for my hair and Matt took me on a wild bed ride through the corridors of the pre-op wing. I guess the anesthesia must have started to kick in, because I remember entering the operating room, being shifted to the operating table, and then… lights out. The next thing I knew I was lying in a different room and staring at yet another nurse who told me the operation had gone just fine. I was instructed to breathe deeply into the oxygen mask over my nose, but I was having problems breathing– I could breathe in through my nose just fine, but I couldn’t breathe out unless I breathed out through my nose. They poked and prodded, and told me it was nothing to worry about.

I drifted in and out of consciousness for a while, and then I was moved to a rolling chair version of my hospital bed, and transferred a few feet away to a different corner. Here I was tucked in with a warm blanket, given a cup with crushed ice and a spoon, and reunited with Mom. I was also given the first of my drug doses, and surprisingly enough I felt pretty good. Another nurse, Donna, sat with us and ran through all the instructions for the medicine and care I would need in the next week or two. She was pretty impressed with how well I was doing. (I was impressed, too). It actually didn’t seem that bad; the only issue I had was a buildup of mucus in my throat that I was too afraid to cough out for fear of disturbing the stitches.

After some time, I was pronounced ready to be released, and given the option of having a wheelchair take me or walk out myself. I chose to walk, even though I was feeling a little unsteady on my feet still. We gathered up all my prescriptions and took off. After running around to three different pharmacies to find the medicine I needed, Mom was finally able to get everything I needed, and we returned home.

It hurt a lot to swallow, but after I took the next dose of my pain medication it wasn’t so bad. I was advised not to talk very much so I could rest my throat. We ended up having a light dinner, continuing our crime show marathon, and started watching Godfather II. I think both of us were pretty beat, because we couldn’t keep our eyes open and had to abandon the movie to go to bed early.

During the night I again woke up every hour, but this time it was due to a severe case of dry mouth. When I got up this morning, my throat hurt a lot more than it had yesterday, and my neck and chest muscles were sore as well. However, it was no worse than what I had experienced with my strep outbreaks (before getting on medication), so I was actually pretty relieved. The pain medication is also a huge help, because it lets me swallow with minimal pain. It is also VERY strong and makes me very drowsy and tipsy-feeling.

In any case, I was feeling pretty good (all things considered) so Mom left around 1:30 pm, and I’ve been spending the day reading and napping. Here’s hoping that I won’t suddenly feel a lot worse tomorrow.

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