I first started to experience discomfort with bowel movements sometime around August or September of last year ('96). At first I thought it must be hemmorrhoids...I'd never really had them before and didn't know what to expect. I probably could have avoided alot of pain if I had taken steps early on, but I had no idea what I was up against...and it was pretty embarrassing. I'd never had this type of problem before.
As the discomfort slowly turned to pain and occassional bleeding, I started looking around on the web for more information on hemorrhoids, thinking I would find a quick cure. I quickly came to the conclusion (thanks to this page and others) that I probably had a fissure. I decided to try and deal with it on my own. I changed my mind around the first of October when things got really bad. I hadn't had a bowel movement in around 4 days and I was a mess. I took laxatives and some Fleet oral lemony stuff, which only worsened my condition. It hurt to hold it in, but hurt worse to let it out! I laid around and cried for awhile, then finally called my mom. It was a Sunday, so she took me to a convenient care center. I told the doctor 'I have hemorrhoids and I think I have a fissure'. He examined me (painful) and told me that I had some internal hemorrhoids and maybe a small fissure, but that the fissure was so small it was doubtful that it would be causing much pain. He prescribed some ProctoFoam and told me to go home and use an enema. I did, and it was THE most painful thing I've ever felt. But I felt much better afterwards.
The pain continued with each bowel movement and the fissure worsened. I would run a hot bath before each and jump into it directly afterwards. I kept myself full of laxatives and stool softeners, which wreaked havoc on my stomach, I think. This was all a huge inconvenience, and interfered greatly with all aspects of my life. I was feeling more like a grouchy old lady than the happy, active young women I was use to being. So finally in late November I visited our family doctor. The examination was hell, and I was in too much pain for him to do a throrough examination. He told me that I did have a fissure and that it was causing the pain. He prescribed Anusol, Metamucil & codeine. I had to take Milk of Magnesia along with the codeine to avoid constipation. There were times when I had to take the codeine and wait for it to take effect before I would make my trip to the bathroom.
Doc had told me that it could probably be healed without surgery, so I stayed hopeful. It was around this time that I tried the Kondremul stool softener that was recommended here. It worked wonders at first, but I had to stop taking it due to some leakage...I wasn't willing to risk that! I was getting really worried that it would never be healed. My wedding and honeymoon weren't far off, and I really, really wanted to feel better by that time. Seeing that I was still in pain and healing very slowly, Doc suggested that I have the fissure cauterized. I really didn't understand the procedure and was a bit scared, so I told my doctor that I would think about it and let him know. I emailed 'Jack', who recommended that I go ahead with the cauterization (Thanks!). I called and scheduled it right away. I ended up having it done just a few weeks before the wedding.
The procedure was done early morning. I think I went in at 8:00 for lab tests, and they started the procedure around 9:00. First they gave me a shot of demerol. I got to feeling pretty good real quick. There was my doctor and a male nurse in the room. They had me pull my pants down just past my knees and lay on my side with my legs bent. When the procedure began, I was in a bit of pain, so Doc decided to give me a shot to completely numb me. The shot hurt like hell for just a second, but I didn't feel much after that. I could feel pressure but no pain. I stayed awake the whole time and the demerol made me fuzzy and nauseous. When he was done, he had me pull up my jeans and lay on my back for awhile so that the demerol could wear off some before I left. My fiance picked me up and I was home just after 10:00. Doc prescribed some pain medicine (he said I would be sore from the electric needle), but I never used it. I threw up when I got home and slept the rest of the day.
I noticed the difference right away. My first bowel movement was still painful, but not as bad. It continued to get better. By the wedding I was feeling pretty good. I was able to relax and enjoy myself for a week-long honeymoon. Bowel movements continued to be uncomfortable but tolerable. I was happy.
I haven't been back to the doctor since the check-up just a week after the procedure (Jan.). I think the fissure is completely healed, but the external hemorrhoids have not gone away. In fact a few weeks ago I experienced alot of pain during a bowel movement, but I think that is due to the hemorrhoids. I spent alot of time in a hot bath or sitting on a heating pad, which I think has helped. I'm feeling much better now!
For the most part, this has all helped tremendously. It was difficult for me to get into this pattern at first, but now that I'm seeing the results it's not so bad. I do still eat big meals on weekends with macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes, etc. When I do this, though, I make sure to eat a lemon or grapefruit after the meal and usually do not have any problems.
I have found an alternative to the Kondremul that is extremely helpful when needed: I keep a Fleet mineral oil enema in the bathroom at all times. Whenever I have a hard stool, I use half a bottle of this before the bowel movement to loosen the stool and ease passage. It works as well as the oral mineral oil but you expel it all right away and don't have to worry about leakage later on.
There is still some discomfort with bowel movements, but I can deal with that. I think the main problem is that I have a hard time relaxing my muscles. I expect pain so I tense up. But as I'm getting better, I'm able to relax more.
This page was so helpful to me while I was going through this. I really probably would've been clueless about my condition if I hadn't had this as a reference. My friends and family did not seem to grasp the extent of the situation and how much it affected me. It was good hearing from others who could understand. Best of luck to you all, and thanks for the support!