Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Operation Remove Those Tonsils

(Sam posing with the tray of food he pulled together all by himself when he heard John had strep throat...because when your throat is on fire you really want celery and pretzel sticks.)

A common question John and I are asked is, "How is Sam sleeping these days?" For the past year or so our knee-jerk response has been, "Great!" But everything is relative, and it wasn't until this March that it dawned on me that perhaps Sam wasn't sleeping "great", perhaps we were just glad to only be woken up once a night instead of five times a night. 

A typical week of sleep for Sam consists of three uninterrupted nights, three nights of getting up once, and a night where he awakens twice. He wakes up during classic asthma times (1-4 am) and is often snoring and sweating profusely (as in sheets so wet you have to change the bed). There are other less than pleasant symptoms as well. Since December of 2010 Sam has only had five consecutive nights of uninterrupted sleep.

After a few more appointments and changes in medication we are pulling the trigger and removing his tonsils and adenoids tomorrow morning at Peyton Manning Hospital.** He has been officially diagnosed with an obstructed airway disorder which means removing the tonsils and adenoids will give him more breathing space. That's the hope, at least.

Thankfully, surgery is scheduled for early in the morning. Sam is excited about the ice cream, nervous about his "swallow hurting", giggly that he has to wear a "girl gown", and greatly relieved he's not going in for another sleep study. I don't know how many times he's told me, "I will go to the hospital and I will ride in the wagon, but I will NOT do another sleep study." Deal.

So, any advice on keeping a 4-year-old comfortable after a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy? I've been told to plan on a 2-week recovery.

Consider your advice solicited!

**For those of you who are curious, we are looking into the possibility of Sam getting what's known as the "intracapsular technique" which is a less invasive way of removing the tonsils. We won't know until tomorrow whether or not he can go this route or will need to do the more traditional procedure.


π² said...

I had a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy as a child, but don't remember exactly what my parents did for me. I don't remember it being a bad experience though. I've contacted my mom (who is also an RN), and she should be posting something for you later.

Anonymous said...

Isaiah had his tonsils out at age 4 and did totally fine. He was sick the first day, but handled it well. He got tons and tons of ice cream and popscicles from well-wishers which made it worthwhile to him. :) We sort of took it easy for a couple of weeks but nothing major.

π² said...

My mom never posted on a blog before, so she emailed this to me to pass along. My commentary is [bracketed].

The problem with adenoids and tonsils and asthma is that the meds that work to keep the adenoids open, constrict the alveoli of the lungs. The main problem Paul had was that the anesthesia took several days to get out of his system and he had a lot of vomiting as a result. There was a real potential of dehydration. Now they have better meds to help with the vomiting if the doctor sees that is necessary. [My surgery was in the 1970s.] As he was healing, he had a problem keeping foods (especially liquids) going down. If he sneezed or coughed with anything in his mouth, it would come out of his nose [I remember that]. After his sinuses healed, this was less of a problem [Not a problem at all now]. Some children have bleeding after surgery. A little bleeding is expected but if it slows down and then returns and is bright red, be sure to call the doctor. Paul did not have this problem but some kids do. Watch for fever over 101, and call the doctor for any concerns.

The newer asthma meds are so much better than those we had when my son was a baby [I agree with that. The stuff I take now actually works to prevent attacks rather than reduce symptoms]. They keep the alveoli from becoming damaged if they are taken as prescribed. It is easier to prevent an asthma attack than all the complications that can come if one happens. When Paul got older, the aerobic exercises like running really helped to build lung compliance [I think she meant "capacity" instead compliance, but I'm not sure]. [Running cross-country and eating local raw honey eventually got me off the meds, until I moved to Sacramento and was now exposed to different pollen, but still no attacks as long as I stay on the Asthmanex.]