Embarrassing Ailments

January 22, 2008

For the past week, I have had a hemorrhoid; something I’ve never experienced before. Then again, I never experienced a lot of things, such as military combat, bubonic plague, a root canal, shark attacks, testicular torsion, a shiatsu massage, or a Nelly concert, but that doesn’t mean I actually want to.

It helps to actually know what a hemorrhoid is. According to Wikipedia…

Hemorrhoids are actually the anatomical term for “‘cushions’ of tissue filled with blood vessels at the junction of the rectum and the anus.”

So everyone has a hemorrhoid. The problem is when those blood vessels break and bruise, and subsequently become infected. This can be in the form of an inflammation of the hemorrhoid. Typically the area becomes itchy and painful. It’s an odd sensation to describe. But what most folks know as a hemorrhoid is actually the inflammation of the hemorrhoid. Knowledge is power, eh?

Time heals all wounds, and unfortunately it just takes time (or surgery) to heal this sucker. You can also apparently take some medications, or sleep with your feet propped up to increase bloodflow, or drink a lot of chamomile tea to do…something. Or you can tough it out.

Why did I end up with this ailment that not a lot of people speak of? Working out, of all things. The rowing machine puts a lot of stress on your butt in some ways, and this can cause a hemorrhoid. Especially if you’re on it for 5+ miles after a long period of laziness in which you did not go to the gym but rather unpacked all your stuff and relaxed.

Typically, because the blood pressure decreases when sleeping, the pain would increase overnight and in the morning I would be unable to walk around. As my blood pressure rose over the next few hours though I was able to move around. I believe this is just because fresh blood flow to the area alleviates swelling and irritation and pain. Just my guess. Unfortunately, this meant I wasn’t able to get to my statistics class the past week, though I was able to make it to the rest of my classes. I just noticed that my professor also holds a 1pm statistics class that I could have attended, if it weren’t for my other 1pm class. Dang.

So today I finally had the courage to email my professor about it, and then actually write about it here. It’s not something you should really worry about talking about, but it is kinda embarrassing, as I am finding out. It’s better to be open about this kind of problem than to not get any perspective and advice from folks who have because you were too afraid to talk about it. You could have a hemorrhoid simply because you did something weird, or because you just have weak veins. It’s been said that Preparation H is the most stolen object in a store, simply because people are too embarrassed to take it to the cashier. Meh. I toughed this one out with just a little anti-itch cream and psychological distraction (think “mind over matter”). Today I woke up and the pain was significantly lower, and I am hoping this means tomorrow I will be able to resume my early morning class.