Oh, Drewsmom, I am so sorry you feel bad. I have had tonsilitis all week, too. Like you, I seldom get sick. Since I have been pregnant, though, it seems like I catch everything!
Anyhow, you are right on that the tonsils are your first line of defense, and you *should* try to keep them if you possibly can. It sounds like adventuregirl had a terrible experience with infection, so I am sure she is better off without those guys!
Let me tell you what my naturopath told me when I called her about my own tonsilitis:
She said that if you keep the area in your throat very well lubricated, infection will not be able to grow -- the bacteria require a dry medium to grow on. You can lubricate it with lozenges. She recommended ones with colostrum in them. I couldn't find those, but I did find colostrum tablets (chewable) which made a big difference for me.
People experience sore throats very differently. For me, hot drinks made it much worse, and cold carbonated ones helped immediately. If you can, consider using a homeopathic remedy. Here is a pretty decent online Materia Medica
Enter your most unusual symptoms -- that way you will get the fewest number of possible remedies. Remember that with homeopathic remedies, only the correct remedy will have any effect.
A common remedy for tonsilitis is belldonna (which worked very well for me, incidentally), but I only recommend using belladonna if your symptom picture matches the profile for belladonna, which you can find at the link above.
I hope this helps, and I hope that you are feeling better soon.