My ten-year-old recently had her tonsils and adenoids removed, and let me tell you, it’s no walk in the park – for child and mama. She was the first in our family to have the surgery – her three younger brothers had tubes put in as babies, but no one had needed a tonsillectomy until now.
Despite all the movies, all the friend’s warnings, and what the ENT doctor said (love Dr. Mair from Charlotte Eye Ear Nose and Throat!), I didn’t really think through how jostling the surgery would be to everyday life – hers and mine. It seems so common for kids to get the surgery – plus it’s outpatient and barely takes up a morning. I just didn’t prepare mentally for what the couple of weeks after surgery would look like – it’s not horrible, but it definitely takes planning.
If one of your kids is prepping for the surgery, take these tips as what they are: little tips based SOLELY on our experience. I am not an MD; I am not a nurse. My daughter and I worked on this together – we are just a mom who took care of a ten-year-old AND a ten-year-old!
The week before the surgery make sure to stock up on:
– Different kids of liquids – Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water, bottled water, etc.. My daughter ended up only drinking water but it’s good to have more variety on hand just in case.
– Bendable straws
– Ice cream, Popsicles or sherbert (although my daughter didn’t want anything to do with these things when the time came to eat them!).
– Small pasta (like the alphabet pasta, mini stars or orzo). Buttery noodles were the only thing my daughter wanted to eat for a week post surgery and the small pasta shapes were easy to eat.
– GoGurt yogurt tubes, applesauce pouches, and fruit pouches.
– Advil and Tylenol
My daughter’s advice:
– Go out to a big dinner with all of your favorite foods.
– Get a back pillow – you know those things your mom used in college? Super helpful when you’re lying in bed.
On surgery day make sure to:
– Bring a sweater for yourself because it might be freezing in the waiting room.
– Ask for (or maybe demand) anti-nausea medicine because some kids do not react well to anesthesia.
– Line up playdates or childcare for your other kids. Surgery takes most of the morning, and you won’t want to deal with a bunch of other screaming kids when you bring the patient home. Same goes for the days after the surgery – especially if surgery is close to a weekend and you are looking at entertaining your other kids AND nursing a patient back to health.
– Make dinner for the next few nights ahead of time or beg friends to act like you just had a baby so they’ll bring casseroles. My daughter didn’t want me to leave her side for days after the surgery, and I remember telling my husband how nice it would be if dinner was delivered to us.
– Rent movies, subscribe to Netflix, or DVR your favorite shows. There will be a LOT of TV watching. We watched so many episodes of “Fixer Upper” on TV, this surgery is going to cost my husband WAY more in “uninsured” Home Goods purchases I was inspired to buy after watching countless hours of other people’s dream home decor.
My daughter’s advice:
– Bring your favorite stuffed animal.
– Don’t plan to eat for at least two hours after surgery.
– Make a bed on the couch and get comfortable.
Post-Surgery make sure to:
– Do EVERYTHING the doctor says to do – they’ve got this down to a science (no pun intended).
– Stay ahead of the pain.
– Keep a journal of when you give medicine and what medicine you give. Trust me – it’s impossible to remember if you gave acetaminophen or ibuprofen last when it’s 3 AM. I kept a notebook and it saved my life (and I guess hers, too, because there’s no telling what I would’ve given her had I not written it down).
– Close your nose around Day 5 or so. Your child will have the breath of a dragon. Disgusting.
– Expect it to get better, then worse, then better. Days #11-13 were the worst for us. I’ve heard some people say #9-11 were bad or #2-3 were bad for them. Our rough patch was bad, but now it’s like it never happened. Truly amazing.
My daughter’s advice:
– You might want pizza, nachos, and Bagel Bites, but trust me – you don’t want to try them.
– Expect Popsicles for dinner.
– You might want to go back to all of your favorite activities, but you can’t. Just rest!
Good luck to all those headed to surgery soon – add your tips in the Comment section below! We want to hear them!
We had this surgery x2 as well a few years back. Great tips. I will emphasize – this is a DOOZIE, not life-threatening, but a tough one. If you don’t follow doctor’s strict orders (like rest), then you could have hemorraging. Big deal. We too were surprised at the recovery time. No walk in the park. But after it’s all over, you’ll be glad you did it.
My little guy did amazingly well compared to some of the stories I have heard, we were quite lucky, and your points are right on. We did have nausea after so we were at the hospital for longer than anticipated and the first two nights I slept in his room on a blow up mattress and set my alarm every 3 hours to give him pain medicine, were alternating tylenol and motrin and that seemed to do the trick. I pulled up all the doses and labeled them before we went to sleep and had my checklist of meds so I would just double check which one was due when the alarm went off, he would barely wake up to take it and then went right back to sleep. Having extra help around is also good, my husband was out of town so having family and friends bringing food over was terrific help!
Great advice! Thank you..I will certainly print your suggestions. BOTH of my daughters are getting tonsillectomies at the end of October. Dr. Caldwell at Charlotte ENT will be performing their surgery. My girls are upset that we have it scheduled the week before Halloween. Fingers crossed they can go trick or treating. I also plan to make the holiday special for them at home if they are up for it. Any other advice? Since we are having two…should I have family come in to town to help even thought my husband works 5 minutes away?
Any other suggestions are greatly appreciated!
Hey Jaime! I bet they’ll be able to trick or treat but they probably won’t be able to eat much candy for another week or so! I would just prep them for that so they’re not disappointed! 😉 I SO wish I did two of mine at once – I think my little guy is going to need it too – but I just didn’t organize myself well enough. I would say to at least get a friend to be on call in case you need anything from the store – my husband worked from home on surgery day and the day after, and it was really helpful to have someone there who could run out to get something. My daughter didn’t want me to leave her side! If you have any other kids at home, I would definitely schedule playdates so you can just be a nurse to the two patients AND I would have meals prepped ahead of time! I think you’re totally smart for getting two knocked out at once. GOOD LUCK!
Such great tips, Cheryl! With regards to the medicine, a notebook is such a great idea! Another one (and this is also great for people who have to give/take Rx medications for themselves, kids…pets!) Take a plain, white sticker label (cut to the length size of your Rx bottle). Write Mon, Tues, Wed etc…lengthwise down the label, then am – pm across the top. Stick it on the back of the bottle, and tape a pen or pencil to the lid, then every time you give them the medication, just cross or check it off! Mon AM…check! Or, if it’s every 4 hours etc…, just adjust it to what times they need the medication. You’ll never wonder if you took or gave the medicine again. It really comes in handy when you have multiple people administering the medication :o)
Love that, Cynthia!!!
It’s Jaime from the Cradle. Great idea about labeling the bottle. Thanks for the suggestion:)
Wish my luck with the girls!
And Cheryl…it’s only the two of them, so no child watch will not be needed…thanks for the heads up though! May have my mom come down from NJ to help me cuddle the girls:)
You’re sweet little girls picture definitely made my girls ‘excited’ for the big day. We REALLY REALLY appreciate all of your suggestions!
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