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tonsils and unicorns, in that order

February 7, 2011

Doctor Z. moves his stethoscope along Col’s back and asks him to take a deep breath. He listens to Col’s breathing while Rose prattles on about whether or not unicorns are invisible. The pediatrician looks at me and winces, “doesn’t sound good.”

“What do you hear?”

“Crackles and wheezing.”

“But has anyone ever seen one Mama, or are they invisible, like dinosaurs?” Rose asks.

“Walking pneumonia. We’ll get him some antibiotics for that. Open your mouth for me Col.”

This will be Col’s fourth round of antibiotics this winter. They’re like the punchline to every cough Col’s ever had. We start each illness all Pollyanna-like, administering our herbal lung-tonics like medicinal kisses. “I think the herbs are really working,” one of us will comment to the other, hope flanking our shoulders like a wreath of peace doves. Even the nebulizer treatments we do at the first sign of congestion seem like one of Ma Ingalls’ home remedies compared to the chalky, pink liquid that kills life.

“Sometimes I have dreams about unicorns,” Rose whispers happily.

“Stick out your tongue Col. Oh wow,” the doctor chuckles, “those are some huge tonsils. Wow.”

I too used to awe pediatricians with my elephantine tonsils.

Dr Z. asks if Col snores. He does.

“Does it sound like this?” The doctor imitates a rhythmic snoring, like an ocean wave rolling out and then receding. “Or this?” He imitates that same wave rushing to shore then suddenly stopping. Starting then stopping. “That is the sound of sleep apnea,” the doctor explains, “when someone stops breathing for short periods while sleeping.”

“I think I’ve heard both.” I answer.

Dr Z. writes out a referral to an ear, nose, throat specialist, because we “might want to think about having Col’s tonsils removed.”

More information is shared. Like, how bacteria can hide out on enlarged, scarred tonsils, getting knocked back for awhile by antibiotics and proliferating again, requiring more and more antibiotics. Also, because growth hormone is released at night, if a child is woken up by their own apnea many times a night, this can inhibit normal growth. Kids with sleep apnea tend to be more tired than average.

We’ve talked about Col’s size here before. And I admit, the notion that there’s an answer to his short stature and slow growth is a little like staring at a chocolate eclair from outside the shop window. You can have this, for $2.99 and a routine surgery. Also, it’s not unusual for Col to require 4-6 rounds of antibiotics a year which sounds absurd, I know. But Dan and I become so desperate to clear up the rattly lung sounds and gaspy coughs, that after we’ve blown through all our medicinal kisses, we’re relieved to march off to the pharmacy with our script for zithromax. Also, the sleepiness? Col would nap every day if he could. I’ve always attributed this to him taking more breaths/minute at our high altitude. But he napped every day during our 3 weeks at sea level over Christmas break.

I kind of thought tonsillectomies had gone the way of bloodletting, but I’ve since learned that they’re the most common surgery performed on children. Our appointment with the otolaryngologist is in 2 weeks; until then, I’m turning to ye olde internet community. What experience do you have with enlarged tonsils, tonsillectomies, and unicorns?

44 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2011 7:18 am

    Love unicorns. Hubby & are both sans tonsils. Our kids have, as of yet, kept theirs. But alas we have been very lucky with throat related illnesses. I was 7 when I had mine removed. Hubby was 19!! He got strep throat at least twice a year until they finally took them out. Plus Col would be able to eat ice cream and smoothies for like a week :) However I know the part of anesthesia & your babe are not so fun. Thinking of you all :)

  2. February 7, 2011 8:23 am

    I have tonsils, one of which almost never is normal size. I’m 45 almost, history of all kinds of goodies… pneumonia (including 7 times in the 5 years I lived in Humboldt County in the 90s … just too damp for my lungs to expel all the unwelcome moisture), tonsillitis at least a couple times a year… Every doctor I’ve seen in the last 20 years is shocked. “HOW old are you?! They never took those out?!” Right this moment, me and that ol’ left tonsil are going rounds. Ugh.

    Unicorns, according to the expert who used to live here, are quite amazing creatures. They do tend to be invisible unless, like faeries, you believe! In such cases, they tend to appear as shimmery, rainbowy, ephemeral creatures, never really seeming solid. Apparently this diminishes neither the capacity for them to nuzzle, nor for them to be ridden. They frequent gardens, and have a particular fondness for small girls. The expert claims that, because she is awesome, she can still see and communicate with the wonderful creatures, even though she is almost 21. She claims her inner child is alive and well, and unicorns can sense this. When she was smaller, 3-9 or so, she spent many hours in the yard/garden/tree talking to animals of all sorts, but the unicorns lived in the lilacs, and so, mostly, did she.

  3. February 7, 2011 8:31 am

    None at all–I have such freakishly small tonsils that doctors have mistaken them for having been removed–but keeping my fingers crossed for you guys for the best of outcomes, whatever comes of all this, and that unicorns are real.

  4. carrie permalink
    February 7, 2011 8:34 am

    My friend’s son, who is Col’s age, had his tonsils out last winter after many years of illnesses like the ones you describe. Her son was also very tiny, and not premature. Drs attributed it to apnea–plus, of course, apnea is scary in itself.

    He started growing better shortly after the surgery, although he is still small. We’ll see. I am sorry to say he did have some scary complications (bleeding) from the surgery–they were never able to figure out why, although they did fix it. But I think his parents think it was worth it anyway.

  5. February 7, 2011 8:56 am

    go for it. I have about a three day tolerance for my kids’ sicknesses and then i bust down the door of whomever is writing prescriptions… and i’m married to a homeopath, so i can’t say i’m the most popular mom in the house at those times… but so it goes. if the surgery (slight, common!!) will help him out and ease his sleep, i say rock the surgery, mama. focus on his sleep, baby gets his sleep back… and you’ll probably be able to cut down on that antibiotic usage fairly drastically, right? win for all…

  6. February 7, 2011 9:48 am

    Ohhhh Mama!!! I know you are such a completely crazy smart mama, but please research this!!!!!!!! Tonsils are part of the immune system!! Without them you can comprise it! Dr.s used to take them out at a blink of an eye thinking it was no big deal and that they are useless anyhow, but they aren’t!!!!! I’d talk to others, and research research!!!

    Many hugs and prayers your way mama!!!!!!


  7. Peggy permalink
    February 7, 2011 9:50 am

    I have several friends whose children have had their tonsils and adnoids removed – ranging from 1-6 year olds. All have had success, and are happy with the outcome of so many fewer illnesses, certainly of the throat variety. Two friends have gone through with the surgeries mostly based on the need to stop the apnea. And both have come out the other side thrilled to bits. Kids are now sleeping soundly through the night, are much less tired during the day – therefore making them happier people all around :-) And we know how lack of sleep affects ALL of the members of a family. I say go for it – it’s very routine – and hopefully will help out on so many fronts. GOOD LUCK!!!

  8. Caraway permalink
    February 7, 2011 10:34 am

    Hi Rache, you’re a smart conscientious Mama so I know you’ll make the right decision! While deliberating, remember the old fall-back formula: an intervention is worth it when the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks. So go to the ENT with questions: how likely is it that Col’s pneumonias are related to to tonsillar infections? Do we know for sure that removing the tonsils will improve his sleep?
    If you’d like ENT MD social advice, contact Deni–remember that her husband Jonathan is an ENT? I can give you her email if you need it!
    Good luck!

  9. Row-bear permalink
    February 7, 2011 10:49 am

    Hey Rachel, Maya had her tonsils (and adenoids) taken out last year. The recovery wasn’t pleasant but I think the outcome has overall been very positive. She’s breathing a lot better for sure. I can’t really tell about being sick less because it hasn’t been long enough, but so far so good. During the recovery, being diligent with pain meds helped keep her comfortable but she hated the taste of the stuff (of course) and could be a little stubborn about it. So we worked out a trade where she got to mix up the nastiest concoction of stuff from the kitchen she could think of (within a maximum 5 minute prep time) and I had to drink an equal amount of that when she took her medicine. Fortunately I only had to do this a few times. Call us if you want to chat with Lisa or me about it.

  10. janie permalink
    February 7, 2011 11:13 am

    Hey Rach –
    Jasper has freakishly big tonsils and doesn’t snore. They are supposed to get smaller by this age, but I don’t know.

    I took Jack in to an Ear, Nose and throat dr because while he’s pushing me off my pillow at night I hear him snoring with moments of apnea. But said dr looked and said that J’s tonsils were fine.

    Juliet has a unicorn necklace with lip gloss inside of it. She’s wearing it to school today along with a very sophisticated ensemble of black t-shirt, purple tu-tu and a powder blue beenie.

  11. February 7, 2011 11:16 am

    my only experience is with unicorn wallpaper, i insisted upon at age 7 and had to live with through age 12. thankfully, we moved at that time. the comparison with tonsils is striking though. best of luck in this.

  12. Kathy permalink
    February 7, 2011 11:20 am

    Hey Rachel and Dan,

    For what it’s worth…..I had nasty ear infections as a 5 year old until they took out my tonsils. I don’t have any horrific memories of the surgery, but I can distinctly remember running from the doctor’s office, half way around the block to escape the inevitable “shot” that was given when I’d get these infections. Seems the surgery was a good excuse for sucking on popsicles and eating lots of ice cream. Never had another ear infection (and I am getting on (in years), ya know!)

    Those tonsils are like giant Pac Men harboring all those nasty germs. If you decide to have Col’s tonsils out, will you come to Denver?

    Wishing you wisdom in your health decisions…….Best, Kathy

  13. Cortney permalink
    February 7, 2011 12:05 pm

    My now 7 year old son had his huge tonsils and adnoids taken out just a few months ago. He’s never been sick (and still hasn’t been) with anything that required antibiotics but he snored, a lot, and snored loud occasionally stopping which prompted me to check if he was still breathing. He had permanents bags under his eyes as if he’s been on the graveyard shift at work. Now he sleeps soundly and the dark circles are gone. His recovery wasn’t too bad, in fact he did pretty well. I worried like crazy before and during the surgery but felt that it was necessary for him to sleep well.

    No Unicorn experience :)

    Good luck with your decision.

  14. February 7, 2011 12:28 pm

    Hang in there Rachel, your doing fine so far. Only thing I can recommend is an old fashioned remedy I used for my children who kept getting colds when we lived in an cold water flat apartment many years ago..was “Father Johns” = cod liver oil type smelled a little, was kind of sweet so the kids didn’t mind, it stopped the colds from coming..(they even gave it to their kids).

  15. kathleen permalink
    February 7, 2011 12:29 pm

    flynn had huge tonsils—enormous! i recall talking to you about them and you showed me yours. :) he has only had strep once, so illness wasn’t the problem…it was the sleeping. he snored like a 400 lb man and even grimaced while swallowing his dinner. (dark circles under eyes and skinny, too.) we had talked with dr. z about the benefits of having them removed many times, but wanted to wait until he was older. we had them removed last may and have never looked back. he sleeps! he can breathe! he can swallow! like you, we felt like tonsillectomies were archaic and unnecessary, but we were wrong. it was the hardest but best decision we ever made. michelle h.’s son had his removed a few months before flynn and she really helped me through the process. happy to chat with you if you guys decide to go that way. xoxo

  16. February 7, 2011 12:31 pm

    I don’t have any experience with tonsils, but I feel for you in having to make this decision. Surgery is a big deal, and your little boy has been through so much. I’m sure you will find lots of information to help you through this process.

    We are, however, very familiar with unicorns in our home. Annika has a stuffed unicorn that is one of her favorite friends. She also has a pegasus/unicorn costume (it has wings like a pegasus, and a hood that has the face of a unicorn with a horn on it) that is worn quite a bit. She is so entranced by the idea of unicorns, and we are having a unicorn party for her birthday in April. She pretty much tells me all about them, so I don’t have to come up with answers to questions on my own. I love that she is so imaginative.

  17. Audrey permalink
    February 7, 2011 12:33 pm

    Clementine has hhhuuuuuggggeee tonsils too. But she doesn’t snore. Possibly because she always sleeps on her stomach, which worries me for other reasons.

    Personally, I like doctors and hospitals and I feel like I would be worrying every time she snored or got a cold if it could have been better if I would have gone through with it.

    My 2 cents…

  18. Audrey permalink
    February 7, 2011 12:48 pm

    Ugh, just re-read that and it sounds incredibly selfish! I don’t really mean that I’d want her to have surgery to make me feel better.

    But I feel like long-term, things could be much better, and wouldn’t be worse, for having tonsils out.

    I would talk to a few doctors and not spend too much time on the internet. But then you know how scary the internet can be about pretty much anything you have a mind to be scared about…

  19. February 7, 2011 1:18 pm

    I had mine taken out when I was 3. After the surgery, I was bouncing up and down on the bed, eating Cheetos. Not a problem one. I remember the doc telling me that I was going to blow up a balloon through a special mask. The balloon was already blown up, tied at the end of the gas mask and I remember thinking, “This chump must think I’m a moron.” Then, all was dark.

    Although I still have craptastic lungs (asthma, thanks LA smog!) and get bronchitis frequently enough to consider it a friend, I had far fewer throat problems after the tonsils went out. I know that now they are talking about how the tonsils are linked to the immune system, but our systems can go haywire. Me thinks for some, tonsils are a great help and for others, a great problem. Sounds like Col might be in the latter group.

    Either way, the kid is golden. He’s gonna be just dandy, Mama. He’s got some grand cosmic magic of the awesome unicorn variety with all the prayers and love from all corners of this spinning blue ball being thrown at the tyke. And I dig gramomster’s take on unicorns. She’s onto something there!

  20. February 7, 2011 1:42 pm

    oi, i’m sorry to hear about col’s pneumonia, but i’m glad it at least seems (partly) like par for the course to you.

    so i was a very sickly kid. and i had a very old school doctor. after my own bout with walking pneumonia, and reoccurring lung infections, i had my tonsils out at 7yrs old. the lung infections cleared up a bit. but i was still sick. a lot.

    turns out i was allergic to dairy. cutting it out was like buying a new immune system.

    i’ve wondered many times since i figured that out at age 19, if the tonsillectomy was really worth it. the procedure also seems a bit out dated to me, a classic western med maneuver from a doctor who smoked cigars and prescribed butterscotch candy when i had the flu.

    then again, i don’t know that i miss my tonsils now. apart from an excruciating sore throat, it’s not the worst procedure to have done. but i also can’t give reassurance that it’s the best thing. so i think i just gave you my somewhat worthless 2 cents, like i shortchanged you with canadian coins. ultimately, if you trust this doctor, and if col really does have problematic tonsils, maybe it’s worth a shot?

  21. Jane Jaber permalink
    February 7, 2011 2:10 pm

    Hey Rachel, We had Riley’s tonsils and adnoids removed when he was three. Ear infection after ear infection, the doc said he had goop in his ears the consistancy of rubber cement! And probably for at least six months!! No wonder he was such a sensitive, high need toddler! ( I’ve had a cold for a week , and I’m about to lose it cause my ear has been plugged for a day and a half!)

    The advice that rang true for me and solidified my decision came from a woman I was seeing at the time for spiritual and personal guidance. The bottom line is….sufffering. We couldn’t carry on having our young child in pain, especially in his ears and head.

    I’m trying to remember a time when he’s been on antibiotics since the surgery, and I honestly can’t.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.

  22. February 7, 2011 2:13 pm

    rachel, i’ve always been ridiculously impressed with your ability to switch from crunchy-granola to techno-medicine when your babies need it. you will do what you know is right. i took care of a lot of post-tonsillectomy kids during my short stint as a small local hospital peds nurse. it’s a surgery, albeit a small one. it’s the airway, which can be a little scary, and it hurts. every kid was in a good deal of pain and every parent was surprised and heartbroken. i believe it is overdone in general, BUT in col’s case, i think the pediatrician’s thoughts are completely valid. this could really prevent a lot of trouble for him.

    i’m still looking for unicorns.

  23. February 7, 2011 4:06 pm

    oh man rachel. i’ve got nothing for you on either front.

    oh wait…i have a unicorn story….

    we took the kids to see a my little pony / chuck the truck double header at the movie theater a couple of weeks ago. seemed like a win-win….horses for the girl, trucks for the boy, an hour to sit and veg for the parents.

    the my little pony movie was TOTALLY insane.

    there was an evil unicorn attempting to steal the sun and one pony had to convince all the other ponies to stop her before it was too late.

    we lasted about 10 minutes before we had to leave the theater because our kids were TERRIFIED.

    so um yeah. moral of the story. stay away from my little pony. (especially when there is an evil unicorn involved.)

    good luck with everything!!



  24. February 7, 2011 4:58 pm

    I had my tonsils out at his age. Lived to tell the tale. ;)

    The only thing I have to report is that I was totally traumatized by a *(&@#(*& nurse when I was there, so be sure to be there as much as possible. She was just heartless, a comment or two to a terrified 5 year old that “mommy won’t be coming for you” is fodder for nightmares for years to come, I will attest to that. (My mom was actually there, in the hospital that morning, they just hadn’t let her up yet for whatever STUPID reason. I found this out MANY years later).

    I would definitely consider this. One surgery that may stop numerous rounds of ABX? Yes, I would definitely consider on that alone. Factor in the sleep apnea thing and I think I would be sold.

    Give them all your questions as I am sure you will, how do they sterilize, do they bulk sterilize, do they reuse any tubing, can you be there every single second expect when he is in theatre?

    • February 8, 2011 10:41 am

      Oh my. I think we had the same nurse. Me, 5-ish, being told that I would never see my mother again unless I ate everything on the tray. I ate, painfully, slowly, through my tears.

      • February 9, 2011 11:10 am

        This just made me cry. How awful. I had some awful experiences with my doctor (I was only three) as he was attempting to give me the “needle” to put me under. I was crying and he said, “Oh for crying out loud I haven’t even touched you yet.” Something I’ve never forgotten. xo

    • February 9, 2011 2:30 pm

      Oh my. Yes, I heard similar things from my so-called nurse. Horrible people.

      Perhaps the not-scaring-the-daylights out of small children would have fallen under the “bedside manner” class that all of these “care givers” clearly missed…

  25. February 7, 2011 5:03 pm

    And remember, you will continue to boost his immune system with an excellent diet, herbs and homemade medicines, and the great outdoors.


  26. Melissa permalink
    February 7, 2011 5:14 pm

    I saw your blog and just thought i’d tell you my families story with tonsils. Its a good one so don’t worry. My brother was 2 when he had his taken out. His sleep apnea was so bad that my mother was terrified of letting him sleep anywhere except right next to her for fear that he would stop breathing and suffocate before she could get him breathing again. He had the surgery and instantly slept better his behavior was better too. He was one of those kids who when tired became hyperactive. He cried a bit after he woke up from the surgery but my mom had stocked up on popsicles beforehand and he was happy as a clam. The only residual side effect was actually from having the tonsils in. No one could have foreseen this but because of his apnea he learned to sleep deeper than most people. Now even at 16 he still wets the bed because his bladder is unable to wake him up. We’re hopeing someday he will grow out of it. I hope that my story helps you if not just pretend I never said anything. :D

  27. Barbara permalink
    February 7, 2011 6:13 pm

    Sorry to hear about Col :( My daughter is now 3 1/2 and had her tonsils and adenoids out last spring. She had recurrent ear infections, terrible sinus infections and snoring. By the time she had them out she could barely breath through her nose. She didn’t have apnea and it was a tough decision to make but since having them out she has been to the doctor maybe one time for illness. She was at the doctor once or twice a month for about a year. We had her going to a chiropractor for her ear infections which helped a little. We stopped taking her to the doctor because she’d take anitbiotics and they just wouldn’t work anymore. The first couple of weeks post-surgery were tough but she is so much happier now and able to fight off infections on her own without the huge tonsils and even larger adenoids in the way and trapping germs. Good luck with your decisiion.

  28. February 7, 2011 6:40 pm

    trust your doctor.

  29. Amy Lochte permalink
    February 7, 2011 6:56 pm

    No tonsils here for me. Removed at age 5 due to reoccurring strep and ear infections, many cases a year, they were quite enlarged. My mom used to joke that she wondered why she bothered to sent me to preschool or K because I missed so much, I always seemed to be at home on antibiotics. Tonsils, adenoids, and tubes in the ears (because in between the strep I had never ending ear infections) all in one whack. I remember it clearly actually. It went very well, I went home the same day, and my health improved. I can count on one hand the cases of strep I have had since. Apparently I still snore like a banshee though…. no apnea at least! I know they are finding more out about tonsils now days, that they are part of the immune system but in some of these kids, the tonsils are not doing them any favors by staying in there.

  30. Dan permalink
    February 7, 2011 7:11 pm

    Love your writing and love you! Dan

  31. Dan permalink
    February 7, 2011 7:29 pm

    To the 6512 and Growing community: Thanks for all the advice and stories, you all are GREAT!

  32. February 7, 2011 8:34 pm

    OK adorable that Dan chimed in. Hi, Dan!

    Next: I mentioned it only briefly last fall (I think?) but Andy, after many years of the exact same illness every few months every winter, had a tonsillectomy. It was really painful but every doctor or doctor type said he should have had them out sooner (as in forever ago) and, if her had, it wouldn’t have been painful or even memorable. He had complications, a “rebleed”, emergency surgery….it really sucked. I wished many times he had had the surgery as a kid. It was expensive and painful.

    My advice, since you asked: if it might help, do it now.

    I get tight-lipped when reading about Col’s lungs. I wonder if we’ll experience similar stories…anyway, as much as it would suck, wouldn’t it also be awesome to have a reason and solution to some of the things you’ve wondered about?


  33. Barb permalink
    February 7, 2011 10:21 pm

    hi guys (rachel and dan) – trust your doctors but also trust your gut instincts. You have years of experience with the dance-balancing act of pumping up Col’s system with good natural stuff but also knowing you sometimes gotta have western medicine. My main concern would be the apnea b/c it is very unpredictable, very scary and can really screw you up. I made John do a sleep study several years ago b/c i was tired of waking up (when he stopped snoring!) and nudging him because i was sure he had stopped breathing. Ding! Severe obstructive sleep apnea. He’s been using a cpap ever since and it makes a huge difference. There are SO many issues that are affected by screwed up sleep (from appetite to energy to behavior etc etc) that it is really important to get that one right if you can.

    That said nobody wants their babe back in the hospital, even for “routine surgery” and I can only imagine it brings back a lot of emotion for you all. The good news is you’ve “been there done that” and you know how to do that (deal with hospital, support each other and Col etc.), you can rely on your own strength and past experience (and of course your friends and family). And really, if Col has surgery it’s a great opportunity for Rose to get spoiled rotten for a couple days (grandparent visit?). Love you guys.

  34. Jen permalink
    February 8, 2011 12:21 am

    As a pulmonologist (adults, not kids), it’s pretty neat to read such a balanced, thoughtful collection of advice/responses to the tonsils question. Samantha is right – they did used to take them out at the drop of a hat, and there is an elegant study that shows just how arbitrary that decision was. I’d like to think tonsillectomies are done for better reasons now. The sleep question is a good one, and sleep can be disrupted by increased airflow resistance even without obvious apneas. Poor sleep must have an impact on the immune system. The growth thing is definitely interesting.
    Does Col get steroid inhalers/nebs between flare-ups? That might help if not. Azithro also has anti-inflammatory effects, so in adults with some chronic conditions, using it 3x/week over months can help. I have no idea if it’s ever used in kids outside of cystic fibrosis, and I’m a firm believer in less is more when it comes to drugs, especially in children, but might be worth asking if you’re stuck…

  35. February 8, 2011 4:22 pm

    I feel your pain, but for a different issue altogether [her body lacks the ability to digest fructose]. My oldest underwent a small intestine biopsy at four years of age. It was hard to put her under and part of us wanted to wait a few more years for anything hospital-surgery related. We got a second opinion who also recommended the procedure. But, as it turns out, two years later we’ve gotten her on a good path – a much, much healthier path with answers. Think of the unicorn-flavored homemade ice cream you could make after the surgery? I don’t typically lean towards medical intervention, but in this case I think it might be a good thing. Have you gotten a second opinion?

    • February 8, 2011 11:15 pm

      Well, yes – fructose is a natural sugar but she has Fructose Malabsorption/Dietary Fructose Intolerance. I haven’t written about it yet – we’re still processing/learning. She’s on a restrictive diet (a diet without fructose foods — really, so so many foods) and gets migraines, depression, IBS is she eats the wrong thing. It took lots and lots of Dr.s to figure it out. I feel your stress with finding a clear path to navigate a child’s health issue.

  36. Lisa permalink
    February 8, 2011 5:00 pm

    Hi Rachel,
    Robert already replied but I wanted to share my even more enthusiastic (perhaps not the right word when I remember the painful recovery) endorsement of the procedure for Maya. I can’t guess how right it is for Col, but I feel it did wonders for Maya. I have long feared that Maya had significant allergies (like most on my side of the family). She was constantly stuffed up or runny nosed and I think often low energy. I agonized over whether to do the surgery. Post surgery she is a different kid in some ways. I don’t even think she has allergies (if so only mild now) to dogs and dust and all manner of things I feared. Be warned- a tough part of the recovery for me was that my baby got a new voice! I still miss the old nasal-stuffy-deep-and sometimes slurry speech when her mouth was full of those ‘kissing tonsils’ but it was well worth it in the long run. And I did enjoy 2 weeks of shelling peas, reading harry potter, and watching movies in bed with her while she sucked on the occasional popsicle. If you decide to do it make sure to talk to friends and know what to expect for the recovery. Good luck with your decision!

  37. February 8, 2011 7:05 pm

    I had both my tonsils and adnoids out at three. I can’t really say more about it than that because I was, well, three. I don’t remember what my life was like before they were gone …but I can say that I’ve never suffered from things like strep throat or ear infections. I rarely get sick.

    I know you and Dan will make a decision that is right for Col. We’ve had our own medical issues with Isaac and I know how hard it is to make decisions regarding the care of your child…when if involves things you may not necessarily agree with/believe in. Sending love. xo

  38. February 9, 2011 8:12 am

    I know that you are a natural mommy from the start gate. So maybe the whole doctor/surgery thing seems super wrong. If it helps, I have about a zillion doctor friends. Some of them are granola people like me, some not as much, I’ll admit. But all of them remind me of something: we’ve had a remarkable increase in lifespan since employing these practices of which so many seem skeptical these days.

    I always come back to this when the boogie man of medicine seems frightening to me. Oh yeah, I say. The FACTs would lead me to think this is a good thing. Children lead longer lives.

    And then I soothe with diet and my essential oils adding mommy goodness to all that my doctor can offer.

  39. February 9, 2011 3:14 pm

    So many good comments and perspectives; hope they percolate and leave you with a sense of calm about the right decision for Col. Going through something like this ourselves about an ear surgery for my son (coming up in the next week). I feel grateful for the best of both worlds (alternative when it’s working and physicians/interventions when we need them). I feel more comfortable about this surgery for River if it’s with an amazing specialist that I trust and hear great things about in the community (or from the NICU Docs were a great resource for our referral; better than our pediatrician). If it were me, I’d find one that I trust and then make sure they felt the tonsils were pretty likely contributing to the pneumonia and if so, I think I’d go for it too. I’m grateful to Rose for all of the ways she lives in this same reality but experiences it all in her own sweetness. Remembering unicorns and helping Col explore the shots in a different, loving way is so wonderful. Beautiful bodhisattvahs all of you!

  40. February 11, 2011 3:37 pm

    I had a tonsillectomy when I was a teenager because I kept going in and out of the E.N.T. specialists for inflamed this and that. Once I had the surgery, I very, very rarely had any issues with my ears or my throat again, so I was happy it happened.

    It was my first surgery but I have to say, I enjoyed my experience. They feed you ice cream and ice-cold chocolate milk at the hospital all the time for tonsillectomy – what’s not to love?

    It’s never easy to make medical decisions for your kids, but you’ve done a wonderful job with them so far. Trust your instincts as you always have and it’ll be OK. Really.


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