Byline: CAROL DAVIS
ME AND MY OPERATION Laser treatment for tonsiL stones THE PATIENT AROUND five years ago I woke up one morning with my throat feeling incredibly sore, as though I'd swallowed broken glass.
My GP diagnosed tonsillitis, inflammation of the tonsils. He explained they'd got infected and prescribed me antibiotics which cleared it up in two days.
I had another bout of tonsillitis later that year, so returned to the GP who gave me another course of antibiotics. After that, I'd have one or two attacks of tonsillitis a year. The GP had no idea why it had started -- I'd never had tonsil trouble as a child.
Because I'm incredibly busy at work, there was no question of taking time off. So I'd take the antibiotics and simply press on, existing on soup and ice cream. It was exhausting.
My husband, Thomas, 47, was often abroad for work so I found myself collecting our three-yearold son, Jamie, at the end of the day, then collapsing into bed at nine o'clock, utterly debilitated.
Last year, the bouts of tonsillitis became more frequent; I was on antibiotics eight or nine times. My GP prescribed different types, hoping one would help for good.
At one stage he mentioned having my tonsils removed, but we dismissed it as he warned me the operation was a very unpleasant one, with a risk of serious bleeding and complete bed rest for two weeks.
Then, one day, looking at my tonsils in the mirror, I noticed little scars and pits on them from all the infection, and these pits had little white lumps growing in them.
MY GP said these were tonsil stones, which are basically bits of food, dead cells and mucus, which can cluster when the tonsils become scarred by bouts of infection. He said it was a vicious circle -- because bacteria get trapped in the craters, too, they lead to more bouts of tonsillitis.
I had a metallic taste in my mouth all the time, and worried about whether those decaying lumps would give me bad breath, so I'd use gargles and mouthwashdon't es to keep my breath fresh, and constantly chewed mints.
But no matter how many mouthwashes I used, those horrible lumps just kept getting bigger.
Finally, when I went to see my GP with yet another attack of tonsillitis in January this year, he referred me to a specialist who told me about a new technique to smooth the surface of the tonsils with a laser so no more stones could form -- all with just a local anaesthetic.
Two weeks later, in February, I met the surgeon Mike Dilkes.
After examining me, he confirmed that the treatment was suitable for me. He said there'd be no more tonsil stones, meaning I'd also get tonsillitis much less -- but if I did, I could have further laser treatment to clear the surface.
I'd be able to eat normally afterwards and would have only mild pain. I couldn't wait.
A month later, I had the ten-minute procedure. First Mr Dilkes sprayed a banana-flavoured local anaesthetic onto my tonsils.
Then he lasered each tonsil in turn -- it felt like a burning pinprick, for under half a minute each side at a time.
The whole experience was no worse than a trip to the dentist. Afterwards I had jelly and ice cream, and went home two hours later without any painkillers but just a slightly sore throat for a day or so. …