As a parent you get used to spending a lot of your time in hospitals: whether it's down to A&E after your son has belly-flopped off the slide, or in for a few days with a child suffering from chest infections, nasty coughs or the dreaded bronchiolitis.
A few weeks ago my wife and I found ourselves once again sitting by a hospital bed, but this time the visit was planned. After recurrent tonsillitis and endless nights of rasping snores, our eldest son was due to have his pesky tonsils removed.
Friends and family who had experience of tonsillectomies gave us nuggets of wisdom, as families often do, even when you don't ask for it. But, if you had to ask me for the top five pieces of advice I would give to someone else in my position, it would be these...
Seeing your child have a general anaesthetic is more traumatic than you think
Obviously, it's never going to be nice to watch your child be forcefully put to sleep, despite knowing they're in safe hands; but, unless you're used to it, it's a much more unpleasant experience than you expect. My wife got really upset as we walked back to the ward, and I will admit to a tear being shed as I walked down to the cafe to pick up some lunch - and that wasn't just because I was starving.
You should avoid looking in your child's mouth afterwards
I did, and it was not a pretty sight. You presume that in the 21st century tonsils are extracted by robots and lasers, but judging by the state of Isaac's throat it looked like the surgeons had scraped them out with an old ice cream scoop.
It all kicks in on day three
During days one and two Isaac was grouchy and in a little pain, and we were thinking that the whole recovery thing was a doddle. By day three, the anaesthetic had completely worn off and he was in agony, not knowing what to do with himself. A steady stream of ibuprofen, paracetamol and morphine (provided by the hospital staff) is vital to get you through those next few days - although it's best if the drugs are consumed by the patient only, no matter how tempting it may be.
It's not ice cream and jelly any more
When you think of having your tonsils out, you think of having an excuse for scoffing as much ice cream and jelly as you can; but instead, the doctors recommend a diet of rough food, such as toast or cereal, as it scrapes away any scabs which are forming and helps speed up the healing process. That's not to say your child can't scoff a tub of Ben and Jerry's as a treat - providing they share, of course...
They're like a new child afterwards
This was the one thing which every parent whose child had undergone a tonsillectomy told me; that, afterwards, they noticed a marked difference in their son or daughter. It is the same with Isaac - after a week or so he was back to his usual self and looking far more healthy than before. He's also scoffing much more food that he used to, thanks to all the newfound space at the back of his throat.
Unfortunately, having his tonsils out hasn't affected his ability to whinge and moan at us - especially now I keep all the ice cream to myself.
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