When I Had My Tonsils Out

**WARNING** This post contains pictures and descriptions of blood, hospitals and other situations that some people may find disturbing.

All my life I have suffered with tonsilitis. When I was younger, I would get it every couple of months but as I grew older it would happen more often and get worse every time. When I was 21, I decided that it was finally time to get my tonsils out. I had enquired about getting them out before but between school, college and moving every couple of years it never fell in the right time.

I visited my local GP to talk about my issues and was asked how often I had tonsilitis. When I told her it was almost every month, she immediately referred me to get the surgery. To help my case though, I had to make sure I visited the doctors every time I got ill so there was a record of the frequency of my infections. A couple of weeks later I had an appointment to visit my local hospital for a check up before getting a surgery date. I had blood works done, a urine test and a general physical. A week or two after that I received a phone call telling me the waiting list for surgeries is long but as I was getting sick all the time, I was referred to a private hospital in Glasgow instead. I had to visit the private hospital for another check up and to sort out the paperwork for my stay. I was obviously informed of the risks, recovery and details of the surgery and asked if I was still ok with going though with it. To me, getting your tonsils out was a minor thing that most people had done as a child so it didn’t seem like such a big deal, even if I was informed that the risks where higher for adults and the recovery was harder.

On the day of my surgery, my mum and sister drove me to the hospital. I was astonished at how different the experience in a private hospital was. I have had surgery previously, but it was in a general hospital. I was shown by a nurse to my private room that had a TV, en-suite, wardrobe, large windows, very comfy bed and plush chairs for guests. I was given my gown and compression socks to change into and a nurse visited me to get me to sign some paperwork and talk through the surgery one more time. A little while later the nurse came to take me down and my mum and sister left. The hospital was so quiet and looked so different to any I had been in before. When I was taken down to the anaesthesia room, there were only 2-3 other patients waiting. A nurse came over to look at my paperwork, put some needles in my arms and hooked me up to some machines before asking me to breath deep while she put me under. I woke up with a very sore throat back in my room. The doctor came to talk to me about the surgery but it was hard to pay attention to him as I was so tired. I was brought a tray with coffee and toast with a large jug of water to have while I just chilled out and watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I was discharged a couple of hours later with a large bag of medication, a brochure about recovery and feeling very tired.

A while after getting home I started to feel a lot of pain, this was expected though as my medication was wearing off. I didn’t do much over the next couple of days except take pain meds that sent me straight to sleep. Whenever I was awake though, I found it hard to drink or eat and I was in a lot of pain. My face felt swollen and it felt like having tonsilitis but 10X worse. I had been told by some nurses that the recovery would hurt a lot and so I didn’t think anything was wrong. A week after my surgery I was feeling very sick and weird. My sister was at the cinema with her friend, my Dad was at an event and so I was having a movie night with my mum. In the middle of watching Harry Potter, I needed to spit in a cup as I found it hard to swallow and noticed that there where specks of blood. I was told if I started bleeding, I had to call an ambulance but it was only tiny specks and so we called the NHS helpline. They asked how much blood it was and suggested we go to the hospital, I put some clothes on over the top of my pjs and we drove to A&E.

When we got to A&E, the helpline had phoned ahead to let them know we where coming. It was a Saturday night so there were quite a few people there (some very drunk) but we just sat on those uncomfortable plastic chairs waiting for my turn. We sat waiting for well over an hour before being called into a small office where they took some details and then sent us back to the plastic chairs. I was very tired, in a lot of pain and starting to grow concerned that I had now been bleeding for over two hours. When I spat there was still only tiny specks but I would prefer there to not be any at all. Finally, I was called into the treatment area. It was small rooms separated by walls and curtains and I was put in the first treatment bay to wait for a doctor. I waited there for another hour or two before a doctor came to see me. She put come needles in my arm and took a look in my mouth. She confirmed I was bleeding and made me do a chemical gargle to stop it. After a few attempts, the bleeding stopped. I felt so relieved that it was over and it had not been any worse. I was told I would have to stay overnight for observation but needed to be moved to a different hospital and so I told my mum to go home and get some sleep while I waited for an ambulance to take me. Nurses came to check on me every once and a while and one told me all about how she also had her tonsils out at 21 and knew how painful it was while she basically tucked me in to get some sleep.

About 30 minuets after the last nurse came in, I felt like something was wrong. It felt like I had taken a swig of water and I started to choke a little on what I thought was saliva. I ran to the sink and spat out a mouthful of blood. My bleeding had started again but much worse and the pain was unbelievable. I panicked a little and ran to press the call button for a nurse. I spat out another mouthful of blood and decided to run to the reception area and shouted ‘I’m bleeding’ at one of the nurses, she asked me if that’s what I came in for and I nodded as blood started to come out of my mouth. I ran back to the stink to spit again and turned around to see 6 nurses all in the room. They guided me to my bed and wheeled me into the resuscitation room. I had never been so scared in my life. I asked them to call my mum while they started attaching me to machines and drips. They made me do the chemical gargle a couple of times and put an adrenalin swab at the back of my throat but I kept coughing it back up along with a lot of blood. After a minuet or two, I threw up pure blood all over myself. The nurses cut my clothes off and put a hospital gown on me. I spent the next three hours bleeding and throwing up. When my mum came in, she was crying and later told me that before she walked in a nurse told her to be strong as they don’t know what’s going to happen. I feel so bad my mum walked in on me like that with multiple buckets of my blood sat next to me. They called a doctor to come to the hospital that specialises in throat surgery and when he arrived, he confirmed that I would be going in for an emergency surgery. We had to wait another hour for an operation suite to become available and the nurses had to keep shaking me awake because I was exhausted. When it was finally time, I was wheeled straight into the operating suite and lifted onto the table. It was really weird because you are normally put under before you go into the room but I now lying under bright lights with a surgeon putting his gloves on next to me, it was like something out of the movies. I had to sign some paperwork quickly giving my permission to have a blood transplant if I needed before they put me under.

I woke up on an empty ward with two nurses. Not many people are waking up from surgery at 7am so it was very peaceful. The nurses sat talking to me asking how I felt and saying it was ok if I felt bad because I had been through a very stressful night. I honestly felt kind of numb to the whole situation and couldn’t believe what had just happened. I was told I was in that very unlucky 0.5% of people that have to have a second surgery after something so simple like getting your tonsils out. Even though you aren’t meant to have guests on the recovery ward, they went to get my mum. I felt a lot better having her there holding my hand. After a while I was moved to a privet room while I waited for an ambulance to transfer me to a different hospital. I was told I wasn’t allowed to stand up and so had to use a bed pan which was incredibly awkward but I hadn’t had the chance to pee in almost 12 hours so I had to go. Not long after, two paramedics came to take me to the other hospital, I was put on a stretcher and put in the ambulance. It was my first time in one and I’m in no hurry to get in one again. My mum drove to the other hospital in her car and was actually stood there waiting as they opened the doors to take me out. I was taken up to the ward where I shared a room with 4 other people. As it was a ward that specialised in throat issues I had to listen to a lot of coughing and wheezing. My mum stayed with me all day and my dad came as soon as he could bringing me some pjs, clothes and some things to entertain myself with. I had to stay overnight and most of the next day.

I was discharged with another big bag of medication and feeling even worse than the time before. I couldn’t walk very fast and the blood loss had left me pretty weak. When I got home, I think all of it hit me at once and I cried a little but I am incredibly lucky. A week later I had an appointment with my GP to check up on everything and make sure I was healing well. Turns out I had an infection in my tonsils that caused the bleeding and entered my blood stream. Once I finished my anti-biotics the pain was basically gone and I felt amazing compared to the previous couple of weeks. For a while after I felt tired and couldn’t do much but I was told that was just because of the amount of blood I lost.

This was honestly one of the scariest moments of my life, at one point while lying in resuscitation I felt like I was dying but I am so lucky I had some great people looking after me. This doesn’t happen to everyone and I don’t want someone to get sacred of having a surgery because of this, I just think it’s important to share stories like this so people have a true understanding of the risks. Even though all this happened, I have spent the past year not being sick all the time. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat over having tonsilitis constantly.

Thank you so much for reading! This post is about my personal experiences/opinions and may not apply to everyone. Please feel free to like, comment, share and get in contact with feedback or ideas of what I could post about in the future. You can also subscribe to get notified when I post. Check out my last post ‘Remembrance Sunday’.

Stay at home, wear a mask,


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