You probably think this is an article about pirates or a fitness post about how to do proper squats for a better booty. (HA!If you knew me at all, you’d know that’s a big joke in itself) You may even think that it’s a post strictly dedicated to famous celebrity backsides or you could just believe the writer of this article is just a weirdo with some form of compulsive butt obsession.
You are wrong on all accounts, well almost wrong on all accounts. I do have a bit of a butt obsession, just not in the way you may think. I’m determined to bring awareness to a very serious health risk that I can almost guarantee you’ve never heard about. I want to help change that.
This is actually my attempt at an informative post about the potentially dangerous illnesses that the booty can cause.
I bet you didn’t know your butt could kill you.
Ask me how I know. Honest! I speak from personal experience.
I’m sure you think I’m joking. I wish I were, but I couldn’t be more serious. I may joke about many things, but never the severity of this.
I have written in the past about my experiences in the ER, my many surgeries, and my journey for the last three years, but I have never been able to truly explain much about it because I never fully understood it myself. After doing research for the last several years and talking to many doctors, surgeons, and nurses, I feel as though I’m informed enough to explain it better and try to bring awareness to a very rare illness that may help save a life.
If you could guess what the number 1 rectal killing disease would be, what would you choose?
Colon or rectal cancer? Crohn’s disease? Ulcerative colitis?
That’s what I would think too, however none of these are the number 1 most fatal.
Have you ever heard of a perirectal or perianal abscess?
What about an anal fistula?
If you haven’t, don’t feel too badly. Not many people have. Myself included.
As it turns out, this lesser known problem is considered the most dangerous and the most fatal form of rectal disease. It is considerably rare. Only 200,000 people in the U.S. are recorded ever to have one. However, should you have a perirectal abscess, chances are high that you will also have at least one anal fistula accompany it.
What is a perirectal/perianal abscess?
Everyone has anal sinuses inside of their rectum. Inside each anal sinus are glands that create a mucous like substance to naturally lubricate and assist in the passing of fecal stools (your poop). Sometimes (very rarely) these glands can clog and become infected. They will then begin getting progressively worse, continuously filling with pus and bacteria. Therefore causing an abscess or multiple abscesses in the perineal or rectal area. There have been theories as to what could possibly cause the irritation/infection in the glands. In over 54% of these cases Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have been the root cause. Other cases could be caused by STDs, difficulty passing stool (caused by constipation which may cause tears in the skin from straining or passing a hard stool) or it could be caused by persistent and reoccurring diarrhea (brought on by IBS or other stress related bowel problems). However, in the case of myself and many others they have no answers as to why or how it could have happened. Many tests were run and nothing helpful was ever really discovered.
(I will touch on my experience a little later in this post)
In fact, if you were to try and find information on the internet about this particular disease, you would probably be shocked at how little you can find on the subject. In the three years I have been researching this I have found minimal information and even less personal testimonies or stories from others that have experienced it. Which is why I am writing this.
I feel that for a condition that is considered to be this detrimental to ones health, it should be talked about. It should be researched and people should be educated. There should be more information.
In all of the research I have found it has generally been in medical papers written by surgeons for other surgeons or medical students to read. They are difficult to understand and full of so many medical terms that an average everyday person like myself had a pretty difficult time deciphering it all. In other articles I found many downplayed the symptoms and the way it was worded made it sound no different than normal discomfort not unlike that of a hemorrhoid. To me, this is the largest problem.
No One knows what this is. No one knows what to look for. Due to this it is usually misdiagnosed, causing severe problems.
I found two testimonials from patients that had been through the ordeal of perirectal abscesses as well as the fistulas (I haven’t touched on the fistulas yet but I will, bear with me)
The one common thing in their stories aside from the procedures needed and the illness itself, were the multiple misdiagnosis given to both which made their healing process much more difficult in the long run. I can completely sympathize with their stories because mine is very much like theirs.
In most cases if perirectal abscesses do occur and are caught in time, no surgery is needed. They can be treated through antibiotics and special sitz baths.
So why is it considered so deadly?
Many times people try to self treat or self diagnose. Whether this is due to lack of medical coverage because the patient has no medical insurance or due to fear of going to the doctor usually googling symptoms and trying alternative routes have become a popular choice when they feel they have no other options. In a case like this, it can have terrible consequences.
Other times, they do go in to see a physician and are misdiagnosed, usually for a pilondial cyst or bartholins vaginal cyst in women. Anal fissures are also another common misdiagnosis given.
Lastly, embarrassment. Embarrassment is statistically the largest reasoning in not seeking treatment or help. I can attest to this because it was the very reason I waited so long. Nearly too long.
Leaving a perirectal abscess untreated for a long period of time CAN and WILL cause many medical problems. Sepsis being the most deadly and unfortunately, the reason for such a high number of deaths caused by this particular ailment.
Fistulas are another major problem that happen due to the abscesses. They can be caused by leaving the abscess untreated and the abscess drainage will ultimately cause an internal tunnel through the flesh leading from the external part of your rectum, to the internal part ,sometimes as far as your colon, depending on the cause of it. There are many different kinds of fistulas as well as stages given for the severity of them. If you manage to avoid a fistula from the abscess drainage, then you will likely end up with one from the surgical procedure used to drain the abscess, especially if the procedure turns out to be an extensive one. Which will occur if you wait too long to see a doctor for it.
Fistulas can be considered a huge health risk by themselves. They can occur in other parts of the body as well, not just the rectum. Anywhere that you have had any form of trauma, surgery or infection you are at risk.
Depending on the severity of the fistula and where it is located will determine the type of treatment you will need to repair it. Sometimes a fistula can be repaired and will fully heal after a minor surgery on the very first attempt. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. In many cases it takes countless surgeries, multiple techniques, and can even take years to fully heal. If a fistula is left untreated it can cause pain, inflammation, serious infection, persistent and uncomfortable drainage, even cancer. If your fistula heals incorrectly or heals with “pockets” in the tract, you are at risk of the return of abscesses and cysts, which would cause the entire process to start over from the beginning. So it is likely that the fistula repair surgery will have to be redone.
What makes a rectal fistula even more difficult to repair is the area in which it is located. It is not in an area that promotes healing as well as it could in other areas of the body. It is in a spot that is constantly exposed to bacteria and moisture. Not only that, if you don’t have an experienced surgeon or specialist you run an even larger risk of your sphincter being susceptible to permanent, irreparable damage, causing lifelong fecal incontinence. Meaning you no longer have control of your bowels.
These are a few of the fistula repair surgeries that I am familiar with and are the most commonly used:
Another option you may be asked to consider to promote in the healing of your fistula, especially if all of these procedures continue to fail would be an ileostomy.
An ileostomy is helpful with the healing of the rectal fistulas because you will no longer be exposing your wounds to fecal matter or bacteria. Your ileostomy will reroute your waste through the external opening of the abdomen into a bag that is attached to the outside of the stoma.
Remember in the beginning of this, I mentioned having a story and knowing first hand how deadly a situation like this is?
I have been through every single one of these procedures, and then some because I ignored my symptoms and refused to seek help because I was too embarrassed to allow any physician to exam my butt.
What began as what I though was hemorrhoids (a very common mistake made by most with these symptoms) I quietly began attempting to self medicate. After months of ignoring my symptoms (that were progressively getting much worse) I finally found myself in the Emergency room in excruciating pain. I was diagnosed with anal fissures and sent to buy a prescription salve that my insurance provider did not cover. I had to pay 600 dollars out of pocket for a medicine to treat something that did not even exist. A week later I was back in the hospital with still no answers, I was only given pain medicine to temporarily help with the pain. The medicine did not even begin to touch the pain. Not even a little.
I was finally able to get in to see a physician that immediately referred me to another hospital for a CT scan and testing. He believed I had a pilonidal cyst. Another misdiagnosis. Despite the wrong answers given, he did take my pain seriously and knew I was very sick. I am thankful to him for the referral.
My CT scan showed a perirectal abscess, but not a small one. In fact it was so large that it had grown into what they called a horseshoe abscess. Although you could feel the heat radiating from the outside of my body from the infection, there were no visible signs externally. Everything was internal. The scan showed over 100 cysts and abscesses covering not only my rectum but also my ovaries. The doctors were speechless and could not believe I was able to walk into the hospital, let alone had been in this kind of pain for months. I was very sick and was septic from the infection. They had to do emergency surgery and then a second surgery a day later to finish cleaning and cauterizing the wounds. My wounds had to be packed with gauze daily for about a month. I won’t even begin to discuss the pain. It was unimaginable.
After the surgeries I ended up with two fistulas. I was given antibiotics but after awhile they just wouldn’t get any better. I found myself back in the hospital a few more times due to infection before I was referred to a gastro intestinal specialist.
I was given a colonoscopy to determine whether or not Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis were the culprit behind my abscesses. Everything came back negative. All other testing proved that I had no serious medical issues that would cause this to happen. I was just one of the few “lucky” ones to just end up with this kind of thing. Yay me, right?
In total since 2016 I’ve had roughly 23 surgeries . The majority of those have been to repair my fistulas. I’ve had every procedure done on the list I shared. I eventually agreed to have an ileostomy to better my chances of healing and fight reoccurring infections. It was meant to only be temporary lasting around 8 weeks, but after a year and a half I still have it and have proudly rocked the ostomy life.
It has been the longest three years of my life but I made it! My fistulas have finally fully healed properly and in just a few short weeks I will have my ileostomy reversal. No more hospitals, no more surgeries, and no more bag life for me. I do plan to write a little more in depth about my ostomy experience in a future article. My hopes for these experiences are to help break the stigma of “butt stuff” and help normalize a condition that many people, especially women, usually shy away from. I want to turn my butt story (also lightheartedly deemed the great buttocolypse by my husband and myself) into a save the booty movement. I want to spread awareness and help others. No one should have to go through this kind of pain due to something that could be so preventable.
Everything that is common now was considered taboo at one time or another. It all has to start somewhere. I will tell my story and share this until I can’t anymore. That’s how important I believe it is. I want to drive everyone crazy with the amount of times I share it or stories like mine so that it will become as commonly known as colon cancer awareness is. I hope that one day we will see more information available on this and more people coming forward with their experiences.
If you have symptoms that you are unsure of SEEK HELP!! Don’t wait and never be ashamed or embarrassed to put your health first.
It’s just a butt.
Even Nemo touched one.
If you have some lumps, bumps or any other discomfort in or around your butt, likely it’s a simple fix. Always double check to be sure. Sometimes, you won’t see anything. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing there. You can have them internally.
If you have these symptoms along with pain that doesn’t subside but only intensifies, along with fever, trouble going to the bathroom, or you begin blacking out, fainting, or feeling lightheaded, get yourself into an emergency room as soon as possible and mention the possibility of an abscess. Use your voice and never be afraid of getting a second opinion.