My 6 year old son recently had his tonsils and adenoids removed. I knew there would be some
pain involved but I was totally unprepared for our week and a half recovery. So I am going to share my experience to give other parents the info they need to be prepared for their child's recovery after a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.
The first 24 hours my son was in the hospital and he stayed in bed watching TV. He was allowed a clear liquid diet so he ate popsicles and Sprite. He experienced a lot of pain so he was given pain medicine every 4 hours. They also kept the IV in his arm to keep him hydrated. My son had a rough night sleeping as the surgery made his throat swell so he was waking up every hour due to his sleep apnea. He also had a pulse meter hooked up to him at night time to monitor his sleep apnea.
We then went home the day after surgery. My son was still in a lot of pain so I tried to give him his pain medicine every 6 hours. The doctor said to alternate with acetaminophen and ibuprofen, but I found that the ibuprofen worked best.So buy at least 2 bottles of pain medicine and try to give the next dose before the other one wears off or it will be hard to get the next dose in due to pain.. My son needed his medicine about every 6 hours. We went through 3 bottles of medicine. My son had a hard time swallowing the first week so taking the medicine was hard but we just did it slowly. I also discovered a humidifier helped with his pain. In the recovery area at the hospital they used tubing with moist oxygen in which they place near his mouth. Ask the nurse if you can take that tubing home to use with your humidifier. I did not so I bought a toy from the dollar store, you know the one you spin and it makes noise, and put that in my humidifier. The moist air helped my son be able to take his medicine, I simply put the tube near his mouth, about 6 inches away. My son needed pain medicine around the clock for the first week and then less the following week. We are on day 12 of his recovery and he is not needing pain medicine anymore.
The doctor said my son needed to rest for a week after the surgery. I made a bed for my son in the family room and he just watched TV the whole week. Don't plan on taking your child anywhere the first week. They just had surgery and you don' want them near people with colds. I also found sleeping in the same room with him made things was easier so I could tend to his pain medicine schedule. So I slept on the couch while my son slept on a crib mattress on the family room floor. I set my alarm clock every night to give him his pain medicine. After the first week, your child may have more activity but no exercise for another week, as their throat is still healing. The doctor also said no swimming for at least 3 weeks as the pressure of the water can break open the areas in the throat. My son will have a follow up appointment 3 weeks after his surgery and if all looks good he will be allow to swim.
The first week after the surgery all my son wanted was jello, pudding, and soda. He said everything else hurt too much to eat. I did get a couple of fruit smoothies in him, if they were at room temperature. A soft diet is recommended the first week and by week two they can eat normal foods. They just have to avoid things that will scratch their throat like crackers, nuts, and raw veggies. My son is now on week two and he is now eating pasta, oatmeal, bread, milk and blueberries. He says cold things still hurt to eat. Here is a great list of items to stock up for after surgery.
+ ice cream
+ mac and cheese
+ items to make smoothies
When to call the doctor
My doctor said to call them if my son had a high fever or any blood from the throat. We did have one episode that required a call to the doctor. My son started coughing on day 4 and a lot of blood came out. The doctor said to rinse his mouth with cold water and thank goodness it stopped bleeding. The doctor said to go to the emergency room if it started to bleed again and did not stop with cold water. That would require surgery again to sew up the area again. It is rare but it does happen. Thank goodness, my son did not bleed again.
The first week was rough for my son. He was in a lot of pain and had trouble swallowing. He also had symptoms of his sleep apnea as everything was swollen from the surgery. We are into week two and my son is sleeping wonderfully, no symptoms of sleep apnea. I was thrilled to see him breath through his nose while he slept, something he had not done for a long time. He does not ask for any pain medicine. I know that it can take up to 6 weeks for his throat to heal so I still have pain medicine on hand. I am also going to keep him a soft food diet until his 3 week checkup as I don't want the throat area to bleed.
Here are my other posts on my son's experience with why he needed the surgery and what to expect during surgery and the hospital stay.