Our ENT journey

I’m sitting here writing this blog, a few days after my son has had his tonsils and adenoids removed. I am not being a broccoli hero this week rather the mother who says sure ice cream for breakfast no problems. It’s actually quite relaxing not having to have the daily nutritional stand off with my children and being able to tender to only one child’s needs not the three of them!

 In case you are not sure what this procedure is, it is a relatively short operation conducted by an ear, nose and throat specialist doctor. Adenoids are the enlarged lymphatic tissue between the back of the nose and throat which can hinder speaking and breathing. Tonsils on the other hand are masses of lymphoid tissue in the throat, one on each side of the tongue. Some children also have some gromets inserted in their ears at the same time to help drain the ear canal. Fortunately we missed out on this element. Of course there are risks like there are with any operation but I will leave that explanation to the doctor at hand.

There are many reasons why children, even teenagers and adults have these parts of their anatomy removed. I thought I would share our journey with you to this point. My third child was a great sleeper until he turned two. At around this age he started to have a lot of night waking and his snoring became very obvious. Often at times when he woke overnight he was very distressed. After trying all of the tricks in my repertoire I was starting to question myself and it never helps when your husband jokingly suggests we should get a sleep consultant to help us out! I knew that this all needed to be investigated further but convincing others is hard work. So I filmed the symptoms he was showing. These included

  • Noisy snoring
  • Unusual sleeping position
  • Mouth breathing
  • Gasping/ snorting in sleep
  • Hot sleeper

These symptoms continued and he had a few bouts of antibiotics for tonsillitis and I ceased the opportunity for a referral to an ENT specialist. I was fed up and becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of sleep and my own inability as a mother to solve the problem. I was quite relieved to see the specialist and to hear their recommendation for the surgical need to remove his tonsils and adenoids.

I know it is only early days post recovery but I will share our experience to date and hopefully update you at a later time. The procedure was relatively short and I can’t thank the nurses and doctors enough for the wonderful care they provided us. I was fortunate to be given a few insights prior to the operation by friends and family which helped a lot. Firstly, it is really hard to keep a toddler nil by mouth, he was not allowed to eat from midnight and we had to be at the hospital at 9:15am. Lots of distraction and we made it.

I was also present when my son was given his anaesthetic, nothing can prepare you for that AND I have professionally done this many times. I sat and cuddled my son while the mask was popped on his face and he took a few breaths. He then became limp and was layed down on the operating table. I then left the room, that was a horrible feeling. In some ways I knew he was in very safe hands but it also felt I had left my son when he was lifeless.

Upon him waking in recovery I was called to come and climb into bed with him, so that I was there for him. This was good management by the hospital and probably made the situation easier for everyone. We then returned to the ward and shared a room with three other families who had all had the same procedure. Not a lot of sleep was had that night!

We were told to encourage fluids as a dry throat can hurt a lot and it is hard to come back from. The advice we were given was to offer sips of water 3-4 times an hour. Of course pain relief is important and I can tell when my little man is getting close to needing more pain relief.

So ABC kids has been going non stop for days and my little man has been a trooper and improving every day. I’m not sure if it is just me but little active boys are hard to slow down. All children respond to this operation differently and I saw this first hand on our first night in hospital.

In case you were wondering before any consult that I do, I ask families to complete a pre medical questionnaire. In this questionnaire there are questions around the issues I have raised above and many more. If an issue is identified at this time, I speak with the family I am working with and offer them a full refund and help them to seek the medical input they require. I like to work with my medical colleagues to ensure everyone gets the sleep they require and ensure our children thrive.

My top five tips:

  1. You know your child best, if you are concerned talk to your GP about it
  2. If your child isn’t thriving, tired for the amount of hours sleep they have had raise this with your child
  3. Film your child’s sleep, snoring, restlessness
  4. Help is available
  5. If you want to research, read reputable sources, I have included a few links

Resources and references

https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Childhood_obstructive_sleep_apnoea_OSA/

https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Tonsillectomy_and_adenoidectomy/