So your child just had a tosillectomy or adenoidectomy or both? My daughter just went through this in late April 2017. It was hard on both of us, and I found myself wishing throughout the process that I had wisdom of someone who had been there/done that to help me get through the rougher days. Here are some of my tips for making the time a little easier on both of you.
Don’t hesitate – medicate
My daughter was prescribed morphine to be given every 4 hours, along with ibuprofen and Tylenol. It was absolutely necessary to give all of these medicines around the clock. Staying on top of the pain was important. If I let the medication run its course and her pain came back, it was harder to get the next dose of medicine in her. I set alarms on my phone around the clock to remember to give her next doses. Now is not the time to worry about giving too much Tylenol or ibuprofen. Your child is going to need it.
Hydration is key
Although your child’s throat will hurt, making sure he or she drinks plenty of fluids is so important. This will aid in the healing process. I reminded my daughter to drink throughout the day. Your child will not be able to drink through straw, so I recommend a water bottle like this one. My daughter preferred room temperature water, though I have heard some children prefer the cool ice water – experiment with the different temps to find out what works best for your child.
Feed them like they’ve got no teeth
Soft foods are key, particularly in the first week post-surgery. Avoid dairy – your child’s throat will already have a lot of mucus and dairy will make it worse. I stocked my refrigerator with Jello, applesauce, popsicles, ice cream (dairy free!) and yogurt, but my daughter got sick of those by day 3. When her medications were doing their job, she was hungry for other types of foods – I overcooked pasta for her and that seemed to be her favourite.
Use a humidifier
Nights were hardest for my daughter because her throat would get dry due to lack of swallowing. I placed a humidifier in my room (she slept with me for the duration of her healing) to keep the room’s air moisturized. I can’t say it got us any more sleep, but I felt better moisturizing the air. If I forgot it, she almost always started coughing within an hour of falling asleep. So I know it did something.
Let them be a (temporary) screen zombie
I usually like my daughter’s day to be rounded out with a lot of imaginative play and outdoor time, but that just wasn’t possible on some of the days she was feeling really down. Her iPad brought her a lot of joy (and me a lot of peace!) as well as my Kindle Fire, which I pre-loaded with a lot of fun games for kids her age/preschoolers. Prepare yourself to see some weird stuff on YouTube and get sick of whatever theme song your child’s favourite Netflix show starts with.
Take care of yourself
Being a parent is hard work, even on the best of days. Throughout the healing process, your child is going to demand a lot from you. Your patience, your comfort, your presence and yes, this will rob you of your precious sleep. My parents came for the surgery itself and stayed until the morning of Day 3. After that, I was on my own. As a single parent, I was stretched beyond my limits. My best friend would drop by for visits and took my daughter for a few hours on a couple of her better days. Those days were a godsend for me. If you have support, ask for it. Make self-care a priority if you can. Let people bring you meals, and give you a break so you can have a nap. I shed a lot of tears and lost my patience a couple times throughout my daughter’s healing process, which would not have happened if I had more physical support day and night.
Remember : “this too shall pass“. This was essentially my mantra throughout the entire process. Some minutes felt like hours, some hours felt like days. As the days began to bleed together in one big blur of over-tired misery, I would remind myself that this wasn’t forever, and it would be worth it in the end.
For a more detailed look at the day-to-day healing process of my daughter’s tonsillectomy & adenoidectomy surgery, please visit my Day to Day Recovery blog post.