AF/Fistula Healed

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AF/Fistula Healed

Postby PostSurgerySuccess » 23 Apr 2014, 19:55

I developed a fistula and AF after childbirth in 2009. The OB "on call" during my labor/delivery performed an episiotomy that likely caused these injuries. I consulted with two colorectal surgeons within a few days of my son's birth and chose to receive care from the surgeon who had the best reputation and seemed to favor the most conservative approach. He explained that after childbirth, it is necessary to wait at least six months before performing any surgery because the body needs time to heal from the labor and delivery. Fortunately, the fistula healed on its own, and I did not need surgery to repair it.
The AF, however, became a chronic, painful problem. I orginally tried diltiazem, metamucil, and following a high-fiber diet. This never fully worked so I tried painful botox injections twice. The first injection worked for a few months but eventually the AF came back. The second injection didn't help. There was a period of about 6 or 9 months when my body seemed to heal from using coconut oil and paying strict attention to my diet, but then the AF came back. Though my surgeon recommended LIS, I was reluctant. I was scared of undergoing surgery to such a sensitive area of the body, and scared of the risk of incontinence. And I just didn't want to go through the post-operative healing. I became accustomed to dealing with the AF (bloody stool, taking sitz baths, Miralax and metamucil nightly, baby wipes, watching my diet, drinking lots of water, etc etc). It was pretty miserable at times, but I just got used to it.

Finally this year I decided I was ready for surgery. I let go of my fear. I asked my parents to come and help out for two weeks. My husband took a day off work on the day of the procedure. I encouraged myself to trust the process, and trust my surgeon. I realized that I was not in control of this problem and needed to put myself in the hands of the medical professionals who knew how to fix it.

The post-surgerical healing period was much less painful than I anticipated. The biggest issue was not pain during bowel movements, but lower back pain that probably resulted from the way I was positioned on the operating table. I scheduled a back massage which helped immensely. My bowel movements took a few days to become regular. I'm sure the anesthesia causes constipation and a slowing of the system. I drank more water than I ever thought possible, and ate healthy light meals. I allowed myself to rest but also made sure to engage in movement (yoga, stretching, walking). I didn't need to use any painkillers, other than a few tylenol for the back pain.

I am now three weeks post-op and I have painless bowel movements and no bleeding. My body feels "normal" and I haven't experienced any incontinence. I drink lots of water and cut back on caffeine, dairy, alcohol, white bread, pasta, etc. Those have become lifestyle habits that are good for my health anyway. I still have to drink coffee in the morning and eat chocolate. Eating lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains takes a lot of work and planning, but it's worth it.

I'm glad I decided to get the LIS surgery and I wrote this post so that other people may feel encouraged by my experience. I think this site is an excellent resource, but there is also a negativity bias on-line because we tend to come here when we feel most desperate and don't come back when things get better. We are all unique and will experience healing in unique ways. I'm grateful that I am otherwise healthy and had the family support and time to focus on my healing. To those of you in pain -- it can and will get better, whatever path forward you choose.
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Re: AF/Fistula Healed

Postby Scientist2516 » 24 Apr 2014, 12:41

Many thanks for your write-up, PSS. I think you are correct about this forum being a haven for some desperate people, and it is very important to hear about the success stories. You story will give hope and inspiration to people who badly need it.

May I ask how old you are? I am interested to know if age is a factor in considering LIS.

Congratulations on healing, and here's to a fissure-free life for you!
Nifedipine/lidocaine, no help
Diltiazem, effective, but caused major rash
Nitroglycerine, effective.
Topical estrogen for final healing.
Gentle heat to bottom - pain relief, muscle relaxant
Kondremul mineral oil
Time - lots of time.
Status - Healed!
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