A patient’s journey from hemorrhoids to healing
No-one talks about hemorrhoids, yet many people suffer their misery.
Have you ever walked into a public restroom needing to go number two? You, hope, and pray that you are alone.
You run into a stall, immediately sit down, and try to go as fast as possible before someone else makes their appearance. Unfortunately, someone enters in the middle of everything. You spend the next 120 seconds squeezing your butt as tightly as possible. As soon as they walk out, you finish your business and walk out of the restroom in sweet relief that no one knew what you were doing. This is what the world has come to!
Newsflash: EVERYONE POOPS!
It is 2020. The age of sharing. We open up about so many topics that used to be “off-limits” — depression, anxiety, food disorders, baby blues, and sexuality. Let’s add pregnancy hemorrhoids to the list.
What is a hemorrhoid?
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in your rectum and anus. Sometimes the walls of these blood vessels stretch so thin that the veins bulge and get irritated. Irritated, dilated veins in the anus are a considerable problem when you poop. The common issue of constipation and the increased pressure in the lower abdomen during pregnancy contributes to hemorrhoids. Pregnant women are set up to develop hemorrhoids.
I suddenly learned what “thrombosed” meant
I developed hemorrhoids after my second pregnancy. One of my hemorrhoids became thrombosed. This is a fancy word for really really swollen and really really painful. I went to a surgeon to get it drained. The recovery from that small procedure was so excruciating that I swore I would never go through it again.
Never say never
A few years later, the memory of pain faded. My husband and I decided we wanted more kids. My incredibly insightful obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN) mentioned the risk of getting another thrombosed hemorrhoid. The thought gave me instant anxiety.
I knew I should talk to my colorectal surgeon. She mentioned the option of hemorrhoidectomy, a surgery to remove hemorrhoids. She cautioned the surgery and recovery were extremely painful. My Obgyn’s words haunted me. I wanted more children and did not want to risk another excruciating experience while pregnant.
I opted for the surgery
On the day of surgery, I was not nervous at all. I prepared precisely the way I was instructed. Anesthesia went well. I woke up feeling fine, and I left the surgery center soon after. My surgery was first thing in the morning, and the first afternoon was a breeze. I started narcotics to get ahead of the pain as well as stool softeners and laxatives to prepare my bowels. I stuck to a primarily “soup and crackers” diet. I’ve always been a regular in the bathroom. I was optimistic my recovery process would be more comfortable than expected.
And then I had to poop…
My body ached. The pressure built up on my raw wounds. Anxiety kicked in. I was terrified to sit on the toilet. Finally, I decided to try, and the worst thing possible was happening. I was constipated. Was I too nervous? Something didn’t feel normal.
All I could think was that my butt had been sewn shut. Maybe my body wasn’t letting me poop. I know that sounds crazy. Those two days of trying to have a soft, regular bowel movement will probably scar me for life.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Photo by Isaac Davis on Unsplash
I did ridiculous things to have a bowel movement. I repeated a bible verse.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”(Phil, 4:13)
I asked friends to pray for my bowel movements and even tried pooping while soaking in the bathtub and even used a mirror and flashlight to see if anything was actually coming out. These are the desperate things I resorted to when unable to perform one of the most basic human functions.
After these hours of hell, Heaven’s gates opened, and the laxatives worked. Success! I sat on the toilet for the first time since the surgery. It wasn’t excruciating. Immediately, I texted my husband to tell him the news!
“I pooped, and it was okay!”
I never imagined I would send someone a text about #bowelmovements. I’m currently on day six of recovery, and I’m feeling a lot better. I still have residual discomfort down there. I’m taking Advil, eating a bland diet, and keeping regular with laxatives and stool softeners. But I can walk into the bathroom with confidence that I’m not going to die. I am hoping to return to my usual activities soon.
Hemorrhoid surgery was worth it
Despite the pain of recovery, I am glad I had the surgery. Many women suffer from hemorrhoids. They feel they have exhausted all options. The most common fears I hear from these women is, “I just have to live with it.” Others may be too embarrassed to talk about anal pain, constipation, or bleeding with bowel movements.
We need to be open and honest with our doctors to get the help we need. There is nothing we can say that they have not heard before.
This surgery may or may not be right for everyone. It was worth seeking alternatives and being well informed to make my decision. If you asked me two days ago if the surgery was worth it, I would have started crying
If you ask me today, I confidently and definitively say YES.
I mean, who doesn’t want a normal anus?