Fistula. Such a strange sounding word. Think of the game “Chutes and Ladders.” Do you remember that game? A fistula is like a chute. It forms between your bowel and different organs within your body. Or, it can come right out of your body, say through your stomach. Mine was a peri-anal fistula which means it ended in my anus. Yeah! What fun! Basically puss and other nasty stuff travels the length of the fistula and then exits. Did I mention that you have NO control over when this happens? Say it with me again: Yeah! What fun!


Having a fistula is like having to watch Twilight over and over on a loop. (Yes, I realize this is a rather childish comparison. A fistula is no laughing matter as I soon discovered. But those of you who know me well know that the Twilight movies actually manifest physical pain within my body. A pain so hard to endure it culminates with me passing out (okay, okay I just fall asleep – just ask my wife)).


Anyhow, just when the credits are rolling and you’re like “Finally, thank God that’s over” – it starts AGAIN. The next thing you know the one dude with moobs is walking around shirtless; the smarmy little girl is pouting in her room, and the pasty white vampire kid is going all sparkly in a field somewhere. And your fistula is draining nasty puss into your underwear and so you run to the bathroom where you grip the sides of the vanity, avoiding the mirror because you can’t look at the person there. Because you don’t want to be reminded that that person is you. You don’t want to acknowledge that the guy standing there with the mess in his underwear is you. And so you rest your cheek on the cool vanity because of course you have another fever. For a moment you close your eyes and you are somewhere else. You don’t want to slip back into the person resting there in that bathroom. But eventually you do. Finally you lift your head, take a deep breath and glance at the guy staring back at you. Then the two of you set about, one more time, cleaning up the mess that has become your life.


  1. Heidi Reply

    I love the way you write – it’s so relateable (even if I haven’t seen the ‘Twilight’ movies. Which was on purpose, BTW). I too have looked at that person in the mirror, wondering what happened; wondering why. It’s surreal, sometimes.

    • Ryan Reply

      Thanks, Heidi. Many posts coming up dealing with betrayal. Probably not the correct idea but I do feel like my body has betrayed me.

  2. CC Reply

    Sorry you are having such a hard time with this. Peri-anal fistulas are certainly no fun. I remember explaining the situation to my husband the first time I got one to which he replied, “So, you’re telling me you’ve grown another asshole”. Not really, but sure, we’ll go with that. At least I could go around telling people I was twice the asshole I used to be.
    It is awful when your body starts doing all sorts of crazy stuff like this. I just generally try to find the humor in it (I find I could laugh or cry) but it’s not good times dealing with it. Hopefully it will heal up for you soon. I know mine (I have a whole collection of fistulas now – figured I’d collect the set – unsure how many are *in* the set) don’t like to go away but sometimes they aren’t too bad.
    Good luck!

    • Ryan Reply

      Thank you for commenting. Sorry to hear you have multiple fistulas. I thought my one was bad enough. I love the “twice the asshole” comment. My posts for the most part are being written well after the fact. This was when I was first diagnosed back in 2009 that I dealt with the fistula. I had surgery for it and an abscess (who will have his own starring role in an upcoming post) and fortunately neither has come back. Keep up the good fight. Are you on twitter? Let me know and I’ll look you up if we don’t follow each other already.

Post a Comment
Your Name
Your Email Address
Your Message