Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Tonsils Part II

As I read Dan's tonsil post the first thing that came to mind was "I wish he'd talked to me first". Why? Because I went through all the same things...

As a kid I had terrible allergies. Imagine when you have a cold, you can't breathe through your nose, and you are just sitting there in bed, breathing out your mouth. You have post nasal drips, you are uncomfortable, and hoping you fall asleep soon.

That was me for all my life until I was about 15. At that point I went to see an allergist, who said I was literally the most congested person he had seen in his entire life. I received rounds of shots over a couple of years (which I am about to start again) and realized what I was allergic to, so that I could avoid those activities, like cutting grass, cats, etc...

A few years later as I entered college I began having tonsilitis ALL the time (sorry about the gross photo on wikipedia, but it is all too true) where my throat would constrict more and more until I couldn't swallow and could hardly breathe. I would go to the doctor and they would tell me to gargle with warm salt water until I would flat out tell them to go to hell and just give me some antibiotics to make it go away. I probably had tonsilitis 20 times over 2-3 years before I started to go crazy, because I knew that being on antibiotics all the time would just generate super-bugs inside my system.

What was the answer? Get those damn tonsils removed. Like Dan, I went to the doctor, who said that removal of tonsils was "not medically necessary". I basically told him to go f**k himself and got another opinion. The second doctor wasn't in favor, either. Finally I found a third doctor who went ahead with the operation.

The operation was no cake walk. I don't know for sure but I have been told that it is a bigger procedure when you are an adult compared to being a kid. I was completely miserable after the surgery and was in major pain. My father, who knows how medical institutions worked, talked to the nurse about pain medication, and of course she ignored me. Finally my father said that he worked for the government and he knew how things worked; if she didn't help me he would write 100 letters, to the institution, each of which they'd have to answer, and plague her indefinitely. Shortly thereafter they gave me Demerol, which totally threw me for a loop. My throat had just been through surgery and I was vomiting which was particularly bad and I was so high from that drug that I distinctly remember believing that I was levitating over the hospital. Reading the wikipedia entry I noted that Demerol isn't in wide use anymore and is banned in Australia... good to know.

In any case, even taking into account my semi-horrendous surgery experience, getting out my tonsils was AWESOME because I went from having tonsilitis almost every month to NEVER getting tonsilitis. The cause turned out to be my tonsils, nothing else, and this should have been obvious to the doctors, except that they were blinded by the "not medically necessary" tag line.

Dan, you made the right choice.


Dan from Madison said...

Wow that is quite a story. The surgeon said that eventually my oldest was going to have problems. What the hell? I just don't understand how they can be the size of marshmallows and the referred to doctor can't say to get them yanked.

Anyway, they are over the big hump and in a week or so all will be good.

And everyone says having those out later in life like you had to do is MUCH worse than when you are little.

Annie said...

Like Carl, I too had a very similar scenario growing up. The only difference is that I DID have my tonsils out at an early age (3), but I still suffered the allergy bit and shots. Although it was still bad at points, it could have been so much much much worse!
I've gotten to a point that I think I've outgrown a number of the problems incurred from it, or else I'm so used to them they don't register :p
All in all, you DID make the right choice. Sleep easy on more ways than one!