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  • Writer's pictureEmilia Hargreaves

Tonsil Terror

A Nice Little Diagram To Show You Where The Tonsils Are, Just Incase You Didn't Know

Okay, so basically everyone that knows me knows that I recently had a tonsillectomy. A very simple, very basic surgery, that I obviously somehow managed to make one thousand times more dramatic than anyone could imagine.

Let’s start from the beginning though.

For the past few years, I have been getting tonsillitis a lot. And when I say a lot. I mean like six episodes in the space of one year. Now, normally, as horrible as tonsillitis is, you can take a few days off work, tuck yourself up in bed with some lemon tea, and then your be right as rain again by the end of the week… But, as you all know: I Don't Do Things In Halves.

In September last year, my tonsillitis was so extreme, that when I went to the doctors (on the next road from me), I collapsed in the street.

After regaining consciousness and being driven to the doctors (cheers Ma!), I then collapsed again in the waiting area. It was at this point that an ambulance was called and I was taken to our nearest hospital. Which just happens to be, quite possibly one of the grimiest places on earth. So, after lying on the ambulance bed in some random hospital hallway, I then get moved to the emergency room where, if the orchestra of grunts and groans, screams and howls doesn’t get to you, then the flies will. The two, sexy, Australian hunks, who had been lucky enough to smell my lethal breath as they stuck ECG stickers around my sagging boobies, were now gone. So there was no hope for me.

After three hours of waiting around in this vile room, I was told that I would be moved to a ward in another hospital, 30 minutes drive away. Woo - bloody — hoo! How lovely. Another ambulance trip. So, along with my mum and my new friend Vomit Bowl Full of Saliva (forgot to mention that my tonsils were so swollen that I was physically incapable of swallowing my on saliva, so was having to spit out these vile juices that my mouth was creating into one of those stinky little cardboard hospital chunder bowls) I jumped (was wheeled) onboard the ‘Hospital Express’ (ambulance). Sadly, no hot guys on this trip.

Got to the second hospital around 2am. (Sorry Ma!) I shared a lovely room, with a lovely woman, who didn't speak a word of English. And snored louder than my brother. And he snores like a bloody grizzly bear. For four nights I did not sleep. Couldn’t eat either. And I love food. So much. There is no pain like when your parents buy you all the food they never used to and you can't bloody eat any of it. The pain of my actual throat, however, was on a different level. Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Christ on a Bicycle. Imagine the feeling of swallowing glass. Or, using a plastic knife to saw off the skin in your throat.

That was what it was like. The only pain worse than having tonsillitis… Is having them taken out. But before I get into that, let me finish this first little story. Spending the week before I moved to uni in hospital was great, but what was even better, was that my referral for the tonsillectomy was cancelled half way through its process. No idea why, no idea how, but that’s just how the NHS is sometimes. I could’ve had my tonsils out six months earlier, and avoided two episodes while studying at drama school. But obviously, I am completely fine about it, and not mad at all.

Tonsils don't really get taken out anymore. It used to be done all the time but now, not so much. You have to be having it alarmingly often and extremely badly for it to even be considered. So, as you can imagine, I was eventually put on the waiting list. A waiting list that is about two years long.

Next thing I know, May, of this year, I am given a date for a hospital appointment with the ENT (Ears, Nose and Throat) Department. When I arrive, I spent 40 minutes filling out an online form before I even speak to a real human. And then they tell me my surgery is the next day. No warning. No other letters. Nothing. Obviously, since I was in full-time education in another county, and fast approaching our end of year performance, this obviously wasn’t possible. Cheers NHS!

Then, over email (seriously?) I was sent a date for a PreOp and a date for the surgery in September of this year. A week before the surgery, someone calls my mum (and not me?) and tells her the surgery is on a different date from the originally assigned one. Immediately, I call up and throw a bit of a fuss. The dude on the other end had no clue what he was doing and after asking for my address three times and calling me my sister name twice, he admitted he didn't have a clue and then hung up. I went to the PreOp and then they tried to tell me that I couldn’t have the surgery because I was supposed to have stopped taking one of my current medications 6 weeks before the surgery. But, obviously, they had forgotten to communicate that one with me too?! It was here that I kinda, sorta lost my shit completely and started shouting and swearing and then, unsurprisingly I broke down into uncontrollable tears. Then they told me, well, I sort of demanded that I was still having the surgery, but they didn't know when it was supposed to be. Apparently, the person who had originally booked my surgery had now left, but does that really mean that all their bookings were no longer valid? Hmm? All seems a bit strange to me really.

I find out three days before the surgery that it had been moved to the day after the original date. But at this point I was really just done with the whole situation.

7th September, 2019, I finally had the surgery. My fantastic mother and wonderful boyfriend took it in turns sitting with me and all went well… Until three days later.

The absolute agony that I was in meant that I was really struggling to eat and drink. So I became very weak, very quickly. The evening of the second night, I threw up everything and anything that was inside me. Mostly jelly and half a cracker that I’d been forced to eat. Even hough everything had come up and out of me, I couldn’t stop wretching. Probably because it felt like I was trying and failing to swallow a golf ball.

Somehow, I slept through the night. The next day, I’m just minding my own business, just trying to live life without tonsils, and suddenly I feel something slimy in my mouth. It came up, just like sick does, but I didn't gag or anything.

Here’s a little sub-story really quickly, in my house, we have a special thing called ‘The Sick Bucket’. Whenever anyone in the family is ill, you keep the bucket by your bed incase you suddenly start projectile vomiting or can’t make it to the toilet in time. ‘The Sick Bucket’ has been around since I was just a wee bubba. For as long as I can remember, it has existed in the cleaning cupboard. Every member of the household has blessed the bucket with their chunder. But on this day, I defeated ‘The Sick Bucket’. A much loved family treasure. Gone forever.

Immediately, I rushed over to my noble friend ‘The Sick Bucket,' and then it began to rain. It rained blood.

After spending the day walking around the hospital with my bucket of blood, and receiving multiple compliments on the 'beautiful handbag', mum managed to scoot the bucket underneath one of the hospital beds and walked away.

1 in 10 experience bleeding after a tonsillectomy. “If there’s more than a teaspoon of blood then you need to come back into A&E," was what I’d been told. But before I’d been able to call my mum upstairs, the whole of the base of the bucket was coated in the most terrifying shade of red I had ever seen.

Big shoutout to my dad for choosing the most hideous outfit and helping me get dressed as I became a vampire and spewed blood everywhere. Adidas legging with Nike trainers and NO SOCKS??? REALLY? Well, thats what I call #fashion.

Also, shoutout to my mum for calling my boyfriend and opening with “Don't freak out, but she’s vomiting blood everywhere and we’re on our way to hospital”. And shoutout to my boyfriend for trying his best to not freak out, but definitely freaking out.

The line in A&E was a lot longer than my patience at this point, so I walked in with my bucket full of blood and made sure everyone could see it. I was not planning on standing around. I was absolutely terrified, but I was not doubt to sit around and wait for three hours to be seen. Then came needles and blood tests and IV’s and morphine. Nothing that I wasn’t already very used to. And surprisingly quickly, I was moved to a ward.

When I got there, I realised why. No word of lie, this looked like a special little place for old women to come to die. They were either sleeping or coughing or probably dead already. The woman next to me was screaming something about needing a poo, and how she needed a doctor to hold her butt cheeks open because it was stinging inside. Within an hour I was moved to a private room. A new experience for me, despite my frequent hospital trips. Once my parents left, I felt I could do nothing more than cry. So I did. For about an hour. And it hurt. Everything hurt. My heart and my throat and my whole body was just drained. I had no strength and I just wanted to go back home. The bleeding had stopped, and technically I was fine. But I needed to be monitored for 24 hours. After this time frame, I was not allowed to leave until they had seen me eat. Which was torture. My mum brought me iced buns and Pringles and sweets and berries. All of which I wanted so deeply. But I could not think of anything worse than actually eating them.

After a corner of a Weetabix ,four whole strawberries, two salt and vinegar Pringles, half a cheese sandwich (without crusts) and a little bit of iced bun, they finally let me go home.

Thank the bloody lords!

Getting the discharge papers was the biggest relief. And coming home and seeing my boyfriend again was even more special.

Two and a half weeks on, I am still recovering. My throat is still sore and tender, but I am up on my feet and eating almost all the nice food that I so dearly missed.

Now, I’m ordering my first dominoes post tonsillectomy.

Wish me luck!

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