Before I start writing this properly, I want to say that the doctors tell me what happened to me following my tonsillectomy is very rare, and therefore not to be taken as something that might happen to many. Having said that, post-operative bleeding is something that is more common than I think was made clear to me prior to the op with 5% of cases in the UK being affected, but apparently this rises to 7% in Scotland but they do not know why. I think if this had been told to me before hand, I would have been far less frightened when my problems started!
The week after my op, I felt really unwell. I could barely eat as just moving my mouth, and especially my tongue, which felt very swollen, was having me in flowing tears. I tried so hard to eat, as one of the things I was told was that it helped the wound heal more effectively the sooner you ate properly, as it helps remove the clots. Eating was so painful though that it took forever, and my record during the week was 43 minutes for half a slice of toast. I was accepting of the pain I was in, because the one thing that was drilled into me from the first appointment I had with my GP when I asked for the op, was that I would be in really bad pain afterwards. This message was forced at me again when I met the consultant, and the pre-op assessment. I therefore did not question the amount of pain I felt. I was told I would feel it, and that was that. By the end of the week, there was no sign of feeling any better. Hubby was getting a mixture of concerned and frustrated, and so he rang the GP, who over the phone prescribed antibiotics for me. Within a couple of hours of taking them, I was feeling much better, and agreed I must have got a secondary infection which was causing my pain.
I settled down for bed that evening feeling so much less ill than I had for over a week.
Then I woke at about 2am, and coughed to clear my phelmy throat, only to find a tissue covered in blood. I went to the bathroom, and had my mouth over the sink, and blood was just pouring out. It was a really frightening experience to wake up with fresh blood gushing out of you. I got a flannel to catch the blood, and went to wake Hubby. He wanted to take me straight to A&E but I said to ring NHS24 to see if it was normal. The lady on the phone wanted to talk to me, but I was quite clearly in shock and couldn’t communicate effectively, but Hubby gave all the details. They did think a trip to the hospital was in order and so that’s what we did. Hubby work Old Person to say what was going on, just in case the boys woke.
The A&E department at the hospital is being rebuilt and so parking is impossible. Hubby therefore dropped me off, and I plodded in, in my PJ’s and slippers. I was barked at by the receptionist as I dared to interrupt her conversation with the security personnel. I was amazed how quiet the place was. At 3am on a Saturday morning I was expecting the place to be heaving with drunks and people having got into trouble from a night out, but there was just me and one other person waiting.
I was taken in for assessment, and then taken to a cubicle. By now Hubby had reappeared. The doctor came and couldn’t understand why I was upset! He took a look, and gave me a mouthwash/gargle to stop the bleeding. It seemed to do the trick. He did though think I should be admitted to the ward just to make sure it settles down.
By the time I was on the ward and all the paperwork completed – boy does the NHS like pieces of paper – I felt fine, and a little silly for having got into such a state.
I was put to bed about 7am, just in time for the day to start! There was another lady in the bed next to me who also had bleeding after her tonsillectomy, but hers had only been arrived out the day before.
By the time the doctor came, I was feeling better than I had since before the op. He said I didn’t need the antibiotics the GP had given me as there was no infection, but he wanted to keep me under observation for 24 hours, just to make sure it had properly settled. I wasn’t impressed, as I felt fine, and just wanted to go home! I settled in for the evening of boredom – I really am not good at sitting still. I was a good girl, and I ate my tea, and took my painkillers. I felt good.
I woke about 4:30am, and needed the loo. On my way back, I had a throat clearing cough, and once again blood, but only a little. I must confess, it did cross my mind that if I said nothing they would just let me home in the morning. I did however press the orange button to get the nurse. She got me a bowl and some more gargle, and called the doctor.
The overnight doctor was a young man who looked barely out of primary school – all I could thing while he was talking to me without making good eye contact was that was D in 20 years time if he keeps up his ambition of becoming a doctor! It’s all he has ever wanted to do, apart from being the next Adam Richman on Man V Food!
The over bed light didn’t work, so the doctor asked me to go to the clinic room on the ward. I had used about 5 gargle by now and the blood was still flowing. He examined my throat and said it was really choked up with clots, so he was going to apply come steroid direct to the wound to try to clean it, and seal it. As soon as he went in towards me, I was gagging as the liquid touched my throat. I then coughed up some clots, so he thought it was working, and went to it again. I was then sick. I filled 2 of the cardboard bowls with pure blood which had been trickling down my throat into my stomach – my estimation of 800mls being a full bowl, 2 not quiet there was at least a litre of blood. I then fainted! I have never fainted before and was quite surprised as to what an odd sensation it was. I remember saying to the nurse I didn’t feel very well, as the room was spinning like made before I was being laid down, and supported! I was given oxygen which was a bit difficult as I was still bringing up blood so the mask was on and off! The doctor called for his consultant, as well as booking me in for surgery to be quarterized.
The consultant arrived.
He went straight into blaming me for not having eaten properly when I left the hospital! I didn’t feel well enough to argue my case with him. He then turned his conversation to the young doctor, basically ignoring me as a human being and just treating me as a teaching aid. He told him, that this level off bleeding was quiet unusual, but it might have had something to do with the size of my tonsils and that they had to manipulate my tongue during the operation as a result – this is something I hadn’t been told about! He then proceeded to vacuum the clots from the wound. It was a horrible sensation! He told the young doctor to call theatre and tell them it wasn’t the emergency it had seemed but to keep me on the list for later in the day. He disappeared as quickly as he arrived, leaving the nursing staff to settle me back to bed, at about 8am!
I sent a message to Hubby to say I wouldn’t be getting home and not to bring the boys in, but nothing more. I then slept until almost lunchtime.
The anaethnatist arrived and said she was just getting the information just in case they decided I still needed to go to theatre.
When Hubby arrived mid-afternoon I was more with it, and was able to recount to him what had happened. I was very tearful.
I had no more bleeding, but they needed to check me to make sure they had settled it. It was decided I didn’t need to go to theatre – such a relief. They did however want to keep me in over night to make sure the same thing didn’t occur again!
When I woke the following morning, I was frightened to cough, but it was clear, and there was no blood. A different doctor with his entourage visited me that morning, and I was free to go! 5 hours later I finally got away having to wait for my drugs. It would be so much easier to be given a script to fill yourself!
I was pleased and relieved to get home and give my babies big hugs.
What I went through might not have been so frightening if the proper information was given about possible problems prior to being admitted, instead, all anyone went on about was the pain I would be in. I am just lucky I was in hospital when I had the second episode. the staff were brilliant, if not so stressed their jobs must be difficult.
While post-operative bleeding is common, it seems my ridiculously large tonsils which every GP I have ever encountered have commented about, decided if I was getting rid of them, then they would cause me one last problem!
My advise to anyone thinking about having this done is do it as young as possible, as they do say it is a far harder op as you get older.