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 🙂

The Bowel Resection is Coming!

Diagram of the human large intestine
The red circle is the approximate area where my Endo is

If you’re one of my dedicated readers, you’ll remember that I had my third Endometriosis excision surgery on July 18th of this year.  You may remember that during that surgery it was discovered that I had a few big ol’ chunky Endo lesions on my bowels (where my small intestine and large intestine meet) that couldn’t be superficially removed.  A colo-rectal surgeon was brought into my surgery and advised that a bowel resection should take place.

The only problems?

  1. I hadn’t prepped for a bowel resection (oh man, it’s a whole process for the few days leading up to surgery);
  2. The colo-rectal surgeon wasn’t in my insurance network.

The plan?  That surgeon was going to apply to become a member of my network and I’d have my bowel surgery with him as soon as everything was legit.  I met with the colo-rectal surgeon on August 8th for a consultation (oddly enough covered by my insurance since he poked his head into my surgery) and had a discussion of our future plans.

I was told in August that the network acceptance process could take anywhere from one to three months.  So, I sat patiently…for a while.

A month passed.  Then I called my insurance company to see if there was anything they needed from me to speed along the process.  Nope.  Then I called my colo-rectal surgeon’s office to ask the same question.  Nope.  Big fat nopes all the way around.

So I waited another month and then googled my medical group assigned by my insurance company.  On their webpage was the name and telephone number of the Director of Networking – the person to whom inquiries were to be made if you were a physician looking to join the medical group.

So what did I do? I called and left a voicemail message.  A week later, I left a second message.  And a week after that, I left a message with her secretary.

The day I left my third message…she called me back. The Director! I don’t know what I expected, but certainly not what happened next.

She apologized for not calling me back sooner but stated she was having my medical history and records pulled to review.  She found that there was no mention of any pending referral or need for a bowel resection; which wasn’t unheard of since the surgeon wasn’t (yet) an in-network physician.  BUT Dr. Schutzel (my soon-to-be-colo-rectal surgeon) likely wouldn’t be approved for another three months. Early 2019!  I wanted to cry.

I briefly filled her in. Well, that’s a flat-out lie – you know I can’t do anything “briefly.” I mean, look at this blog entry already!  Anyway…she heard me out. All of it.  And offered a suggestion:  have my gyno-surgeon put together a written request explaining my need for a bowel resection and why we wanted it to be this particular out-of-network surgeon (rather than one of the four already in-network).  Then needed to tack on a copy of my July op report, and the Directory may…and I stress the word may…be able to get a one-time-only approval to have the out-of-network (aka yet-to-be-approved) surgeon covered by my insurance to do my surgery.

I gushed my appreciation and thank yous to her and hopped on the phone with my gyno’s office.  They prepped the letter the next day and sent it off!  A few days later: *abracadabra* I get a phone call (which I missed) and listened to in my voicemail.

It was the Director of Marketing…calling me after hours to let me know that the request had been APPROVED and the next step was to coordinate the surgery date!

OMGOMGOMG

She did it!! We did it! But I never would have known it was possible if it weren’t for her taking the time to review my records, listen to my tale, and offer the suggestion!

Literally less than a week from the day we spoke to the day she called to let me know it was approved!  I’m so grateful to her and my gyno’s office!

The following morning, I called the colo-rectal surgeon’s office to see if they needed any information from me.  By lunchtime the same day…everything was all set up:

My bowel resection is scheduled for Monday, November 26, 2018, at 7:15 in the morning!

And to make things even better?

  • It will be a robotic-assisted laparoscopy, using the DaVinci system (which is what’s been used for my three prior laparoscopies); Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnd…
  • Dr. Kurtulus, my Endometriosis excision surgeon (and gyno and incredible human being) will be scrubbed in and at-the-ready to take a peek under the hood to look to see how I’m doing since my July surgery! And to excise any Endo they may spot along the way!

The double-whammy!!

I’m so comforted by the fact that my medical care team fought for this to be approved and scheduled so quickly.  But the super-duper comforting thought?  Dr. Kurtulus, my gyno and my surgeon, made himself available (and insisted on being present) for my colo-rectal surgery.  And influenced the decision for the surgery to be robotic-assisted.

And…this entire endeavor is a huge reminder on why we should be persistent and self-advocate.

Now here’s my question to you gals and guys:  If you’ve ever had a bowel resection, do you have any tips for surgery prep, recovery, or diet?  I have my pre-op packet and I’m sure I’ll receive a whole slew of post-op instructions…but I also like to hear your experiences and suggestions.   If so, drop me a comment below! Please!!

I’m so excited. So ready.  So appreciative!