Things You Only Know If You've Had Haemorrhoids
The Debrief: Don't worry, we're rhoid here for you (sorry)
Constipation, butt pimples, spin-class chafing – I'm an old pro at dealing with maladies of the bottom. However, it was only when I got haemorrhoids for the first time that I came to understand the true meaning of the phrase 'pain in the arse'.
There are many causes of haemorrhoids -- being overweight, sitting down for extended periods of time, weight lifting, straining on the loo and anal sex (oh the glamour) are all potential triggers. So, next time you're on the bog and 36-weeks-deep into an old colleague’s Instagram feed, it might be better to expedite proceedings and save the stalking for later. The first time you get haemorrhoid it might be a little disconcerting. I have one friend who developed one after doing it up the bum with her boyfriend and was so alarmed that she took herself to A&E before being sent to boots by the doctor to get some Anusol (yep, that's what haemorrhoid cream is called. No lolz spared there).
So, what exactly are haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids (aka piles) are swollen blood vessels that are found inside or around the anus and look like mini red-coloured cauliflowers. In extreme cases, they can painfully bleed on each visit to the loo but, as my GP told me, most people most people suffer with milder symptoms like discomfort, itchiness, mucous discharge (nice) and the general feeling that there’s something, other than faecal matter, lurking between their butt cheeks that shouldn’t be there, like a squatter in the east wing of Sandringham.
Save the Googling for never
If you want to get a better idea of what piles look like, I beg you to set down your phone and use your imagination instead. My partner, being as curious and as slow as Columbo, decided to google haemorrhoids after taking a quarter of an hour to confirm its proper spelling with me. It turns out that if you repeat the phrase 'JUST WRITE PILES!' in a loud voice enough times you will want to gouge out your haemorrhoids with a blunt dessert spoon. When you finally do see those unholy images, you will never be able to unsee them and, now that your other half’s baby browns have mutated into the single fiery eye of Sauron, your relationship will forever be tainted by frightful flashbacks of the bums of strangers.
Embrace the suppository
Anaesthetic ointments and suppositories numb the pain of haemorrhoids and make them easier to manage. I preferred suppositories over ointment because I didn’t fancy my chances at daubing lotion ‘tween my butt cheek crevice with zero visibility of the target area. I was also sat on a toilet situated dangerously close to a heated towel rail, reducing my manoeuvring capabilities to that of JCB in a kitchen-diner.
Suppositories look like soft, white bullets and smell like hospitals. They help your poop to come out easier by lubricating outgoing logs. The first time I used one I shuffled to the bedroom with my legs crossed and laid on my side fearful that it would slide out if I stood up; it didn’t, it just melted and numbed the pain like a Galaxy Caramel for my tush.
Never underestimate the power of Alpen
Constipation makes piles worse because straining on the toilet aggravates them so I went full-pelt with the fibre and ate prunes for breakfast followed by pears for elevenses and beans for lunch. Don’t delay going to the loo when nature calls – get the job done quickly to avoid putting pressure on your blood vessels. Also, try to do some gentle activity during the day to relieve the pressure but bear it in mind that lifting heavy objects or weight training can exacerbate haemorrhoids or trigger a recurrence.
Ask your mum
I’ve got the type of mother who, on hearing words like boobs or bum, says an immediate prayer of forgiveness for both herself and the utterer of the salacious vocabulary in question. However, when I told her I had a haemorrhoid she was a fountain of knowledge, the Plato of Piles if you will. So, ask your mum or your friends for their experiences because haemorrhoids never come up in general conversation but lots of people have secretly had them, like weird crushes on Lord Sugar.
Another of my friends, who had piles the size of plums but preferred natural remedies over chemical options suggested using ice as a numbing agent. 'Fill a rubber glove with water and freeze it. Then you can use the frozen fingers to get some relief without the chemicals', she said excitedly, as if she’d discovered a bag of doubloons and a naked Zayn Malik in her loft. After deciding not to brooch the subject with her again I was left wondering about the practicalities of such a treatment: what size of Marigolds would suffice? Should the glove be removed prior to insertion? Should you break off a frozen digit as and when required or keep the entire artic hand intact to use as a handle? I decided to embrace the traditional route and champion the suppository because I’m weak-willed and afraid of frostbite.
In extreme cases, where the pain has become unbearable, doctors can use a rubber band to cut off the blood flow to internal haemorrhoids and kill them off. But for most of us, eating a fibre-rich diet, maintaining a healthy weight and getting lots of exercise will usually help them to clear them up on their own just like mine did. However, with lots of us spending more time seated at our desk, moving less and Facebooking on the loo, I can’t help but wonder if piles might be on the rise. Believe my butt when I say that prevention is better than the cure.
You'd better bet your arse that prevention is better than the cure.
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