What Really Happened

I figure you would like to know what happened here over the last few days but are too embarrassed to ask. So I’ll just go from the beginning with the short version.

Wednesday I come home from work with an extremely sore throat and an inflamed tonsil. I have not had problems with my tonsils since I had mono in grade ten, so I figure I’ll treat it with antibiotic tea, hot lemon and honey, saltwater gargles, and Advil for the pain and swelling.

Thursday my throat was wicked sore, and I slept a lot and had some fever and chills, but that was expected, so I added antiseptic lozenges to my arsenal. I considered going to the doctor, but knew I’d either be prescribed amoxicillin and sent home, or that I’d have to do a throat swab and wait for the result. For a day or so before getting any treatment plan, so I thought, well, if it continues to get worse, I’ll get me to a clinicery.

Friday my tonsil started leaking pus, which I thought was the most disgusting thing ever invented. His Nibs, who gets many throat infections, said this was common. I was revolted and added iodine to my saltwater gargle and a peroxide and alcohol rinse for the tonsil itself. It hurt to even open my mouth that day. I resolved that if Saturday was as bad or worse, I’d go see the doctor.

Saturday, I felt great. My throat was still a little sore, but nothing like what it had been. It was still swollen, but not as much and it wasn’t as red either. The fever and chills were gone, I was talking properly….I was clearly on the mend. Just to be safe, I tried contacting my doctor, but wasn’t able to get through to his receptionist to make an appointment, and they’ve recently changed their walk-in hours to something I couldn’t remember. But I wasn’t too concerned. I was feeling better!

Sunday morning, I felt great! Virtually no pain, just a little swelling, no drooling, no pus…I called my doctor’s office twice and left messages with them that I wanted to come in so that he could check out this throat infection and make sure it was healing up properly. I didn’t hear back before end of business day, but again was feeling pretty good. Until mid-afternoon, when my throat started to *really* swell.

By the time I called Health Line and was advised to go in to hospital, I could feel my tonsil pressing against the back of my throat. I was asked, are you having trouble swallowing? And I was, kinda. I got in to the emergency room at 9:30. By the time I was evaluated at 10:30, it had become nearly impossible to talk, and my throat felt constricted. I was DEFINITELY having problems swallowing.

The doctor saw me within about an hour and told me I had a throat abscess, or quinsy (a condition that apparently killed George washington) and would need surgery. Actually, the doctor said “you have a pus pocket”, which made me think of Polly Pocket, which made me think of the Worst Exmass Present Evar. The ER physician called the ENT surgeon who agreed to meet me at the other hospital. They started 2 IVs; one for antibiotics and one for a steroid that reduced the swelling.

3am. The ambulance arrives and takes me to the other hospital, where the ENT specialist inspects my throat and announces he will have to cut into and drain the abscess.

In case you are wondering, this IS the most disgusting thing ever invented. Hands down. A mouthful of stinking, bloody pus that tastes like a bag of smashes arseholes. This follows the local anaesthetic that is at least as bitter as quinine. It was supposed to stifle the gag reflex. I gagged on it. Several times.

The doctor informs me that my “pus-filled bag” extends fairly far down my throat and is difficult to cut in to. Yay. He also tells me that my mouth is healing faster than he can suction the pus out, so he has to keep cutting. And jamming the suction hose deeper and deeper into my throat tissue. Motherfucking ow.

Finally, at about 4am the surgery is done, no stitches, and about a half hour after that, I was given morphine. Then I slept for a while.

I have an IV in my hand, and will need to do IV antibiotics every 8 hours for the next 3 days. The abscess in my throat was relieved of a half litre of pus. I’m glad I was hydrating the whole time or that would have been worse.

The culprit? Ibuprofen. Because its an anti-inflammatory, it acts as an immunosuppressant. So the bugs in my throat were given free reign. Had I used Tylenol, I may not have needed surgery. I may have still got an abscess, but the doc figured it was because I took ibuprofen that things went crazy.

I don’t go halfway with my sick, y’all.


cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.


  1. A) Ew! B) OUCH! C) Thankfully we live in Canada D) I’m glad you are on the way to mending E) Ew! F) It is too bad that acetaminophen is so crappy at both pain control and anti-inflammation F) BOOBS!

  2. So glad you are better. I had throat surgery a couple of years ago on the 23rd December. Xmas sucked! You will be better for the Feast?

  3. Oh man, I had one of these after Burning Man! Like a week after! I didn’t have to have it surgically dealt with; they threw me on Cipro and had me sleep a lot. One really gross weird question: did you take a photo of your tonsil? Want to exchange sick throat photos??!

    (I hope it heals up well/soon/you feel better.)

    – r.

    1. I did, but it wasn’t my tonsil. My tonsil is just fine. The abscess formed in the soft tissue of my throat behind the tonsil. The surgeon had to cut in to the roof of my mouth and the back of my throat to drain it.

      They couldn’t put me on stuff without draining it because it was full of pus. Apparently once you get an actual abscess they have to drain out all the pus or else it comes back. I don’t want it to come back.

      It was weird, because in the end, my tonsil wasn’t red, sore, or swollen at all!

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