The Band Ligation Procedure

Rubber band ball

If you read my post from a few weeks ago, you already know that I have three hemorrhoids inside my butt. Yep. Three. What can I say? I’m an overachiever.

Why am I writing about hemorrhoids on my Endometriosis blog? Well, that’s because any one of you (yes, even you), can get them. Especially if you’re having to fight constipation, diarrhea, or both. And what do a lot of us with Endo have? Pooper-problems: yep. Constipation and diarrhea.

Today was the big day to remove the first of the three: the band ligation. Was I nervous? Of course. I didn’t truly know what to expect other than a tiny rubber band would be going around my lumpy li’l hemorrhoid. I already verified with my surgeon’s office that the band didn’t have any latex (I have an allergy), so that was a relief. Google didn’t help answer my “is it gonna hurt afterward” inquiries. I envisioned myself squirming for days, sitting on a donut pillow, walking like I had just ridden in a rodeo.

Am I? Nope!

SO I wanted to share my experience, in case any of you were ever diagnosed with internal hemorrhoids and needed to undergo band ligation. But, realize that every person is different…and this is my experience.

Once in the exam room, the nurse took my blood pressure and laughed at my lame jokes. Then, I was asked to strip from the waist down and to drape the paper blanket over my lap. He left and gave me the privacy to shed my pants and skivvies, I took a precursory look at the small tray of tools and blob of lube, and hopped onto the exam table.

I was literally in and out of that office in 20 minutes: start to finish. The actual procedure took less than five minutes!

Dr. Matthew Schulztel arrived with big smiles and a warm handshake and it was time!

I was worried there’d be some type of numbing injection. Nope. Nothing but the calm, soothing voice of my colo-rectal surgeon warning me of sensations I may experience as tools went in and out.

Did it feel good? Nope. Was it painful? Nope. But it was uncomfortable…mostly just awkward. The doc lubed me up real well first, then a big metal tube went into my butt (I presumed to hold it wide open). Once my body acclimated to the intrusion, it wasn’t too uncomfortable. Then he inserted the little metal rod device that had the rubber band on it. I could feel it as the tool bumped around inside my poopchute, and could feel an odd sensation as the hollow-tube that housed the band surrounded my hemorrhoid. “You’re gonna feel a pinch,” he warned. And yep, just a slight pinch as the band was placed at the base of my ‘rrhoid. A few deep breaths, the tools were removed, and all was back to normal.

As I laid there on my side, knees together up to my chest, all I could think of while he was inside was how oddly similar this felt to a pap smear; just in a different hole. It really wasn’t as awful as my brain thought it was going to be!

I go in on August 28th for my second hemorrhoid to be similarly attacked.

He did warn that I may feel like I have to poop because of the weird band around my ‘rrhoid; at least until it fell off in one to four days, he even thought it may just fall off today! As I got dressed, I marveled on how I couldn’t feel anything. I even sat down on the chair (gingerly, at first) to put my boots on. I didn’t feel a darn thing!

But as I walked toward my car in the parking lot, I felt exactly what he was talking about. And the car ride back to work. And even now as I type this up for you. An unmistakable urge to just go void my bowels. I’m glad he gave me the head’s up. Have I tried to poo yet? Nah. I’m just gonna nurse this li’l feeling for a while.

Curious about the tools used? Let’s see what Dr. Google shows us. There are lots and lots of brands of tools, and I’m clueless what he used, but here’s a general idea:

hemorrhoid bands for ligation
The band: these teeny, tiny black bands are what get the job done! Once secured around the base of the hemorrhoid, the blood supply is cut off and the little ‘rrhoid dries up and falls off. Alibaba, lucid O bands
Anoscope
The butthole opener tube: I’ve learned it’s called the anoscope or proctoscope. It’s hollow once you pull that handle-portion out. It totally keeps things open and unencumbered for the physician to do his business. Courtesy of Henry Schein Medical, Item No. 4268469
band ligator cone
The band-spreader thingy: the rubber band goes on the tiny tip of this little metal cone, then gets slid up and loaded onto the next tool. And the cone goes away now; it’s job is done. Photo courtesy of Medline, Item No. MDS6840410
The band delivery device: the band goes around the hollow round tip (the cone doesn’t remain attached once the band is around the round tip). That hollow tubed-tip slides inside the anoscope, into the poopchute, over the ‘rrhoid and, once in position, the plunger gets pressed and the rubber band slides into place around the base of the hemorrhoid. Medline, Item No. SKA801910

And, of course, luuuuuuuuuuuuube!

If you’re going to have your own internal hemorrhoid ligation, I hope this eased some fears for ya and answered some questions. I’m all set to go in and do this again in another month!

Bye bye hemorrhoids!!!

~ Again, I am a layman. I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. If curious, do your own research. Validate my writings. Or challenge them. And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always. Yours ~ Lisa

Feel Good Fridays

Group shot of 2019 Bloomin' Uterus Endometriosis Walk; San Diego, CA
2019 Bloomin’ Uterus Endometriosis Walk; San Diego, CA

And suddenly, just like that, it’s Friday already!

Today’s quote is for my fellow Warriors. This one, right here, is for YOU:

“Even in times of trauma, we try to maintain a sense of normality until we no longer can. That, my friends, is called surviving. Not healing. We never become whole again … we are survivors. If you are here today… you are a survivor. But those of us who have made it thru hell and are still standing? We bare a different name: warriors.” 

― Lori Goodwin

Remember how strong you are. How far you’ve come. How much you’ve endured. But, most importantly, understand that you are flanked by your fellow Warriors, standing side by side, hand in hand. You are not alone in this fight.

Maintain strength, even in the scary moments. And, if you need it, reach out for the Warrior beside you. ❤

Love, Lisa

Blogs I Updated This Week:

Bladder & Endometriosis: added a 2019 study of a woman who complained of menstrual cramps, painful urination, and an inability to hold her pee in. Guess where they found Endo? Yep, I know it’s rare, but it happens.

Endometriosis & the Bowel: added a 2019 study of a 35-year-old woman who had complaints of abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and cyclical rectal bleeding. They thought she had a possible carcinoma inside her guts, but it turned out to be (you guessed it), Endometriosis.

Endometriosis & the Lungs: added a 2019 study of a 37-year-old woman who ended up having Endometriosis inside her lungs along the pleura lining. Her surgeons were able to successfully excise the lesions and she was sypmtom-free nearly three years later.

What Does Endometriosis Pain Feel Like?

Woman lying on couch, holding heating pad to stomach, bottle prescription pain pills in the foreground next to a mug of tea

One of our local EndoSisters had a brilliant suggestion: have EndoWarriors describe, in physical terms, what their Endometriosis pain and symptoms feel like and share the responses with the world!

If you’d like to let the world know, please fill out this form below. Your email address, if you provide it, will remain confidential and shared with no one! (If you can’t get the form to work, contact me). And scroll down to read how other people describe their Endometriosis.

And here’s what we’ve received. Check back often for more entries!

Before my recent surgery, I would feel like I had shards of glass, razor blades, and barbed wire flowing through my intestines every time I had to poop.  Period cramps would squeeze my uterus in a tight vice.  My lower back always felt like it had been kicked by a horse. And the sharp pains that would just linger from time to time around my abdomen felt like a white hot fire poker was stuck in my side. Lisa, San Diego
Left hip feels like its been skewered by a railway spike, blader / vagina /uterus feels like they are being burned by a welding torch, feels like glass shards moving through my bowel with EVERY B.M., sciatic pain leaves my legs, hip, ankles & feet feeling numb, tingling AND in so much pain like they've been smashed to bits by a sledgehammer.  MamaBear, Nova Scotia
A heavy weight of low back throbbing. A thorny balloon, inflating and deflating in between my organs.  Sal, San Diego
It feels like my skin is on fire and I have thousands of bugs crawling all over me. I have a vise around my bladder, squeezing and squeezing, but I’m unable to pee. I can’t physically walk or stand up straight without feeling like my ovaries will pop like balloons. Just the smell of food makes me throw up.  I feel like someone is physically twisting and pulling my colon out with a pair of clamps and it wouldn’t surprise me if I look down and saw that I expelled my intestines. I have full blown labor pains and contractions, that don’t ease until I’ve passed a golf ball.  Tabitha, California
I would feel like I was having s baby dilated to 10 every month. Amy Jo, Michigan
It feels like a ripping, tearing sensation in slow motion - it burns and throbs with an intense cold and hot pain like someone is ripping a layer of skin or muscle out of my abdomen and down my inner thighs. When I feel it, I think of how it looks to pull the skin off of a piece of raw chicken before you cook it, or field dressing a deer - that’s what I imagine is happening inside my body, and this usually lasts for about 5 days each month.  Amy, San Diego, California
It's like rusty nails in a board and you put your foot on the board to steady yourself because all the nails need to be ripped out with that claw part. Since they are rusty nails they don't come out easy, they have to be wigged back and forth side to side. And just as you get one out it gets slammed back into your body again. And the nails are from your thighs all the way up over the navel. And your stomach is swollen hard not swollen like gas swollen or too much fluid but so swollen you cant wear underwear or clothes that touch the rusty nails. Anonymous, Western United States
A tiny person inside trying to claw it's way out, and having a zip tie around my ovaries that someone is constantly tightening. Andi, San Diego, California
Sharp pain that hits hard enough to make my vision go white with blinding pain. vomit inducing cramping to the point of passing out. Hot and cold shivering, muscle tremors deep aching in bladder, rectum , kidneys, etc. emotional swings from every five minutes to days to weeks causing Brain Fog.  Misty Joseph, Orange County, California
It's like my insides are connected by a spider web. And every move from walking to breathing causes everything to shift.  There's pressure then this shooting pain. It stops you dead in your tracks.  ~Betti, United States

Blood and Poop and Headlamps … OH MY!

Proctoscope, gloves, and a blob lube
That’s gonna go…where?!?

So, over the past two months, I’ve been experiencing some bleeding when I poo. I’ve taken several first aid and civilian medical classes, so I knew it wasn’t anything to worry about: the color and texture was well within the “don’t freak out” range.

I noted these incidents on my food & symptom journal and booked an appointment with my PCP to discuss and get a possible referral to my PoopChute doctor.

Although I blog about poo and guts and all kinds of other lovely and taboo things, going into the doctor’s office to actually have them examine my bunghole is not my idea of good time. It’s even more horrific than having to buy pads or tampons when there’s only male cashiers…although I finally grew out of that trauma in my 30s.

Butt, I mean but, sometimes you just have to go to a professional and have them stick their finger in your but, I mean butt.

After a lengthy discussion of my symptoms, my diet, my fiber and water intake, and (lack of) exercise, there was the dreaded visual inspection and internal exam. Nothing abnormal was seen or felt, and I received the referral to my colo-rectal surgeon with the suspicion of tiny hemorrhoids or a possible recurrent fissure. And my PCP, Lauren Campagna, is freakin’ amazing and always makes me feel at ease.

A few weeks later (aka this past Wednesday), I repeated the process with my colo-rectal surgeon, Dr. Matthew Schultzel. I feared I was wasting his time. He did major surgeries, like my bowel resection. And here I was asking him to examine my bleeding arse. He assured me that this was a huge part of his practice and that I wasn’t wasting his time.

We talked about my symptoms and diet, he examined my incisions and pushed on my guts to check on my post-op healing, and then we got down to the real nitty-gritty.

He slipped on a headlamp, I assumed the position, and it truly wasn’t as uncomfortable as I’d imagined. First was the finger exam, followed by the clear duck-bill lookin’ device that taunted me from the exam room table (I later learned it’s called a proctoscope!). Again, it wasn’t too uncomfortable. It was awkward, but there wasn’t any pain. And Dr. Schultzel’s constant reassurances and jokes made the awkwardness far less than it could have been.

Lo and behold, I’m an overachiever: I have three various-sized hemorrhoids inside my guts. THREE! And a tiny skin tag, likely the remnants of a prior hemorrhoid.

The plan? There’s an in-office technique known as band ligation.

“Like rubber bands on a pig’s balls?” I asked.

“Exactly,” he laughed, and said he usually reserves that example for his Texan patients. Score one for growin’ up in Arizona!

So, I go in on July 31st for the fist of my three banding procedures. He’ll be slipping a tiny rubber band around the base of one of my three stowaways..and in several days it will just fall off. I’ll bleed or spot for a bit. Then 4-6 weeks later, repeat the process. Then repeat it once more! BUT his office is currently checking on the latex-content of the bands since I have an allergy…hopefully there’s an alternative if one is needed.

I most certainly don’t strain when I poo. Everything just kind of falls out easily since my surgery. And I drink A LOT of water all day, as well as take a fiber supplement every morning. So why do I have hemorrhoids? And three?? He let me know that it’s not uncommon for the body to go through weird changes after a bowel resection. I’ll take that theory!

So if you ever find yourself poo’ing and finding blood on your toilet paper: please contact your doctor. There are MANY different causes for bloody stool. And it should never be taken lightly.

That being said: it’s poop. And poop is embarrassing. And nobody wants to talk about it. But, as a friend of mine said to put my mind at ease, “Remember that your doctor purposely spent years and years and many thousands of dollars for the honor of looking up your bunghole. Whatever happens, it’s his privilege to experience!” So, talk to your doctor!!

I’d love to hear about your experiences! Feel like giving me a little insight into your poopchute? Have you had fissures or hemorrhoids before? How’d it go? Do you use something like the Squatty Potty? Or what’s your favorite fiber or stools softener? Share with the class 🙂

Feel Good Fridays

30-day challenge calendar

A good friend of mine announced the other day that she was planning on giving up all meat and dairy for the next 30 days. You don’t have to have Endo to give up these things and feel the benefits!

I hopped on her bandwagon. I mean, I’d previously given up *most* red meat and dairy…but I have my weaknesses with bison, bacon, pork, cheeeeeeeeese, whipped cream, butter…

We are on Day Three today. and I must say it’s been fun. Hard, but fun.

Day One was a doozy: some of my EndoSisters and I went to dinner at a local favorite: Buckboard’s BBQ. Meat. And Cheese. My usual: pork belly sliders and a side of some of the best mac&cheese you’ll ever taste. I resisted and opted instead for the veggie burger. And oh, man, I’ve never been offered so many mac&cheese balls in my life. And I have chicken, fish, corndogs, fishsticks, and pork chops in the freezer just begging to be eaten. I’m not even gonna talk about the bacon…

It’s also led me to do a bunch of research on how to make sure I get adequate protein, especially since my body still can’t process beans, and I avoid soy like it’s death. A challenge, but totally do-able.

And it’s been fun sharing our meals with each other and discussing creative ways that we’ve avoided meat and dairy. Oh the discoveries! Endo or no Endo, these are two good things to try to give up and see how your body handles the change

27 days to go; we can do this! Which leads to today’s quote:

“Embrace each challenge in your life as an opportunity for self-transformation.” 

― Bernie Siegel


What about you? What challenges are you facing? You CAN do it, too. Whatever it may be. And you most certainly are not facing them alone. We’re all right here with you.

Have a wonderful weekend! Love, Lisa.

A beautiful breakdown of treatment options for Endometriosis

A pile of open books
Photo by Amanda George from Pexels

A new study about Endometriosis is out regarding the modern treatment of the disease.  This includes birth control, progestins/anti-progestins, GnRH agonists, aromatase inhibitors, danazol, NSAIDs, surgery, and alternative treatments. It identifies the pros and cons of each.

The study closes with this beautiful phrase:

“The pharmaceutical or surgical treatment require an individual approach and deliberated informed consent of the patient. Pharmacological treatment is only symptomatic, not cytoreductive, therefore, to remove endometriosis lesions, surgery should be performed.”

It’s uplifting to see a study bluntly state that medications only treat the symptoms, NOT the disease itself, and the Endo lesions need to be removed.  AND that each case of Endometriosis must be reviewed on an individual level.

Deliberated informed consent of the patient” means (to me) as having a fully-informed patient who is made well-aware of the pros and cons of each choice, the side effects, risks, and potential outcomes; as well as having performed their own research before agreeing to the treatment.

Even with excision, though, there’s always a possibly of recurrence or new growths. And not all physicians are skilled enough to recognize each lesion. Not to mention many surgeons still practice ablation (the burning away of the lesion, leaving rooted tissue to regrow).

Welcome to an EndoWarrior’s very frustrating pursuit for competent medical care.

I encourage you to read the study for yourself and share it.

Resources:

Journal of Education, Health, and Sport (Article, 2019) – Available Treatment Methods for Endometriosis

Feel Good Fridays

Good morning and happy Friday!

Today’s quote goes to all you supporters out there: whether you’re a caregiver, a friend, family, loved one, stranger…Thank you! And not just thanks from me…but thanks from anyone you’ve ever supported!

Just being there for someone can sometimes bring hope when all seems hopeless.

Dave G. Llewelyn

If someone needs you, and you can do it, be there for them. In any capacity.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Love, Lisa

Feel Good Fridays

Friday! I have today off for the holiday. My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew are out for the weekend. And we have friends joining us today and tomorrow as well.

Its shaping up to be a great weekend with a giggling nephew and wonderful friends.

Here’s your quote. 🙂 May you have a wonderfully full and vibrant canvas!

Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can. – Danny Kaye

Saying Farewell to an EndoSister

Kristen Cavanaugh
Kristen Cavanaugh; Oct. 3, 1985 – June 27, 2019

Written by Heidi Baurmann, Speaking on behalf of all of our Bloomin’ Uterus sisters.

It is with a heavy heart that I announce one of our own has lost their battle with Endometriosis. Kristen Lynn Cavanaugh will always be a part of our Bloomin’ Uterus Sisterhood.

Kristen found me on Facebook in March during Endometriosis Awareness month. In the little time I knew her, it was obvious what a strong advocate she was for us all, sharing her story openly with the community & supporting chronic illness sufferers.

On Wednesday, June 27th, I was devastated to hear the news that Kristen had lost her life due to medication complications (the medications are listed at the end of this blog entry). It feels so unjust to loose a sister this way. Kristen’s friends and family are focusing their energy on spreading awareness in hopes to help others who are suffering in pain.

In loving words, her mother writes, “Kristen had a passion for helping those with chronic illnesses, and through her small business of health care products, she reached many women who suffer with endometriosis and fibromyalgia.“ Here is the link to her obituary. https://horancares.com/obits/kristen-cavanaugh/

Her dear friend opened up to me about her great sense of humor & expressed that what she “loved about her was how selfless she was. She quit a 6 figure job at DISNEY, to make boxes for each endosister. She carefully thought of each item while adding them to the boxes. She had such a big heart.”

Her family is asking for donations to the Endometriosis Foundation in her name. (There is a section where you can state who you are donating for.)
http://www.endofound.org

Here are the links to her Instagram endo page as well as her personal page, if you would like to say some words on her behalf.
@witsendocornerapothecary
@forkristenforeverago

Kristen will always be remembered in our hearts as a woman who fought hard & gave back. I hope you are looking down at all of this love and smiling. We send love to her family & all those who are feeling her loss.

**

Update: July 9, 2019: Suzie, Kristen’s mother, has given us permission to share the medications that Kristen was prescribed, which may have contributed to her death. We are sharing this information with you to implore you to verify with your physicians (and do your own research) regarding any potential drug side effects or interactions.

On June 24, 2019, Kristen was prescribed Dilaudid, Valium, Xanax, and Ambien. Suzie wants to stress to you that these medications, if taken together, can cause respiratory distress. Kristen and her family were not made aware of this danger. She would like to remind each of us that, “combining those meds is very dangerous.”

If you’re worried about your multiple over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, and/or herbal supplements having potential risks (or even death) when taken together, please talk to your doctor. And you can check out drug interactions on this amazing database.