How I survived hemorrhoid surgery
Let me start by saying this post has nothing to do with the book world and is deeply personal. However, as I prepared and went through the surgery I found very little from real people giving their tips and tricks so I wanted to fill that gap. Now that you've been warned...
Before I begin, this is my own personal experiences and in no way should be considered medical advice or should be used in lieu of whatever your own doctor's have told you.
I've struggled with hemorrhoids for more years than I can remember. I know they started around the time I had my twins who are now seventeen. I always suffered with them but kept on going through the motions of hot baths, awkward shifting in any chair for too long, etc. Then I was shockingly laid off from work and had 26 weeks of severance. Maybe it was stress or just fate but my hemorrhoids flared even worse those first couple of weeks and I was desperate for relief so I bit the bullet and called every surgeon in the area until I found one of only two female surgeons who did the surgery. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with male surgeons but a couple years earlier I had a deep fissure and the male doctor I saw had tree trunks for fingers so I was determined my surgeon was going to have the daintiest hands I could find. When I met her, I made sure to shake her hand and to my relief she did have smaller hands than me.
The days leading up to the surgery I wasn't too worried, I tend to be an optimist so I was naively okay with the impending surgery. I should probably have been a little more nervous given the surgeons last words to me were, "You are going to hate me for the first few days." I laughed it off and smiled as I booked my surgery date. Then I got an email from the hospital saying they had a series of video's they urged me to watch so I would be prepared. Again, an optimist, no big deal. By the end of the video's I was slightly horrified, really grossed out, and dreading recovery. I am not exaggerating when I say I took multiple screen shots and sent them to my entire family so they could share in my horror. My husband who had been supportive up to that point was suddenly very nervous for me. I knew though that nothing was going to change my mind, I had suffered for too long. I went on Amazon and ordered a sitz bath that had a hand pump attached that would cause bubbles, I figured this was better than just sitting in water. I didn't know the hospital was going to send me home with one but it really was just the tub and an IV type bag that you filled to refill the tub once it cooled down.
The day of surgery came and sadly for this morning person they wanted me at the hospital at 5 a.m. My husband had been scheduled to run a few training sessions at work and since I had given him less than two weeks notice I told him to go to work and our daughter would take me. Lucky for me, she is nineteen and an EKG tech at the hospital so I was confident she could handle anything that may come up.
From the time I arrived until I was wheeled into the operating room everything was smooth sailing. They had told us the actual surgery would be thirty to forty-five minutes so I was given my general anesthesia and sent off to sleep. The next time I woke up it was the male recovery nurse calling my name. I have very little recollection of the next two hours, only glimpses of memories. As soon as I was conscious I instantly started sobbing, pain hit me immediately. I know I rolled to my side and gripped the rail of the bed. I recall the nurse repeatedly trying to help me stay calm. I heard him say he was going to give me more pain medicine. Another rare glimpse of memory was him gently placing an ice pack under me which did help some but I was still crying. At one embarrassing point he rubbed my back and told me to slow my breathing or people were going to think I was having a baby. Apparently while sobbing I was hyperventilating. I remember hearing him call the anesthesiologist and saying they couldn't get my pain under control and wanted to give me something stronger. They pushed the new medicine and I almost instantly calmed down. Another flash of memory I was being wheeled into another recovery room, I vaguely remember the male nurse patting my shoulder and wishing me luck. I passed out for a bit and woke to find my daughter sitting in the room. I was much more coherent and the pain was bearable. She told me that she had been really worried because they had called and said she could see me in twenty minutes then she didn't hear from them again for an hour and a half. They apparently called her before they woke me and had trouble stabilizing me. I woke up on and off a few times and was antsy to get home but surprisingly they were taking things very slowly and once when I asked why I was still there they said they were letting me sleep as much as I needed. This was shocking to me, normally hospitals rush you out so it was ironic that I just wanted to go home.
Before I could go I had to be able to pass a certain amount of urine. I am proud to say I did it on my first shot. I was dressed and waiting when they finally said I could go. They were nice enough to fill the prescriptions in the hospital pharmacy so it was a quick stop there before getting in the car and leaving. I don't remember much of the drive but my daughter insists it was stressful for her because she tried to take every bump and turn slowly so I wasn't jostled. She texted my sons and told them to lock the dogs in a room so they wouldn't jump on me, I went inside and marched slowly upstairs because I just wanted my bed. The first night was relatively calm, I mostly slept and took the doctor's advice of taking my pain pills every four hours like clockwork.
Lucky for me, hubby had the next day off so he took great care of me. I walked like a ninety year old woman, slow and shuffling my feet. I tried to sleep as much as possible but then the spasms came. I read they were possible but it still didn't make them any easier. It was like a literal charlie horse in your butt. Anyone shifting the bed the slightest would set one off. My poor husband begged me to let him sleep somewhere else because he would cause a spasm every time he tossed or turned during the night but I refused. I also found that stepping toes first usually caused shooting pains through the area so I made sure to only shuffle or walk heel first.
According to my paperwork my first bowel movement was supposed to come on day three. I wasn't surprised it didn't come. I think it was mostly mental, I was scared to death of the first BM. I was taking stool softeners hoping to make everything easier but by the end of day four still no BM but I was feeling the need to go. I took a few doses of Murilax with no luck so I drank half a bottle of the dreaded magnesium citrate, by far one of the worse tasting products on Earth. After six hours of frustration I finally had my first BM and it was just as horrible as I thought it was going to be. I was in excruciating pain, I tried the sitz bath but that didn't help, I took a hot shower with no luck, moved to the bed with the ice pack. Two hours later of crying and writhing in pain I finally got under control enough I was able to sleep for a few hours.
The next morning I didn't want to eat, I didn't want to risk needing to go again. It was irrational and didn't help, a few hours later I was having another BM and we went through the same cycle of sitz bath, hot shower, ice pack and this time it only took about forty-five minutes for it to be bearable again. By this point I've cursed the doctor more ways than I could count and railed at my husband about how stupid I was to do the surgery. I did combine the two baths so I use the tub I bought on Amazon with the hand pump but I also use the IV bag so I can do the second round of hot water.
It's now day seven, I have a slightly better routine going. I stopped the pain meds on day five so I am taking Motrin every six hours. When I felt a BM coming I turned the shower on ahead of time so it would be as hot as I could take it. As soon as I finished going I rush to the shower and after about ten minutes I'm under control. I do still ice it and even though everything I read said not to ice for more than twenty minutes at a time I won't lie, I sleep for hours with the ice pad under me. Maybe's it's not right but it gives me relief so I'm sticking to it.
My next hurdle...sometime in the next couple of days I'm going to have the banded hemorrhoids fall off and the stitches should start dissolving. From what I've read things can get bloody and painful again. This makes me laugh, I'd like to know when the pain was supposed to have gone away in order for it to come back. It's true I hurt way less than I did, I'm able to go downstairs now and last night I even joined my family for dinner out of the house but there is still a constant, dull pain that occasionally gets worse after BM's.
I'll post an update again in a few days with how week two goes...I can't believe it's only been a week. Jury is still out on whether this surgery was worth it, I can definitely say I never want to go through it ever again.