Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bye-Bye Tonsils! (And adenoids! And snoring!)

Since Taisoni was about 10 months old or so, he has been a bad snorer, and it seemed to get even worse as he got older. Sometimes I would watch him sleep and I would see his chest dipping in as he tried to breathe, but no air was going in, and then suddenly he would gasp and stir in his sleep. Other times he would be able to get air in, but it sounded like his airway was very small and it was quite noisy.

July 15 he had his tonsils removed at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City. I had been reading horror stories online about how awful the recovery has been for other moms of toddlers who had their tonsils removed. I wasn’t initially too worried about the whole procedure, until I read those experiences online. I braced myself.

The technique used was a fairly new one called "coblation." It does not use high heat, it does less damage to the healthy surrounding tissue, and has shown significantly better recoveries in clinical studies than the normal laser technique.

Dr Bryan Tagge has performed hundreds, probably thousands, of tonsillectomies, and he finished the procedure in about 10 minutes, if that. He was very cheerful and comforting throughout the whole process. He did also say after the surgery that Soni’s tonsils were about “as big as they get,” and in the 10 years he has been doing this, they were definitely in the top 10% size-wise, and he was very optimistic about the change we would see in his sleeping.

I got to go back and see Soni first. While he was still trying to come out of the anesthesia he was crying and looked as if he was in pain. He wouldn’t look me in the eye, just moaned and cried softly. I held him and rocked him to sleep and waited for an overnight room to be available for us. His oxygen levels were not staying as high as the nurses would like, so we held an oxygen mask near his face as he slept. Once we were set up in a room, Taiyo and my mom came back. Soni slept for about 4 hours total, and then woke up a bit confused at first, but soon became happy. My dad, Erin, and Everett also came to visit, and Soni was excited to see them there. He watched a DVD, played with toys, made animal noises, and laughed. He drank apple juice, and ate 3 cups of jello and a cup of mac-n-cheese. He even said a couple of words that he had never said before, which surprised me.

That night Taiyo and I stayed with him in the hospital, and he remained hooked up to the oxygen and heart rate monitors so the nurses could monitor him. A few times during the night his oxygen levels dipped, but they resolved themselves each time, so the next morning we were given the go-ahead to go home. Once home, Soni was like his normal self already-- if anything a little more vocal than he used to be. We kept him on his pain meds without breaks for the first few days. Then we began to stretch out the doses, particularly at night, since I did not want to wake him at night more than necessary, and he (thankfully) did not seem to be in pain when he woke up in the mornings, which had been one of my concerns.

Throughout the week things kept going smoothly. He has said “owie” or acted like it hurt probably 3 times total, but each time we gave him some meds and he was back to normal within 10 minutes. He has had no problem eating or drinking. We are now 12 days post-op, and we’re slowly starting to let him eat some “hard” things in small pieces because he wants to eat and has not acted like anything hurts him. By Friday I’ll feel like we’re completely in the clear as far as complications go. I’ll still be cautious a little longer, but I’m really not worried. I feel so blessed that the recovery has gone soooo smoothly. 95% of the time these past 12 days you wouldn't have even had a clue that he had had surgery so recently.

And the results are like night and day, just as the doctor said they would be. I never used to be able to sleep with Soni in the same bed, because he would snore so loudly, and he would be restless, kicking me or flopping his arm into my face, etc… But last night when he came into my room at 4:45 am, I let him in bed with me, expecting to take him back to his room once he fell asleep. But next thing I knew, my morning alarm was going off and I was actually surprised to see Soni beside me because I had forgotten that he was there! He was sooo quiet and not restless at all. His breathing was so peaceful. There has been another unexpected benefit too-- he immediately (same day of surgery even) started saying new words that he had never said before, and putting together a few small sentences. I don't know if that's a coincidence, but I suspect that the opened airway and increased room in his throat has actually widened the scope of sounds he could figure out how to make. I admit that it could be a coincidence, but I feel pretty strongly that the tonsillectomy had an effect. The surgery was 100% worth it.

I took a couple of short videos of him sleeping a few months before the surgery, showing a couple of the ways he would breath, and soon I will take another of the way he sleeps now, and put them together as a sort of “before and after” display. I’m so grateful for the way everything went! I wouldn't trade our experience! I’m grateful for modern technology, good doctors, and family who is willing to take time out of their lives to help us through a process that could have been worse that it was!

No comments: