I wrote this post originally to share my experience of a hemorrhoidectomy but I was really aware that it made the operation sound awful and I worried that it was one-sided and that other people’s experiences might have been better.
To balance it out, I asked people to share their own experience of a hemorrhoidectomy in the comments and I’m so pleased to see so many of you sharing. People who have been through it have shared their experiences along with tips and ideas to try and make it easier. More than that though, they’ve shared how they felt which is so important as none of my family or friends understood the level of pain I was in at the time so just knowing I wasn’t alone would have been a comfort.
Since last June, I’ve probably mentioned being poorly about a million times on here and you’re probably all sick to death of hearing about it but I did want to tell you a little bit about what’s been wrong with me before I move on from it all.
The last six months have honestly almost broken me and even now, I’m still not right with fortnightly doctors appointments to keep an eye on things!
It started last June when I felt a little uncomfortable downstairs (by that I mean my bottom and not my living room). I went to Tesco, bought some cream and carried on as normal for a week or so until one night I woke up in such pain that I genuinely thought I was going to have to call 999! I couldn’t sit down, I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t do anything to ease the pain and I’m not lying when I say it was the worst pain I’d ever experienced in my life (at that time anyway, it gets worse when you read on).
I got through the night and called the doctors as soon as they opened and she prescribed some cream for me and told me to come back in a week if that didn’t work. It didn’t work and that next week was the longest week every with nights of pain like the first night and days that weren’t much better.
I went back to the doctors and was told I had a thrombosed hemorrhoid which, according to my understanding, is like an internal hemorrhoid with a blood clot because the blood could flow into it but not out of it causing a buildup of pressure. The description on Google and medical sites for the level of pain that a hemorrhoidectomy operation causes is ‘a severe and incapacitating pain’ which I would pretty much agree with if I’m honest.
I was told at that point that it could take three months to fully heal and right itself but in the meantime, I was sent to a specialist due to the severity of the pain. The specialist saw me quite quickly and after the most uncomfortable internal examination ever he decided that the only way forward was surgery in the form of a hemorrhoidectomy.
I was booked in for my hemorrhoidectomy for the beginning of October which meant that by that point I’d been suffering for three and a bit months and although it wasn’t all severe pain like the first month was, it was always uncomfortable even when it wasn’t painful. I tried to carry on as normal but it wasn’t always possible and I spent three days of our week’s holiday in bed and had to cut another weekend away short because I was in too much pain to do anything but lie in bed.
I went in for my pre-op and I had to sign a form to give my consent to everything and one section said that I understood I would experience pain afterwards. I should have backed out of the op when the doctor took the form back off me before I signed it and added the word ‘intense’ before pain before hanging it back to me to sign.
Apparently, for the internal hemorrhoids they were going to simply cut them out (I’m sure it’s more complicated that that really) and then leave the wounds open due to the location. They said they would pack the wounds with dressing but that would come out on day 1 or 2 as nature took it’s course. At the time, I thought I’d misheard them when they said about leaving the wounds open but no, that’s exactly what they do.
I was really scared before my hemorrhoidectomy but not about the op itself, more about the being anaesthetised and I refused to let them put the mask over my face in case they killed me (yes, I did tell them that was why). I woke up in a lot of pain but feeling OK and I sat there for an hour while I came round sending very random texts to people as the nurse put my phone in my hand almost as soon as I woke up for some reason.
I ended up having to stay for a bit longer than planned as my hand where the cannula had been exploded somewhat and there was blood literally gushing out covering everyone in the area. After that was sorted though they let me go home with some strong co-codamol and advice to totally rest up for the next month. I had a four week sicknote so I had every intention of doing just that. 😉
The first day was OK and the second day, I had a little poo (sorry if I’m over sharing) when the dressings came out and I’m not going to lie, it was absolute agony. The pain subsided quite quickly, thanks to the tablets I suspect and I managed OK until about day three when I woke up in so much pain that I could barely think straight.
Day three was the day when the intense pain that the specialist had mentioned really kicked in. Much of what happened from here for the next month or so was a blur because it was literally so painful at times. The pain stayed at that ‘intense’ level for the next few weeks and my painkillers were changed to something that all but knocked me out. I was losing a lot of blood and the pain was making me feel sick but my doctor couldn’t do anything other than reassure me that it was normal.
When I say normal, I don’t mean everyone has the same experience for the same length of time, she just explained to me that what I was experiencing wasn’t out of the ordinary for recovery from a hemorrhoidectomy. In fact, if you google complications from a hemorrhoidectomy I pretty much went down the list and checked 90% of them off one by one.
The pain started to ease back to a more manageable level at the start of December but it was still there and I still couldn’t do very much because it came and went when it felt like it and there was still bleeding. I cried a lot in December because this year we did no family Christmas activities and had to cancel all of our family plans and I felt awful for the kids because we’ve always tried to teach them that Christmas is about family so we always have a busy calendar in December!
My initial month’s sicknote was extended a good few times but when I went back in January I’d decided that enough was enough and I was going to start 2017 positively and that I was ready to go back to work. Looking back, I probably should have taken the extra sicknote as January exhausted me but here we are in February and I feel like I’m making progress.
I had no clue the impact that having hemorrhoids would have on my life and certainly no idea of the pain I would go through after the hemorrhoidectomy. If I had my time over, I’m not sure if I’d say yes to the operation or learn to manage the pain I was going through before.
I don’t want to scare people who are considering a hemorrhoidectomy but I do think that people should be aware that this is not just a small operation – far from it. My specialist and my GP both glossed over the facts of how long I could be in pain for and gave me best case scenarios when I spoke to them before the operation – they said that I would ‘probably’ only be off work for a few weeks and I was in no way mentally prepared for everything I was about to go through.
Not everyone will have the same experience as I did although a quick Google (after my op – if I’d read it before things may have been different) suggests that a lot more people do than you might think and I just think that I might have chosen differently if I’d known. Everyone I’ve talked about this says I did the right thing because a few months pain is worth the pain free future that I should now have. I’m not convinced though.
If you’ve got a personal experience of a hemorrhoidectomy then I’d love you to share it in the comments, even just a brief summary so anyone landing here looking to get an idea of what the post-op experience is getting more of a balanced view. I’m sure there are lots of people who recovered well and were back to work within the first few weeks and I’d love to hear from you.
(If you’re wondering how I managed to blog through it all as I was still posting when I was ill – I didn’t! I spent the month before my op frantically scheduling posts in advance.)
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