Two months ago, my kids ages 4 and 2, were scheduled to have a tonsillectomy. Both had enlarged tonsils, also known as, tonsillar hypertrophy and it was interfering with their breathing. My son tremendously. After a lot of thought and discussion with my husband, we decided to move forward with the surgery. We chose to do what we thought was best for our children’s health.
After we got the green light for the surgery, I found myself constantly online searching for information about the procedure. Although the surgeon talked to me about it, reassured me how many times he conducted this surgery, shared all the success stories and benefits, I was still looking for some comforting information on what to REALLY expect. I was specifically looking for an article or a blog written from someone who went through the same thing and shared their understanding.
Lo and Behold!
To my great surprise, I came across this article by a mother named Meredith, “Practical Mom Tips When Your Child Has A Tonsillectomy” I was in the same boast as she was when she was desperately looking for mom advice from actual parents that experienced this serious but common surgery. She offered practical advice from her point of view because she’s been there and done that. Reading her article put my mind at ease and prepared me in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Her article was dated back in 2014 and there I was in 2019 looking for more relevant information regarding this topic. There are many articles written about this operation, yet very little articles of other parents sharing their personal experience.
Tonsillectomy is a common surgery and many kids are getting them removed quite a bit. As a mom who went through this recently, I want to piggy back off of Meredith’s Mom tips while sharing my very own practical advice on how we all managed through the procedure.
I’m sure there will be another mom (or dad) searching the internet looking for tips to survive this. I am sharing this in hopes that my tips added on with Meredith’s will help guide the next mom or dad through this scary, but beneficial process.
Below you will find tips from myself and from Meredith’s article. I quoted her advice but shared my experience from my own point of view.
1. First thing first: PRAY
I am a firm believer in prayer, and it does work when you truly and 100% believe without any doubt. I prayed for guidance and wisdom. I prayed for the surgeon and his entire staff of nurses that will be caring for my children before, during and post-surgery. I even prayed with my kids and had them repeat their own prayer for a safe, successful and fearless surgery. For those of you who may not know how to pray or what to pray, click the link HERE to find a few prayers before surgery to help comfort you.
2. Talk with your child.
Depending on the age of your child this may not be necessary. However, my daughter is 4 and my son is 2. I sat them down and had a one-on-one chat with them about the surgery. I went into details and explained to them what the doctor had explained to me. I talked about the anesthesia. I told them they will get medicine that will make them take a nap during the procedure. I told them that the doctor was going to use a special tool and cut out their tonsils and afterwards that they will feel pain. Then I explained the benefits: they will breath, eat and talk better. Lastly, I asked if they had any questions or comments. Now, I know my son is only 2 and may not have processed everything that was said to him, but the kid still has ears and he heard everything that I said, at least. My daughter on the other hand, is very smart and mature for her age. She listened very carefully as I explained everything. Initially she cried when she heard the cutting part, but her question and response were:
- Are they going to use scissors to cut them out?
- I do want to talk better.
Never undermine your children. You never know what they may understand. I am the type of parent that will tell them the truth straight up. No sugar coating anything. It’s best they find out information from me than someone on the streets or a crazy friend.
3. Meredith: “You will cry no matter how strong you are.”
Yes, this is the truth. My son and daughter were scheduled on the same day for their surgery. During the preoperative evaluation, the anesthesiologist noticed that my son had a lingering cold. They decided to postpone his surgery for another day, so that left my daughter continuing the surgery by herself. I was disappointed because I wanted them to have it done at the same time to get it over with. Also, I wanted them to lean on one another for support through the healing process. They allowed both parents to go back to the operating room and stay with your child until they fell asleep, but only one of us could go since my son was there. We decided that I would go with her to the back, while my husband stayed with our son.
I was given scrubs to put on and as I was dressing myself, the nurse suggested that I let her use my phone to distract her from entering the OR. I did. And off we went. I followed closely behind as they wheeled her down the bright hallways into the OR. The anesthesiologist asked me to pick her up and let her sit in my lap as they placed the mask on her face to distribute the medicine. It was a crowd of health care professionals standing around us as I sat there holding her closely. She looked at me and in seconds her eyes rolled to the back of her head and her body started to tremble as if she was trying to fight from falling asleep. I must have had a look of concern on my face because the anesthesiologist reassured me that it’s normal for kids to react that way once given the medicine. Then I kissed her on her forehead and the nurse took her from me and laid her limped body on the bed.
THAT SHOOK ME!
Soon after they walked me out of the OR. As I made my way down the long hallway back to the pre-op room where my husband and son were patiently waiting, I couldn’t hold it in no more.
I burst into tears!!!
My husband was shocked to see me bawling and immediately walked over and gave me a hug. He assured me that it was going to be okay and that she will be fine. When I realized that my son was watching me, I had to get myself together quickly because I remembered that he had to come back for his, and I didn’t want to scare or worry him. Now don’t get me wrong. I said my prayer and believed God that the surgery was going to be successful and she have a quick recovery, but I am still human and it’s okay to cry. I cried, but I didn’t cry for long.
A month later we had to go back with my son. This time I let my husband lead the way. We followed close behind my son’s hospital bed to the OR. I felt a bit stronger after having the first experience with my daughter. I figured I handled him way better. It was my husband’s first time experiencing what I already had. They did my son slightly different, I’m thinking because of his age. They had huge flat screen TVs all over the OR room and there was a visual of an aquarium on the screens. They were trying to divert his attention to the screen asking him can he point out the blue fish. Yet, he was more interested in the bright lights and the many health care staff that surrounded him. They already moved him from his preop bed on to the surgery bed and laid him down on his back. When it was time for his anesthesia, my son fought. My husband had to step in along with another nurse to hold his strong 2-year-old body down.
THAT BROKE ME, BUT I didn’t cry.
My husband handled it very well, or at least he hid his emotions very well. Just know that if you do cry, it’s okay. Just don’t do it for too long.
4. Meredith: “Take their favorite toy to the hospital.”
Meredith suggested that you should take your child’s favorite toy to the hospital. That’s a great idea. Even the nursing staff suggested the same to me (stuffed animal or even a favorite blanket) with them when they were preparing us for surgery. However, the hospital that my children attended had a toy closet. I packed my kids favorite stuffed animal, but they completely forgot about it once they went inside the toy closet and picked out a toy to play with until surgery time.
However, the hospital that you may be taking your children to may not have a toy closet. So be sure to remember to pack something that will make them feel as comfortable as possible, or even remind them of home.
5. Stock up on popsicles and juice.
I bought lots of popsicles, Jell-O, ice cream, apple sauce, and juice, primarily apple. However, my kids are very picky eaters and surprisingly only ate the popsicles and drunk the apple juice. The other items I still have stored in my cabinets. Lol But according to the meal plan after the surgery, lots of cold beverages and soft foods. Cold beverages will help sooth the sore throat. Popsicles for kids are the best option, at least for mine it was.
6. Distribute the pain medicine like clockwork
Both my kids were prescribed ibuprofen, Children’s Acetaminophen and oxycodone. We were given specific instructions on how to give the medication and to only use the oxycodone if the pain was very extreme. We gave the medicine every 6 hours like clockwork, which helped manage the pain. The moment that we missed a time is when they experienced pain. Also, around day 7, (Meredith mentioned this too) and I also researched that, between the 5th and 10th day that your child will experience the most pain. Why is that? Because the scabs from the tonsil removal starts to shed and that causes pain. Both my kids experienced some serious pain around the same time, and we gave them the oxycodone a few times, but primarily used the acetaminophen. So be sure to stay on a regular schedule with the medication. Set a timer to remind yourself if you have too. It’ll help.
7. Meredith: “Kids manifest pain differently.”
Honestly, I learned something about my kids after this surgery. That they are very strong and handled the pain for the most part very well. I was expecting them to be in excruciating pain and was awaiting a long week of sleepless nights ahead. But I was wrong. I often looked at my daughter trying to see if her throat was paining her because she wasn’t saying anything to me. But immediately after surgery in the recovery room she was asking for chips and that she wanted to play. I had to explain to her that she couldn’t have chips and that she will have quiet time to play once she was discharged from the hospital. When we got home, she asked for pancakes. Pancakes was a food that was on the “okay list” to eat after the surgery and she ate three. She ate solid foods the entire time during her healing process. I promise you she went through her days as if she never even had surgery. I was very impressed with her resilience.
The same was for my son. He had to stay overnight to be monitored because of his age, but when he came home from the hospital, he was welcomed by all his cousins and begin to play as if he never had surgery. When he did feel pain, of course he cried and threw a few tantrums and was a bit irritated but, for the most part he handled the surgery well and I was the one still asking a million questions a day to see if his throat was hurting him. Be attentive to your child and his/her needs and make sure that you can decipher the pain they may feel.
8. Meredith: “It’s and up and down roller coaster ride.”
This is also true. Although, I believe, for the most part, my kids handled the surgery extremely well even through the days that they weren’t so strong, they were still themselves up until they felt that pain, but once they took the medicine, they went back to normal and played and ate their regular food. I give most of my thanks to God because I prayed, their father prayed, my mother, father, siblings, aunties, uncles and grandma all prayed for them. And this is the main reason I believe that they were so strong because the strength came from God. There’s no other explanation.
I am very happy that we went through the surgery. I think we made the best decision for them. They no longer snore and my son, who’s tonsils were so huge that they were blocking his airway causing him to stop breathing during periods of sleep, sleeps peacefully. They both are talking a lot more and eating. Well, my son is slowly coming around with eating as he is an extreme picky eater and likes to snack all day. Overall, this was a good experience for all of us and I’m glad my kids are better.
FYI: I am not a healthcare professional, so please do not accept these tips as real medical advice. Seek information, questions, or concerns with your child’s pediatrician. This is advice from mothers who have went through this experience and wanted to share real life examples on how to get through it. Thanks for reading.
IF YOU LIKE THIS POST OR SOME OF THE MOM ADVICE HELPED YOU, PLEASE LIKE AND SHARE. ALSO, COMMENT BELOW YOUR EXPERIENCE IF ANY WITH THIS SURGERY WITH YOUR KIDS.