I had surgery for overlapping sphincteroplasty and fistula repair on October 4, 2012. After reading some threads, I was especially nervous to have this surgery; however, now that I've experienced the repair, I am especially happy I followed through.
I am a mom to an awesome 14 month old. He was a semi-large baby with a big head. I endured a 4th degree tear. My body did not heal as it should. I thought the things I was experiencing (passing gas and BMs through my vagina, crapping myself at work, etc) were all normal after child birth. I just thought it was those awful things women never discussed. After a few embarrassing accidents at work, I decided to contact my OB/GYN. She was fabulous and immediately referred me to a colon/rectal surgeon. After having a few (I won't lie, unpleasant) tests, she was able to tell me I was a candidate for this surgery. I was happy to know I had a problem and that a repair was possible. My surgeon was extremely straight forward about the percentage of success (mine was 90% success rate), the recovery process, pain level, etc. Regardless of age, level of tear/rupture, etc. the surgery is a risk/gamble.
I am now 3 1/2 weeks post surgery. I am extremely happy with my decision and feel better and better every day. My bowels and gas no longer pass through my vagina. I have more muscle control when I feel the need to have a BM, which means I no longer crap myself.
I'm anxious to see what my 6 week post-op test report. I'm sure it will confirm my feelings of complete success.
I was in the hospital for 2 days post-op. I won't lie, it was the worst pain I've even endured (and I had a pain med free child birth). The first week at home was just as crueling, but I quit taking Hydrocodine by day 3. I was fortunate to have my mom come stay with me for 2 weeks. She took care of my son, while I healed and got rest. She cleaned the house, cooked, etc. I literally only showered and went from the couch to the bed. The two weeks after that we put my son in daycare. I did not get brave enough to lift my 23lb son until the end of week 3. I was terrified of ripping open the incision. Even now, I only lift him if necessary. There is still pain if I stand or walk too long. I try to add a little more activity to my day every day. My pain level now is almost non-existent. It isn't until the end of the day that I even start to notice.
I'm fortunate to be a stay-at-home-mom and have a strong support system. My husband has been fabulous. We are huge planners so we had help lined up since May 2012 for this surgery. 4-6 weeks recovery time seems forever long, but my husband reminds me to look at the big picture. I was big on following the doctor's orders to a "T."
Four secrets I learned from this surgery/experience...
1) was to put vitamin E on the wound every day and let the wound air out for about an 1/2 hr to 1 hr a day. (I bought Vitamin E gel capsules and poked a hole in them, and used a Q-Tip to apply the oil to the wound.)
2) I also showered from the waist down after every BM to make sure I'm super clean.
3) used an antibacterial soap when I showered to ensure cleanliness. Dial makes a girly lavendar and twilight scent.
4) Maintain a positive attitude. It's easy to be negative, but try to focus on the positives. In short...
Week 1: laid down the entire week. only showered and went from bed to couch. Pain level on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst was about 5.
Week 2: Started sitting up. Could only sit for about 20 min before needing to lay down the first 2 days, but by end of the week I was sitting up almost the entire day. Started driving short distances because I had severe cabin fever. Pain level on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst was about a 3. Easily managed with normal OTC pain meds.
Week 3: Sitting up all day, gradually increasing how much I stand and walk. (remember standing and walking is your #1 enemy in this recovery process so don't over-do it). Went for a short trip to Hallmark for holiday cards.
Pain level on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst was about a 1.
I'm not into week 4 yet, but will begin taking care of son again full time. I trust I will experience an increase of pain mainly because I will be lifting him more and will be up and down more.
I hope others have had as much success as I have.