Tonsil Troubles

In 24 hours, I’ll be lying in a hospital bed, drugged up to the eyeballs, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

I’m not a masochist. Nor, in the context of the previous sentence, am I drug-addict. I am a recurring tonsillitis sufferer, and finally, after years of begging and pleading, hundreds of pounds worth of antibiotics, pissed-off GPs and two canceled operations, I’m having the bastards taken out.

The whole fandango started in my final year of university, when I woke up one morning in such acute agony that all I could do was mash at my phone until someone stuck their head around the door. A friend then helped me up to the health clinic, and sat with me whilst I dribbled and sobbed in the waiting room. Two weeks of what felt like swallowing glass later, the acute symptoms subsided and I got glandular fever. Brilliant. That was my first experience of adult tonsillitis, and it was the first of many.

After that episode, I’d get bouts of it three or four times a year, and I’d trek off down to my local GP only to explain the same story over and over again, and they’d dutifully look in my mouth and say ‘My, they’re big, aren’t they?’ Or on one occasion, ‘Wow. They’re monsters!’ And I’d grunt a well-rehearsed noise of acknowledgment, take the inevitable prescription and go and sit in the pharmacy to wait for the drugs.

And so the cycle continued. It even got to the stage where, had I gone a month or two in relative health, I’d think how nice it was to feel well again, obviously jinxing my luck, and then the next morning I’d wake up hot and feverish, that familiar dry ache in the back of my throat, the same wave of despair as I mentally calculated the logistics of getting to the doctor again without it affecting my job. And then the misery of sitting in said job, trying to work, when I quite literally wanted to just go home and die.

But over the last year or so the symptoms changed. No longer was it acute pain quickly eased by antibiotics, and a definitive start and end point. It morphed, almost without me realising it, into extended periods of general grottiness. The pain was still there, yes, but reduced. And for longer. The symptoms would drag on for weeks at a time; a swollen throat, light-headedness, a temperature, difficulty thinking straight, absolutely zero energy. It didn’t matter how much sleep I got, or what strength of antibiotics I took, I just felt crap constantly.

“They’ve gone chronic,” my doctor told me after recoiling from my involuntary retch after she’d stuck one of those wooden spatulas in my mouth (Yep, they’re now so big and gross that my gag-reflex has become hyperactive – another bonus).  “No shit,” I replied. At this point, I’d been scheduled to have a tonsillectomy not once but twice, and both times the NHS had cancelled me due to ‘patient priority’. Fair enough the first time, when I was cancelled with three day’s notice. Not so much the second time when I was cancelled with three week’s notice.  For God’s sake, who schedules emergency procedures three weeks ahead? Anyway, all the doctors at my local surgery (and even a few at the local drop-in centre where I’ve found myself on a couple of desperate Saturday nights) have become au fait with my less than positive outlook on the matter, and some don’t even bother asking me the de rigour questions anymore, instead simply shoving a prescription into my hands without even looking up from their desks.

In the event, I’ve now been on antibiotics constantly since March (£87, FYI), and have on more than one occasion considered going at my tonsils with a kitchen knife or similar, then sitting (or bleeding) stubbornly in A&E until they sort it out there and then. Suffice to say, then, that this operation in long overdue.

So from the weekend, I’ll keep updating on the operation itself, and the recovery. Mainly because it’ll give me something to do besides lying in bed feeling sorry for myself and making people bring me ice cream, but also because there might be other folk out there in a similar situation, who’ll take comfort in the fact that they’re not the only ones whose adult lives have been screwed around by two stupid redundant lumps of gland.


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