Why Having Tonsillitis Freaking Sucks

It’s been over a week since I’ve written an article for Unfinished Man, and though I would love to say that it’s because I was traveling around the world, drinking exotic drinks and soaking up rays, the real reason is far less impressive: I came down with a bad case of bacterial tonsillitis.

Now, You’ve probably heard of tonsillitis and thought to yourself “oh right, that kind of cold that children get that gives them an extra sore throat.” When I went to the doctor to find out why my throat was bothering me, and found out that it was only Tonsillitis, I thought much the same thing. “No problem, I’ll be fine after a few days of antibiotics!”

Boy was I ever wrong.

What’s it actually like to have tonsillitis?

It all started a few weeks ago after a particularly gruelling session at the gym. My neck felt a bit sore from squatting (or so I thought) and the next day I had a pounding headache. This on its own wouldn’t be too surprising if not for the fact that this headache ended up lasting over a week, and included a low-grade fever as well. Now, at this point I probably should have gone to a doctor, but I thought it was nothing more than a tension headache and would work itself out.

I went for a mini-vacation with my girlfriend the following weekend, and that’s when the real fun started. Let me start off by saying that I agree with Charlie Brooker when he said “I can confidently report that it’s worse – far worse – than international terrorism and child abuse combined.” What I hoped for was a fun-filled weekend; what I got was a weekend turned into an intro course for my girlfriend on taking care of the sick. Weekend ruined.

Monday rolls around and I finally decide that I’m going to see a clinic doctor. I’m feeling awful by this point, having gotten almost no sleep, and the fever I had didn’t help either. The clinic doctor immediately suspects tonsillitis, does a swab to see if it’s bacterial, and sends me on my way with a promise to call me if it’s bacterial. The doctor suggested that if I felt any worse, to just take in the prescription anyway and start taking the drugs. I did just that.

Instead of boring you with every event that transpired from the point of starting the drugs on Tuesday, and going “fuck this” and visiting the hospital Saturday morning, I’ll give you a brief overview. Some nights I got no sleep at all, most days I was able to eat no more than a half cup of food. My throat was so sore that even water was nearly impossible for me to swallow, and I became dehydrated. I started hallucinating talking faces on my walls, as I pounded my bed with fists clenched asking them to stop talking so I could sleep.

I “woke up” singing children’s songs, while feeling incredibly depressed. That about sums it up. When Saturday morning rolled around and I was vomiting due to tonsil stones falling down my throat, I decided to throw up the white flag and visit a hospital. This is the last part of the story, and certainly the most needle filled.

After filling out some paperwork at the hospital and having the nurse check my vitals, the doctors put me through a barrage of tests to try to figure out why the antibiotics weren’t doing their job, and what the doctors could do to get me on the road to recovery. I went through soft tissue x-rays, CT scans, blood tests, throat swabs, had a mirror down my throat (beyond awful) and after all that the doctors realized that there was a lot more to my condition than the clinic originally suspected. For one, I had an odd amount of scar tissue below my tonsils, which begged the question, why? They never did find out for certain, but what the doctors did realize is that I had an abscess that burst near my larynx, and that’s what caused me to become so ill, and get tonsillitis. That headache and fever were probably the start of it, and a few weeks of the bacteria beating up my immune system finally took its toll.

The doctors ended up giving me a few days worth of IV therapy at the hospital, which included Clindamycin (a very potent anti-biotic) as well as cortisone, to take down the swelling on my tire-sized neck. After a few days of in-hospital treatment, I was given an oral version of Clindamycin, and that’s where I am now. I’m still sick, but on the road to recovery. The last thing I want to say is: fuck you tonsillitis, fuck you so hard.



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I'm a co-founder and writer here at Unfinished Man. I write, manage the look and feel of the website, and make sure that nothing breaks. I also reply to the vast majority of our emails, so if you're sending one through, I suggest you be nice. Everyone says I'm the least offensive of our writers, so they gave the email jockey task to me. When I'm not improving the site, I write about fashion, video games, politics, and anything related to science and technology.

9 comments on “Why Having Tonsillitis Freaking Sucks”

  1. I have the exact same symptoms including the headache for a week. Day 4 of antibiotics and they havent worked at all. This has convinced me to go to the hospital!

    • Yes, I highly recommend it. I have an allergy to doctors, and still… it’s the only way to really get it resolved. As I’m sure you can appreciate, it’s really not a pleasant experience.

  2. Wow man. I’m sitting in room 922 of the makati medical center in manila Philippines.

    I’ve had the exact symptoms you describe for six days, went through truckloads of anti biotic and made no progress.

    I’m on iv Clindamycin right now along with several other iv drugs.

    The only thing I’ll be asking my doctor about is this occurrence you describe of tonsil stones. I don’t have those yet but my exact diagnosis is acute hypertrophic exudative tonsilitis of the bacterial variety.

    Can you give me any more information on these stones you describe? I’m googling on my phone now…

    • I feel for you, believe me. Tonsillitis is one of the worst ailments I’ve ever had, bar none. Tonsil stones are basically white chunky deposits of calcium at the back of your throat. They hurt, you cough as they fall down your throat, and they’re not a good sign.

  3. I have great sympathy for you. When I was seven I had my tonsils out but back then in England, it was like an assembly line, and alas they didn’t get the complete set. I suffered with tonsillitis every year twice a year until I was twenty seven. Finally having the nuts(“cahoonas” doesn’t come up on my spell check) to get them done again. The surgeon said after the opp that it looked like they had never been done in the first place. Couldn’t even drink water for 6 days but luckily have never looked back. Good luck

  4. This is literally identical to my scenario, I too went to the doctors, the prescribed me a steroid and I have taken it for 3 days and it still hurts. I cannot eat that well enjoyably at east it feels like I’m swallowing a rock. I work in the morning too so that should be fun. Any tips? I am thinking about going to the doctor and getting a different medication because these really do not help.

  5. I think I’m having exactly the same symptoms…started off with about 5 days of stiff neck and headache at work (especially at the end of the day), then BANG! Awful tonsil pain in my left side with swollen glands all round my neck and back of my head for the last 4 days, not getting any better even with penicillin which I’ve been on for the last 2 days.

    In fact the pain has got worse and I’m feeling really weak now as I’ve not eaten.

    Only thing is the NHS in the UK who operate over the phone don’t think I’m bad enough for a hospital visit…yet! Sigh.


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