It is now a bit past the one month mark of my hemorrhoidectomy and I’ve been released by my osteopathic colorectal & rectal surgeon – so feeling more confident to share what has helped me in the hopes that it can be of help and encouragement to others.
I have a lot to share, so bear with me!
I found very helpful tips here on this website just days before my surgery, as I didn’t get any written hemorrhoidectomy info from the surgeon’s office (only general surgery info), in part because an available date came up quickly when I decided to go for the hemorrhoidectomy. I called them my Grapes of Wrath! And by the way, I read the more positive entries here before the horror stories!
A little background: I am an Asian American woman in my early 50s and have had hemorrhoid issues off and on the last 23 years, but it got extra bad the past two years, which I blame in part from taking omeprazole, daily, to manage my achalasia, a rare condition whereby the lower esophageal sphincter muscle (which leads to the stomach) doesn’t relax. Probably mostly coincidental, but PPI’s do block acid so am guessing that is why I had more digestive problems with hemorrhoids.
If your ‘roids are interfering with your daily life and making bathroom visits a daily ordeal, please consider getting rid of them forever! Mine got bad enough to the point of them bleeding a lot, a few times it was almost like having a period – and once at LaGuardia Airport in NYC, while waiting to board the plane, no less (and one half of the women’s restroom out of order)! Really think hard about your quality of life with hemorrhoids.
My surgeon said my case made her Top 10 Worst Ever list! I have about 30 stitches, at least. (She took out 3 big ‘roids, internal and external.)
The best two tips I got from others on this site were these:
1) Be prepared (like a boy scout!).
2) Throw out any vanity and modesty: poop in your bidet or sitz bath container while your stitches are in...it will be A LOT more tolerable to do your biz in soothing warm water (as warm as you can stand it without scalding yourself). This is especially important the first week. Yes, it will hurt but doing it in the sitz bath mitigates the pain. I didn’t have time to prepare the sitz bath on BM #3 and...well, let’s just say I felt like Ripley in “Aliens” – that a monster was coming out of me! That ordeal caused me to wonder if the phrase “Rip him/her/them a new as****e” was invented by someone who had a hemorrhoidectomy!
I just dump the waste in toilet, rinse out the bidet a little more (dump in toilet), pour a little bleach in it with hot water, swish it around and rinse again with hot water a couple times, then take a sitz bath. Hot soapy water will work, too.
Here is what helped me, after reading through various posts.
Mentally & Emotionally:
*Accept that you will experience intense pain, which may involve a few rough nights of interrupted sleep in the beginning. Also that your recovery days may be up and down. I think that’s half the battle!
*Realize that one size does not fit all! My surgeon and others recommended Miralax. THAT was a nightmare for me when I had the first BM due to the pressure. If you were using a fiber supplement before and it worked for you, use that. I was using Benefiber previously (only for travel purposes) but was being dogmatic and followed dr’s orders/suggestions to the letter regarding Miralax, painkiller, and stool softeners.
Having said that, I DID follow her directive to use sitz baths (and icing afterwards) fanatically. Up to 8x a day the first week! She forbade me to use creams and ointments for pain or skin irritation, which was a great challenge, as she felt those things helped to break down stitches faster and prevent natural healing as well (letting your wounds “breathe”).
*Listen to your body. You know better than anyone how it feels! Just because your surgeon says you can do this exercise or that exercise or can eat whatever you want, doesn’t mean you should if you feel like c**p or you are aware of what foods might aggravate your tummy. I’ve had to remain on a “bland” diet for over a month now, and slowly adding back foods I used to eat.
Likewise, be careful with the meds; my system got messed up from NORCO and stool softeners, in my quest for soft stools; I took too many stool softeners and should have spaced out the meds, stool softeners, and food. If you need more pain killers, just take a little extra, within reason.
i.e. no sleep for me the first night; nurse said I could take two the second night – and I got a terrific headache the morning after! I am not a big person and rarely get headaches...half a pill plus one whole one worked for me the first few days, just so I could sleep and function during the day.
*Resolve to do everything you can to heal and do whatever it takes to prevent the ‘roids from returning. You are Queen or King!
For me, I am having to overcome a lifetime habit of not drinking lots of water, so I have to think of ways to force myself to drink plenty of fluids. It’s not like I didn’t know drinking water or other fluids was essential to preventing hemorrhoids, kidney stones (I also have that) and many other ailments...it’s a habit thing. I’m trying to be like Linus and his blanket...except with a water bottle!
*Enlist help! I’m lucky, as I have a very supportive husband who has helped with everything. I don’t know how anyone can do this alone. If someone offers to help, take them up on it! An understanding/sympathetic family member, friend, neighbor – even if they do nothing but just stay with you the first several days, I think that their presence would be immense support and boost toward your healing well.
*Patience. You need lots of patience for this surgery to deal with pain, discomfort, potential rollercoaster of up and down days, unexpected setbacks (such as with trying to eat normally again and your tummy rebels), etc.
* Exercise and try to eat well as much as you can before surgery since your movements will be severely limited.
* You will likely be moving around a lot anyway, because you won’t be comfortable (even with pain-killing dope, which only mitigates the pain) in the beginning sitting, standing, lying down for any length of time.
* I got myself a U-shaped “gel-enhanced memory foam” cushion after trying every pillow in the house; it’s very helpful! But I didn’t think of getting this til a couple weeks after surgery.
Pre-Surgery, Shop Ahead
This is what I bought beforehand, in part based on what a few others suggested:
*Baby wipes. Forget toilet paper, even the soft kind. You need to BABY YOUR BUTT! You’ll need to use more with each BM. I got a multi-pack box. But first started with just one box, Huggies Natural Care, which was gone in 4 ½ days. If you buy at least one container to start, it’s easy to just put others from a multi-pack box in there later, regardless of brand. Be sure to get UNSCENTED and/or for sensitive skin, cuz it IS very sensitive down there…!
I plan to baby my butt even after my stitches are gone. Not because I bought a huge box of of baby wipes, but because I have lots of skin folds and want to be sure that I keep the area as clean as possible.
*If you don’t already have some hand towels, get some...and be sure they are SOFT! It makes a world of difference. I have plenty of hand towels...but they’re thin and worn and a few decades old! SOFT hand towels great for when you’re done with a sitz bath and an icing. Use thin ones for holding the ice bag (it’s hard to feel the cold with thick towels).
* Gauze pads. 4” x 4”. Cheapest at Walmart, box of 25. I cut mine in half to last longer and changed pads after every BM or as needed; I went through a box a week! Make sure the box says SOFT and ABSORBENT! SOFT! The gauze pads from surgical centers or hospitals are a little rougher and the ends can be irritating to the skin.
NEVER RUB your fanny with a towel! PAT dry, gently. ALWAYS.
*Food: think healthy! Crackers (shredded whole wheat cereal for me), carton of eggs (one hard boiled egg a day), dried lentils and mung beans (you need protein) which are gentle to the tummy and seasoned with just a little salt and nothing else, applesauce (the fewer ingredients the better), organic red potatoes (added nothing but sprinkle of salt), chicken broth, rice, frozen peas.
I have a sensitive stomach and having been on a “bland” diet for a month, am slowly adding food back. If something upsets you, lay off of it for some days and then try again. With peas and corn, I had two attempts before my system tolerated it on the 3rd try. Patience is key and the desire to heal, as well!
THROW OUT VANITY & MODESTY
*Just face it: you’re dealing with your butt & BMs! Having had ‘roids, you know how messy and icky it can get, esp. if you’ve bled each time you go to the bathroom.
So you want to get well? Forget about what anyone else thinks: this is about YOUR health, your body...your butt!
Poop in your sitz bath and then clean it out with a few drops of bleach (it’s powerful – be sure to have the fan on in the bathroom!) and hot water and/or hot soapy water.
Use the sitz bath A LOT. As much as you can. In the first two weeks especially. It feels good AND helps keep the area clean. Then use as many baby wipes as needed. You can’t flush those so just cover the bag of used baby wipes and dispose as needed. Pooping in the sitz bath also does take away some of the mess and wiping much less messy. As I wrote earlier, it feels better and mitigates the pain and discomfort.
Also, even after most of the pain has subsided and then the stitches begin to get irritating as the area heals, sitz baths also relieve irritation, too.
ICE IS NICE, VERY NICE!
Ice is very important, too; I iced after each sitz bath.
Yes, a lot of moisture there, between sitz baths and icing. Just remember to always pat dry, never rub. And if no one is around except perhaps a spouse or partner who doesn’t otherwise care about modesty (!), consider just walking around butt naked, literally, to air out naturally, after patting dry any excess water/moisture after a sitz bath or icing.
Above all: THINK CLEANLINESS and HYGIENE
Baby your butt with baby wipes after each sitz bath. Change your gauze pad often, especially in the beginning when you may have a little blood leakage.
This is not the time to skimp, though sales and/or coupons, help!
HAPPY THEY'RE GONE !
I am happy and relieved I had this done and I can’t tell you why I waited so long! Hearing horror stories about the pain and seeing one former coworker made to return to work after two weeks (or lose her job) had a little bit to do with it.
But it took a few bad bleeding episodes – and generally being weighed down by the hemorrhoids becoming a daily ordeal to drive me to want to get rid of them once and for all. I have a pretty high pain tolerance as well, having had many ailments and surgeries in my lifetime, that helped me decide “I can do this!”, too.
I will be forever paranoid about creating a new ‘roid, but am determined to do whatever it takes to prevent it from recurring.
So don’t cancel your surgery if you’ve only read the horror stories but your life has been taken over by ‘roids! I’m still recovering, but I think it was well worth it!
What type of surgery did you have?