For me personally, getting my voice back to normal was a gift
Where — and what — are adenoids? Adenoids are a soft patch of tissue really high up past your throat, behind your nasal passage. It’s basically between your nose and your throat (you know those are connected, right?). You can’t see them without specialized instruments. They are part of our immune system and help to keep out bacteria and viruses that enter through our nose or mouth.
Why do people get their adenoids removed? The adenoids can get enlarged and swollen, blocking the airways and causing various complications such as mouth breathing (which causes other problems, too long for this page), constant congestion, ear infections, sinusitis, voice changes (sounding like we always have a stuffed nose!), snoring, sleep apnea (which is really unhealthy), runny noses, and other really not-cool symptoms. Most kids who need to get their adenoids removed have it done at a young age, but this can happen in older kids — even teens — and necessitate adenoid surgery when older.
Getting your adenoids out as a teenager is totally different than getting them out when you’re two or four or six. Little kids can be distracted by the promise of great prizes afterward, or being told they’ll get lots of ice cream or freeze pops. Teenagers? Not so much. Adenoid surgery is real surgery, under general anesthesia. I wanted details. I needed the doctor to explain what was going to happen and what he was going to do, and why it needed to be done. The promise of ice cream doesn’t really work with a teenager! Thankfully, the doctor understood this too; he showed me X-rays of my nose and throat, showing what was enlarged, and how they’d take it out. Was I less freaked-out? No… but at least I understood what was going on. I guess you could say that before, I had “fear of the unknown,” and now I had “fear of the known”… but I’d still rather know!
Adenoid surgery is “outpatient.” That means that you go home after the surgery — no staying overnight. I had to be fasting from the night before, and because of that, they schedule the surgeries in age order; they can’t have a six-month-old waiting until 11 a.m. So the youngest patients go first, and guess who was the very last? Even though they have tablets and videos to keep you busy while you wait for your turn, the waiting really can increase anxiety. For this reason, when it’s your turn, before they bring you to the operating room (“OR”) they give you a medication that relaxes you in a way that I can’t even describe… it reeeeally relaxes you!
After adenoid surgery you have a really, really sore throat for a few days or a week. In a very small percentage of cases, people can get infected after surgery (like I did) but, baruch Hashem, with antibiotics I was back to myself by the end of the week. Of course, surgery is a last resort after trying other ways to shrink the adenoids (like nasal spray or allergy meds), but sometimes it’s really necessary. It’s never fun, but as your symptoms begin to disappear, you really appreciate how necessary this surgery is. For me personally, getting my voice back to normal was a gift. I love to sing — but no one wants to sound like they have a stuffed nose!
(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 913)
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