By: Angela Semeta
Just last month, my six-year-old was seen by her pediatrician for a routine sick visit. She had a cough and sore throat, along with raspy breathing and fluid in her ears. She was diagnosed with a viral infection that had developed in her chest.
Her pediatrician suggested we see an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist because her tonsils were extremely enlarged and her breathing was heavy. When asked if my daughter snores while sleeping or experienced sudden shortness of breath, I replied yes. So, we booked an appointment to see if she might be a candidate to have both her tonsils and adenoids removed. We found out that this procedure is very common for children around the age of six, since the adenoids usually begin to shrink by age five and often disappear by the teenage years.
Often times a doctor will check the size of the adenoids with an x-ray, but in my daughter’s case they used a tiny telescope that goes up through the nose. The telescope helped to see if her adenoids were normal-sized or if they were swollen. My daughter’s adenoids were so enlarged she was having trouble breathing through her nose. The swollen adenoids caused slight sleep apnea, which would cause her to stop breathing for a few seconds at a time while she was asleep. She also had sinus symptoms and several ear infections due to fluid in her ears.
My daughter’s specialist recommended a hearing test to see if the fluid in her ears needed to be drained by having tubes placed in her ears. However, the doctor felt it was necessary to go ahead and schedule an appointment at Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital to have her tonsils and adenoids removed. Hopefully the procedure would improve my daughter’s breathing and would make her less susceptible to colds and ear infections.
The thought of surgery definitely frightened me, and could absolutely be frightening for a child as well. I found that the best way to prepare my daughter was by talking about what to expect and answering any questions she had. Signature Healthcare did a wonderful job helping us prepare by sending us a packet of what to expect along with a kid-friendly book to read to my daughter. The book explained EXACTLY what to expect from start to finish, including the fact that there would be a special teddy bear awaiting her at the hospital to comfort her during her stay.
The morning we got to the hospital, all the nurses were fantastic! They were so welcoming and were very attentive to my daughter’s needs. My daughter was full of energy and was more than comfortable. Shortly after we got settled, we met with the anesthesiologist and it was time to go into the operating room. This was the part I was the most nervous about, but the moment I squeezed her hand and told her I loved her, she was out like a light.
The whole procedure took just about an hour. Once my daughter was in recovery, I was able to see my baby. The doctors and nurses were very helpful and attentive, and they were right on top of her pain management. We were able to go home just a few hours after my daughter was able to take in some fluids and was resting comfortably.
As I’m writing this now, we are in our fourth day of recovery. Days one and two weren’t so bad. My daughter was able to take in some fluids and even ate some soft foods and ice cream. Days three and four weren’t so great. From what I’m told (by other parents), these are probably the worst days because the scab is starting to form.
As a parent who has now guided a child through adenoid and tonsil surgery, my advice would be to remain calm, be prepared, and be honest with your child about what to expect. Also, make sure that you have plenty of Tylenol and ice cold treats on hand afterward!
Most importantly, carefully listen to (and follow!) the doctor’s post-surgery instructions and watch out for potential danger signs.