I'm a 57 year old man in good health and at the correct weight for my height. I'm not on any prescription drugs, I eat sensibly and work out at least 2-3 times a week.
I've had hemorrhoids for many years and pretty much ignored them, but then about 3 years ago they started getting worse, eventually to the point where I had to do something as they started to affect my life style.
The lifestyle effects were mostly about physical exercise. For example, when I played more than 9 hole of golf, the hemorrhoids would start acting up and get so uncomfortable I couldn't focus on my game. Or playing racquetball for more than a half hour would cause the same problems. The symptoms were pain, sometimes some type of clear fluid discharge (I know - totally gross), and sometimes bleeding. I could actually feel the hemorrhoids stick out of my anus. The pain could last for several days and would be constantly on my mind to point where enough was enough, I had to get help.
I got a recommendation from my regular doc to a colorectal doc. It was a bad experience... he examined me and afterward said, "Yup, you got a nice bunch of grapes down there," and told me I needed surgery and how painful it could be. His nurse told me that she'd had post-op patients call her and literally scream at her because they were in so much pain. I left that office and never went back. I forgot about "getting better" and figured I'd just have to live with it for now.
But a month or two later I was playing softball at a meeting away from home and the hemorrhoids got real bad and when I got to the hotel they were bleeding and I had to go out to dinner with a bunch of associates, then get on a plane early the next morning. I didn't know if I'd be able to do either, but I somehow got through it and vowed to go back to the doc.
So I got a referral to another doc and he was a little better. But he too recommended surgery and told meet there would be a 2 week recovery. I still wasn't ready for that, but he did give me a very good, key piece of advice, and that was to take one big tablespoon of orange flavored sugar-free Metamucil (he was very specific) mixed with a big glass of water once a day. I started taking it the next day and it made a big difference in my bowel movements. They became much 'easier' and didn't bother my hemorrhoids nearly as much as before. That was about 18 months ago and I've taken it every day since (I think it's good for cholesterol reduction too as a side benefit).
I then got a referral to another doc and the third time was the charm. This doc examined me and said I definitely didn't need surgery, that my main problem was a couple of internal hemorrhoids and they could be handled with rubber band litigation. I said what about the external ones that I could se with a mirror? He said those weren't the offenders, which was quite different from what the other two docs said. So he did the procedure. He picked the biggest one and put the band on it. It took about 5 minutes and was very uncomfortable but not painful. He told me that's it, that there's no after-care, there should be no pain and to come back in a couple of weeks.
Well, he was wrong about the pain. I woke up that night at 2 am in pain. I took a couple of Advil which didn't help much, so an hour later I took two Tylenols and that did the trick. The procedure had been on a Friday, so I couldn’t call the doc to see why I was having pain, but I looked it up online and saw that it wasn't uncommon, especially if the rubber band had been place too low, i.e., too far towards the lining of the rectum where it would pull on the wall.
I had to keep that up the meds for the next 2-3 days. The whole area was swollen and felt like a typical 'bad' attack, and I was bummed out thinking this wasn't going to work. On Monday, I called the office and found out they're closed on Mondays. Great.
On Tuesday things were starting to get better. There was still some pain but no big deal. I called the doc's nurse and she said I could come in, but it sounded like I was progressing ok and that yes, sometimes there is pain if the band is too low, and that's exactly what this sounded like. So I decided not to go in, and day by day it got better.
After about a week, I was back to working out, and for the first time in a long, long time, I didn't have hemorrhoid problems. I was now able to resume most activities without having those nagging problems anymore. What a relief!
I say 'most' because I still would have some minor problems after longer periods physical exertion, say after 3-4 hours, like a round of golf. But again, the issues were much less. MUCH less.
It's now 6 months after that first procedure. Because I still have some issues, I decided to get another band done to get the second-worse internal hemorrhoid taken care of. Last Thursday I had it done, and this time there was no pain at all afterwards. The procedure was still uncomfortable, but now knowing what the result would be, I went into it with much less trepidation, and knew that even if I did have the same pain as the first time, it would be worth it.
So for me, it was all about getting those internal hemorrhoids dealt with. I still have the external ones, but much to my surprise they really don't cause any issues. I had always thought they were the culprits since I could see them, but I guess that's one of the pitfalls with self-diagnosis; the obvious answer was the wrong one. I may still have one more internal one to take care of, as the doc said they usual form in groups of three. But with the first two, worst ones taken care of, I think 95% of my problems are gone.
For any of you fellow sufferers out there, I hope you can learn something from my experience. The whole thing was embarrassing (to me) at first.... having those first docs checking me out 'down there' some getting used to, but now I look at it as just another medical procedure, somewhat typical to what women have to go though their whole lives, or so my wife says.
Good luck if you have hemorrhoids - there are solutions out there and you can get your normal life back. During this whole journey only my wife and kids knew about it, and I never missed a day of work.