Skip To Content

    I Had My Tonsils Removed As An Adult And Here’s What That’s Like

    Spoiler: There's no ice cream

    Hi, my name’s Bobby and at the ripe age of 23, I ended my longest and most toxic relationship: The one I had with my tonsils. ​

    You see, I’ve gotten strep throat a lot.

    What do I mean by a lot? More than 25 times. If you’ve never had strep throat, I'll save you a medical explainer and just say it's a serious infection with a type of Streptococcus bacteria that makes it feel like you're swallowing glass with the cute bonus of a fever and nausea.

    The last few years it became more frequent.

    FX

    Since 2016, I tested positive for strep 7 times. In between, there were cases of tonsillitis (an uncomfortable inflammation of the tonsils in the back of the throat that also makes it really hard to swallow). If Ryan Murphy intends on making a second season of Feud, I would like to be portrayed by Billy Eichner. Sarah Paulson can play my tonsils.

    At the urging of my primary doctor, I found a lovely ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist and made the appointment. Less than 45 seconds into my visit, while going over my medical history, my doctor said it was time to get my tonsils removed. ​

    OWN

    So, I scheduled the tonsillectomy for the following week and reached out to people I knew who had a tonsillectomy to see what it was really like to get your tonsils removed in adulthood. (This was a mistake).

    My hair stylist told me about her complications and being unable to breathe while my grandmother said getting her tonsils out was more painful than giving birth (and she did that seven times).

    CBS

    (They didn't use anesthesia during her procedure, though).

    The big day...

    Bobby Caruso

    I've had two minor operations in the past and didn't have any complications so I wasn't that nervous about the surgery itself. The surgery took less than two hours and my ENT mentioned that my tonsils were incredibly scarred from all the infections I had over the years.

    Cue the ice cream?

    E!

    We've been lied to, folks. Although you may think a tonsillectomy means you get to eat nothing but ice cream for days, that's not the case. My surgeon said it would be smart to avoid dairy as it would give me more phlegm, leading me to be in even more pain. I did buy some lactose-free ice cream, but didn't end up really bothering with it.

    So what did I actually eat? Basically nothing.

    Bobby Caruso

    I drank two Ensure nutrition drinks each day to make sure I was getting some nutrients, but I otherwise had no appetite. After five days*, I started to add one easy-to-swallow meal each day (like mashed potatoes or pancakes). My friend who brought me a Wendy's Frosty was certainly the highlight of my week. Applesauce was really uncomfortable because it was all getting stuck in the back of my throat. I also avoided anything acidic or salty (so that cuts out some juices and soups). My first real meal was an order of Döner Fries that I had delivered.

    *I'm not suggesting you don't eat for that long, my surgeon said I should eat as soon as I felt comfortable doing so, it just was a while before I personally felt up to it.

    As for the pain, at first it was manageable.

    Bobby Caruso

    I was taking my prescribed pain medicine every four hours (the first night I set alarms to take it overnight, the second night I tried my best to sleep through without waking up for more), I was mostly uncomfortable but not in constant pain and caught up on some quality time with my dog.

    But you really just can't speak

    Generally, I don't stop talking — but my throat was so uncomfortable and swollen that there was no way for me to articulate. I could make noises and groan in agreement but that was it for the first 3-4 days. It really felt like there was a tennis ball stuck in the back of my throat. Once I could speak, it hurt tremendously to do so and I sounded like James Charles.

    But then it really did hurt.

    Netflix

    While I would love to say everyone was exaggerating and it was fine, it really was terrible. By day 3, I was in tears whenever I tried to drink water. Not to be dramatic, but this was the sharpest pain I've felt in my entire life.

    I also could feel the gross scabs on the back of my throat.

    Once the uncomfortable tennis-ball-in-my-mouth feeling went away, I felt the scabs forming and eventually breaking off in pieces in the back of my throat. Sorry, for the visual. Every time a piece of scab broke off, it did become easier to speak, swallow, and breathe through my mouth.

    I didn't realize how much my ears would hurt

    Once the worst pain passed in my throat, my ears started to actually hurt more. I've never had an ear infection but I'd imagine that's what it felt like. There was a lot of pressure and I couldn't even enjoy the new Years & Years album without pain.

    The hardest part was constantly drinking water.

    Interscope Records

    My doctor stressed the importance of drinking a ton of water and it's recommended to drink water each hour. Yes, it feels like swallowing the sharpest glass you could imagine each time, but I tried my best to follow my doctor's recommendations.

    It took about two weeks until I started to leave the house/feel like a real person again.

    While my doctor strongly recommended I take two weeks off from work to rest, I worked from home the second week and still focused on recovering. Every day I started to feel better and slowly began returning to a normal diet.

    About two weeks after surgery, I worked out for the first time and it was definitely too soon.

    Today was my first day back at @soulcycle since getting my tonsils out and it was hard as hell, but I’m so glad to be back at it

    I was happy to be active again, but taking a spin class was really difficult and I felt like my airway was being blocked since there were still scabs in the back of my throat. I had to stop a few times during class and focus on my breathing. It was around this time where I had my post-op appointment and was told I was recovering at a normal pace and would still be in pain when I yawned for a few weeks (this was true, lol).

    All said and done, I'm glad I had them taken out since I don't have to worry about my troublesome tonsils flaring up anymore.

    VH1

    But, yeah, it was terrible.

    Want to be the first to see product recommendations, style hacks, and beauty trends? Sign up for our As/Is newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form