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My Fistula Recovery

In my previous post, I talked about the actual fistula surgery. In this post, I want to describe the recovery. I can’t think of a better way to start the post than starting when I woke up right after surgery.

In recovery

When I woke up, I remember hearing voices and nurses making themselves busy nearby. There was definitely a burning sort of pain “down there.” On the pain scale, I’d say it was about a 3-4. Honestly? It surprised me. Prior to the surgery, the only “pain” I felt from the fistula was a slight burning sensation at random times throughout the day.

I was finally wheeled back to where my mother, a friend from church, and my baby were waiting for me. My husband, who had been there that morning, had to go to work and left shortly after I was wheeled back to the operating room.

Care instructions

I was instructed by my surgeon to not lift anything heavier than the baby or do anything strenuous. He also told me to bathe frequently to keep the area clean. Something I found interesting is that the nurses told me not to “strain” when I have a bowel movement. They also suggested I might need a stool softener. I smirked. Yeah, that doesn’t happen anymore and I’m not supposed to have a stool softener. It never ceases to amaze me the number of healthcare professionals who don’t know what a j-pouch is.

At home

I don’t know about you, but anesthesia always makes me nauseous. All the way home I breathed deep, kept my head down and tried not to throw up… all while trying to keep my sore, burning bottom comfortable. I very nearly threw up when I got out of the car, but thankfully, I did not.

My mom grabbed the baby and helped me into the house and got me settled in my room to rest. Nauseous, tired and in pain, I tried to sleep. I remember dozing, but never really getting that deep, wonderful slumber that many of us aspire to.

The next few days

During the next few days, I was still surprise by my level of discomfort. I’m extremely thankful that my church family and friends brought us meals for the entire week afterward. It took me about two days to have a bowel movement. Because of the nature of the j-pouch, this also surprised me.

The green light

At my two week post-op appointment, my surgeon gave me the green light. At the moment, I’m no longer having any strange discharge, burning sensation or stool coming out of my lady bits. Despite this, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fear of the fistula reopening. Fistula repair has a 50%-ish success rate, according to my personal research. This in addition to the medical PTSD that I have from my past medical history causes distress for me. My surgeon has given me my life back twice. Not only did he fix my fistula, he also created my j-pouch. And at this point, I trust him with my life. If I have any future fistula or “butt issues,” he’s my go-to guy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.