How to Help Your Child (and You) Survive the Week Following Their Tonsillectomy /Adenoidectomy
Educate yourself before the procedure. You are going to hear that it's "routine" and that your kid is going to be "just fine". After that, you will hear stories about when that person had a tonsillectomy of their own and how it was the most horrifying experience. The story they tell will not jive with the "oh he'll be fine" attitude. So scrap whatever they say and instead listen to me. They will be fine. But it is gonna take a good long week of sucking to get there. Be prepared.
Take time off to allow for a week of doing nothing. Clear your calendar because your kid is gonna need you and they will be too tired and hurty to be schlepped around.
Pack your freezer with frozen yummies and stock the fridge with applesauce, yogurt and juices. Now is not the time to be concerned about a balanced diet, you just have to keep them swallowing and drinking for several days. So variety is key.
Consider family meals for the week and how you can make them so that everyone can eat. On the first day, Mr. Pants saw Daddy eating a bag of Sun Chips and he started to cry because he wanted them. This was a light bulb moment for us. We needed to be sensitive to that this week. So for the rest of the week we have all eaten soft, mushy foods. Tonight (day five) was Pasta Carbonara. I made sure the pasta was cooked very well (too well?) and added a little bit too much olive oil so it slid down the throat, I over steamed the peas and broccoli, I minced the bacon into nothingness and I microwaved "garlic" bread so that it was mushy wet bread. Sounds gross right? Well, it kind of was but we all ate the same dinner and no one was left out.
If you have to stay in the hospital overnight...
Pack well. Bring things to do, movies to watch, games to play. I cannot think of a more boring place for a three year old than a hospital room.
Do everything in your power to get the hell out of there the very second you know your kid is ok enough to go home. I'm not dissing hospitals. But man, there is no such thing as actual rest there. At least not when you are three years old and being prodded every few hours. The nurses were very kind to our boy but the fact is well, he's three and hyposensitive. Which as it turns out can go all crazy wonky and become hypersensitive when you add anesthesia, surgery, the unknown and morphine. Anyone touching him produced heart exploding fear. And in hospitals they just don't stop touching you. So get the hell out of Dodge the second you can.
Also prepare your heart.
They will not be their normal self. They may even be angry with you or push you away at times. This could make you feel like the worst mother on the face of the planet. Don't let it. And don't be angry at them for it. Little people need to feel some form of control over their tiny lives and having surgery uniformly takes that away from them. So when they insist on wearing the one pair of dirty underwear among the twenty pairs of clean underwear, maybe just let them. Because they just want to have a say. And Mater underwear makes things better. Note to self: buy more Mater underwear. Ew.
Use the pain medication.
Don't fall behind on this. This is crucial. There is a reason they give you narcotics. Keep the medicine on schedule for the first three days, then if your child is doing well start stretching that out or replacing a dose with regular Tylenol. But just don't mess with it until after day three because...
Day three is the hardest day.
This is the day that scabs start to form in the throat and it suuuucks. So until you are past day three, don't mess with the pain medication schedule. But here's the thing. Narcotics have a nasty side effect. They constipate. So...
Learn from my mistakes.
Be proactive. Encourage pear or prune juice from day one. Use flax oil in their soft food. I wish I had done this before it was too late. It's a kick in the teeth to be constipated on top of everything else. I wish I could go back and have a re-do on that one.
Cut yourself some slack.
Now is not the time to kick your own ass over perceived failures. Hold the line. You can do this. Remember that this will end and that your child needed this surgery because he couldn't breathe. Um, wait, I think I'm just talking to myself on this one. Ok Mama Pants, quit giving yourself a pep talk on the internet and go listen to the sound of your baby breathing through his nose and not snoring. Delight in the awesome-ness of no more obstructive sleep apnea. I'm still doing it, aren't I? Well anyway...
Do not freak out when...
You realize that the foul smell you've been wondering about all day long is actually your sweet lamb's breath. Do not assume that their throat is gangrenous. They are not, repeat NOT, rotting. It is normal. Your kids breath will knock you out. I mean, it's seriously the grossest thing ever. Oh my God.
(PS: Oh. My. God.)
Get them out into some sun and buy them presents.
This will make both of you feel better. Day five just might be the right day for this. But keep it brief. Your little person is very tired. Twenty minutes in the store and they very well could be ready for a nap.
Beware the day five, six or seven backslide.
After you get hopeful that you are firmly in the getting better catagory, there will be a slight backslide. This is because the scabs that formed over the walls of the throat on day three-ish are now falling off and leaving the throat raw. This would be a great time to go back to the popcicle and ice cream diet.
Love them and play with them and cuddle them and never let them go.
Well at least until they look you in the eye and say, "Go out, mama. It's my room". This may be an indicator that you are smothering them. Don't take it personally. They still love you. Sniff sniff.