Okay, so I also wanted to post to get my experience out there. Reading through these posts there are so many horror stories that it makes you almost feel like there is no reason to get a hemorrhoidectomy because of the “everlasting” pain. First, of course it is pain, but I have to tell you I think it was completely worth it. Everyone is going to have different experiences - I hope that this forum is a lot like an online review, the majority of posters who had bad experiences wanted to share. But think about what it will be like 20, 30, 40 years down the road, maybe when you are retired, sitting on a beach, still uncomfortable wondering why you never got this procedure done? I am really very happy that I got the procedure done and I can say this even though as I write this I am still in the healing process.
Basic summary of the long post:
- Prepare for pain. Yes it is surgery, but you get through it. The pain medications help, but I got by a lot with Advil, which helped to prevent me from becoming constipated. If you can, try replacing Advil with your pain medications, since these are constipating.
- Prepare for some painful BMs. Yes, these are painful and bloody, but they do get better wit time. Take a stool softener, and continue to take a stool softener for awhile.
- Exercise as soon as you can (obviously consult your doctor on this one). I remember when I had my ACL repaired I hated (absolutely hated) the doctors and PAs that made me get up the day after my surgery and learn to use the crutches up the stairs, down the stairs and in general. It hurt, a lot. But, as you will read below, I started walking, treadmills, ellipticals, anything to generate the movement and I believe I had a pretty good recovery. Walking is painful, but the sooner you do it, the faster your recovery.
- Change your diet. This may be a wake up call to your diet. Do you need more fiber in your diet? Of course there are a ton of reasons why you could need this surgery, but even before your surgery begin eating healthier, more fiber, fruits, vegetables, nuts, anything (this also helps with the BMs, trust me).
This is going to be a pretty long post, but I wanted to provide you with as much information about what you are going to go through, so I thought it may be helpful.
I wanted to start by giving you a little background of myself to tell you where I believe my hemorrhoids came from - I found this to be a little lacking in other posts. I am a male and just turned 27. When I say “I just turned” I mean I turned 27 on the day I had this procedure done. A great birthday gift, huh? I have been working out for more than half of my life now. In the past I have tried to gain a lot of muscle, which I believe contributed to the development of my hemorrhoids. I am also a very frequent flier (you are probably thinking at 27 how much could I have flown in my life). In my almost 3 and-a-half years of being a road warrior I am almost at the half-million miles flown mark. Last year I flew 97,000 miles and this does not include the countless trips I took on the train up and down the east coast. When I am not traveling for work I am sitting at my desk, which also angers those little guys.
It started pretty typically - itching and all that. Finally went to see a specialist and started using creams and suppositories. Didn’t get better, so we started banding the hemorrhoids and kept using the creams and suppositories. Everything seemed to get under control until one day a grape-sized roid popped-up and I went and saw the doctor. The doctor wanted to treat them conservatively so kept me on the cream and suppositories. I didn’t think anything of it at that point and then went to the gym, at which point it just about tripled in size. I called the doctor’s office and the doctor told me that I should not be going to the gym anymore. I was a little angered first of all because I was not told this at the doctors office, and now I could not continue going to the gym - running, lifting, anything, in hopes that conservative treatment would fix everything. The next time I went to see the doctor we talked about my options - it seemed like surgery was the best option. So, the plan for me was to fly back from Calgary, AB to take the red eye home from Salt Lake City, UT to New York, drive home an hour and-a-half, shower and then have the surgery performed.
A couple of things before your surgery - take care of just about everything you can. Buy everything you will need from food, to the list of items the doctor gives you. Also, clean your bathtub. I know, I know, it is already clean. But think about it, you are going to be coming home after being cut-up and sitting in this tub…Make sure it is very clean.
Possible items to buy they may not tell you about: Sensitive baby wipes (including travel baby wipes), the largest bottle of dolcolax laxatives (make sure it is stool softener), large zip-lock bags for ice, maxi pads, and depends for work (I will get more in to this later).
Like most people, I was told the recovery time would not be too long. I had the surgery on 03-Feb-11 (lets call this day 0) and the doctor told me that I could go in to work on Monday (day 4) but would be in pain. I also told the doctor that I would be flying out on 14-Feb (day 11) for a very important trip that I could not cancel and the doctor told me I should not have any problems. I am very happy that I read this forum because I also had 2 trips to long island on 08-Feb (Day 5) and 10-Feb (Day 7) and I was planning on going based on the doctor’s word. I called to inform these places I may not make it and I am very happy that I did (it is not to say I could not have made it, but I will explain later).
Surgery Day (03-Feb, Day 0):
Surgery occurred at 10:30, everything went fine. Was in the recovery room awake at about 11:30 and moved to a private room about 12pm when I started to regain feeling in the lower part of my body was also when I started to feel the pain. At about 12:15 pm I received my first pain med (Vicodin) and then continued through recovery (pain med did nothing to ease the pain). They made me go to the bathroom (this takes some skill laying down and going in to one of those bottles, but I had knee surgery in the past and did this in about 5 minutes). They also brought me some food and since I was starving I had no problems eating as well. At this point I was in A LOT of pain and they did not want to give me another pain medication until they performed all the blood pressure tests, so at about 1pm we did the BP supine (passed), sitting up (passed), and standing (failed). Since my BP was low when I was standing I was told I could not have another pain medication even though I was in a ton of pain and they would have to wait a half-hour before doing the process again. 45 minutes go by, I buzz the nurse’s station, they say someone will be coming, but no one does. 15 minutes later, buzz again, someone comes by and says there was a floor meeting for the nurses and someone would be by soon. 1 hour 15 minutes later we re-do the test and failed again standing, but at this point I basically begged for more pain medication because of how bad it hurt and finally got some more. I got some more fluids in me and after waiting about another half-hour we did the standing BP and I passed (it was about 108/70 at this point). They then made me walk to go to the bathroom one last time and gave me a valium before I left the hospital. The ride home was pretty awful - I felt every bump, every stop, everything. The nurse at the hospital told me the first 4 hours of so is typically the worst pain - acute very painful, pain. She was right - after a little while when I got home the pain was much better. The vicodin helped a little but, but in the beginning the valium really, really helped a lot. You know how if a muscle is in pain it just clenches up? This made everything relax and made life much easier for the rest of the day. But, I wasn’t nauseous at all - I was told to eat everything I normally would which would help recovery…. Sooo, I had a big mac and fries and a chocolate shake from McDonalds. This isn’t something I would normally eat, but I was craving some comfort food and this certainly hit the spot. That night I woke up just about every hour on the hour. I was in pain, I couldn’t sleep no matter what I tried. I soaked in the tub which helped and I iced the area, which also helped. One thing everyone always talks about is how helpful the sitz baths are, but one thing I cannot stress enough is ice helped me get through a lot of pain. A sitz bath followed by icing the area really helped me get through my days.
04-Feb (Day 1):
After the first day the pain was controlled pretty well. I really did not want to take too many of the vicodin because these are constipating, so I tried to take more Advil than anything and than added the valium when I needed it. For the first couple of days, I probably took 1 vicodin (1 more if the pain was really bad) to keep from being constipated (sometimes I took pain meds at night, though). I still couldn’t sleep all the way though the night, so when I would wake up I took my pain medication and valium and helped to sleep more though the night. Since this was a Friday, I worked from home, which really wasn’t that bad. I set-up a nice spot on the couch where I could lay down, made a desk out of pillows and was able to answer emails and make phone calls throughout the day.
05-Feb (Day 2):
The pain really got much better at this point. I really did not have difficulty going up and down the stairs anymore, but still had to go slowly. I even got on the Elliptical on day 2 (for 22 minutes, 1.1 miles - went very slowly). The doctor said that the recovery will be based on me - if I feel good enough to walk around and eat normally this will help to speed recovery. The elliptical did not feel completely comfortable, but I really wanted to get my legs moving again to help with the recovery, so I worked through the pain. I also had my first BM on day 2 - nothing spectacular, but it was about 6 grape-sized objects. There was definitely some pain, but since not much came out, it was not terrible. I do not want to get gross, but I knew these were just smaller pieces of what was coming, which really scared me. Anyways, make sure that if you ever do sit on the toilet to have a warm bath ready to get right in to and then some ice to help afterwards. Also, I would also recommend to not sit on the toilet as you would normally - this puts a lot of pressure right on your area and the first time I sat like this it felt like razor blades cutting in to me. Try to put the pressure all on one butt-cheek if you can. I also started wearing pads at this point because there was a good amount of discharge (blood and some other foul smelling liquids). It still got on my boxers though.
06-Feb (Day 3):
Super bowl day! Glad I was all doped up on pain medications for the game… every time I tried to stay awake I would find myself dozing off and then missing parts of the game. I guess that is what comes with the territory. In the morning I went to the gym and walked the Treadmill for 35 minutes (1.2 miles, again very slowly) and did some very light lifting. I mean very light lifting - 5 and 10 pound weights, nothing straining, just to keep my muscles active. I had my second BM which was just a small “caterpillar” like object, but I began to feel constipated because nothing substantial had come out yet (I had been taking my 3 pills of dolcolax every day and my milk of magnesia at night as directed).
07-Feb (Day 4):
Worked from home this day - like the other day I worked from home I did not really have any problems. I set-up shop - a comfortable spot on the couch and was able to do all my work. I called the doctor on this day to see if he had any worries that I hadn’t had a substantial BM since the surgery (I had a good BM the day before the surgery) and the doctor considered me to be constipated at this point. By day 4 I had tried to have a BM, but I hadn’t “really” tried… People on this forum have said if they pushed too hard the roids can come back and I just was more scared than anything. So, at this point, I manned-up, took 2 pain killers, 1 valium and prepared myself for what I was about to do. I filled the tub with hot water, got my ice ready and say on the toilet. I pushed and pushed and pushed and was in so much pain. At one point I looked up and my face looked like a tomato but I kept pushing and then something came out. And then something else came out. I was so happy, but the pain was excruciating. I looked to see what came out but I could not see anything because the toilet was filled with blood. Blood all the way through I could not see to the bottom. At this point I just got in to the tub and hoped the pain killers would kick in soon. Soaked for awhile and then iced and the pain finally subsided. On a side note, after this BM, I was basically incapacitated for about 3 hours. I could not do anything but think about the pain I was in.
08-Feb (Day 5):
Worked from home again on day 5 with no issues. I had another good BM - this time I could actually see what came out…It was a pretty good BM and there was still a lot of blood. Not anywhere near as much pain or effort as the previous day, but still painful and had to soak awhile to feel better.
09-Feb (Day 6):
Again, worked from home, no problems. I did not have to set-up shop on the couch - I rotated between actually sitting in a chair and on the couch. I also had another BM with almost no blood and much less pain….Still soaked after, but it was so much better than in the past. I also went to the gym and walked on the treadmill for 20 minutes (about 0.8 miles), but had to stop because I noticed a little but more blood than usual. Went home and soaked and then as the nurse said if I ever did notice bleeding “just sit on it.”
10-Feb (Day 7):
Went in to the office for the first time on day 7. I wore my depends because the maxi pads had done their job, but there was still a slight odor coming off that I did not want to expose my colleagues. I also used the travel wipes about mid-day to clean-up and also help with any odors. The pain was not terrible - for me my commute consists of about a 15 minute car ride, followed by a 70 minute train ride, followed by a 10 minute walk. The most pain I experienced was because I was sitting on my butt in the office - this was something I had not done for awhile. Every now and then I had to get up and walk around, but even still, the pain was not terrible. I took 3 vicodin pills during the day, but I could have possibly gotten away with just taking advil. When I got home I had a smaller BM which was still very painful (when will the pain stop??) and took a sitz bath, which helped to relax my muscles from the day. Icing also really helped to stop the pain from the BM. I really think that day 7 was when I started to turn the corner and started feeling better - yes there was still some pain, but at this point I could start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
11-Feb (Day 8):
On Day 8 I had my first week post-op follow-up with the doctor. He said that everything is healing great and is very happy with my progression. He asked that I again start with the creams and suppositories for my roids. He also confirmed that he removed my 3 roids. I asked him how long will I be bleeding (and other stuff) from the surgery area and he said this will be ongoing for quite some time until the internal stitches heal. He also said that the BMs will become less painful with time, but will continue to hurt. He also said that I can workout now, just no heavy lifting.
So, with that said, I hit the gym, lifted a little bit more than I did the first time and then did the Elliptical for 20 minutes, at a little bit of a faster pace (1.35 miles). It began to hurt a little bit (I am thinking because the elliptical requires a little more extension of your legs) and then walked for 5 minutes. When I got home I noticed that I had bled more than I had probably bled so far, but there still was not very much pain. In the morning I had gotten by with Advil instead of Vicodin, but I felt a BM coming on, so I did the usual: took 2 Vicodins and filled the tub in preparation of a painful BM. This BM was not huge, but a pretty good size (compared to the past BMs) and really did not hurt at all. After the shower though I was still bleeding a little so I sat on some ice for awhile to help stop and alleviate any of the remaining pain.
12-Feb (Day 9):
Woke up in the morning and new I had a BM coming but did not have enough time for the usual routine (2 vicodines) so I started to fill-up the tub and sat down… There was very little pain associated with this BM and it was a pretty good size too. Did the elliptical machine today at a slightly faster pace than usual: 20 minutes, 1.8 miles and did a light work out. I was also able to do a light abdominal work out for the first time since surgery. Later on in the day we drove 1.5 hours to stay overnight at a friends house - this is not something I would recommend because you will not have the typical amenities (ice pack, easy soaking in a tub, possibly not a couch to lay on to relax), but it was something we had been planning for some time so I did not want to cancel.
13-Feb (Day 10):
At our friend’s house they have a mini-gym, so I got in another light work out and walked for 20 minutes (1 mile) and again did an abdominal work out so I was pretty pleased. I was worried though because I could feel a BM coming and at someone else’s house this could be very unpleasant and we were in a rush to get to our family party. Had the BM - little bit of pain but nothing too significant and I could not soak in the tub after, so a shower and 2 vicodin would have to do. Still taking 2 dolcolax stool softener/laxative each day and these pills must be doing the trick. Currently, the worse experience right now is probably using the suppositories again - in order to get them to stay in I have to push them in further than in the past because of the surgical site.
14-Feb (Day 11):
Today is the day for the flight…On Valentine’s Day… Still wearing my pads, but brought a couple of depends, just in case. The bleeding for the most part has slowed down a lot, so I am hoping that I can get away with not having to wear them this trip, just because they were uncomfortable last time, but they really do help with the odor (if you are bleeding). It definitely became uncomfortable for me after my first flight - for anyone that knows Atlanta airport, you know that there is a lot of walking involved when going through this airport. There was a sharp pain every time I walked and I basically begged the flight attendant for water when I boarded the plane so I could take my pain medications. Total time from home to hotel: 9 hours… Not too bad, but I definitely need to soak in the bath. Not something I was very excited about, but I needed to do it to help with some of the pain. I felt much better after and then relaxed and did work by the pool (it was nice and sunny). I went upstairs and had a large bloody BM and then soaked again and took 1 vicodin. I was feeling better so I went to the hotel gym, used the elliptical (medium pace, 36 min 3.2 miles), did some abs, worked out and then headed upstairs for the second BM of the day. First time I had 2 BMs in one day - this one was again a large BM and bloody, so I again soaked in the tub and then showered. While I am bleeding a little bit more (and the cream and suppositories are not helping with the pain), for the first time in awhile, my stomach does not really feel too bloated - I think these last 2 BMs have helped to empty out my system, which I am happy about. Took 2 advils and headed to bed.
15-Feb (Day 12):
Woke up this morning, turned on the coffee maker and had the sudden urge for a BM. It is good news that it sounds like my body is getting somewhat back to normal; in the past it was almost just the smell of coffee that would make me have to go, and now it is happening again. After settling in yesterday I worked today and it was again painful sitting for a full day, running around, typical office-type work when traveling. Got back to the hotel, used the elliptical and worked out and had my second BM of the day. After soaking I had my third BM of the day and had to call it a night.
16-Feb (Day 13):
Had issues this morning with the BM - I know after the past couple of days I have almost emptied out my system, but I could really feel the need to go and couldn’t. A lot like the feeling towards the beginning where I knew I really had to go, but no matter how hard I pushed I couldn’t get anything out. Worked all day, very sore and got back to the hotel and tried for a BM but couldn’t. It wasn’t until hours later that I finally got it out - a lot of effort, but much less bleeding than in the past.
17-Feb (Day 14) and on:
The days are now almost blending in to each other on my road to recovery… I head home tomorrow - another long day of flying. I certainly miss home and it does not make it any easier that my butt is very sore. The worst part of my days are a mix between the BMs and the cream/suppositories. Still take my dolcolox and my fiber, starting to move towards really only taking advil unless I really need it (likely will need it on my long flights tomorrow).
I truly wish you all luck in recovery - please let me know if you have any questions!
Had my surgery on 12/21/11. It was hell painfrom days 2 to 6. The Dr's pain med did not worked for me... tried ibuprofen (800mg every 6 hrs). This med worked wonders by reducing the inflammation and pain. Sitz bath, ex-lax and hot water shower also helps. At day 9 pain became much less, only need to take ibuprofen once per day. Drain and foul smell are also integral side effects... smell reduced by day 10. Sitting up for over 3 hrs hurts. Looking forward to resume work on day 15.
Take home message: take a pain med that reduce swelling (ibuprofen) and stool softerners. Hot water/sitx bath.