Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Surgery Again

I'm going to need to have surgery again. The last go-round was a two-step process. One part of the set of procedures performed at the end of March was successful. Growths inside the colon were removed and the site of surgery has now completely healed. The second stage was intended to treat a fissure, which is a tear in the lining of the colorectal system. The surgeon opted for the least invasive course of treatment first, which was to inject the inside and outside of the tear with Botox. This sort of treatment has an 80% success rate, but I guess I was part of the unlucky minority.

The procedure to follow has a 95% success rate, but runs the risk of incontinence once one reaches the age of eighty. If I'm not already incontinent by the age of eighty, I'll be very surprised. A 1 cm incision will be made, at minimum, and perhaps the entire fissure will be removed. I'm told the recovery time and pain won't be as bad as the last time. My primary concern is not surgery in itself. Mainly it is my own private fatigue with surgery in general.

Last time, I had severe problems with anesthesia interacting with the medications I already took on a daily basis. These caused a variety of side effects, most notably bizarre and intense crying spells. In addition, I had a strong headache for nearly a week. It takes two weeks for most of the anesthesia to leave the body following a surgical procedure, though traces remain for six months following it. I can say that surgery itself is not an issue for me. When I wake up in the Recovery Room, my real problems begin. I learned the hard way last time that I can't take narcotic pain killers like Vicodin or Lortab. They caused a severe reaction shortly after surgery that forced me to visit the ER.

The procedure is called a lateral sphincterotomy, which sounds like something you'd find really amusing if you were ten. A Google image search found several hundred graphic images that even I am a little too squeamish to share with the viewing public. Botox remains in the system for three months, and because of this, the soonest I could have a second round of surgery is June 20. Surgery will probably be scheduled a week or so later, and perhaps even as late as the first week of July.

Additionally, there is a chance that I have an ulcer. It could be something much less problematic like acid reflux, but the symptoms are more in line with an ulcer. I haven't been able to eat more than one meal a day in a month. As a result, I've lost ten pounds and I feel weak due to insufficient nutrition. I meet with a gastroenterologist on Monday, at which point she will make a diagnosis. I expect that additional tests will need to be run, though I do not want to undergo a procedure like a colonoscopy or endoscopy, both of which are very invasive.

Ulcers were once thought to be caused by stress. These days, it is believed they stem from a bacterial infection. Taking over-the-counter drugs for pain can make them worse, as can excess acid production. If I do, in fact, have an ulcer, it is not likely that I would need surgery for it. They are usually treated with antibiotics and drugs that reduce acid production. But regardless of how easy this might be to treat, positive gain isn't going to materialize for at least another month, and maybe longer than that. Many people would like to lose ten pounds, but I would not recommend this way of doing it.

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