Tonsils of power – or lack of them

About 3 weeks ago I treated a beautiful pointer with what appeared to be raging tonsillitis – he had chronic upper airway disease and what accompanied a fair bit of drooling was a mass of inflamed and angry looking tonsils at the back of his throat.

I felt sorry for him, not as sorry as I would feel for him now – and I’ll come to that in a minute – but impossible not to really. Nice stoical dog, putting on a brave face, sore and ulcerated back of the throat. Maybe a small abscess there and looked very painful – yet, the dog had a super nature, was wagging his tail and generally being great. He’d lost his bark, was clearly have a battle with it and after ruling out anything too nasty as a concurrent disease, it was satisfying to load him up with the right medicines and away we go.

The strange thing was that I almost simultaneously developed tonsillitis a couple of days later myself. As you can imagine, there were a few smiles at work, which I have ignored – but to be absolutely crystal clear with any readers here – at no point did I kiss this dog. Don’t get me wrong, I like pointers and this one was a looker – but kissing patients is not my thing. Frankly, and rightly, clients (and their pets) would leave the practice in a heartbeat. Enough said.

Anyway, I popped myself on a course of dog antibiotics (allegedly) and it didn’t get better to the point of waking up at 2am the other Saturday, incoherently wondering who was attacking the back of my throat with a chainsaw, and complete with head tilt and inability to speak, I nipped to A&E to join the other long queue of people with head tilts and inability to speak to properly and received a steroid drip and a proper course of antibiotics.

Joy oh joy. 4 days later, it ebbed, course of antibiotics finished, and I thought things were all done and dusted. But whilst the pointer was over it, I was not made of quite the same stuff. Two days passed and then bang, it was back – with a vengeance.

In a person, a sore throat is generally regarded as a bit of a poor reason to be ill. At least it is when you are mid thirties and supposedly profess yourself to be in the zone at all times. My standard approach to any male colleague complaining of a sore throat has generally been one of gentle mockery over the years. It was tricky – there I was at work, grimacing and moaning because of a sore throat when the rest of the team, out there grappling with jumpy stallions, belligerent bulls and pecking chickens, would think I was the biggest wet girls blouse on earth.
I mewed a bit, dribbled and phoned the doctors to croak a request for another course of antibiotics. I’ve become a connoisseur – the human ones taste so much nicer than the dog ones. Another week of them, all seemed good until…. last Tuesday.

This time I held out until morning. I don’t want to go on about this. I can’t imagine a Spartan warrior making a fuss, but times have moved on and the searing burning agony in my throat, throbbing my entire head to point my body was adopting the posture of an epileptic hunchback, caused the kids to look at me a little strangely in the morning. My eyes, fixed wide with a sleepless grimace greeted them with a creepy eeriness making them wonder if I had been possessed.

It was my turn to drop Noah off at school and indeed I did, but it was a silently muted trip where the raspberry game we normally play on the way in became one comprising zombie howls from the depths of hell. It was the only noise I could make. Noah raced into the sanctum of his classroom fairly sharpish and I lurched off.

I was due a back appointment at 9am – one I had cancelled three times previously for various reasons and knew I couldn’t cancel again. Not that I could have phoned to do so. So headed in to the clinic reception where the nice receptionist gasped at the sight of me. I get that every now and again – and it is never good. My gait had become some sort of mutant rictus hop and I hastily tried to scrawl some explanation for my demeanour on a scrap of paper – a long trail of saliva dribbling uncontrollably from my chin. The receptionist collected herself, scanned the incomprehensible piece of scrawl on the desk and calmly told me I had the wrong day.

Realising the change was almost complete I bowed to the weakness of men and staggered to the doctors. Pat, the top receptionist on duty, could instantly tell I wasn’t myself. Febrile, I slumped on a cushion. She was amazing and did what only someone on the inside can do, had a word with one of the senior Doctors. The doctor, Dr Smith – the sort you would want to deliver your baby, kindly ushered me in all of a sudden to see what all the fuss was about.

“Say ah” he said.

Something about my expression made him check to see if I was clutching an axe. If I had been, I would have chopped my own head off. The pain, seemingly beyond excruciating, had multiplied by a factor of at least fifty since entering the room.

So in a nutshell, because I am labouring the point here, I had a quinsy. A peritonsillar abscess. One that had spread from my tonsil down my throat. The hospital staff at Salisbury were absolutely amazing – a huge thank you to the ENT Team, to A&E team, the anaethestists and to the nurses on the Downton Ward. They lanced it, sliced it, performed an emergency tonsillectomy to get the rest of it out and not able to get enough the great hospitality, I nipped back this weekend for a couple of nights due to a moderate mouth gushing post op bleed. Thankfully no transfusions required and here’s hoping it continues that way. Now that would have freaked out the back clinic receptionist for sure.

The thing is, I never would have guessed the pointer was in so much pain – and the key lesson I have learned from all this, is that maybe there is a time when dogs really do deserve a big bowl of ice cream…