Having day surgery with MS
Since my diagnosis with MS I’ve had two other big problems in my life, my tonsils. After infections, visits to A&E and a very long wait to see a specialist – I was told they could finally be removed! I just had to wait for my turn on the list.
Fast forward 10 months later and 10 more bouts of tonsillitis, it’s October and I’m sat with my neurologist for an emergency appointment because my MS symptoms have flared up and I’ve got optic neuritis again in my left eye. He does various tests, and we discuss some different treatment options, then he asks what else has been going on. So, I told him about my wait for a tonsillectomy and how many infections I’ve been having. He has a worried look in his eye, I didn’t understand how these two things could be related? But he assures me that this relapse/flare up is most likely caused of the large number of infections on my already compromised immune system – wow, I never even thought of it like that!
He tells me he will write to the ENT department asking them to expedite my surgery and put it through as urgent as it’s now affecting my MS. Just 2 weeks later I get a phone call – my surgery is in a week. I get a feeling of relief and dread – will I be okay with the anesthetic if I have MS? Is it going to cause a relapse? I search and search for an MSers account of going under – but I can’t find anything! So, I’m writing this blog myself…
Pre – op nerves
I have two pre op appointments, one is at the hospital for a COVID swab and I’m not sure what else, the other is a telephone appointment with a nurse.
My first appointment is on Tuesday – of course it’s at the hospital the furthest away from my house, I’m sure I’ve been to every hospital in Leeds at this point. I log off work early, which always causes me so much guilt, but I don’t know why. I get a taxi there and cringe at the £15 fare. I’ve never been to this hospital before – how exciting! I arrive early, as always and the nurse sits me down. She wants to do an ECG, why? Is this because I have MS? What if I have a heart problem from all the medication I take? She asks me to move my boob awkwardly to stick a sticker underneath and 3 minutes later it’s done, and all is fine. I also have a COVID swab, and I’m told to isolate until my surgery on Friday.
On Wednesday morning the nurse rings me to ask a million questions about my general health and medications. If you have MS or any chronic illness you will know how much longer this takes for us! She reassures me that the procedure and the anesthetic should not affect my MS in any way and all my medications are fine to keep taking. It’s finally happening!
I order a Tesco shop full of ice cream and soup and struggle to sleep or concentrate until Friday.
The big day
It’s finally Friday morning, my dad drops me at the hospital for 7.15am – he walks me up to the ward to say goodbye and good luck! I feel nervous and overwhelmed, with my MS I sometimes feel like such a burden with my millions of appointments and the help I have to ask for. At least now this added problem in my life will finally be resolved!
I get allocated a bed on the day ward and before I know it the surgeon comes to see me; she asks me lots of questions and explains the surgery – she’s really nice and puts me at ease immediately. A lovely nurse comes to my bay next for my observations and more questions.
The anaesthetist joins her, and I am sick of spelling Copaxone by this point! She is the one who asks me the most questions about my MS, my last relapse, and my common symptoms. I have one question for her – who will be there when I wake up? I’m not sure why but I feel so anxious about waking up from the anaesthetic that I’ve almost forgotten about them ripping my tonsils out! She tells me a nurse will be there from start to finish and it will feel like I’ve had the quickest nap of my life – okay I’ve got this!
Literally minutes later the nurse tells me I’m next to go down to surgery and I quickly change into my gown and lovely socks - if you know, you know. By the time I get out of the toilet a young nurse called Bernie is waiting for me to escort me to surgery. We chat along the way about squid games and Netflix, and I feel very calm. I am then taken into a room where the anaesthetist I saw earlier is waiting, her and two other people insert my canula whilst giving me an oxygen mask and before I know it, I’m asleep.
I can hear someone shouting ‘Sarah!...Sarah!’ but I can’t wake up and it feels like I just fall straight back to sleep. What feels like 10 minutes later I wake up properly in a room with other patients recovering from surgery. Then I see my friend Bernie – he says hello. I feel a little weird and wow my throat hurts! The consultant gives me some morphine through my IV and tells me to keep my oxygen mask on as my levels are a little low. I have to stay in the recovery room for about 45 minutes to make sure everything is okay, and I’m given some IV fluids as I might struggle to eat. Bernie is talking to me about holidays, but I’m not really sure what I’m saying back!
I get taken back to the ward, I feel so sleepy and I’m in so much pain! The nurses keep checking on me. After about an hour I eat half a sandwich very, very slowly. The surgeon comes to see me and tells me everything went fine! Once I’ve been to the toilet and had a few more observations taken I’m allowed home. I can’t believe how smoothly everything went!
I thought I was going to wake up with no sight, no feeling in my legs, pins and needles all over my body. I thought my recovery was going to take longer because of my MS. I thought I was going to relapse because of the surgery.
I did exactly what the doctors and the nurses told me for 2 weeks, I rested, and I ate normal food no matter how much it hurt! If you ever have a tonsillectomy do not buy 4 tubs of ice cream – because you really won’t be able to eat it. My mum and my partner look after me for the next week whilst I get through the worst of it, and my partner ends up eating all the ice cream I bought! At least it didn’t go to waste.
A full recovery
Two and a half weeks later I’m now nearly fully recovered and feeling more positive than ever. If you are fighting MS, it can be really, really tough. So many appointments, chasing up medication, remembering to take your meds and vitamins – it feels like an extra full time job. When you have another health problem going on, it’s even tougher!
Now I only have one thing to fight, my MS. And I will fight it stronger than ever.
My name is Sarah and I live in the UK. I have been living with MS for just over a year now. My MS journey started with optic neuritis about 5 years ago and developed into many hospital trips due to strange aches and pains! Steroids, infusions, and injections – I’ve had it all! I'm a student advisor and I love my job. I also love fashion, crocheting and cooking. I am passionate about the environment and saving our planet. Since my diagnosis I have tried to turn it into something positive by raising awareness about MS in the news and on the radio. I also want to support people newly diagnosed with MS and give them hope you can live a great life with MS, you just need to find your own way!