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Tonsillectomy, Uvulaectomy and Turbinite Reduction   -   2002/06/28Viewed 5380 times this month, last update: 2005/01/28

It turns out I have terrible sleep apnea, in addition to my chronic tonsillitis, due to my enlarged uvula (the hangy-downy thing in my throat), and permanently inflamed nasal tissues (turbinites). This means that my throat always hurts, my nose is always stuffy, and I stop breathing for up to 20 seconds about a hundred times each night.
Ugh. I had no idea.
So my doctor is going to cut out my tonsils, my uvula, and half my turbinites all in one surgery session. So in about a month, my whole head is going to hurt for about two weeks, but then I should be healthier, breathe better, get much better sleep, and stop snoring. Yay!

Update: 2002/12/12
My surgery is scheduled for December 17th. Five days from now. I've had three people (including my doctor) tell me the surgery is going to be awful. Freakin' tonsils. Wish me luck!

Update: 2002/12/18
Well, I'm home. My surgery took a but longer than expected, beacuse my doctor found a large absess in my sinus, and my tonsils extended deeper into my throught than expected. I spent all yesterday on large quantities of Morphine, as the Uvula removal turned out to be quite painful. Unexpectedly, the tonsillectomy and sinus tissue removal was not very painful; in contrast anyway.
I'm now home, taking percocet, and alternating between naps and T.V. Vanessa is taking very good care of me, and while I was in the hospital, all the nurses were very attentive and kind. I would recomend Mission Hospital to anyone.
I expect to be on a liquid diet for at least another couple of days, but I think I'll be able to actually eat something, on Christmas.

Update: 2002/12/20
I'm actually getting much better! I can eat soups, I can talk quite a bit, and I'm not counting the minutes until my next percocet pill. Actually, I've forgotten to take it a couple of times. (For a little while) Initially, I had quite a bit of bleeding from my sinuses into my throat, but that has almost completely subsided, and since my doctor gave me a sinus cleaner spray thing today, I can breathe through my nose! Both nostrils! I know that doesn't sound like much to most of you, but for my entire life, I've only been able to breathe through one nostril at a time, one would always be clogged. I would travel to the middle of the desert to clear out my sinuses. Now, at home, with my two cats, and 60 pound dog, I can breathe almost like normal people!
Wanna hear something really gross? After my operation, my doctor told me that he found two oddities in my head. One was that my tonsils were about twice as large as he expected. So much so that he needed special instruments to get them all out, and the other, that there was a puss-filled absess in one of my sinuses. (Turbinite tissue) The absess was in the middle of one of the terbinites, and enlarged that structure so much as to cut off air flow entirely! In removing that absess, he effectively cut in half that turbinite, and made that nostril much, much more usable.

Ok, last thing today. This one is for all of you concidering this operation: During my sleep study, it was determined that my blood oxygenation level could dip down to 76% regularly. Very very low. The night after the surgery, my oxygenation level was at an AVERAGE of 96%. That's with the post-op swelling and blood clogging. 96%!

Update: 2002/12/21
Well, I've been moving around more yesterday and today. Yesterday I went to do some Christmas shopping, and today I'll probably do some more. My throat and nose feel fine, I'm just so tired, and off-balance from the pain medication. Percocet works great on pain (almost as good as the morpinine I had in the hospital) but it messes you up! I take cat-naps unintentionaly throughout the day, and I keep daydreaming simple things, and then being confused about what I really remember having done!
I find I can easily sit at the computer and work, but I always feel as though I'm going to fall off my chair, and I can't really focus. It's all very interesting.

Update: 2002/12/27
It's been a week and a half since my surgery. I've re-learned how to swallow, without the use of a uvula. I can even drink sodas again. I've voluntarily taken myself off of pain medication, so that I can think clearly enough to do work, and there is no blood in my throat or nose any more.
Most of the day I'm just fine, but I guess the eight hours of mouth-breathing while I sleep at night dries things out, because the mornings hurt quite a bit. I figure that'll complete healing over the next week or so. I was just well enough on Christmas to eat a couple of servings of Vanessa's father's prime rib! Man I'm hungry....dreaming...

Update: 2003/11/01
When I was first diagnosed with sleep apnea, my doctor said that after my operation, and the apnea was corrected, I'd feel like "Superman". I throught about this for a while after my surgery, and thought he over-estimated that benifit.
I was wrong though. For years (since before High School) I used to live life always tired. I would say dozens of times per day, "I'm so tired...". I used to sleep in till 1:00pm on weekends, and wake up terribly sleepy on weekdays. I figured out that in order to feel even relatively human, I needed 9 hours of sleep per day.
I used to dread the possibility that something might wake me up in the middle of the night, beacuse then my whole night's sleep would be ruined. Last night I woke up a few times. No big deal. I went right back to sleep, and woke up by myself rested. I stand (well, sit) before you now, in my home office at 6:30am on a Saturday, after 8 wonderfully restful and satisfying hours of sleep, to tell you that, compared to how I used to feel, I do feel like Superman.

05/19/2004: This site is in no way affiliated with any medical institution nor any medical professional. This article and all comments are personal opinions only, and in no way should be interpreted as informed medical direction. Erik Burrows and ErikBurrows.com hereby waive any responsibility for actions taken by anyone in response to information obtained on this site. Always consult a trained physician when making decisions concerning medical care.

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