A pair of inflamed tonsils. There are flamed push pins poking into the tonsils

Tonsils and RA?

Last updated: February 2021

It was about this time last year that I had one of the worst sicknesses that I’ve ever experienced: a combo of strep throat and tonsillitis. My tonsillitis were so swollen that it felt like a bunch of knives stabbing my throat each time I swallowed, and pus covered the entirety of each tonsil and the back of my throat.

Combined with a cough and some sinus pressure, not a good time there was to have. Thankfully, it cleared up after a few weeks. It cleared up, and I hoped and prayed that I would never experience something like this again.

Another episode of tonsillitis

Well, recently that changed around January 27 when I started experiencing the same symptoms again: swollen tonsils, stabbing throat pain, and just a general feeling of malaise. This time around, it thankfully wasn’t as bad as last time, but it still has not been the best feeling. I’ve had to have a lot of soft food, eat a lot of ice cream (which is not always a bad thing), and make sure to have plenty of rest.

While I was at the doctor, they did a test for strep throat that came back negative, and then ordered a throat culture to determine if there were any other bacteria/viruses/pathogens growing, which resulted in a bigger problem when I recently got back my test results from the throat culture that was ordered.

Worried about surgery while immunocompromised

The more unsettling aspect of this unfortunate manifestation of illness is that my primary care doctor informed me that if I experienced another bout of this mysterious tonsil disease, I would have to have my tonsils removed, which is scary to think about because I have never had surgery before (and obviously that type of surgery).

More importantly, I know that having surgery can be more difficult when you have a chronic illness (and when you’re immunocompromised) and, in the middle of a pandemic, I don’t want to experience that.

On edge about my tonsils

Hopefully, I won’t have to, since this is only the second time that I’ve had this bout of tonsillitis. But, nevertheless, it has produced a certain instability and health-anxiety that I haven’t experienced before since I was first diagnosed with RA.

Having to constantly be on edge about whether or not my tonsils are going to become swollen again, about whether I will have to have surgery, about whether my body will ever be okay again - it’s this constant state of anxiety that is slowly eating away at the mental fortitude and capacity to function normally. That might sound dramatic, but it’s a real feeling.

My body has to experience these pains

Maybe that’s the most disturbing aspect of this whole thing: that my body has to experience these pains - things that normally didn’t happen to me before I was diagnosed with RA - and that I am more susceptible to these things when I don’t want to be. This is my reality, no matter what people say or what anyone tells me. My feelings — even if it doesn’t match the exact circumstances that I am experiencing — are valid and real.

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