My Fistula Surgery

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my discovery of my rectovaginal fistula. Since then, I’ve been in “recovery” and have had a lot of time to mull things over. Several of my friends encouraged me for speaking out on this difficult topic. I was also able to get ahold of my surgery notes. With all these factors in mind, I want to expand on my personal experience with fistula surgery and recovery.

The diagnosis

In my last post, I mentioned passing gas from the lady bits. I also mentioned that I had stool coming out of that area. I was reluctant to tell my husband about my suspicions. But I did. I wasn’t sure what the next step was and I was afraid. He immediately told me I needed to call my colorectal surgeon. Of course! Why didn’t I think of that!?

Just to be sure, I texted my former ostomy nurse. She has direct access to my surgeon and she agreed with my husband. It was time to call the same doctor who created my j-pouch.

The examination

When I arrived at my doctor’s office, I was nervous. But thankfully, both my husband and my 15-month-old baby were with me. It really helps to have someone be so supportive... especially during an awkward situation.

“So, what’s going on?” my surgeon asked.

“Well...” I began awkwardly before telling him what was going on.

He told me that it might not be such an easy fix. Then, he had a look-see himself. He told me that he couldn’t really see much right there in the office, so we scheduled a flex sig under general anesthesia. Why the general anesthesia? Because if there was, in fact, a fistula, it’d be best to repair it while he’s already down there investigating.

The preparation

Preparation was not unlike the takedown surgery for my j-pouch! I was to fast the night before. The next morning I did a saline enema to fully clean me out. Gosh, I really hate enemas! Then, I showered with Hibeclens.

We went to the hospital first thing that morning and they called me back, asked me a million questions, I put on my gown, cap and compression socks, then they wheeled me back and put me under.

The procedure

My doctor performed the flex sig and he had a look at my j-pouch. According to the surgery notes, my j-pouch had a “Healthy Appearance.” SCORE! At least something’s going right. He rinsed it out with saline and it was stated that the mucosal appearance was also healthy all the way down to where the pouch is attached to my anus. AWESOME!

Near the “anastomosis” my surgeon found a hole and confirmed that the hole’s exit was indeed in my lady bits. My surgeon then cauterized the hole and sutured up the hole with “double-stitching.” Then they dressed the wound and sent me out into recovery.

Waking up

I woke up in recovery, groggy. I was surprised that my pain was about a 3-4 on the pain scale as I really wasn’t in pain before the surgery. Thankfully, fistula surgery, unless it’s horribly complicated, is usually outpatient and I was sent home that same day.

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