I wanted to share with everyone my experience I had with my hemorrhoidectomy surgery. As of today, it's been 4 weeks since my surgery. I wanted to wait a bit before sharing my story because even though it's been a success, it has not been without its ups and downs. Here is a quick synopsis(okay, rather lengthy) of my experience.
I am a 37 year old female who developed hemorrhoids when I was pregnant with my first child, who is now 8 years old. I battled them again pretty painfully durning my second pregnancy, 6 years ago. For the past 8 years, I'd have random flare ups of the hemmies, but it was nothing I couldn't handle and they would go away after a couple days. No biggie for me and I would have never elected to have surgery for sporadic flareups. However, over the course of the last year, my flare ups became more regular until it became constant battle, EVERY SINGLE DAY! Just to ease the pain, I would spend hours in the bath tub, avoid sitting down for long periods of time and my quality of life was suffering. I could no longer ride bikes with my kids or enjoy my time at the gym because I was plagued by these dumb hemorrhoids. At this point, I knew I needed to get them taken care of.
After getting a good recommendation from my doctor to a surgeon, I made my initial appointment. I knew I had hemorrhoids, but to what extent I wasn't sure. My surgeon was super nice and I felt comfortable with her. After she examined me, I learned I had both internal & external hemorrhoids and that I was not a candidate for more conservative therapies and my best option would be a traditional hemorrhoidectomy (cut & stitched). She was very honest and straight forward about the pain & recovery time involved in the procedure. She told me to go home and think about it before scheduling. Make sure to find a doctor you trust and feel comfortable with!
The first thing I did when I got home was Google hemorrhoidectomy surgery. Boy, was that a mistake! I read story after story about the pain, all of the things that can go wrong and the agony people had with the surgery. Success stories were almost impossible to find (which is why I decided to post my story) and that was really discouraging. However, I was desperate and even with all the negative & scary things I had read, I called the doctor and scheduled my surgery.
My surgeon was very helpful getting me prepared for my surgery and gave me a lengthly list of things I would need to get before my surgery: panty liners, stool softness, miralax, sitz bath, A&D ointment, and baby wipes. I was scheduled for surgery at 7 am and followed the doctors orders of not eating anything after midnight. I did not have to give myself any type of enema before hand, which I found a bit strange, but I trusted her.
The actual surgery went smoothly and I woke up in recovery groggy but I felt no pain. Because I am unable to take many of the normal painkillers most would take, the doctor elected me to stay the night at the hospital for pain management. I was fine with that. After what I'd read, I would rather be there to have them help me with the pain instead at home. For pain management, I was given Dualidad, which my body did not seem to have a problem with. The first six hours afterwards was smooth sailing. It wasn't till I needed to go pee did I realize I had a problem. My bladder would not work and no matter how much I tried, I could not go pee and ended up having a catheter inserted to relieve the pressure. Still, I felt no pain in my rectum. My biggest hurdle was my bladder and I ended up staying in the hospital for two nights before my bladder decided to cooperate.
After I was discharged and sent home, my pain level in my rectum was not too bad. I took my pain meds on schedule and that kept me in a hazy fog throughout the day. I hated the way the painkillers made me feel and what they did to my body and I knew that I wanted off of them as soon as possible. So on day four, I stopped taking them and relied only on Advil & Tylenol. I definitely felt more pain when I cut out the pain meds but it was still manageable. As for my diet, my surgeon did not want me to eat anything restrictive. She wanted me to have substantial bowel movements to help battle any narrowing of my rectum, which is serious complication after this kind of surgery.
However, never did I forsee what I was about to battle with the bowel movements. At day five, I still had not had one single bowel movement. I had always been very regular, having one, soft movement daily, so I began to stress a bit about that. I called the doctor who upped my laxative amount. Still, I waited and nothing. As each day passed with no movement, I began to feel sicker and sicker. My body wanted so badly to have a movement and I just couldn't. I had become severely constipated(thanks to the painkillers) and I became very sick. I almost felt like I had the flu and I knew it was the toxins in my body. I was weak, barely unable to walk or eat and the pain in my stomach was horrific. The doctor had me try other laxatives, like milk of magnesia, which made me throw up and other alternatives, but nothing. I could feel the stool in my rectum and finally the doctor told me that I needed to push the stool out and if it meant popping a stitch to do so, it had to be done. I did not want to end up back at the hospital and have them dig it out of my painful rectum. I spent many hours in the bathroom, crying, praying to God that I could pass the stools. The pain in both my rectum and stomach was horrific and at times I felt like I was going to pass out. FINALLY, on day 10, the flood gates opened and I was able to pass some stool. The stool wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, probably from all the laxatives, but I spent the whole day in the bathroom, having one bowel movement after another. Each bowel movement hurt so terribly...it honestly felt like I was delivering a baby through my rectum. It was so intense! However, my stomach felt so much better and I began to feel normal again.
I knew once I made it through the constipation, my recovery would speed up and it did. Each day I became stronger and stronger. The bowel movements became less painful each day and four days after the flood gates open, I was even driving. It was like night and day. I stopped bleeding and had no discharge at all and no longer needed pads. My only concerns where getting my bowels movements back on track and working on getting my bowel muscles strong again(I had slight bowel incontinence).
As of today, four weeks later, I can say I'm about 85% back to normal and hemorrhoid FREE! I still have a slight ache after I have a bowel movement, but I have no problem walking for long periods of time or sitting for more than an hour without having to get up. My bowel movements are back to once everyday, and even though my rectum muscles are still a little weak, my doctor said that would get better with time and I'm optimistic that they will get better. I have very little swelling and have one small skin tag that I got from the procedure, which doesn't bother me at all. I'd way prefer that over the huge hemmies sticking out. I'm thinking about even going back to the gym in the next week or so.
I've had family members ask if I'd do it again, and without a doubt, I would. I would go through ten days of torture if I knew I wouldn't have to deal with the hemorrhoids again. A couple bits of advice I have:
1. Find a good doctor you feel comfortable with and trust!
2. Know that everyone's recovery will be different and that you really have to do what's best for you. Would I recommend this surgery for someone with sporadic flare ups? No! But, if your quality of life is suffering, then most definitely.
3. Realize this is going to be a roller coaster ride. You will have your ups and downs...that's just part of recovery.
Sorry for the long and lengthy post. I wanted to be thorough with my experience because I know there are a lot of questions and concerns with this procedure. I will try to repost again maybe in a month or so about how my recovery has been. Although I have had many downs during this time, the positive has out weighed the negative and I feel blessed that my overall experience has been positive. I hope I can give someone out there who is contemplating have this done some reassurance that not all hemorrhoidectomy surgeries are scary and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel!