Recovery Day 1-5

I should have started writing this from the beginning to have a detailed account. It wasn’t until Day 6 of recovery that I thought abut this so I am going to group days into blocks. This first block is Day 1 (the day after surgery) – Day 5.

The only thing that sticks to mind during these days is the pain. Pain was, for the most part, centralized to my throat. It hurt to talk, it hurt to swallow, it hurt to yawn, it hurt to sneeze, it hurt to move. Pain medicine will be your best friend. I was taking Oxycodone every 4 hours and 800 mg Ibuprofen every 6 hours and it was only taking the edge off. It made me very dopey and sleepy. I was a bit unsteady on my feet and felt extremely weak. The pain was constant and never went away. The only thing that relieved it was to fall asleep. Sleep didn’t last long though. I would nap for 30 minutes to an hour and wake up because of the pain. If I slept for more than 30 minutes my throat would be too dried out and painful. I also developed a strange snore and periods of apnea (you stop breathing for a few moments and then take a deep gasp). The gasp for a breath would wake me up if the pain didn’t.

I could not eat for the first 5 days. I lived on slushy drinks. Fill the blender with ice and whatever you can tolerate and set to “icy drink” mode. It made the perfect slushy. I alternated between Gatorade and a 100% juice mix of apple, peach and mango. Absolutely NO citrus! I can’t express that enough…NO citrus, NO tomato…nothing acidic! And lots of ice water. The only other things I could get down were apple sauce with my medicine crushed up in it, room temp chicken broth, and popsicles. Nothing warm, nothing hot, nothing spicy! Cold and iced was all I could tolerate.

Lots of ice water, keep a glass by you at all times. Even if it hurts, DRINK. You have to stay hydrated and the liquids keep the scab that forms by day 1 moist. I had to use a small spoon and take one spoonful at a time. I either gagged or got a bad case of hiccups if I tried to sip it. I gagged once and the liquid came out my nose. You don’t want the scab to dry out because if it starts to fall off too soon you can bleed. If this happens you have to go to an ER that has an ENT on staff to cauterize it.

On surgery day I made the mistake of looking in my mouth and almost got sick…wasn’t pretty. It looked like a big, burnt, black hole. By the next day the scab started to form. It started out white and slowly turned a yellowish color by day 5. If you are squeamish you are going to want to have someone who is not to look at it daily to see how its looking.

Don’t plan on being alone for the first 7-10 days. Between the medication and the pain you can’t think right. I needed someone to make me slushy drinks, refill my ice water, get me popsicles, fix my cold soup, help me to the bathroom, remind me when I last took a pill, make sure I didn’t fall over in the shower, let the dogs out, feed the dogs, do the laundry, do the dishes, clean the house, get the mail, go to the store…EVERYTHING! Thankfully my wife did most of this and on the days she had to go to work my sister-in-law and a friend of ours came to stay with me. You feel absolutely helpless and if I had been left alone I think I would have had a breakdown.

My jaw felt like I had been kicked by a horse. It was difficult to open my mouth. Eating slushy drinks and soup was done with the smallest plastic spoon that I could find. Brushing my teeth was painful. Every tooth felt like it had a nasty cavity and toothpaste on my teeth felt like a steady electric current zapping me. I found out later that during surgery they pry and hold your mouth open wide with this thing that looks like a huge metal vise grip/forceps with a metal tongue depressor to clamp your tongue down.

On day 5 I started to develop white spots on the roof of my mouth, uvula (the little thing that hangs down in the back of your mouth), gums, and my tongue was coated in a thick whitish-yellow film. The pain when I swallowed was getting worse and so was the snoring and apnea when I slept. That night I woke up multiple times and had been drooling.

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