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I thought that I would post this as a lot of people appear to be going through the same agony that I was going through for over a year.
Anyway, I was at uni and going through a bad time in my life, whenever I get stressed my guts go into turmoil. As a result I was off uni for a week with severe rectal pain and feeling lower than a snake's belly. I booked an appointment with my GP as I had experienced similar symptoms before.
My GP recognised the symptoms immediately, I thought I had piles, she said I was too young so had a look. The digital examination wasn't fun, in fact she said she had never seen anyway change colour so quickly but it was worth it because I was refered to a colo-rectal surgeon.
I took my sick note back into my tutor and as I was doing a clinical degree, he said straight away that fissures were worsened and sometimes caused by stress. The penny dropped.
As I said I was going through a very very bad time in my life which necessitated me going on antidepressants (Cipralex) for my emotional state. When this was added to wall climbing agony due to fissures I was near breaking point. I remember after one bowel movement almost fainting with the pain, I was lying at the top of the stairs at my mum's house and clawing at the wallpaper with my fingernails - I have had a broken leg and in terms of pain that fissure was far worse, trust me.
I went to see the colo-rectal surgeon a few weeks later, I was terrified, but he was a lovely man, very very considerate. He told me that I had a large fissure that could be helped with an ointment. I told him my background so he talked a bit more openly and said that fissures are an incredibly debilitating condition. He once had a 16 stone rugby player openly weeping on his consulting couch with the pain - I can understand why.
I was prescribed GTN ointment and started using it as directed. I had a slight headache which I could live with, but this was far better than the agony of the fissure and this headache was pretty much gone after the first week. After a week of use the pain from the fissure had also subsided to nothing. After six weeks I went back to the surgeon and I was healed.
I wish that was the end of the story but it isn't, I have probably had four or five bad flare ups since and dozens of other twinges, spasms, bleeds and itches since but I am nowhere near as bad as the first time - I can live with this now. I have seen the surgeon twice since and he has offered surgery but my frame of mind precluded me from that, I was simply terrified.
My GP is very understanding and I can get GTN on prescription whenever I need it. I was prescribed Anoheal by the surgeon as well but this didn't work as well as GTN for me, but I have seen cases in work where this has been incredibly effective.
As I said earlier, I was doing a clinical degree, which I have now passed, so I feel that I am pretty well qualified to offer a bit of advice, so here it is.
1. Go and see your GP. Don't be embarrassed, your doctor has seen dozens of these - they are very very common. If you get fobbed off or feel that you haven't got anywhere, go back and tell him/her that you are not happy and you will go elsewhere i.e. change your GP. Changing your GP hits their bank balance, and as GPs are notoriously greedy, they will do something. Nobody should have to suffer with this.
2. Take something for the pain but NOT codeine. Ibuprofen worked best for me.
3. Drink plenty of fluids and lay off the alcohol while you are healing.
4. Eat lots of fibre and fresh fruit and veg, switch to brown bread and have something like Weetabix for breakfast. This softens stools and makes them easier to pass - less pain and less damage to existing fissures.
5. Use a stool softener, one Movicol sachet daily really really helped me. You can buy these over the counter from your local Pharmacist but tell them what it is for. Alternatively get them on prescription from your GP.
6. Lay off the red meat, there is some science to this as meat increases the residence time in the gut and predisposes to harder stools. This really helped me and I have seen a few accounts here where sufferers also say that.
7. Try to relax, easier said than done, but try simple things like having a hot bath instead of a shower. If anything helps you, no matter how crazy or off the wall it may sound, carry on doing it. Going out for a drive helped me. Staying active also helps constipation and makes you feel better. Don't stay in and stew - stay positive.
8. Stick to the doctor's directions of any drugs you are given. If you are told to apply a cream for 6 weeks into the anus, then make sure it goes into the anus for 6 weeks. And into the anus means into the hole - not nice, but a lot nicer than the agony from an untreated fissure.
Remember you are not alone, these things can be cured. You will feel terrible and you will feel like nobody else understands what you are going through but believe me, these things are very very common.
And if all the above doesn't help there is a simple operation that can be done on a day case basis that has a 95% chance of curing it for good.
If you are reading this you are no doubt feeling horrible but believe me, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Good luck with your pain in the ass.
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