I heard you might have a butt problem...
You're embarrassed and don't want to talk about it. I understand. But, here's the thing. Whatever it is, I promise you, you're not alone. And, I want you to know you can talk to me about it.
Why am I the someone you are going to confide in? I get your hesitation. It's taken me more than 20 years to find a voice for the trials and tribulations of my butt health.
So, here's what I'm going to do. In the hopes of shattering any remaining trust issues you might have about telling your harrowing butt stories to me, I'm going to give you a rundown of the "series of unfortunate events" that my butt has gone through.
Not only am I going to share a laundry list of my past and present butt ailments, but I'm going to tell you a little bit about each of them. My goal is to provide some easy-to-understand information about what these issues are and to hopefully help you feel like you're part of a community (the My Butt blog community!) and not out there on pain-in-the-butt island by yourself.
The ailments of my butt have included, but are not limited to:
Internal & External Hemorrhoids. At this point in my life, I do not have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times my butt and I have had to deal with hemorrhoids. It's likely we've had them more times than we're even aware of as sometimes they can actually go unnoticed and unfelt if they are minor. Which is difficult to fathom given that hemorrhoids have been described as similar to varicose veins. Except, of course, they happen to be swollen veins in your anus (external hemorrhoids) or in your lower rectum (internal hemorrhoids).
Fun Facts about Hemorrhoids: Nearly three out of four adults will have hemorrhoids from time to time. That's 75% of us if my math is correct, which means most of us have or will have them. Hey, there's some common ground to build from.
Anal Fissure. All butt issues are sensitive, but this one makes me bristle more than most. I have had multiple bouts with fissures and they are one thousand percent more painful than hemorrhoids. I am not exaggerating. They have interrupted my life and work and have been very hard on my relationships and mental health. I hate them. I will do anything to avoid ever having one again. If you've had one, I know you feel me, and if you haven't it's worth a prayer to whoever you pray to that you never get one. So, what is this horrendous butt issue? It's a small tear--like a cut--in the tissue that lines your anus. If this same "cut" were on your arm, you would hardly notice it. But because it's in your butt hole it takes it to a whole new level. Every single poo rubs up against this cut and tears it over and over again. It is, as it sounds, a freakin' nightmare. The only way to not feel pain is to not poop. And you can't not poop! Even if you held it in for weeks until the fissure healed, your very next poo would likely tear the tissue again. That's because once you've experienced an anal fissure, you are prone to having another one. Since the bad news about fissures really could go on and on, let's move on...to a Fun Facts about Fissures: Anal fissures are very common in young infants and adults between 20 and 40--the age range I was in when I got my first--but you can have them at any age, even though your risk generally goes down as you get older. I have no idea why your risk would go down as you age, but hallelujah to that.
Thrombosed Hemorrhoid. This is a very special type of hemorrhoid reserved for the most special types of butts, like mine. What happens when a hemorrhoid becomes thrombosed? Blood pools in an external hemorrhoid and forms a clot. How do you know something's not right? Well, there's the severe pain--when you walk, when you sit, when you try to be intimate, when you go to the bathroom--I think you get the picture. And then there's that weird, hard lump you feel by your bum-hole every time you wipe. I had one of these puppies and self-diagnosed, which is always an uber-bad idea and this time was no exception because I mistook thrombosis for a fissure. I spent about a week applying a topical medication that I had used for fissures in the past to no avail. Cuz it wasn't a fissure. Wish I'd listened to my own advice and gone to the Dr. sooner to find out what the heck was going on. Fun Facts about Thrombosed Hemorrhoids: External hemorrhoids often develop in healthy young adults and may suddenly become thrombosed, which did happen to my much younger niece. We had a thrombosed hemorrhoid at about the same time, which, as silly as it sounds, made me feel oddly young. Another interesting factoid is that over the course of several weeks, the thrombosis is slowly absorbed by the body.
Anal Itching, Rectal Bleeding, Anal Pain. What would tip me off that I might have a hemorrhoid or anal fissure situation forming? Many, many things. I think it's obvious by now that there is always the big "P"...Pain. But, there is also often a deep itchy or irritable burning feeling. And, there is sometimes small amounts of blood on the TP after wiping or in the toilet bowl. Yup, that means that I look at these things and you should too. It's a critical check on your butt health to make sure you eyeball the TP and toilet every time you go, especially #2. Fun Facts about Anal Itching: This can be a symptom of more innocent things, including certain foods that can have irritating chemicals and cause gassiness, like spicy foods, hot sauces and peppers.
Vasovagal Attack. As if things could get any worse....now for something truly embarrassing. I have had several bouts of butt-related fainting. Once, in my own bathroom, I passed out cold after trying to go poo. This incident led to an emergency room visit since I fell right into the chrome tub, split my head, and needed staples. Another time, after an anal exam at my OB/GYN, I was left to get dressed. The next thing I know I'm hanging in the stirrups at the end of the exam table. Fainting in compromising situations just seems to be my thing. So, what's going on? Apparently, I have a tendency toward vasovagal attacks when certain nerves in my tush receive too much pressure, which seems to happen when I'm straining to have a BM or when my doc is probing my bum with their pinky finger. My heart rate and BP drop, the blood flow to my brain decreases, and, BOOM, I'm on the floor, often with my skivvies at my ankles. Fun Fact about Vasovagal Attacks: The attack itself is not so serious; it's the potential injuries during the fainting spells that are the main trouble. Uh, yah they are! Thankfully, I have not had one of these episodes in a LONG time. Particularly now that I know the triggers. For example, I am very aware of not holding my breath when I go #2 and often repeat the mantra "R-E-L-A-X, relax" while on the toilet. I am so not kidding.
I'm thankful that this list of my butt ailments isn't any longer than it is. According to the Merck Manual of Anal and Rectal Disorders, it sounds like I haven't even suffered the worst of the possibilities. From an abscess or fistula to incontinence, prolapse, or cancer, I am truly sorry for anyone whose anal/rectal issues have been this serious and I wish you good health now and in the future.
While I may not have experienced your exact disorder, it is highly likely that I know someone who has and that I've had in-depth conversations with them to understand their experience. And if by chance I don't have familiarity with your issue, I would consider it a learning opportunity to hear what you've gone through.