This is a disgusting story, so if you get queasy easily, I’d recommend reading one of the news articles that went up today. It’s also slightly embarrassing, but seeing as how, while writing, it’s only my computer and I, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about; the fact that potentially millions of people will be reading about my butthole is a non-issue since it hasn’t happened yet and even if/when when does, so be it—my butthole is a part of me, and I am a part of my butthole.
Hemorrhoids. If you’ve never had them, let me try to explain as best as I possibly can (for those who have had them, there’s no reason to read this paragraph, as you already know the immeasurable pain and mental anguish that they inflict): The easiest comparison is shitting hot shards of glass. The blood part of it sucks, but women deal with that all the time, so who am I to complain? The worst part is knowing that you have to go to the bathroom, but deciding not to because if you do, you’ll be bedridden all day (although of course laying in bed doing nothing besides thinking about how much it hurts only makes matters worse!). Then, by not going to the bathroom, your stomach gets all fucked up, so on and so forth.
Physical pain is a strange thing because it seems made-up. By “made-up” I mean both psychosomatic and like a lie. There’s no way, unless you’re clearly missing an arm or what have you, for someone to know that you’re in pain. Pain requires trust. Trust in yourself to know that you’re not crazy—that you actually are hurt—and trust from other human beings, because otherwise you’re moaning and groaning to gain attention, but I’m getting off-topic. We’re here to talk about the medical effects of cannabis in relation to these little devilish, oozing, swollen veins.
According to the first website that popped up when I googled “hemorrhoids cannabis,” Hemorrhoid Treatment Center of Florida: “Medical marijuana has anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) effects. This can help hemorrhoid patients feel less discomfort from hemorrhoids. Additionally, since cannabis is known to naturally relieve stress, anxiety, and insomnia, it can be used to fend off many of the ramifications of hemorrhoidal disease.” Eh.
One time in the shower, while showering, I took a shit standing up because the idea of sitting on the toilet seemed like a worse option. The second google result, Healthline, discusses CBD. They ask the question, “Can CBD Help Hemorrhoids?” and answer by saying, “Right now, there doesn’t seem to be research based specifically on CBD’s effectiveness on hemorrhoids.” Among other things that are equally unhelpful. That’s not to say that this article is any more helpful. Perhaps I’m just contributing to the confusion… Also according to Healthline, “The World Health Organization says CBD is largely considered safe. However, if you’re applying CBD topically to hemorrhoids, it’s best to keep some safety information in mind: Avoid applying CBD to broken skin.” This is essentially impossible, as every time one passes a stool, the skin breaks.
I tried stool softeners, probiotics, and sitz baths. I tried using Preparation H (ointment, wipes, and suppositories!), which worked fine for a while, until it didn’t. I tried edibles, but they kind of made the pain worse because I started to focus on it even more. I’m sure for other people, that wouldn’t be the case. I saw two doctors, one for abdominal pain and the other specifically for hemorrhoids; both were very nice, but at the end of the day, nothing came from either visit. The first one asked if I drank; I told him that I was taking the year off and his advice was, “Well, maybe you should start drinking again.” He had a quirky tie on, so I would imagine that was his version of humor. They both said it was probably stress-related, and that if matters worsened, there was always surgery.
Well, in my mind, matters were already as bad as they could be, but I wasn’t—and unfortunately still am not—made of money, nor did I really want someone rubberbanding or stapling my asshole, so during one particularly nasty flare-up, I decided to smoke a joint instead. It wasn’t a matter of pain management, because like I said, cannabis didn’t really help in that department, but I needed a new way to think about this thing that I was dealing with. And that’s exactly what I received. I thought about how pain was an extremely physical force, but a force that the mind controlled, so all of a sudden, this ailment became somewhat of a gift, a test of my endurance, not only to pain but all other forms of torment. I was reading a book at the time, I forget which, but it was a rather dull book and I decided that I was going to stand still and finish it, all while barely being able to stand; I wouldn’t eat, I wouldn’t drink water, I’d stand there and read. It took several hours, but when it was all over, the pain had subsided, and it was as if I had broken whatever spiritual chain was trying so hard to break me.
I don’t know if “spiritual” is the right word, but that’s the one I chose. I’ve had some light bleeding here and there. I still have to push on my rectum after taking a shit to make the external hemorrhoids internal, which I’m not entirely sure I should be doing, but they seem safer there, away from this cold, cold world. All that to say, I’m pretty sure I still have them, but no burning (unless I eat spicy food, which I think is a normal reaction—or at least that’s what I tell myself), no calling off work to roll around in bed, and most importantly, no pus that smells like sulfur and asshole. All of the above could come back, but here’s to optimism!
It’s a bummer that I felt obligated to preface this by saying “This is a disgusting story.” It’s not. What’s disgusting is our inability to share truths without being judged or feeling as if that’s the case. But I don’t know how to fix that. What I do know is that hemorrhoids are no laughing matter, unless you’ve hit rock-bottom and there’s nothing else to do butt laugh (haha). Hopefully you don’t, but if you do find yourself in that predicament, here are some things that made the pain more manageable for me:
- A sitz bath will help for as long as you’re in it, but seeing as how you can’t sit in a tub soaking your bum all day…
- (Unrelated to the above) Don’t just lay in bed. Get some fresh air, take a walk around the block.
- Lastly, as cheesy as it sounds, just know that you’re not alone (hemorrhoids affect approximately 1 in 20 Americans) and although it might not seem like it, there will come a time when you won’t want to commit suicide. And I’m not using this term lightly.