What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
I’m writing this story from a very uncomfortable seat, and not because I’ve had the same desk chair since college and the right side of the seat is deflated, although it IS. It’s because I have a hemorrhoid. A HEMORRHOID, you guys.
What am I, 60 years old? I am not. I am a 20-something woman of limited means and tender butthole.
I knew I wasn't getting enough fiber in my diet (though I've been on that Metamucil tip before, holler at me menopausal women!). I use eye cream religiously. I need a full eight hours of rest to be a human being. We're all aging, OK? But I guess I thought I had more time. Turns out, this is one of those strike-at-any-moment situations.
The hemorrhoid reared its ugly head for the first time while I was on the toilet, which I find to be a huge invasion of my safe space. Here I am, in the number two zone, reading Real Simple, and all of a sudden -- weird butt pain. When I went to wipe, things felt fleshier. A little puffy. And definitely tender. After the initial "everything is falling out of my butt" feeling passed, I did some Googling, and sure enough -- Hemi City, population: my butt.
You know what a hemorrhoid is, right?
“No, Lindsey,” you say. “No, because I’m young and not old. My butthole is fresh and nubile, not gross.”
So you thought, friends! Because more than half the American population will develop the “varicose veins of the anus and rectum” (put THAT in your OK Cupid profile) at some point in their lives, mostly from age 30 on. Yes, indeed, you, too, will one day likely be the bearer of an itchy, distended piece of flesh poking out of your butthole.
It’s going to feel weird when you sit, and it’s going to hurt when you poop. And allegedly, with a little Preparation H and a higher-fiber diet, it’s going to go away magically, all on its own, unless it’s the weird bloody kind, in which case you’ll have to go to the doctor for some rooting around, which I’m sure is even less pleasant than I’m imagining.
So if we’re all getting these bulging butt blood vessels, why have I only heard my grandmother talk about them? Especially since they disproportionately affect women?
I don’t know why poop and poop-related issues are so universally hush-hush topics, especially when we all know that "Everyone Poops." I wonder if it’s not all lumped in with the “down there-ness” of our ladyparts, which, as you know, are deeply shameful at every age. We don’t talk about it because it’s not ladylike. So we sanitize our conversations and our nethers, pretending like we don’t have any issues. To say otherwise isn’t polite. It’s not appropriate.
But if you have a body (and we all do; sorry I’m not sorry to be ghost-shaming!), you know that sometimes it does inappropriate things. Bodies are wild! They’re sometimes smelly and gross. Sometimes wacky stuff happens in your butt.
I think it’s better to say something, to talk it out, to normalize the body and all of its weirdness. That way, if something is amiss, you can ask your friends or family, “Hey, here’s a weird thing that’s happening. Is this normal?” and get a straight answer. (Ideally: “Yes, that’s cool,” or, “No, go see a doctor.”)
Wouldn’t that be easier? Aren’t we all weird messes, and isn’t it comforting to know that? Yes, women are more likely to report health issues than men are, but I’ve gone to the doctor for plenty of things that I should have just called my mom about. Think of the copays we could be saving. And think of the health issues we could just nip in the bud if we tackled them earlier, despite our embarrassment or wariness.
Not talking about your health seems kind of UNHEALTHY to me. But that could be because I Gchatted a friend about this very issue today (she talked to her coworker about it, and the consensus is I should be OK in a week or two). In the meantime, I'll be following the American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons' advice of more fiber, more water, easier poops, and sitz baths to ease this puppy back into submission.
So talk to your trusted sources. Go see a doctor. And let it all hang out –- though hopefully, not from your b-hole.
Lindsey is talking about her Butt Problemz on Twitter: @lindseywoho.