Today I went to see the surgeon my physiatrist suggested to me, to get my hemorrhoids removed. Initially I was scheduled for the procedure on Wednesday, but they canceled and rescheduled for today. Three sleepless nights, a week of eating a semi- liquid, high fiber diet and I'm not hemorrhoid free. It took us (my mother & I) about an hour's drive to get to the doctor's office. We even brought my Hoyer lift along for the ride, in preparation for the visit.
The surgeon sat with me first in her office, for a consultation. I described my normal bowel regime, and told her about my daily bouts of autonomic dysreflexia, about my mystery chest pains, and about my (and my physiatrist & regular physician's) theory of how my hemorrhoids could be contributing to, and/or causing most of my symptoms. She agreed that it could very likely be the case, and said she would need to examine me. So me, my mom & an assistant followed her into an examination room. The three of them used my lift to get me onto the table, and rolled me on my side, for the doctor to examine me (I was smart and wore a skirt- for easy access). She poked around (literally) for a few moments and then said we could talk about options.
The exam itself, wasn't so bad. It was just the mild discomfort of pins, and needles and goosebumps, that I typically get with digital stimulation. Luckily, it didn't last more than a few seconds. She confirmed the presence of hemorrhoids, but said we should discuss pros and cons, before deciding on surgery. I had assumed (based on what my physiatrist had told me, and from my phone conversation with the receptionist) that I was going to have the surgery today, during my visit. The doctor explained that normally the surgery would take place in the hospital, and I'd need to schedule a separate appointment, if that's what I decided I wanted to do.
The assistant and my mom helped to put me back in my chair, and the doctor told me her assessment. She said that the hemorrhoids I have internally are normal, given my situation and the typical flaccidness present with my type of injury. She said that given the fact that I have to have a bowel regimen, and digital stimulation, that those internal hemorrhoids would be expected. She said since my colon wasn't prolapsed, and the external hemorrhoids I have are small "tissue flaps" she wouldn't recommend surgery.
She said that I had several options to try and combat the AD. First, she said the external hemorrhoids were minor and not typically painful (my mother & other people I've talked to that have them tend to disagree on that point). She said I should just continue to treat them with the creams and suppositories (Anucort) I've been using. She said one of the causes for my AD could be the fact that I need to go to the bathroom every day. She explained that once the stool moves into the colon, it could be sending my body signals (even though I don't feel the actual "urge" to have to go). She said that I could try going back to doing my bowel program every day. That of course, I answered with an absolute, "No way!" Secondly, she suggested I could try experimenting with my bowel program medications. She said since I'm taking Senekot daily, that it helping to push the stool down more regularly. Of course, the risk with only taking my Senekot every other day, is that I could potentially become constipated. It's a risky, but more favorable option to try.
The third thing she suggested was switching from using the magic bullet suppository, to an enema based bowel routine. This is one option my physiatrist also suggested. The surgeon didn't specify a product, however my physiatrist did. I mentioned the Enmeez mini-enemas in my last blog, and got quite a bit of feedback about the product, from other quadriplegic users, on the Care Cure and CDRF forums. The overall consensus of people that responded (about a dozen) said that they preferred the "Enmeez Plus" (which has an added numbing agent) to the magic bullet, and that once their bodies acclimated to using it, they did have effective results, with less AD symptoms. It even specifies reduction of AD on the packaging, as being one of the benefits. The only "catch" to using the Enmeez, is that I would need to allow for time for my body to get used to the new method. Several people warned that it took them multiple uses, before they started seeing consistent results. That means, I'd have a period of unsuccessful BP days, which could entail lots of additional digital stimulation needed, and the threat of having accidents.
The fourth thing she suggested was trying a new medication called "Vasculera", which is an FDA approved "medical food for the dietary management of the metabolic processes of chronic venous insufficiency, one of the underlying causes of hemorrhoids." She said she wasn't sure how expensive it was, of if insurance (Medicaid/Medicare) would cover it, but gave me one sample and a coupon to try it. She said it doesn't have any known adverse side effects, and it could help the decrease the AD a bit. That was her most appealing and easiest suggestion.
Her last suggested option was getting a colostomy. She said, since I hated having BP so much that I should consider it. I gave her my long laundry list of reasons as to why it is not something I'd consider (see previous blogs). She poopooed (no pun intended- ok maybe intended) each of my reasons, as if they were no big deal. She went on to tell me about several patients she had performed colostomies on, and proceeded to show me several different bag styles. She said of all her patients, only one women ended up hating hers and asked for it to be reversed. Again, I stressed the fact that I'd still need to get the mucous buildup digitally removed. She said not necessarily. I pointed out the fact that I didn't want to be able to pass gas through two openings. She fluffed that fact off, saying it hardly happens.
She then continued to go on, and on how "since you have some arm function, you might even be able to apply, or remove peel and stick style bags yourself- if you had the right help." She rummaged through her cabinet to find an example. I pointed out that I have no wrist, hand or finger control or movement. She replied, "yes, but with adaptive equipment and the right help (perhaps a good occupational therapist) you might be able to do some of the care yourself." By that point, I was getting frustrated and had heard enough.
I just don't get some doctors (or people in general). Can someone please explain to me, what is the f*%#ing point of going through the trouble of having SOMEONE else strap on an adaptive handcuff, so I can "maybe" tear off a bag of my own feces, only to then need that same person to then have to hand me a clean bag, that I can "maybe" reattach to ANOTHER ARTIFICIAL hole in the side of my body?! Number one, who the f&$# am I supposed be fooling; myself or my "assistant"? I'd still need help with every step of the process, down to the fact that someone else would need to strap the damn adaptive device to my hand. Number two, someone else would still be smelling and cleaning up after MY poop! What is the point of going through five extra steps, to have to have help with each step. Only a deluded person would call that "independence" or "self sufficient." It's a damn joke! It's like saying "I can feed myself." Sure, if someone else prepares my food, puts in n a plate, cuts in up, puts my adaptive hand cuff with fork on my wrist, sits me at a table, puts a plate guard on my plate, and places said plate in front on me; then, and only then, I can pierce the food with fork and get it into my mouth. In the time it takes to set up that ridiculous charade my foods cold, and I could've easily been fed, and finished eating.
I tried really hard to keep my cool. I did mention the fact that I'd still need assistance. No matter how you slice it, colostomy or BP I need other people involved in handling my feces. How hard is that to comprehend? The whole point, is I am a private person. I don't want other people knowing when and how I poop; or urinate for that matter. I'm sick and tired of needing people for every tiny, minuscule detail of my daily life. I'm fed up with having people in my face, touching me, invading my personal space. I don't want to be fed, clothed, bathed, poked, prodded and everything else in-between. I just want a NORMAL life, of independence and privacy. Paralysis FORCES me to accept help and I hate it! I'm especially tired of hearing about how other people live this way. Yeah, and you know what? A good majority of them are as tired, and disgusted as I am. We are stuck, with limited choices. It's take it or leave it. I'm very close to leaving it.
Like I've said a million times before, "live a few days in my shoes, and then get back to me, on how I SHOULD live, and what I SHOULD do." Until you manage to do that (by the way, I wouldn't seriously wish my condition on my worst enemy), please spare me your critiques and judgement. In the meantime, I'm going to try the Vasculera and discuss the Enmeez with my one nurse. I just lost two of my regular nurses for most of July and August. My BP schedule for July is still half empty, so I'm hesitant to start a completely new regimen. I think I might wait until I know I'm going to have a consistent schedule, with nurses I trust.
I did ask the surgeon about the bentyl (for my IBS) my physiatrist suggested. I had mentioned it to my regular physician this past Tuesday, and he said it could cause constipation. He advised I wait until I go see the GI. I called the GI I saw back in November (in the hospital), to schedule an endoscopy, but he no longer accepts Medcaid/Medicare. So I have to find someone new to see. The surgeon said she wouldn't recommend bentyl, saying she didn't think it was effective. So I'll have to wait and see about any suggestions for the IBS until I follow up with the GI.
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