Pain Journal: December 2020

Pain chart summary for December 2020, including text and a body diagram with red squares on it for pain locations

I know I’m a bit late in publishing my December pain journal, but here it is. And I’m SO excited about it!

There’s not much to tell! YAY!

For those of you who may not want to read, here’s a Youtube video!

Chart of different types of pain during December. All are zero except for uterine pain 3% and incision pain 54% of December

And 54% of the days in December I had some type of incision pain, but it was mostly in the 1-4 out of 10 range. That’s nearly a 30% drop since November! And most instances only lasted a few seconds.

Continue reading

Endometriosis Excision Surgery No. 6!

Pre-surgery photo with myself, Dr. Mel Kurtulus and Dr. Matthew Schultzel

On October 21, 2020, I went in for my tag-team surgery with my fellas: Dr. Mel Kurtulus and Dr. Matthew Schultzel. Each had their own specific tasks while they worked together to make sure I was happy, healthy, and well:

  1. Dr. Matthew Schultzel was going to inspect and remove a portion of my sigmoid colon which had deep-infiltrating Endometriosis (discovered during my May 2020 surgery);
  2. Dr. Mel Kurtulus was going to peek around inside to see if I had any new Endometriosis growths since May or any scarring or other things that may need to be cleaned up.

If this sounds familiar, we did a similar tag-team effort with these two amazing surgeons back in November of 2018, but for the opposite side of my colon.

The best part? I have had ZERO, zilch, nada, no pre-op pains! The only pain I’ve had since October 21st has been healing from surgery! My November pain journal screamed of the difference in my symptoms and Endometriosis pain!

Continue reading

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. (Update 5/13/21: I’ve had A LOT more since first writing this blog entry. On 5/11/21, I had internal hemmy #7 banded, and have #8 & #9 to be handled in a few months. I’ve also had 2 external hemmies cut off)..

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!

(Update 7/6/21: hemorrhoid #9 band ligation was so painful that I had to take a day off of work. The poopchute pain was about an 8 out of 10, that radiated to the perineum, and I even feel it in my vaginal canal. Driving home was hard…to say the least. Popped a tramadol when I got he and dropped the pain down to about a 2.)

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!!!

(Updated 7/6/21)

~ 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

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.

Continue reading

Pain Journal: January 2019

Summary of Lisa Howard's pain journal from January 2019

I’ve decided to start publishing my pain journals; not only in the hopes of documenting my Endometriosis Journey, but possibly helping others with theirs. Let’s get intimately familiar with my habits, shall we? 🙂

I use Google Slides to track my food, drink, bowel movements, medication, sex, and pain levels. I also track the location of my pain. And I’ve found this method helps me stay more in touch with my body and it acts as a great aid for my doctor and surgeons. I can access Google Slides from my PC, my phone, and my tablet; so it’s never too far away. And if I’m too lazy to open the app, I just shoot myself an email with a timestamp and description of what’s going on (i.e, 2:45pm ate a bowl of vanilla ice cream). Then the next day (or whenever is convenient) I rebuild my Google Slides with that information.

There are several Smartphone Apps out there that act as diaries and symptom trackers, too, but I’m all paranoid about permissions and developer access. 😉 BUT…the most important thing: you do what’s best and easiest for you.

So, welcome to my world. I will likely retroactively post my prior pain journals just to have them all in one place and can compare!

I’m pleased to say that January was relatively uneventful! Surgery was a huge success and most of my pain has been discomfort from my incisions and staples, learning my new bowels (and what NOT to eat/drink), and very very mild period pain. I literally forgot I was on my cycle for 99.9% of my period!

You can feel free to scroll through the slides of every day in January:

I also wanted to start tracking my new bowel movements by type and pain levels. I’m a visual kind of person, so I like all the info in ONE place. And I simply cannot believe the difference since my surgery! To poo almost EVERY day multiple times a day and to have zero pain most of the time is incredible! AND to see the difference when I’ve eaten (or in this case…drunk) something that didn’t agree with me. January 25th and 26th were Life Lessons, that’s for sure. I’ll most definitely have to go back in time and rebuild my pre-surgery poop charts!

Blue is the number of poops in a day, the orange line shows if I had any diarrhea (and how many times in a day), and the red line shows pain levels during bowel movements:

I am so grateful for my Endometriosis surgeons: Dr. Mel Kurtulus (my gynecologist and excision surgeon) and Dr. Matthew Schultzel (my colo-rectal surgeon). You have given me my life back.

My 4th Endo Excision Surgery

"Uterus & Guts," created by Ivy Denton
@deathwindchimes 

Before I get started, let me explain the image above. A talented artist by the name of Ivy Denton created it for me (they also created the EndoGuy and PoopChuteSnakie you’ll see below). They’re taking commissions if you’re interested in throwing ideas their way! “What is it,” you may be asking yourself. It’s a whimsical interpretation of my insides: a uterus with two cervix, no fallopian tubes (hence the band-aids and floating ovaries), and it’s accompanied by it’s new buddy: an intestine missing some pieces. I think it’s adorable! Thanks, Ivy!!


On with the good stuff! If you didn’t already know, back in July 2018 during an excision surgery Dr. Kurtulus discovered a pair of Endo lesions on my small intestine . He brought in a colo-rectal surgeon, Dr. Schultzel, to look at it and decide if we could remove it then. Unfortunately, it was deemed too deep and risky without a proper bowel prep and a future resection would take place.

Continue reading

Pain & Poops: Then & Now

Happy poop with daisy on it's head

Well, here we are in 2019 and I’m starting my blog off talking about poop…Why? Because I’m SUPER excited to share with you how different my bowels (and pain levels) have been since my recent bowel resection and Endometriosis excision surgery.

If you weren’t aware, I underwent a bowel resection to remove deep-infiltrating Endometriosis from my small intestine.

Embrace this discovery with me! Here’s my pain journal summary for November of 2018:

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading