Mighty Blog

Tonsillectomy during a pandemic: Callie’s story

Written by Tera Peterson, an active volunteer with Families as Partners. The Families as Partners program promotes, coordinates and supports family involvement throughout Children’s Minnesota through different pathways.

Hello, my name is Tera. My husband and I are the proud parents of two daughters: 7-year-old Finley and 5-year-old Callie. Both girls were born premature and spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in St. Paul.  We have always been so grateful for Children’s Minnesota.

But it wasn’t until this spring that we realized just how thankful we are to have Children’s Minnesota so close and available to us, especially when we felt like we had nowhere else to turn. There truly are not words to express the gratitude my heart feels toward our experience at Children’s Minnesota throughout COVID-19 and the dedicated professionals behind this care.

Callie’s symptoms worsen

Since last fall, Callie has been struggling off and on with feeling tired and having a sore throat. Multiple appointments, blood work and referrals lead us to an appointment at Children’s Minnesota for a sleep study to see if she needed to get her tonsils out. And then COVID-19 hit.

At the end of March, we were able to have a virtual appointment for Callie’s potential sleep study. We were so thankful for the opportunity to move forward with at least the consultation. Our experience with the virtual appointment was great. Callie qualified for a sleep study, but when she would be able to do it was unknown. We moved through quarantine pretty successfully and then the sore throat became unbearable.

An emergency visit

Callie’s tonsils were basically touching, she was miserable and it was difficult for her to eat and swallow. We had a few doses of antibiotics prescribed, but her throat did not get better. No one could see her; neither her primary doctor nor ear nose and throat (ENT) physician, due to COVID-19 restrictions, so finally I brought her into the Children’s Minnesota emergency department (ED).

Callie eating a popsicle after having her tonsils removed

I felt hesitant because I didn’t want to bother the staff with something like strep throat when they may be dealing with kids with bigger issues. But we knew our daughter needed help and we had nowhere else to go. We were worried about how many antibiotics she had been on and the long-term effects of those, but we were also worried about the long-term effects of chronic strep. From the triage nurse who checked us in to the doctor who cared for Callie, they quickly assured me that we had made the right decision.

The care Callie deserves

I was able to have face-to-face conversations with a doctor who listened to and talked through our concerns. I felt like we had a plan of action moving forward. Within a month we were in the same place we had been when we made our first trip to Children’s Minnesota. This time there was no mommy guilt or shame in feeling like her issue wasn’t “big” enough for the emergency department. We felt so welcome and reassured that we were in the right place. So off we went to the ED again, where we experienced the same excellent care and kindness as our previous visit.

With both our visits what really hit me was how safe and cared for Callie felt. I could see her relax, she was willing (mostly) to let the doctors and nurses do what they needed to do because she understood she was in a place where they were going to do everything they could to help her. Thankfully the tonsils have been removed and our spunky 5-year-old is feeling like herself again!

Not even a pandemic can get in the way of the excellence that is Children’s Minnesota. Thank you for your dedication to the most amazing people on earth.

Kaitlyn Kamleiter