I am a 20 yr old very active female and I had a hemorrhoidectomy to remove 2 internal hemorrhoids (one was so large they had to cut in half to remove the whole thing) on June 15th. It has now been a little over a month since my surgery (currently in the beginning of my 5th week of recovery) and I feel that I am now in the position to where I can share my experience thus far and hopefully help someone here looking for a light at the end of the tunnel! And I promise you, there is one!
Here are some things to look forward to:
1. A normal looking anus! Things can get a little embarrassing when you're trying to be intimate with someone (whether they're your spouse, significant other, or lover of whatever sort) and you're having a flare up. My internals would prolapse after every BM and I would have to lay down and relax for at least an hour before any activity of any sort even walking! Otherwise they'd stay inflamed. I've had to explain my situation to a couple of intimate partners in the past and I always felt humiliated. In any case, after the surgery it's normal to have inflammation and swelling that look like your previous rhoids, and it does take a lot of time but the swelling does go down! I still get slight swelling after a BM, but it goes down eventually. Hurray for normal buttholes!
2. Painless BMs. My BMs used to be extremely uncomfortable since my internals would prolapse every time I went to the bathroom (sometimes even if I was just having a piss!). And yes, during recovery they are 100x worse than they ever were with my rhoids! But the pain does subside eventually. It literally happened to me over the course of a day. Not even kidding, one day I was having extreme pain having violent diarrhea from over doing the laxatives and 2 days later I had a soft but solid BM with like a 1.5 on the pain scale. I never thought I'd be so happy about going to the bathroom in my life!
3. Living a normal life. My quality of life was significantly reduced by my rhoids, even though I had learned to deal with them for years. I got them when I was 16 (I suffered with severe constipation throughout my childhood because I was afraid of going to the bathroom and consequently my BMs were always very largely formed) and I think back on all of the things I missed out on because I was having a flare up and it makes me disappointed that I had to give up those experiences. Now I no longer have to "deal" with my situation. Now I can go to the gym after having a BM and not worry about my inflamed internals popping out causing me discomfort. I can live the life I've been wanting to for years now! And you will be able to also.
Here are some things I did/wish I did to make recovery easier:
1. I WISH I had started a clear liquid diet 2-3 days before surgery. Up to the day of my surgery I was eating my regular paleo food and snuck in some sweets because I was aware I'd be losing weight from this surgery anyways. BIG mistake. 2. I WISH I had done an enema the night before my surgery. This was actually my fault because I was directed to do this when I scheduled my surgery 4 days prior. However, I was so stressed out and busy getting my affairs in order in preparation for a long painful recovery that it totally slipped my mind. Don't let it slip yours! 3.Unless you're a lucky duck, constipation is pretty much guaranteed due to the pain medication that you're on. I was having a really hard time with the pain and ended up going through something like 12 pills a day in the first few days. In hindsight, this really was unavoidable for me. But if you can manage, try not to over do the pain meds. If you do get constipated, you can use milk of magnesia or magnesium citrate. I had tried the milk of magnesia initially, but I was so backed up (I didn't have my first BM until day 6) I had to go for the magnesium citrate. Fair warning, this stuff is brutal, but it cleans you out and makes everything softer and easier to move out of you. I only recommend it if you are severely constipated like I was. After that first BM I limited my intake of pain meds to whenever I absolutely couldn't stand the pain. Ended up being 4 a day. Slowly I got off the pain meds and by the end of week 2 I was only using them after a BM. 4. KEEP THE BM SOFT. I can't stress this enough!! I had read about anal stenosis (don't bother looking it up as it's extremely rare there's no point in worrying yourself like I did) so I was trying to keep my BM solid and bulkier. Especially since I didn't want to build a reliance on laxatives. But man oh man was I mistaken! My routine was 3 stool softeners in the morning with a fiber supplement (mirafiber), and only eating fruits, veggies, and soups. I avoided dairy at all costs to prevent constipation. However, my BMs felt like they were way too large to make their way out, they felt stuck! This is when I made the mistake of pairing milk of magnesia at night and a glycerine suppository (heaven sent btw these are the best) in the morning. Explosive diarrhea for 3 days, not fun. After that I swore off laxatives and came up with a new routine: 2 stool softeners in the morning with 1 Flaxseed oil supplement and 3 stool softeners in the evening with another Flaxseed oil supp. The recommended dose of stool softeners a day is 3, but as I mentioned before my stools form very large naturally so this routine has really helped. Ever since adopting this routine, I have had very little pain to painless BMs. I plan to keep it this way until I'm sure I'm fully recovered. Even though the diarrhea episode was awful, I believe it really helped give my butt a break from all the trauma it had been through. This is not to say that I recommend trying to give yourself diarrhea as it still burns like hell fires, but it's to stress the importance of keeping your BMs soft and easily moveable. Our poor bottoms are traumatized, we have to try our best to give them a little break! 5. Don't over do it when you're eating. Stick to soft foods like soup, veggies, fish, berries, and my favorite, protein shakes. I work out a lot so I buy big tubs of (chocolate) protein powder from amazon, and I was having about 3 protein shakes a day which really helped fuel me when I was scared to eat too much. I know the diet sucks, I was craving a burger the whole process! But stick to it for a few weeks until your bum heals and you won't regret it. 6. Know that this recovery is not one where things get better and better and better and never get worse. You may feel 99% better one day, and then the next day you're back to square 1. Don't over do it when you feel really good. Go out for a walk or do something relaxing with your friends or family when you feel up to it, but don't push yourself too hard. My second week of recovery I felt good enough to go back to work. 3 days later I was bed ridden again. It's not a steady improvement kind of recovery, expect ups and downs but always remain as positive as you can. 7. Realize that everyone's experience is different. 3 weeks in I swore I was going to be that rare case of anal stenosis and have swelling for the rest of my life and I just screwed up my entire quality of life and no one will love me or understand and blah blah blah. I thought these things because I kept reading about other people's awful experiences. By all means be aware of the risks and complications that this surgery can sometimes put you through, but you have to keep a positive mindset. Don't push yourself to the edge of insanity by thinking the worst will happen to you, because it makes the recovery experience so much more stressful. I'm here to tell you that I've gone through that excruciating pain you may or may not be feeling or have felt, but I'm making it through finally feeling 95% better at 5 weeks and 3 days. For you the same feeling might come on at 6 weeks and 3 days or 8 weeks or maybe even 3 weeks, who knows! Just know that eventually your time will come. Overall, would I do this surgery again?... I would never want to experience this pain again or wish it on anyone, but ultimately for a good result YES. But I would make changes to make things easier for myself. I also forgot to mention that I still wear gauze pads and always put on hydrocortisone cream to help with itching and swelling. It has worked wonders for me! Happy healing friends, you will make it through.