Just Yank Them Out!

When I was a kid, there was a very routine operation done to treat repeated sore throats known as the tonsillectomy. As I recall, this procedure was so common that you could call it a rite of passage back in the day–like learning to ride a bike. I read somewhere that surgeons performed about 1.5 million tonsillectomies annually compared with less than half a million today.

Tonsils are little lumpy masses of tissue at the back of the throat that doctors just loved to remove. I lost mine on February 10, 1965. I don’t know why I remember the date. Maybe it’s because it was my cousin Alan’s ninth birthday and I was traumatized about missing the party. But I doubt it, because I am sure that by that time, as a girl, I was bumped from the list. Still, I am positive about the date.

The surgery was very painful and resulted in a very bad sore throat for about a week or two. Grandma promised me I could have as much ice cream or chocolate pudding as I wanted when I returned home. Well that was certainly a joke, because it hurt so much I had a very difficult time just swallowing my own spit.

What I did get was a lot of attention, a cozy spot lying on the couch in the living room, and a new record player. I remember falling in and out of sleep and hallucinating some kind of animal floating above me. Since you were all with me for Kelly’s 21st birthday celebration when we saw Wicked, I think you will understand why I believe what I saw while recuperating from my tonsillectomy may have been flying monkeys. It’s what happens to me when prescribed drugs.

I am guessing that a large percentage of my peers no longer have their tonsils or at least know a close relative without them. I think I will start asking about this when there is a lull in conversation at the next party I attend. It’s going to be my new ice breaker.


2 thoughts on “Just Yank Them Out!

  1. One of my very first memories is of going to the hospital to get my tonsils out. I was between 2 and 3. I remember my mom bought me really cute PJs but they wouldn’t let me wear them. They put me in a pair of old Davy Crockett ski pajamas ( remember them?). I was very upset. Then when they gave me the anesthesia it didn’t take well. I must have counted backwards from 10 half a dozen times while they wheeled me into the OR. I was scared to death! Then I remember waking up too sore to eat the promised ice cream. First real trauma of my life!


  2. I am impressed you could count backwards. I didn’t know they did tonsillectomies so young. How scary that must have been for your parents as well as you! Why am I not surprised that you also had this surgery done, and not just because we are the same age.? I think mine was done at St. Clare’s, but it is possible it was done in Morristown.


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