Upcoming Surgeries – Cyst Excision, Rectocele Repair, Hemorrhoid Removal

The saga of my bizarre and complicated body goes on.

Thursday I will be having a small cyst excised from my scalp. No big deal, I don’t even have to go under and I can drive myself home afterward. Not excited about it, but not too nervous.

Next Friday, the 3rd, I have a dual surgery scheduled and I am writing about it because I can’t find a lot of first-person accounts online and I really wish I could because I AM nervous about it. And also it’s not the type of surgery you bring up in casual conversation, which means I have basically not told anyone about it, but it’s a serious surgery – I have to go under for it. So this will be my introductory blog on the subject and then if you want to know more you can read the follow up blogs on the procedure and recovery.

Ever since I can remember, I have had jacked up digestion. Then during chemo I had c diff not once but TWICE, and since then have had IBS. So my whole digestive system is a mess. Add to that two full-term pregnancies and you just have a real train wreck.

One of the issues is a rectocele. I won’t get into all the specifics of the problems it causes (you have Google), but here’s the brief definition from the Mayo Clinic:

A posterior vaginal prolapse, also known as a rectocele, occurs when the wall of tissue that separates the rectum from the vagina weakens or tears. When this happens, tissues or structures just behind the vaginal wall — in this case, the rectum — can bulge into the vagina.

I would love to indent that to set it off but WordPress has completely changed the way you format blogs since the last time I posted and I can’t figure out how to. Sorry.

Anyhow I have been putting off rectocele repair surgery for a LONG time for a lot of reasons but over the past year I’ve had not one, not two, but THREE thrombosed hemorrhoids and the theory is the rectocele may be contributing to them. Don’t know what a thrombosed hemorrhoid is? You’re so lucky! I had one for my birthday last year. Here’s the good ol’ Mayo Clinic again:

If blood pools in an external hemorrhoid and forms a clot (thrombus), it can result in:

  • Severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • A hard lump near your anus

YAY! I can 100% confirm the severe pain and can also inform you that the first one I had was the worst one and it lasted nearly 2 weeks because I am an overachiever.

So I’m finally getting the rectocele repaired, and at the same time, I am getting extra skin removed and any visible hemorrhoids repaired/cauterized. I don’t know all the details to be honest with you, but I will be finding them out (presumably) at my pre-op consultation on Thursday (right after I get the cyst removed). And then I will be sharing them with you.

All this goes to say that yes, I am continuing my journey toward being bionic. And please keep me in your thoughts over the next two weeks.

A Word of Advice re Hospitals

Writing this in case it helps someone else – you don’t necessarily have to have cancer for this to happen, although it generally happens in the immuno-suppressed.

When I was admitted to the hospital in Pennsylvania back in December, I told them upon arrival that I had diarrhea. I know it was mentioned several times during my four-day stay, as well. Nonetheless, they LOADED me with broad-spectrum antibiotics and never once tested me for Clostridium difficile colitis. This is an infection caused by bacteria that are everywhere – especially in hospitals – and which are extremely difficult to kill. In a normal person, healthy gut bacteria keep them in check. In an immuno-suppressed person – say, someone undergoing chemotherapy, someone with neutropenic fever – they can take over, and the primary symptom is diarrhea. What helps enable this to happen? Broad-spectrum antibiotics, which kill all the healthy gut flora.

I continued to suffer with diarrhea the rest of December and all of January, until my oncologist finally decided to test me for the bacteria. The test came back positive, and he put me on metronidazole (Flagyl), a different antibiotic that is supposed to kill the C Diff. It is the bitterest, most disgusting horse pill I have EVER had to take, and as someone who takes a ton of medications, you can believe that that’s no small feat. I had to take it three times a day every day for fourteen days, and you cannot have ANY alcohol while on it, as the interaction can make you very ill.

I finally finished the Flagyl on Saturday, and on Sunday I woke up and had diarrhea four f**king times. I emailed my doc (who apparently never stops working) to inform him and ask if he thought it was still the C Diff or a side effect of the Flagyl (which can also cause diarrhea, as well as headaches and loss of appetite, both of which I experienced). He replied within an hour, god bless him, and told me it sounded to him like I still wasn’t over the C Diff, and sent a different prescription – this time for vancomycin – to our pharmacy. This is another antibiotic which is used to treat more severe cases of C Diff that don’t respond to Flagyl.

Our co-pay – not the full drug price, the co-pay – on the vancomycin was $1196.95. For TWO WEEKS. I now have to take this drug four times a day for two more weeks. And I have had diarrhea for two f**king months.

If you are admitted to the hospital and they put you on antibiotics, and you have or develop diarrhea, DEMAND THEY TEST YOU FOR CLOSTRIDIUM DIFFICILE COLITIS, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS C DIFF. It is common, it is easy to test for (although you do have to provide a stool sample), and it is easily treated when it is MILD. If, however, you have it for two months without knowing, and repeatedly take Imodium to treat your diarrhea*, you will end up miserable and out $1200. Like me.

*If you have C Diff, taking Imodium can actually make the infection worse, as it retains the bacteria in your gut and can cause toxic reactions.