Sorry for being a little MIA on social media recently, I’ve been in quite a bit of pain since last Friday (though, thankfully, the pain seems to have now gone).
I was worried that it was a flare-up of my Crohn’s disease but, as it turns out, it was completely unrelated – and something I had never heard of before . . .
Trip #1 to Hospital
I started feeling really short, stabbing pains in what is left of my rectal stump and also what felt like period pains last Bank Holiday Friday, whilst at the cinema. As much as I want to blame Batman Vs Superman for the pain I was feeling
(ugh, such a let-down, and not necessarily just because of Batfleck either… but that’s a whole other blog post), the pain continued to get even worse the next day. On the Saturday, I took codeine & paracetamol and the pain started to go (lovely, lovely codeine). I emailed my surgeon to let him know about these random symptoms, just in case it would affect my upcoming surgery. Later that day, as the pain-relief started to wear off, I decided to have a bath to try and ease the pain, before opting for pain-relief. After my bath, I decided to change ‘the boys’ (ie. put on fresh ostomy appliances) which was a stupid idea because I was still all hot from the bath and then went all dizzy mid-way through, and felt like I was going to pass out. After sitting down and having ‘a bit of a wobbly lip’ moment, I manned-the-fuck-up and got on with it. I finished up, went downstairs and walked into the living room. Chris took one look at me and mentioned that I didn’t look very well at all. After another wobbly lip moment, we decided to go to A&E.
At Peterborough City Hospital, which is my local A&E, they’re doing a trial where GPs were seeing patients to try and free up A&E at the weekend – such an awesome idea. I was seen by a GP who was actually based at my local GP practice, so that was pretty cool. He had a look at ‘the back end’ (as healthcare professionals always so delicately put it) and saw that I had pruritus ani (a posh word for an itchy bum, possibly caused by eczema, possibly sort of IBD-related?), and I think I’ve been scratching in my sleep. Couple that with a high temperature – I was running a temp of 38.1°C (or 100.5°F) – and he determined that I had an infection. He prescribed a cream for the pruritus ani and antibiotics for the fever. I went home feeling reassured but still hot and feverish and in huge amounts of pain.
Trip #2 to Hospital
The next couple of days over Easter weekend, I was still feeling awful, which sucked because I was planning on doing a few things and going placed. Not only was it Easter but it was also Chris’ birthday on Easter Monday. That, and I wanted to film some videos for YouTube. Very frustrating. So I spent the whole of Easter in PJs writhing in pain on the sofa under a blanket.
I then got an email back from my surgeon saying that he wanted me to stop by at the hospital. I told him I’d seen the GP and had been given antibiotics and that I was starting to feel better, but he said he wanted me to come back anyway. So we went back to the hospital on the Tuesday after Easter.
He had a look at my not-as-bad-looking ‘back end’, and I told him that the cream seemed to be helping. I talked through all my symptoms with him, and he said to come off the antibiotics because it actually sounded like I was describing the symptoms of retrograde menstruation.
Now that I think about it, that makes a hell of a lot of sense. The pain started at the end of my period, and the pain was that kind of period pain, in the pelvic area, more than the rectal pain. Since using the antibiotics and the cream, the rectal pain has gone. The pelvic/period type pain had stayed for a bit longer, but now has also gone. Today (Friday, one week since the pain started), is the first day paracetamol-free.
So what the hell is retrograde menstruation? Well, my surgeon did tell me, but it’s easier to copy and paste from Dr Google, rather than try and remember what he said word for word. So, according to WiseGeekHealth;
This condition is simply described as backward flow of some menstrual blood. Instead of exiting the uterus and the vagina, the blood moves up the fallopian tubes and deposits in the abdomen. This is usually harmless, but doctors do think it might be one of the potential causes for endometriosis in a small percentage of women.
If any symptoms of retrograde menstruation exist, they might include reduced menstrual flow and shorter periods. Alternately, absence of bleeding with normal period signs, like cramping, irritability, bloating and skin changes, might suggest the condition. In most cases, the backward and forwards flow are simultaneous, and any retrograde flow can’t be observed.
A few women who pay careful attention to menstrual cycle behavior see slightly less flow or may have a period that is a little shorter. This might be especially noted if women perform inverted and twisting yoga poses while menstruating, which can cause backflow. On the other hand, most women experience at least a little retrograde menstruation, and the majority of them don’t practice yoga.
It’s all starting to make sense. I experienced pain in my abdomen, and my period was extremely short this month compared to most months. I usually have a 6-8 day period, this was 3 days.
I didn’t even think retrograde menstruation was a thing. At least I do now, and I’ll keep an eye on it. As I say, the pain is pretty much gone now, and I’m just glad it wasn’t a flare-up from my Crohn’s disease.
Now that I am starting to feel better, I can hopefully get some bloody videos filmed. Now that Easter is done, it’s definitely spring-time, which means the return of Ostomonday! Woohoo!
UPDATE: So it wasn’t retrograde menstruation… but at least it wasn’t my Crohn’s disease either…